Stickman's Weekly Column April 1st, 2013

A Big Bunch Of Bananas


I am proud that I have managed to run this website and write this column for so long. I've written much that has helped thousands of Western men negotiate the tricky path that is the pursuit of love with a Thai woman. I've been interviewed numerous times in the mainstream press where I've been called Bangkok's Agony Uncle in Thailand's top expat rag. Beyond these borders, interviews with me have appeared in such notable publications as the American edition of Penthouse magazine and British newspapers. This column is read by the diplomatic officials of many Western embassies along with many of Bangkok's expat movers and shakers. Bangkok bar owners don't typically read the local forums and websites, but many nervously scan this column each week for mention of their bar(s). But these minor accolades and achievements pale into insignificance with the bragging rights I will soon boast in what is the biggest bar industry news of the year. Last year I jokingly nicknamed Nana Plaza as Banana Plaza. I had no idea that just a few months later that that would become the official name. There is, however, a small issue. I coined the nickname Banana Plaza because the refurbished plaza had been painted yellow. The reason for the name change is that Nana Plaza is about to become 100% ladyboy. The plaza is about to be full of bananas!



Nana Plaza sold for a staggering sum and the investors are keen to maximise the return on their investment. But despite being widely regarded as the best of Bangkok's red light areas, many bars in Nana Plaza aren't doing well. The reason is simple. The bars cannot get girls. Few girls means few customers. It's as simple as that.

When I first heard the rumour that Nana Plaza was going to go all ladyboy I ignored it as I do most of the rumours that reach me. When whispers made it on to Thailand's top ladyboy forum where switch hitters delight in sharing their experiences with the third sex, a reader tipped me off. I checked it out but like most of the posters, I didn't believe it.

When I started hearing about activity behind the scenes in the plaza shrouded in secrecy I started to wonder. First Fantasia was sold, but with denials by all parties. Then Hollywood Rock was sold and again, all parties were sworn to secrecy. Then various bars in the plaza were up for sale and they all had one thing in common – not one had ladyboys!

I knew it had to be true when earlier this week the founder of Angelwitch was spotted getting a tour of bars for sale in the plaza. He sold out and left the industry 2 years ago to enjoy life. He has plenty of money. I knew the reason his interest in running a bar had been reinvigorated – he's a known fan of ladyboys!


Candidography


All of the ladyboy bars in Nana Plaza do very well. 2 of the top 5 bars in Nana Plaza have 100% ladyboys – Cascade and Obsession. There is not one ladyboy bar in Nana Plaza which isn't highly profitable and even the smallest ladyboy bar, the single shophouse Temptations, does very well.

Two gogo bars in Nana Plaza open during the day, Obsession with an all-ladyboy crew and Lollipop, which features a mix of ladies and ladyboys by night but ladies only by day. Guess which is doing better trade? Obsession, of course!

As mentioned in recent columns, there has been steady growth in the number of ladyboy bars in the plaza. Today 10 out of the 25-odd gogo bars in Nana Plaza are either partially or entirely ladyboy bars.

What do the few bars in Nana Plaza which are losing money have in common? None of them have ladyboys!

There has been a noticeable increase in the popularity of ladyboys. Watch the traffic going in and out of the short-time hotels in the plaza and almost half of the customers are with a ladyboy!

The popularity of ladyboys is visible on this website where there has been a growth in ads for ladyboy bars and ladyboy escort services. These advertisers always renew because Stickman readers use their services!

A little known fact known only to webmasters of Thailand-centric websites is that some of the most used search phrases for Thailand websites is "Thai ladyboy" or similar phrases.



The revenue from barfines in ladyboy bars is much higher than in bars with girls only – and barfines cost the bar nothing. Gogo girls get barfined on average once a night whereas ladyboys are barfined on average a few times a night. Girls being barfined 2 or more times in a night is the exception; with ladyboys it's the norm. One way to maximise revenue is to increase the percentage of revenue from barfines from which there are no fixed costs – and that is easier to do in a ladyboy bar.

