Stickman's Weekly Column September 15th, 2013

Playskool, The Reawakening

There was a time when every bar in Nana Plaza was full of pretty dancers, a time when there was no guarantee you'd get a seat after 9 PM, when bars competed not on where the prettiest girls were, or where birthday suits could be seen, but where the best music was played. And for those who liked older music and rock, PlaySkool was their destination. At the turn of the millennium PlaySkool was amongst the best bars in the plaza, up there with G Spot, Voodoo, Rainbow 1 and Pretty Lady. But when the owners of PlaySkool turned their attention to their new investments down the road, Suzy Wong and Sheba's, PlaySkool fell in to a prolonged period of neglect. With ground floor rents in Nana Plaza running around a quarter million a shophouse and fewer customers about, bar owners have to fight for every punter. PlaySkool was looking ragged and closed last month as a major renovation was undertaken. Everything was stripped right back to the concrete shell and a new bar was built with a brand new design. Last week PlaySkool reopened and this week I checked it out.

Bangkok gogo bar

PlaySkool's frontage has been brightened up and the beer bar redesigned. There's a definite correlation on Nana's ground floor between those bars which are bright and those which aren't – the bright bars attract more customers.

Bangkok gogo bar

A small vestibule sits between the beer bar outside and the gogo bar proper inside. Given the frequency with which the authorities like to visit these days, it's perhaps surprising that more venues don't have what is as much a security feature as anything else.

The bar is a no smoking zone and as a sign of the times, closed circuit cameras are in place – as they are in many bars.

Bangkok gogo bar

The service girls are ready but the bar can't open yet. The dancers are slowly dawdling in, some looking like they just woke up an hour ago…probably because they did.

Bangkok gogo bar

A mamasan goes over the rules with a girl on her first night. Like all bars the rules are numerous and the penalties for breaking them harsh. So lackadaisical are some of the girls that without fear of hitting them in the pocket they would just come and go as they please.

Bangkok gogo bar

Bikinis are handed out to the dancers. With different colours and designs, it's first in, first served.

In some bars bikinis are provided free. They are handed out when the girls arrive and collected when the girl is barfined, or at the end of the night.

Bangkok gogo bar

It's a hard life.

Bangkok gogo bar mamasan

A girl asks the mamasan – yes, he prefers to be called a mamasan over a papasan, for reasons which you can probably make a decent guess at – what the text message in English she's just received means.

Bangkok gogo bar

Long gone are the days when bars sold bar-branded merchandise. These days the only branded apparel in Nana Plaza bars seems to be that worn by staff.

Most bars make little effort towards branding. Putting up a neon sign is not enough to attract customers and the bars with the biggest and brightest signs are not necessarily the busiest. Branded beer holders, branded apparel, posters throughout the bar with details of specials, promotions, events and parties and flyers handed out by girls from the bar in and around the bar area should be the minimum – but no bars are doing it! Some bar groups do actually have a full-time marketing manager but in most cases you wouldn't know it.

Bangkok gogo bar

It's just about time for the dancers to get up on stage, and staff to grab a quick bite before the curtains open.

The odd bar allows dancers out to buy food during their shift, but often they pay the wait staff to get something for them.

When the food vendors who operated throughout the plaza were repelled outside – which has been a boon for the ease of getting around as well as the general cleanliness of the plaza – the girls have to venture much further to grab a snack.

Bangkok gogo bar

The lights dim, the music cranks up and the dancers drag themselves up on stage. They take a while to warm up, a combination of a lack of sleep and the fact that many don't like what they do. Only when they get some liquor inside them do they start to warm up.

Many bars have a ritual based in superstition which they perform before the bar opens or when the music comes on. It may involve dancers standing in a row and slinging a wooden penis between their legs or running around the bar and tapping the wooden penis against each girl. In other bars it might be more basic and one of the older staff might say a prayer or ask for a blessing.

Bangkok gogo bar

PlaySkool gets going at 7:30 and it's usually the coyote girls who are first on stage. They dance and joke amongst themselves while the two in blue who happen to be suspiciously taller than the coyotes do their own thing.

