The Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy will celebrate its 11th anniversary this coming Wednesday. It's hard to believe that it is 11 years and 1 week since the arrival of The Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy started the transformation of the soi. The first of the modern gogo bars, The Dollhouse forced other bars to play catch up, and the soi was transformed from a sleepy backwater into what was for a period arguably the best of Bangkok's naughty bar areas. The Soi Cowboy branch is just part of The Dollhouse story.
The original Bangkok Dollhouse, Clinton Plaza, September 9th 2000
The Dollhouse started life in the ill-fated Clinton Plaza, the bar area with half a dozen gogo bars and perhaps a dozen or so beer bars, set back off Sukhumvit Road between sois 13 and 15.
The Dollhouse's original owners were Darel – who is still the majority shareholder in the bar today and Big Andy, now of Club Electric Blue fame. These two likeable rogues were pals in America through skydiving and after visiting Bangkok regularly on holiday, on a whim they decided to open a bar in what was being touted at the time as the next big bar area.
The bar would open late afternoon and had a few regulars who would go along for a few beers after work and before the sun went down.
The original Bangkok Dollhouse, Clinton Plaza, November 10th 2000
The name Dollhouse was borrowed from a popular venue of the same name in Florida, a strip club on which The Dollhouse's design and colour scheme were also based.
The Dollhouse, Walking Street, Pattaya, February 7th 2001
Clinton Plaza quickly developed a following and The Dollhouse was an almost instant success.
Darel and Big Andy set about expanding their empire and almost 12 years ago to the day, they opened a second branch of The Dollhouse on Walking Street, below Marine Disco and behind the boxing ring.
Darel and Andy sold their interest in the Pattaya Dollhouse many years ago.
With a great lineup of girls – girls stuck around much longer in those days – and the bar patronised and made even more popular by the possessed party animals of Nanapong, The Dollhouse in Clinton Plaza soared in popularity.
Back in 2001 I wrote that I thought Dollhouse was the best gogo bar in all of Bangkok. When my fellow columnist Baronbonk wrote that Dollhouse's new branch on Pattaya's Walking Street was, in his opinion, the best gogo bar in Pattaya, the owners grabbed these words and they have been used to promote the venue ever since. This poster was placed in the bar and full page ads of the same design appeared in tourist magazines. I seem to recall it was also printed out on glossy paper and handed out to passersby on Sukhumvit.
The full-sized poster which is in the bar was damaged. Darel refuses to take it down and it was carefully repaired and put back on display. Today it can still be seen in the bar, almost 12 years after it first went up in the original bar in Clinton Plaza.
2001 was a special period for The Dollhouse and amongst the highlights were the Nanapong dance contests. They were some of the best nights ever in a gogo bar, with antics taking place that in this day of mobile phone cameras and Internet leaks couldn't be repeated.
The Dollhouse was unofficially aligned with Nanapong, a popular Internet forum most famous for the raunchy dance contests it organised. Back then only Rififi (which ironically is now Club Electric Blue and owned by Dollhouse founding partner, Big Andy) were interested and willing to host the dance contests. Darel and Andy saw the commercial value in hosting Nanapong dance contests so The Dollhouse became a second home. More Nanapong contests were hosted at Dollhouse bars than anywhere else with all 3 of the Dollhouse bars hosting dance contests at one time or another.
Soi Cowboy, November 5th 2001
The Dollhouse was the most popular venue in Clinton Plaza but the area would never reach its potential. As early as the second half of 2001 the gogo bars in Clinton Plaza started closing. When Rock Hard relocated to Nana Plaza with Ricky, many thought that would be the end.
But The Dollhouse battled on. With land owners keen to get all the tenants out, they would make life difficult for the bar owners. The Dollhouse was told that girls could not dance on stage so to counter this, tables and chairs were put up on the stage and the girls danced around the rest of the bar, right next to the customers!
They knew it wouldn't be long before the game was up so Darel and Andy went looking for a new location.
The Dollhouse in Clinton Plaza somehow managed to cling to life for the best part of another year, the doors finally closing on Friday, November 22nd, 2002, Big Andy's birthday. To this day, the forced closure of the original bar in Clinton Plaza was the lowest moment in The Dollhouse's history.