Those in the know claim that ladyboys are better in bed and provide a better sexual experience. This is backed up by the (straight) foreign owner of a well-known Pattaya naughty boys hotel which has two gogo bars on its ground floor, one full of girls and the other full of ladyboys. The manager says that customers coming down the stairs with a woman in tow often have a gloomy look on their face whereas those in the arms of a ladyboy grin like they've just won the lottery! The widespread complaints about diminishing service standards provided by bargirls aren't shared by ladyboy lovers.

Many attempts have been made to rid ladyboys from the entrance of Nana Plaza and while it has been effective for short periods, they always return, congregating out front in ever increasing numbers. Just last week the cops conducted ladyboy roundups on Soi Nana on at least 3 different nights, yet this week upon leaving the plaza men without a lady in tow were asked if they were looking for a good time. These ladyboys wouldn't be there if they weren't getting customers!

There is a novelty value with ladyboys that makes the concept of a bar complex full of ladyboys easier for the general public to accept. It is also felt that a ladyboy bar area will appeal to mainstream tourists and become something of a tourist attraction, boosting revenue.


Thai ladyboys


ladyboy Bangkok


The plans aren't final but the concept is simple – Nana Plaza will be ladyboy-only. It is felt that the current format of 25+ gogo bars requires diversification.

The beer bars on the ground floor will go and a beer garden constructed from where mainstream tourists can relax and watch the show.

There will be a cabaret show with scheduled performances every night. Provisional plans have it where Rainbow 4 is, also taking in part of G Spot. Again, the goal is to attract more mainstream tourists in to the plaza.

At least one more short-time hotel will be built within the plaza.

The only females in the plaza will be waitresses, cashiers and customers. There will be no female gogo dancers at all.

There will be a dramatic effect on the 2 other major farang bar areas which should see an increase in business.

Cockatoo in Soi Cowboy which is owned by the same group as Temptations will relocate to Nana and will revert to a female only bar meaning Cowboy will be all girls and virtually ladyboy-free.

When the axe falls – the date remains uncertain – there will be a scramble to employ the estimated 800 Nana gogo dancers by bar owners in Cowboy, Patpong and even Pattaya.


Thai ladyboy


Negotiations have been taking place with the King's Group in Patpong to transplant some of their ladyboy bars to Nana. Initially against the idea, several sweeteners have been offered and word is that at least 2 King's Group bars will relocate.

Clauses in the bar lease agreements state that all bars must fit in with the theme and concept of the plaza and there is a contract buy-out clause which the leaseholder may execute. A showdown is on the cards between a Thai-owned group in the plaza with 4 bars and the land owners.

The new bars will be themed. Different groups have different preferences i.e. Thai ladyboys working in Singapore are almost all uncut whereas those who work in Hong Kong tend to be cut, as are the respective preferences. At present, Voodoo is the only bar where all the ladyboys are cut.

What this all means for the beer bars outside the plaza, the hotels in the area and the many other businesses in Soi Nana which feed off Nana Plaza remains to be seen. There will be a dramatic change in the profile of visitors to the area.

I expect outrage from some business owners – some of whom are ladyboy haters – and similar outrage from naughty boys. No doubt trannies, cocks in frocks and chicks with dicks will be all over the local forums.


The Strip Gogo Bar Bangkok


Investigating this story this week, I was flirting with Aum, pictured below, and declined her offer to go upstairs to which she replied, "How about I go downstairs?"

Ladyboys aren't my thing, I said.

"You don't know if you don't try", she fired back, and then she did that thing with her tongue.

When I coined the nickname Banana Plaza I could not possibly have known that it would become prophetic. I could not have predicted how ladyboys would become so dominant in the plaza. I never knew so many guys were bananas over ladyboys and in my wildest dreams I never would have thought that Nana Plaza was going to go exclusively ladyboy. But this is Thailand and you really shouldn't be surprised at anything that happens here. And at a personal level it doesn't bother me in the least. I don't care what happens, I just write about it.

Welcome to the new Banana Plaza – and don't forget who named it!


Thailand ladyboy





Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken in Patpong soi 2. 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 – The looming antibiotic crisis.