A mamasan starts waving her arms frantically at me to stop shooting as the small window is about to close as customers enter the bar.

Bangkok gogo bar

For Nana to recover from the recent targeted crackdown that has seen approximately one third of all the dancers in the plaza leave, it's going to a major recruitment drive. The management of PlaySkool understands this and has taken on coyote dancers.

In recent years naughty boys have lamented the arrival of coyote girls. They argue that it is not always obvious who the regular dancers are and who the coyotes are, a frustration because often the coyotes are not barfineable – or if they are the asking price can be silly. Today the regular girls in many bars are so average that if a girl is somewhat attractive and can dance then she's probably a coyote. The way the industry is going, many bars need coyotes.

Bangkok gogo bar

The layout of PlaySkool has changed. The bar used to be in the back left-hand corner, beside the toilets, has moved to the front. With a curtain between it and the beer bar outside it makes serving customers easier. Where the bar used to be a Jacuzzi has been installed.

Bangkok gogo bar

If you'd heard that there was a bar with a Jacuzzi where girls could be found dancing without a tattoo, I can confirm that it was not an urban myth. Here's the proof, 2 girls in the Jacuzzi in PlaySkool, attractive and not a tattoo to be seen.

Bangkok gogo bar

The piece de resistance is not just the Jacuzzi, but the whole back corner. Above the Jacuzzi a laser machine is mounted on the ceiling flush above it, with lasers firing out patterns around the edge of the Jacuzzi, with the perfectly aligned precision you don't often see in these parts. A machine blows large bubbles out over the Jacuzzi and the back corner of the bar, a change from the smoke / dry ice machines that you seldom see these days.

Sitting in the back corner of the bar with two hotties gyrating in the tub, both making eye contact and smiling, it's like you're in a music video and the performers are right in front of you.

Bangkok gogo bar

The newly renovated PlaySkool is comfortable, clean and seems to be a hit with customers. The average customer bill is higher than it was before the renovation, suggesting customers are staying longer.

Flanked by the perennially popular Rainbow 1 and the recently opened Angelwitch 2, the location is great. The big challenge PlaySkool faces – the same challenge every bar faces today – is getting girls to fill the bar. If they can do that then they can challenge the Rainbows, Spanky's, Angelwitch and Billboard. PlaySkool has reawakened.

Where was this photo taken?

sponsored by Sunrise Tacos


Last week's photo was taken of the remaining shophouse not pulled down near the corner of Petchaburi and Phyathai Roads.
I had hoped to resume offering prizes this week but am still awaiting response from the proposed prize provider. Hopefully prizes will resume next week.

(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 WEEKMamasan mischief.

I was treated rudely by a mamasan at a Bangkok gogo. Upon politely summoning the mamasan to answer a question about barfining the lovely lass I'd bought a drink for, the mamasan sighed an I-can't-be-bothered-to-help-you sigh, loud enough to be heard from 10 feet away over loud music; clearly, she was annoyed that I'd dared ask her to help me. But, despite the mamasan's rude behaviour, I paid her for my companion's barfine, paid a waitress for our drinks, and left the waitress a small tip. Imagine my surprise then, when, as the dancer and I exited the bar, the same mamasan asked me for a tip. It must be routine behaviour for her, as she also showed me the palm of her hand, upon which the word "TIP" was scrawled in black ink, along with a few other numbers and notes. It certainly wasn't a tattoo of the nickname "Tip" that so many Thai women have; instead, it was a way for her to make her demand for a tip known to punters when the music is too loud. I was appalled, and gave her nothing. She scowled at me for being keeneow, and I wanted to ask her if she'd treat a Thai customer this way. Would any Thai bar-goer tolerate being howled at and then solicited for a tip, or reprimanded for not giving one? Surely not. So why does she treat her non-Thai customers this way? Your column last week included a letter from a reader who was fed up with what he regards as readers' unwarranted criticism of both life in Thailand, and of dark-skinned, underprivileged persons. But presumably he and your entire audience can agree that such treatment by Thais of non-Thai customers is outrageous. All the more so when the bar in question is owned by a farang, as this one is. I hereby ask bar owners, then, to prohibit this behaviour.