Soi Cowboy, November 5th 2001
In late 2001 Soi Cowboy was very much Bangkok's 3rd bar area, attracting expats, particularly older guys. No-one really considered it a genuine competitor to Nana Plaza, or even Patpong which by then was already several years past its peak.
The Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy was born out of the ashes of the Hare & Hound and construction began in late 2001, the bar finally opening on February 13th, 2002.
The huge neon sign outside The Dollhouse was the first big neon sign in Soi Cowboy. It would be closely followed by Suzy Wong and when Shark took over Jukes and Bacarra took over Bluebird and later ate up Pam's Bar, Soi Cowboy was on the map. But you can put it down to Andy and Darel's decision to relocate to Soi Cowboy. Their willingness to invest in and build a new bar in the middle of Soi Cowboy was the spark that led to the modernisation of Soi Cowboy.
Today The Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy looks much the same as when it opened. Like the original branch in Clinton Plaza, it features a mezzanine floor where you find the only table top dancing in Soi Cowboy – the few other venues with similar dancing tend to have mini-stages, as opposed to actual table-top dancing.
Popular and colourful expat Big Andy sold his share of Dollhouse many, many years ago and tried his luck in the Pattaya market with a few different bars. He would eventually come back to Bangkok where he remains at the helm of Club Electric Blue.
One of the guys behind Peppermint, Happy, Beach Club and a bunch of others invested in The Dollhouse but sold his shares a while ago. He didn't want to keep making the trek up to Bangkok every week. Darel is still the main majority shareholder.
One of the traditions of The Dollhouse is filling the venue with polystyrene balls every New Year's Eve. This started many years ago and is a reflection of Darel's personality, a guy who likes to party and inject fun into a bar.
Speaking of New Year's Eve, at the end of year party the year before last, an American customer had a memorable night. The Dollhouse imposes sky-high barfines at New Year's Eve because management wants a party atmosphere all night long and doesn't want the girls to go out. They thought a 4,000 baht barfine would prevent guys from taking girls out. An American customer barfined 8 girls and that didn't even make up half the cost of his bill. His drinks bill alone was well over 60,000 baht, resulting in a 100K baht checkbin. The Dollhouse management still hasn't got over him going to Brazil instead of Thailand last year!
The Dollhouse has many icons, from the etchings of a sexy woman that have been a feature of both Bangkok bars, to the cartoon-like images of women in the bar saying what they do or don't like to do, but none more so than the hello girl holding the classic Dollhouse sign.
The Dollhouse has been a massive commercial success, its value outpacing even that of the boiling local property market. The value of the bar has increased tenfold in the time Darel has had it. You can't get a business of this type or size in this location for less than a million US dollars these days. And the initial investment? A paltry 3 million baht!
The Dollhouse has always attracted local guys for whom many the girls are secondary. There's always been a mix of customers from CEOs to teachers, likeable rogues to criminals.
The girls are instructed specifically not to hassle guys for drinks. That doesn't mean they can't ask for a drink, but they're told to spend some time with a guy before they ask. This isn't foolproof, but the bar tries its best to get the message through to the girls.
Like all bars, The Dollhouse has had a few personalities over the years.
The first and still most famous is Noi, known to many as #33, perhaps the first Thai girl to become something of an expat forum internet personality. Noi had giant boobs – courtesy of a surgeon – which set her apart from other girls at a time when plastic surgery wasn't nearly so popular.
Like all bars in the industry, Dollhouse struggles to recruit girls these days and the prettiest girl to my eyes is the girl sitting out the front calling out to entice guys inside.
While the interior remains much the same, The Dollhouse has expanded to include an outdoor seating area and was the first bar in Bangkok to install a chrome pole and actually have a girl dance outside.
One lowlight which became a highlight was during the curfews in 2010 when we all had to be off the streets and home by 9 PM. The Dollhouse was the first bar of its type to open in the afternoon and from 3 PM it was like the days of the Blitz in London during World War II. Everyone came out to party in the afternoon knowing that they had to be home early. They were busier some afternoons than there were in the evening.
These days the show kicks off at 7:00 PM with dancers on stage.
Darel remains the majority shareholder but these days leaves it to management to run the venue. He still makes it along to his baby from time to time, and loves to dress up for special occasions such as Halloween.