Every now and again at the end of your weekly column you include advice about STDs and viruses such as HIV. I quite like the way you do that as it is the last thing people read and hopefully it sinks in as they exit the page. Not that long ago a friend of mine caught what was diagnosed as Gonorrhea. No problem he thought as this is an infection that has long been under control by the medical world and he would simply take the correct dose of pills and be right as rain. Wrong! In recent years unbeknown to him, Gonorrhoea has slowly been evolving and mutating into a nearly incurable problem! The list of antibiotics that successfully treated it has almost completely diminished and it's down to one drug that is effective. I have taken great interest in this as so many of my friends who get drunk and think nothing of getting in bed with a bargirl, who by the way if infected will show almost no signs, and not worry about the consequences of an STD because in their minds it's an easy fix!

Recapturing the fun of the Thailand of old.

I came over to Angeles City for the weekend. My first impression of this place is WOW with a capital W! I had feelings like my first time in Bangkok! Thailand is being put to shame in the nightlife industry. Some key points:
* HUGE number of girls – and I mean HUGE!
* MANY good looking girls. A rare commodity in Thailand bars now.
* Incredible atmosphere and vibe.
* One bar we were in a guy bought some ping-balls, and the girls went crazy. Just an amazing atmosphere.
* One very nice novelty in one bar that was packed with 200+ attractive girls, smiling, dancing and engaging customers was a BJ drink! Bought this girl the BJ drink and she did an amazing job with it, with a great smile at the end.
It felt like Thailand 10+ years ago! Oh, and the icing on the cake is that it is cheaper! The downside is that there really are only bars there, so nothing really to do!

Do you need a brain scan?

With many European dinosaurs grumbling about the decreasing value of their pensions due to currency devaluation, there is a lot of talk about the Philippines being a viable alternative. Having just spent 3 months there, I can confirm that the cost of living is indeed lower and the services of damsels can be procured at less than half the price as in Thailand. However, that's where the positives end. The petty crime rate is insanely high. The food is abysmal. Friends are easy to come by, but so are constant requests for financial assistance. The infrastructure is shoddy and getting worse. People lie and cheat so much that you end up not being able to trust anyone. The whole country is a disaster in progress, more like an African banana republic than the Asian tiger it would like to become. The most damning statistic is that fully 10% of the population lives abroad and it would be a lot more if rich countries had not tightened their immigration requirements. If you think Thai wives are good at taking foreigner husbands to the cleaners, try marrying a Pinay and see what happens. Anyone thinking of relocating there from Thailand may require a brain scan.



Afternoon delight.

I'm sure the parked vehicles play some part in punters not venturing in to Nana Plaza. What the bars need to do is put in a full staff and have people with billboards at the entrance to the Plaza to let those passing by know that there is fun to be had inside. I'm sure that the majority of people passing the entrance have absolutely no idea there are bars open inside. Why else would the bars surrounding Nana be packed yet the air-conditioned gogos are empty?

Visa runs, no thanks.

I hated visa runs. Every time I went there was someone who had overstayed their visa causing the rest of us to have to wait. The worst was a guy from Korea who didn't know he had overstayed, thinking he had 90 days when he only got 30 on entry. Not knowing he had overstayed, he had no money to pay the fine. I'm not sure how they finally worked that one out.

Aussie wishes he was a Kiwi.

I can relate to your comment about getting an APEC card from the Australian government. I used to have one, and they are terrific for doing business in Asia, quite apart from having access to express lanes at Customs and Immigration in APEC countries. Mine ran out a year or so ago, and the Australian Government has made it incredibly bureaucratic and difficult for small and medium-sized business owners to get them. I am seriously contemplating getting a New Zealand passport!

Mind the gap!

I read with interest the article about high speed trains in last week's column. When I first moved to Bangkok in 2003, the big political / economic story was about the train carriages for the skytrain and subway. As I recall, the actual train cars did not fit the physical specifications for the train platforms. That is why when a station is announced, the phrase "please mind the gap between train and platform" is always added. Let's hope that this time around that the planners and engineers get it right!