Anti-foreigner sentiment on the rise?

After coming to Bangkok for 20 years and living here for 6, I can say I have not come across any blatant anti-foreigner feeling coming from Thais, until the last 18 months or so. I have mixed with Thais outside of tourist areas for a long time so I think I can tell that something is changing, but I wonder why it is. This past week a woman on an escalator at Central Rama 2 started to rant about farangs and told me I was crazy. I told her she was as well for talking to strangers. Then today, sitting minding my own business while waiting for the Mrs. in Tesco, a Thai woman was chatting to another. Seeing me glance at them, one started slagging farangs, dirty, why are they here etc. I did not look at them again but when they broke up one came up to me, prodded me, gave me a smirk and the finger right in my face and then walked off quickly. I was shocked to put it mildly and was surprised how upsetting it was having no obvious cause than me being foreign. The Mrs. tore off in pursuit to sort her out but the woman disappeared in the crowd, probably just as well for her. I wonder if any other readers have had similar experiences. I'm pretty certain this sort of thing did not happen 20 years ago.

Moving on.

This week you mentioned expat friends talking of relocating. I've heard this very same conversation many, many times lately. The only difference from what you said is the Philippines. No-one I know who is talking about moving on has mentioned there. Cambodia seems to be the most popular country being considered. Many are complaining of the same things: too expensive being #1. This is also a cross section of people. Some I run in to through work, others are acquaintances and a handful are friends. Some are based here in Thailand, others are 4-on / 4-off guys. How many will actually do it? I have no idea.

Pricey Bangkok.

It is now cheaper to drink at my local here in Melbourne than it is in Bangkok outside of happy hours. If it goes up again as it probably will, I think some bars will experience a downturn. Even at the 5-star Landmark I noticed some guests returning from the supermarket with packaged beer to put in the fridge.

The joy of taking a piss!

I concur with you about the Friday afternoon traffic chaos in downtown Bangkok. Two weeks ago when coming in from the airport, it took 2 hours 5 minutes to get to the Landmark Hotel, arriving at 2:35 PM. To make matters worse, I was in excruciating discomfort because I was dying for a piss. When I finally pulled up outside the steps of the Landmark, I jumped out and said to the startled concierge, "Hong nam!" He pointed to a doorway about 15 metres up the hall. Never, ever has emptying out the bladder produced so much joy!

Thailand / Norway visa rule history.

I believe you are right in saying that westerners receive only 30 days on arrival because the Thais feel there is a lack of balance. Back in 1995, Norwegians got 90 days on arrival. A year later the rules were changed as Norway joined the Schengen area, basically a group of countries in Europe scrapping the need for permits for its citizens to travel within the countries included in the deal. Joining this Schengen area, Norway had to adjust its regulations towards other nations so that visa regulations were uniform with the rest. If anyone was allowed in to one of the member countries, they would then be able to travel freely in all of the Schengen area. Consequently any citizen of Thailand now had to apply for a visa to visit Norway. If granted, a standard tourist visa to Norway (and the rest of the Schengen area) is valid for 90 days. In response, Thailand changed the visa on arrival for Norwegians from 90 days to 30. I understand the sentiment, although it could be argued that limiting oil-rich Norwegians' opportunity to stay and spend in the Kingdom does little to help tourism. Not the least when considering the growing trend of middle to old age Norwegians (generally those with the most assets and spending power) wanting to spend 2 – 3 months away from the harsh northern winter, and having found Thailand as an attractive alternative to Spain – the previous default for this type of traveller.

Girl of the week

Miss PlaySkool, PlaySkool, Nana Plaza, Bangkok.

I hadn't even had a chance to ask her name or any questions when I realised I was running late and had to dash, hence this week's Stickman Weekly Girl Of The Week is called "Miss PlaySkool"!