Darel's motto is simple : cold beer, good music, hassle free – and these very words are out front of the bar in big, bright neon. The Dollhouse's formula is simple, and after all these years it still works. Darel doesn't have any plans to leave the industry so no doubt plenty more chapters will be written in the history of The Dollhouse.
* The Dollhouse will celebrate its 11th anniversary this coming Wednesday, February 20th with free food, free shots, free girls, games, basically heaps of fun and the prettiest hello girl in the soi!
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was from the pedestrian overbridge just east of soi 12 on Sukhumvit Road. There is one prize this week, a 500-baht voucher for Firehouse in Sukhumvit soi 11, known for its excellent hamburgers.
Terms and conditions: The prize is only available to readers in Thailand at the time of entering and is not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month. You only have one guess per week!
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 – Family values.
A year or two back there was a flurry of submissions about the damage inflicted on who girls who work in bars. It was pretty well agreed that this work is detrimental to their well-being. The recent column about Sophia brought to light a not inconsequential issue for girls sending money to their family. It's quite likely that the money some girls send home is more than their family has ever seen before and overtly and subtly the family wants the situation to continue. In a recent conversation with a Nana Plaza girl I asked her how much money she needed to accumulate before returning home for good. She claimed that 200,000 baht would do the trick, but when she enumerated the 10 people benefiting from her current income, I recognised that she may be working at Nana Plaza for much longer than she'd like. Trying to quantitatively apportion blame for suffering and emotional damage isn't an easy task, but certainly some of the damage suffered by bargirls is inflicted by their own family.
Changing Sukhumvit Road.
A friend and I took a night-time walk along Sukhumvit Road recently, the first for several years and oh dear, the best looking girls were men! There were plenty of African sisters with which we got the feeling any encounter would not have a happy ending and what could only be their rather dodgy looking pimps gathered not far down the road. We fell into conversation with said gentlemen and soon got offered things which would result in a spell in the monkey house. We went in to the Thermae and we were invisible…
Night falls and the illusion begins.
After being in Bangkok for a week, and having successfully undergone the transition to the nightshift, I find myself attempting to stomach a mid-afternoon breakfast at the Metro Cafe in Sukhumvit soi 18. As I contemplate the first mouthful of Singha, it seems hard to believe a generally clean living man could hit it so hard. Hangover blues, I guess. As another night approaches all will be forgotten, for in a few hours reality changes to illusion. So take a bow all you guys who live here and keep it together. A few more nights until I get to go home and recover. Will I return? Probably!
What about STDs? HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Herpes Simplex, Chlamydia and Hepatitis B to name a few. All these people having sex with prostitutes who are having sex with everybody from everywhere. I am suspicious because it seems like everyone is having the time of their lives. STDs do not seem to exist as far as your readers are concerned. They are mentioned by one or two readers, but what about the rest? What am I missing? I would not have (even so called "protected") sex with a prostitute if she paid me a million dollars. Meanwhile, all these men are having sex all over Bangkok and Pattaya and give the impression that everything is honky dory as if STDs do not exist. I am puzzled.
You're on your own.
I have sometimes wondered whether the number to call about problems with taxis is actually of any use. The answer is no. I arrived on a flight and went to the departures level to get a taxi. There were almost none there at 9:30 PM which I thought would be a peak time for dropping off. The first driver wouldn't take me, and the second asked 300 baht for a 160 baht fare so I walked away. But he called me back and said he'd use the meter. I should just have ignored him, but as I said, there were few taxis in sight. After we set off, with the meter running, he refused to go the way I told him, via On Nut Road, saying there's heavy traffic. Actually, there never is, ever. So he took the express road down to Mega Bang Na and then got lost. He refused to listen to me and asked various people, including eventually a policeman. By now the meter was up to 199 and I told him to stop it and I'd only pay 200. He didn't like that and stopped and tried to make me get out. I called the Tourist Police – 1155 – to get the number for taxi complaints, which they gave me – 1584. I called it, and all they said was "Call the Tourist Police" and hung up. I called the Tourist Police back and told them and they told me to take the taxi driver to a local police station. Sure. Then the driver tried to stop at a police point which was empty to complain about me – after he had tried to cheat me on the fare, refused to take me where I wanted to go, had got lost – and there was no photo ID of the driver either. I ended up just getting out and tried to find another taxi home, which took a while from where we parted company. So, if you have a problem with a taxi don't bother trying to report it. They aren't interested.