Accept it because that's how it is?

Enough already about police stop and searches. Sure, it happens to me now and then, but it's nothing to get stressed about. It's not like you're overwhelmed with people writing in complaining about drugs being planted on them. In fact I don't recall any such letter appearing in your column. People just need to chill out and go with the flow. They are in Thailand and that's how it goes here.

No money, no beer!

What to do when an expat acquaintance who seemed to be flush with cash but without any real income suddenly turns around and says he has run out of money, but he can join you for a drink if you loan him 1000 baht? I am glad I followed your tip about not letting everyone know where you live as I don't really want a knock at the door asking for a bailout.



Velvet High Club and Restaurant, Sukhumvit soi 33's newest venue, will open in the building which once housed Christie's with a soft opening this coming Friday, April 6th. A sign outside states that everyone gets 3 free drinks on the opening night. The same sign says that it will be a meet the models evening which sounds intriguing. It's as good a chance as you'll get to check the place out.

Tills aren't ringing quite so fast, and daily takes aren't what they were as the number of visitors on Sukhumvit is tapering off, hardly a surprise with Songkran around the corner. It's less than a fortnight until that awful time of water fights and general madness which mark the start of the slow season. Visitor numbers have been breaking records and some expats are looking forward to the slow season when they don't have to fight the crowds for a good seat in their favourite bars and restaurants.

Nana Liquid, the disco on the ground floor of the Nana Hotel, remains closed. It was reported last week that it had closed due to the strict enforcement of 2 AM closing on Soi Nana – which continues to be enforced. Chins are now wagging about when and even if Nana Liquid will reopen. The official word is that Nana Liquid will remain closed until further notice.

It's hot outside and Billboard has turned the temperature up inside the bar. The cabaret style shows performed by their coyote dancers have been dumped in favour of sexy shows that are more fitting of the Nana Group's premier gogo bar.

Popular Angelwitch founder Matt was seen meeting with a representative of the Nana Group in Nana Plaza this week. Getting a guided tour of bars he's probably been through many times already hardly seems likely. Is Matt considering an investment in Nana?

The interior of Lighthouse, the gogo bar that will replace Sheba's in the middle of Soi Cowboy, is coming along. However there has been no progress on the exterior and there's no word on when it will open.

Popular British-owned and run Soi Nana beer bar Stumble Inn has a special on 3-litre towers of Tiger and Heineken, discounted from 750 baht to 500 baht. That's the price all day, all night.



Pretty Lady Bar took down their Nana Main Station sign because of complaints that it was so bright and that it was hurting people's eyes. It was replaced with a red on black canvas sign which you can only read if you're standing right in front of it! Compare that to the lovely new sign at Lollipop, right next door, which stands out all around the plaza.


Lollipop Gogo Bar


visa run


The Star Wars bar of Bangkok, the Thermae, is going strong and this week I made my biannual run through. It was much the same as previous visits – plenty of pretty fairer skinned girls dollied up in that cute style Asian men crave. And the girls had eyes only for Asian men. Many Thermae girls' reluctance to even look at Western men, let alone entertain thoughts of exiting the premises with them, doesn't appear to have deterred some with Westerners making up about 1/3 of the customers. It can be confusing for those not in the know as to who goes with who. All of the prettiest girls gush at the sight of young Japanese men but refuse to even acknowledge the existence of Western guys. There is an easy solution. The Thermae could adopt the Eden Club approach and paint a bright yellow line on the floor. All the girls who go with Japanese only could stand on one side of the line and the farang-friendly girls could stand on the other.

Naughty boys could do a lot worse than hunting for #43 in Angelwitch who is awfully cute.

Down in Pattaya, Baby Dolls is running a promotion throughout the month of April. All shots of house whiskey, vodka, gin and rum are buy one shot and receive a double. This promotion runs all night, every night and applies at happy hour too! Anything to help ease the exchange rate pain helps, right? And do say hello to manager Mister Egg who just got out of hospital and is recovering from dengue fever. You can check out the new, slimmer, slightly pinker version of him. He tells me there must be better ways to lose weight than contract Dengue!