When in Rome…
Many years ago I was sitting in the back of a taxi with my Thai wife driving along lower Sukhumvit when all of a sudden the taxi was rammed from behind by a truck and crashed into the vehicle in front. After a few seconds the driver of the taxi made a runner and then my wife pulled me outside to run! I suggested we wait for the police. My wife asked me if I wanted to spend the night at the police station. Having read the Bangkok Post for years I also decided to run! Maybe that is the reason why many do a runner. Maybe they do not want to lose face is another.
The 51st state?
A waitress in a Soi Cowboy bar told me last night that a dancer I am rather partial to has gone to America for a year with a customer and is enrolled in a school there. Good for her. I asked the waitress what part of the US she had gone to. She thought hard for a moment and then answered "Sweden."
The owner of Shark Bar continues to strenuously deny that he is the new leaseholder of the prime space on Soi Cowboy that used to be Sheba's. From time to time bar owners have create smoke screens about what's going on, but in this case I can see no reason. Failing any last minute change of plans, expect the renovated space which was Sheba's to reopen as Lighthouse, a new acquisition from the owners of Sheba's.
Things are a lot clearer at the mouth of Sukhumvit soi 33 where the owner of Duke's in Chiang Mai announced earlier this week that he would be setting up a new branch of Duke's in the vacant spot. But things are never that straight-forward in Thailand and the rumour mill has it that since making that announcement he may be getting cold feet. Here's hoping that he goes through with it and Duke's returns to Bangkok.
I've never really understood the whole shisha water pipe thing which has become popular over the past 5 or so years. These fancy pipes are found in bars, restaurants and even some upmarket nightspots. The boys in brown have been showing interest in them the past couple of weeks after reports that some outlets in Phuket offered shisha water pipes laced with illegal substances. Venue owners like them because to many customers they are chic and more than anything, they are highly profitable!
The blinding sign outside of Pretty Lady Bar in the area known as Nana Main Station has been taken down. Why it was removed, I do not know – but being so bright may have had something to do with it.
The dragon mamasan who caused havoc at Mercury before being dismissed a couple of months back can now be found at Pretty Lady Bar on the ground floor of Nana. One unfortunate customer had the beast on his lap this week. Despite being larger than he, she perched on his lap and made no secret that she was rubbing herself up against him, trying to get off. He eventually managed to repel her heft with his friends finding it most amusing. All I can say is that I hope his jeans went straight in to the wash!
Despite that beast of a mamasan, Pretty Lady Bar *is* worth visiting. The recent renovations are a little unusual in that while much money was spent, the owner went for a Spartan look. One thing the owner did get right are the countertop mirrors which you can look at and see a reflection of the dancers from an interesting angle. Many bars go for this feature but the mirrors in most bars become scuffed and dirty and soon become nothing more than a place to rest your beer. Pretty Lady Bar features good music and a decent lineup. The cashier is a hottie too!
Speaking of mamasans, Déjà Vu's menu has a special category of lady drink – mamasan lady drink – for which the venue charges a princely 220 baht. I guess this treat is available in all of the Arab's bars.
Stumble Inn in Soi Nana will celebrate its 2nd birthday with a party this coming Friday, February 22nd. Happy hour prices will run all night, there will be live music and a free buffet. Raffle prizes can be won all night long.
Wednesday of next week, February 27th, is popular long-term expat Farangman's birthday and he will celebrate it at the Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy. Friends old and new are encouraged to swing by.
The scourge of underage girls working in bars is becoming widespread with reports of the odd big name bar desperate for new staff lowering their standards and taking on girls who are seriously underage. I'm not talking just 1 or 2 years too young. Bad form this, and the penalties involved are suitably harsh. When it comes to underage girls, if you do the dirty with her, you're potentially looking at statutory rape charges. And in the case of those running a bar where underage girls are employed, all owners, managers and mamasans can be charged. If there's even the slightest doubt in your mind about a lady's age, use what I call the ladyboy rule. If you think a lady might be a ladyboy, then in all likelihood she probably is – so you should stay away. Apply that to any lady whose age you're not sure about and you should be ok.
There's also an issue at the other end of the scale. It may not be illegal, but some bars have an overage problem! There are women in some chrome pole venues who are within 10 years of a pension.
For those who enjoy mixed drinks, don't you get annoyed at the crap mixed drinks served in so many naughty bars? One bar which does mix decent drinks is the old school Sexy Night in Nana Plaza. Order a mixed drink and you get real spirits (yeah, some bars are still playing funny buggers with drinks, mixing cheap Thai whiskey with the good stuff), a decent measure and they actually mix it. Mixing a drink is not rocket science but some bars can't even manage that. And shame on you to those bars which mix Jack Daniels with the local rotgut to increase profits. Jack Daniel's has such a distinctive taste that those of us who drink it regularly know immediately when it's not the real thing.
The Silom branch of Sunrise Tacos was supposed to open in December but after all sorts of delays that had the owner pulling his hair out, it finally opened this week. Within 3 days it was so busy that the owner was saying he might need more seats! The newest branch of Sunrise Tacos is located on the corner of Silom Road and Silom soi 4, the popular soi full of gay nightspots and is open 24 hours.
A friend said to me that the cold season is over as the temperatures creep up, to which I replied we never really had a cold period this past high season, nor even a cool season. You know it's getting a little chilly in Bangkok when gogo girls get so cold that they have to put on jackets or sweaters between dance shifts but I don't remember seeing that once this year.
Down in Pattaya, Soi LK Metro has developed over the past few years into a nightlife destination with a dozen or so gogo bars. At least one, and possibly two more are coming very soon. Flanders Belgian Restaurant and Guesthouse will close in April and be converted into a gogo bar. And next door at Lolita's, there are rumours that it too will become a gogo bar. If you're in Pattaya and fancy beef stew, Flanders is the place for it but be quick, it will only be available for a couple more months before the venue changes format.
Sugar Baby opened a few weeks back on Walking Street, a new gogo bar from the owner of the popular Windmill. The venue features antics found in the likes of Windmill, Baby Dolls and What's Up, rather risqué given its location as the first gogo bar on the left side of Walking Street. With that said, the bar has been thoughtfully designed with pillars concealing what goes on inside to those who just stick their head in the door. Its location on Walking Street virtually guarantees it will be a success.
Raunchy Pattaya gogo bar Baby Dolls is hosting a party for popular Pattaya man about town, Chris, perhaps better known by his alter ego of Pagenheart. The festivities are this Wednesday, 20th February. There will be free food from Bob Palmer and Baby Dolls' infamous party games. The manager promises that the full lineup of Baby Dolls dancers and showgirls will be on parade.
English Paul, Andy's long-time colonel at Misty's in Pattaya's soi 15, is gearing up to celebrate surviving another year. The usual celebrations and commiserations will take place on Tuesday, February 26th. A pig will be sacrificed, a buffet with both Western and Thai dishes served, and many drinks will be just 35 baht between 9:00 and 10:30 PM. Do stop by if you're in town.
John, the American owner of Kiss Cool, the O2 Bar and the original O bar in Pattaya's soi 6 died last week. He was known for sitting outside "O" Bar, the first bar he opened. All his bars have the same signage, a white sign with black lettering. John was described as humble and kind, even if he did conduct his business in what some have called the filthiest soi in all of Thailand. I didn't know John myself but am told his death was alcohol-related. He was diagnosed with cirrhosis some years ago but never stopped drinking. An interesting character, he was once a professional tennis player who ended up running a bunch of brothels in Pattaya. John was waiting for a liver transplant but the reaper caught up with him before he could have the op. May he rest in peace.
Checkinn99 has extended its live music offerings with musicians performing every night of the week during happy hour from 6:00 – 8:30 PM. The new music series is called “Live at Checkinn99” which adds to the popular Sunday afternoon jazz jams (2:00 – 6:00 PM) and the popular nightly cabaret show from Music of the Heart band (8:30 PM – 1:30 AM) meaning 60 hours of live music a week. A new theme is the Tuesday Aussie bush ballads and campfire yarns session run by Mike Gilligan who recites classic Australian ballads and poems – Man from Snowy River, Clancy of the Overflow etc along with some classic old Aussie bush songs. Checkinn has made the Stickman Heineken draft jug specials at 199 baht a permanent special. I am sure cheaper beer can be found somewhere, but good luck finding a cheaper jug on lower Sukhumvit with live music. Mama Noi continues to enjoy cult status and entertains many Stickman readers seeking an audience with the living treasure of Sukhumvit. Many thanks to all readers who have made the effort to meet and greet her, including many from overseas. As her smile broadens she seems to have reversed the aging process!