In terms of personnel, who is the most important person in the overall success of a naughty bar? Is it pretty dancers? Or is it perhaps the mamasan who helps connect the girls with the customers and make sure the girls are generally happy? Is it the manager who oversees the whole operation? Or could it be someone else? The Rainbow Group is the only bar I know of with a member of staff whose sole duty is recruiting. This person is based outside of Bangkok and their role is to ensure a steady stream of (attractive) girls replace those lost through natural attrition. Maybe Bacarra has a recruiter as well because they never have a shortage of girls. As many bars struggle to recruit, it would seem that some of the bigger bars, and certainly the groups with many bars, should focus more on recruitment. Without girls, bars fail. So perhaps the most important person to a bar's success is the recruiter?

Naughty boys ought to know that the price of condoms has gone up over the past couple of years, some by around 50%.

On the subject of price increases, The Huntsman, the British pub in the basement of The Landmark Hotel, isn't endearing itself to its once loyal customers after increasing prices by a whopping 17%. Prices in The Huntsman used to be inclusive of VAT and service charge, but now they whack ++ on the bill. To make matters worse, their Sunday buffet isn't nearly as good as it was. They recently reduced the number of prawns in the prawn cocktail from TWO to ONE! What once was a popular expat hangout on a Sunday afternoon has seen the number of diners follow the quality – both are in serious decline.



The drunkard foreigner with an infected foot living under the steps of the Nana BTS station has been identified. His nickname is Tobbe and he comes from Sweden. He is well known in his small town back in Sweden where he also lived on the streets. He told people back in Sweden the reason he has had problems with a leg infection goes back to being hit by a tuktuk in Bangkok last year. Tobbe seems to roam the streets and does not spend every night in the same place. He was last seen under the Nana BTS station this past Thursday but when I made my rounds on Friday I didn't see him.

Conversations amongst expats at this time of year often start with complaints about the heat. It's hot and humid but you can avoid the worst of it with a little effort. One of my tricks is to turn the air-conditioning down to its coolest setting for about 15 minutes before I go out. I find I can then walk outside in the heat for a good few minutes before I break out in a sweat, giving me enough time to get to the skytrain, or wherever it is I am going. I find loose clothing also helps. But more than anything, to avoid the worst of the heat, drop a few pounds. Big boys seem to suffer from the heat much more than those who are trim.

Progress on the construction of the new Duke's restaurant where Coyote Mexican restaurant was near the start of Sukhumvit soi 33 is progressing at the speed a Thai girl walk along a soi – super slow! Nothing happened for weeks and only now are they starting to strip the existing fittings. Be patient because it looks like it will be a good few months until Duke's opens.

A good coffee – genuinely good coffee – is for me one of life's pleasures and the best I've found in Thailand is not where you'd expect. You'd think a boutique cafe or perhaps one of the top-end Italian restaurants in Bangkok would have the best coffee. While most Italian restaurants have decent coffee – they seem to stock Illy or Lavazza which is perfectly ok – but you can get better. Good coffee isn't hard to find in Bangkok these days but the capital isn't the place for the best cup. My next guess would have been Chiang Mai – where coffee is grown and where there's something of a society scene with many charming cafes. However, my experience of coffee in Chiang Mai is that it's hit and miss. When it comes to a *great* cup of coffee you have to head to that bastion of sophistication, Pattaya! In my experience, nowhere compares to Benjamit Bakery and Coffee at the South Pattaya Road end of Soi Buakhao, next to the Buakhao Market. It's easily the best coffee I've had in Thailand and in a class of its own. If you're in Pattaya and need a coffee fix, head straight there! Oh, and just in case you think that it's simply a case of finding out who their supplier is and going to other coffee shops with coffee from the same supplier, think again. Benjamit roasts their own beans right there on the premises. They offer a few blends to take away at premium prices – but worth every baht! Don't be put off by the location and the modest setting, their coffee is *superb*!


coffee shop Pattaya



The cops stopped and searched a reader who was coming out of the Lumpini MRT station, the first I have heard of police conducting checks in that area. Reports of police stopping and searching Caucasians on Sukhumvit keep coming in and most are around the start of soi 22 on the even numbered soi side of the road.