Whenever I say that the profile of visitors to Thailand is changing and that businesses may have to change to satisfy the new market, I'm told that I don't know what I'm talking about. I can only guess that some are fearful that this change will see the naughty stuff become less common and perhaps less tolerated. A Russian contingent has paid 130 million baht for 10 rai of land by the Ambassador Hotel, at the far end of Jomtien Beach where a Russian themed amusement park is planned. Of course I have no idea what I am talking about and the Russians aren't taking a greater foothold in Pattaya at all!
In the newest Die Hard movie, one of the first scenes in the movie is a BBC news report about happenings in Russia with a ticker at the bottom of the screen with temperatures of major cities scrolling past. In Bangkok the temperature is listed as 12 degrees. I guess whoever mocked that up has never been here…
With taller and taller condominium buildings springing up along the skytrain line, the idea of moving in to a brand spanking new unit with views across the city has much appeal. What is there not to like about being 30, 40 or more floors above the city? Well, for one thing, there is the issue of mobile phone service – or lack of it. I had always assumed that being so high up your mobile phone would see many different cell towers and you'd always have a signal. Strangely enough, it doesn't seem to work that way. Two friends have recently moved in to units in tall condos downtown – one on the 31st floor of a building in the Asoke area, and the other on the 35th floor of a new building in Phrakanong, and each struggles to get a mobile signal in their condo. The only place either of them can actually get a signal strong enough to make a call is by standing out on the balcony. As far as actually being able to receive calls on their mobile phone if it is inside the apartment, forget it! Whether this is an issue with these two buildings or there's something else going on, I don't know. If you are thinking of moving to a new condo on a high floor, you might want to check that you can get a mobile phone signal before signing anything. It would appear to transcend mobile provider – in each building, neither AIS nor DTAC were able to get a signal inside the condo.
I think I have finally figured out why the sound is turned up so loud in cinemas in Thailand. It's easier to drown out the sound of people chattering and those using their mobile phone in the auditorium than it is for the cinema staff to confront them and tell them to shut up!
Who is the wise guy who sprayed graffiti all over the booth used by the litter control officers between Sukhumvit sois 10 and 12? Was it someone who got busted, or was it simply that it was so plain looking that someone took it upon himself to decorate it and brighten up that stretch of the pavement?!
Quote of the week comes from Arsenal Alex, "Bangkok may be more developed today, but you'd hardly say it has progressed."
Reader's story of the week comes from the inimitable Phet, "Cured of Jasmine Fever".
The government was not pleased at the decision by Nok Air to publish a calendar with racy photos.
Run, Lee, run! A Brit forced to remain in Thailand after stealing his landlord's furniture can finally go home.
A Norwegian accused of being a cold-blooded killer tries to buy his way out of a murder rap in Phuket.
A broken-hearted Aussie leaps to his death in Surin after he believes his Thai girlfriend is with someone else.
A foreign moron goes wild in Pattaya and damages a police vehicle after his girlfriend is arrested for drug offences.
Another do-gooder with ulterior motives is attempting to reform the working girls of Thailand for their own gain.
The hunt continues for a British backpacker missing in Thailand since 2008.
A British couple of a round-the-world cycling adventure are killed in Thailand when they are run over by a pickup truck.
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: I see them all the time at Thai fairs, but the Mrs. says bingo is illegal in Thailand. Surely it doesn't fall under "gambling", does it? So is bingo legal or not?
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors says: Bingo is considered gambling under the Gambling Act but is exempted by department regulations if a license is granted by the Ministry of Interior. Normally, it can only be carried out at a festival, special holiday or special fundraising event such as the Red Cross Fair. Additionally, prizes must be of low value and cash cannot be won.