Speaking of the authorities, I noticed a very sneaky rubbish police AKA Tessakit (City Hall / Municipality) officer on Sukhumvit this week near soi 15. He was on patrol and in uniform and wearing a cap that said Royal Thai Police! Any unsuspecting foreigner stopped by him would assume he was a copper as the Tessakit uniform is very similar to that of the police, when in fact he is not a policeman at all!

On the subject of the rubbish police, I note that plastic trashcans have been appearing all over town recently. A legitimate complaint for as long as I can remember is the lack of trashcans in downtown Bangkok. Hopefully this goes some way towards rectifying that.

Thai Airways has a number of special offers, amongst them a discount for over 60s on domestic flights. Only limited seats are available and it can't be booked online so if you're eligible, visit the local Thai Airways office for more details.

A fellow known as Mobi has written a novel and put it on his blog free for all to read. It's in 4 parts – here's the first part. Mobi is a recovering alcoholic now living in Pattaya and has had a very colourful life.

A reader has built two shophouse style buildings over in Phnom Penh which may appeal to readers with a Cambodian significant other. For anyone after storefront retail space with living arrangements above this is ideal. Land ownership in Cambodia is similar to that of Thailand i.e. there are a few hoops to jump through but it is doable. Risk takers could always put it in their special someone's name. The property falls within the Phnom Phen city limits; it's about 10 minutes outside of the capital which is reflected in the price. I am told something similar inside the city would be 3 – 4 times the asking price. Details here.


Cambodia townhouse for sale


Quote of the week is a Stickman original, "For the Bangkok hi-so, high prices is often all a restaurant needs to be popular!"

Reader's story of the week is "Recurring Theme In Submissions Which Is Beginning To Irritate Me" which looks at the propensity of some to generalise that Thais in the bar industry are representative of all Thais.

60 underage bar staff were found when a sweep was conducted in Pattaya.

From the Sydney Morning Herald, why Thailand and Greece spell tragedy for travellers.

Thailand's troubled south gets a mention in the UK's Independent.

Two older Brits from Rochdale are killed when an out of control truck smashes into them on Ko Samui.

Pattaya Police called a meeting with bar owners and managers and reminded them that the law says they must close by 2 AM.

An English thug gives the bird to the English justice system while holidaying in Thailand.

Contestants in Miss Thailand 2013 contest can be seen bouncing around in bikinis in this video.

The cars aren't bad either in these photos from the Bangkok Motor Show!


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: I have a question regarding condo / property purchases in Thailand and overseas transfers that are auditable in order to demonstrate the funds for purchasing property originate from overseas. What – for the purposes of these laws in Thailand demonstrating that funds came into Thailand from overseas for a foreigner to purchase a condo in Thailand – is the definition of "overseas"? Suppose I have invested in areas surrounding Thailand, and would like to sell these investments at a profit. I would like that my money not be repatriated to a bank in my home country in the West but rather be sent directly to Thailand for an investment in real estate property. Can I purchase real estate property in Thailand and send the money to Thailand from "overseas" in Burma? Laos? Cambodia? Or does the wire transfer have to come into Thailand from Switzerland or Tokyo or Hong Kong or some other more "overseas" nation? Does the wire transfer have to come from the country of my passport?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: The money needs to be wired in from another country. There is no specification that it be from a particular country but you must remember that you have to specify the exact purchase when you wire transfer the money; exact address and number of the condo you wish to purchase. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist you in reviewing the purchase agreement. Additionally you may want to have due diligence done on the property to make sure there are no liens or issues.



Question 2: I have just finished my 9-month contract with a teaching agency, though my work permit and visa are valid until June. Now they are saying that despite the fact that I won't be receiving any more salary, I have to pay them tax and / or social security, or they will cancel my work permit and visa. Is this required by law or are they just trying to rip me off? And if they do cancel my visa, do I only have 7 days to get a new one?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: If your employment is terminated, you, as the work permit holder, could return your work permit booklet directly to the Labour Department (even though the expiration date of work permit is stated as June). Your employer too has the right to report the cancellation of work permit at the Labour Department.

Maintaining your work permit means that they will have to keep you on their employees' list, that is maintaining your name in their social fund system, their monthly withholding tax on staff salaries, the employer will have to file for the tax they withheld from their staff's salary, as well as the social fund (employee's part) plus their (employer's) contribution. This sounds as though it were the case here.

Upon cancellation of the work permit your visa (extension of stay – that you have obtained from Immigration) will also be cancelled. You will either need to leave the country that same day or you can obtain a 7-day extension from Immigration. There can be no further extensions after that.

Whether or not you are required to pay the taxes and keep the work permit would depend on whether or not there were any special stipulations in your contract.



Question 3: At a massage parlour on Walking Street, a ladyboy first kicked me in the back, then punched me in the face two times. I did nothing and my hands were at my side. I first called the tourist police phone number but there was no answer. I then reported it the tourist police who were setting up their table at the end of Walking Street. Setting up the table was very much their priority rather than take a crime report. I went to the police station where I waited for an investigator to tell me how to proceed. I waited 2½ hours before he picked up his computer and was going to leave the building. I approached him in the lobby where he thought that by turning his body 30 degrees I could again become invisible. He left the building. A 'volunteer' told me that I should come back in the morning (it was 12:30 at this point). I came back, they took my statement, translated to Thai. They promised to get back to me. I heard nothing. I followed up with a letter asking the status 2 weeks later and an English speaking lady called me and said that she found my letter (which I had sent by overnight mail) in a drawer, and basically there was nothing she could do for me. If the police refuse to investigate an assault and battery charge, or even to look at a CCTV recording of it, is it possible to pursue the case in a Thai civil court?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: Normally, if two individuals engage in a fight and if that fight is broken up by the police then both parties will be taken to the police station where both would be fined at the rate of 500 baht. But in the case of an assault, the injured party must make a police report (you must be able to identify or remember the person who attacked you), where the official will advise you to get a medical check to support your police report. If you do not know the name of that person, but could remember the face, you can request the official to escort you to arrest the suspect for further investigation. Once you know the person who attacked you, you may then proceed with legal action in the Criminal Court for the physical assault charges while in Civil Court you can claim for compensation and the damage fees. You could use the ruling of the Criminal court decision to support your Civil Court case claim. If you need assistance with the civil case please contact Sunbelt Legal Advisors to determine the best course of action.



Question 4: Can a foreigner (US citizen) get a mortgage from a Thai bank (I heard of Bangkok Bank in Singapore or HSBC) to buy a condominium or house in Thailand if he is retired, has a healthy monthly income, is prepared to put down 30%, and does not plan on working in Thailand?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: Every bank would have a standard qualification requirement for their prospective borrower, which is usually the age, the income and value of the property that would be used as collateral against the mortgage. Therefore, being a retired person would make it very difficult to request a loan (not to mention that you are a foreigner without work (in Thailand)).

It is a requirement by the Land Office that in order for a foreigner to be able to purchase a condominium in Thailand, the foreign purchaser must transfer the purchasing funds in to Thailand from overseas. In the past it has been possible to obtain a loan from Singapore to purchase a condo but we have not heard of this occurring recently.

Before purchasing any property in Thailand due diligence should be done to ensure that it is fully legal to purchase (i.e. falls under the foreign ownership quota) and that there are no liens on the property as well as draft and / or review the purchase agreement to make sure there are no loopholes. Please feel free to contact Sunbelt Asia legal advisors should you find a condo you wish to purchase.





My apologies for publishing the column late this week. In the end it was published 6 hours and 1 minute later than the time I strive to publish every week, 6 PM Thailand time. I do like the first day of April! :) It's unlikely this will happen any time again soon, although I might just take a week off one week. I hope that this week's column was worth the wait.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Firehouse