Question 2: I have owned a condo in Sukhumvit soi 4 for 5 years in a well-known block. I purchased it purely for holidays as I reside in the UK. For many years agents have been filling units in the building with short-stay visitors, many of whom are from the Middle East. These agents have not been paying the annual maintenance fees and as such the building is beginning to show signs of overuse and general wear and tear. The guests who rent these apartments short term are often rude, loud and arrogant and do not abide by the general rules of the building. Some use threatening behaviour towards those who have owned their apartments many years and who live and work in Bangkok. As owners, we feel our investments are slowly going down-hill. Despite airing our concerns to the agents and the management of the apartment block, we have been ignored. We have set up an in-house committee monitoring events and are actively engaging in dialogue with the management, some of whom I believe are also agents who have not paid their fees. Many of us refuse to pay maintenance fees until the property starts being maintained properly and ceases being used as a hotel. We are aware that a former employee of the management team has left and appears to have taken some of our maintenance fees with him. Police are investigating this. We have now been informed that anyone who has not paid their maintenance fees will have the water supply to their apartment cut off. Can you confirm if the juristic management can indeed turn off the water to the apartments and if, we, the owners who are withholding our fees, can take action against the juristic management for cutting off the water? These agents are running the apartment block as a hotel and the property does not hold any type of hotel licence. What is the best way forward to stop these people from renting out rooms short term as a hotel?
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers says: It will be necessary to check the regulations issued by the juristic management on whether or not it specifies they are actually allowed to stop water services. If it is not listed in the regulations then they would have no right to stop the water.
As for the issue of owners renting out rooms, each unit is that owner's personal property and as such he or she has a legal right to make use of their assets such as renting them out. However, they are still responsible for paying the monthly maintenance fees. Some Condominium Juristic Management could try to generate additional income (commission) by acting as a property agent, that is seeking out tenants for unit owners. Again you would have to refer back to the limitations set in the regulations whether renting out property is prohibited.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors handles claims against developers as well as boards on condos that do not abide by the terms set out in the regulations. Please feel free to contact us and we can go over the regulations to determine if you have a case and what the best move would be.
Question 3: My Thai wife and I were married in a village ceremony in 1991 but never registered the marriage in Thailand. We were married legally by a judge here in Hawaii in 1991. My wife became a US citizen in 1998. She still holds her Thai passport but also has a US passport. We travel on US passports. We have two lovely, bright kids born in 2001 and 2002. We now both have professional jobs. My question is this: Can our kids apply for Thai citizenship? How? What are the time parameters? What is the procedure, if any. My wife has land in Thailand and wants to leave it to the kids. As a lawyer myself, I knows the value of correct local legal counsel. If this is doable, I am very open to hiring a Thai law firm such as Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers Legal to expedite the process. We will be in Thailand this June for three weeks.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers says: According to the Thai Nationality Act, Section 7, children who are born by a Thai father or Thai mother whether they are born in Thailand or outside the country, have Thai nationality from birth. There are two options. Register the children's births at the Thai embassy in your home country and they will be recorded as Thai citizens at this point. It may be possible to obtain a Thai passport at this time, however if the delay is too great your children can enter Thailand on their US passports.
Once here, Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist you and your wife in registering them here. They will need a Thai address to register at, and obtain Thai ID cards. From there they can apply for a Thai passport as well.
It's a good thing at an individual level and good for us as a collective group and the way we are perceived that so many expats are making an effort to learn and use Thai. Thai language schools are booming – and studying at a school really is the best way to learn proper Thai. In addition to those learning Thai in a classroom, plenty seem to be learning the language at night, learning words and terms which really oughtn't be used away from the bar industry, and which absolutely shouldn't be used in polite company. I guess that some guys have picked up some really crass terms without realising how strong and offensive they are. Speaking Thai will endear you to most Thais who appreciate foreigners making an effort, but all that goodwill will come undone if you use certain words. Thais will happily deal with rough pronunciation or even a rural accent, but not crude words and terms. And there is no word worse than the slang word for the monitor lizard. I cannot stress strongly enough that this word, as with a number of Thai cuss words, shouldn't be used at all! While you might find it amusing to use words considered coarse, the Thais are way more sensitive about this than other nationalities. Use them once and that's it, you'll forever be seen as low class and uncouth – and in a class conscious society that's not a good thing if you plan on sticking around.
Your Bangkok commentator,