He Clinic Bangkok

Playskool, Nana Plaza

Playskool, Nana Plaza

CBD bangkok

Soi Cowboy was visited by the authorities this week as the crackdown continues on underage staff, non-Thai nationals working in the bars and staff with traces of illegal drugs in their system. The impending visit was being talked about last weekend, amusing as it did not take place until a couple of days later. Whereas up the road in Nana no-one saw things coming, this particular crackdown was the talk of Soi Cowboy days before it took place.

One of my favourite bars, Pretty Lady Bar on Nana Plaza's ground floor, is holding a birthday party for manageress Tukata this coming Wednesday. There will be free food, shows and standard drinks for just 95 baht!

Soi8 Pub in Sukhumvit soi 8 was the vision of a New Zealander who bought Corleone's, changed the name and introduced a strong New Zealand and rugby theme. The bar was decorated throughout with All Blacks rugby memorabilia and live rugby matches were given preference to English football when matches clashed. Soi8 Pub quickly became one of the most popular spots on Sukhumvit Road to watch rugby and something of a meeting point for Kiwis, Aussies and Brits. Kiwi Dave sold it a few years back for a mint and went on to build No Idea in Sukhumvit soi 22. The new owners of Soi8 retained the format and the name remained until last week when it was renamed and rebranded as Kiwi Pub. Same rugby memorabilia, same good service, same good food, all packaged with a better name.

Concern has been expressed that Bangkok's naughty nightlife has become sanitised and one might not be able to see everything. For a full view, head to Crazy House on Sukhumvit soi 23, just around the corner from The Old Dutch on Soi Cowboy. What I cannot confirm, however, is the rumour that Gillette plan to use the girls on stage in Crazy House to promote the products Gillette is famous for. For sure, they all appear to use said products.

Ex-military guys resident in Thailand who lusted after female colleagues but didn't dare coming on to them for fear of being court-marshalled now have a chance to fulfil their fantasies. The Strip, at the Silom Road end of Patpong's soi 2, is hosting a week-long GI Jane party every night through until Saturday 21st. The girls will be dressed in military wear, looking like slutty soldiers and waiting for you to invade.

wonderland clinic

Just along from The Strip, the popular manager of Club Electric Blue, Captain Hornbag, was made an offer too good to turn down. He has jumped ship and teamed up with his old boss at Spanky's. Where Captain Hornbag once oversaw the Bangkok Spanky's operation, he is now keeping an eye on Spanky's in Pattaya. If you're in Sin City, drop by and say hi.

Next Sunday at 10 PM it's the Manchester derby in the Premier League and what better place to watch it than Stumble Inn, on Soi Nana, home of the Manchester City Supporters Club. Tom will be doing his usual free drink for every goal that City scores for anyone in a City shirt. There will be beer towers given away for correct score predictions, and also a free pie for anyone sporting their colours. Get there early to secure your seat.

For fans of American football, NFL games are screened from 4 PM onwards on weekdays at Hanrahan's on Sukhumvit soi 4. As far as live matches go, the best option appears to be to watch online.

On the subject of oval ball games, True Visions did their best to destroy the game of the rugby calendar, the fixture between the top two teams in the world, the two superpowers of world rugby and the greatest rivalry in world rugby, New Zealand and South Africa. It's the equivalent of Brazil playing Spain in a major football tournament. For the first 20 minutes of the match the English-speaking commentary was drowned out by commentary in Thai as Somchai gave us such gems as "New Zealand is playing in black", one thing that every rugby fan on the planet knows. There I was fiddling with the settings on the TV and cable remotes, trying to work out what was going on and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get the commentary in English only. SMSs sent to a couple of mates also watching the match revealed what I should have guessed – the problem was not with me, but with the cable company. The calamity was rectified after about 25 minutes and didn't ruin the enjoyment of watching the match, but was a reminder that so often things just don't work as they should here.

There haven't been any reports of police stops during the day on Sukhumvit recently, but a mate was stopped late last Saturday night, not once but twice. The first time was around 1 AM on Thonglor and the second just up the road from Soi Cowboy. It was the usual routine with the cops stopping a cab with foreigners, ordering them out and performing a search of their person, the contents of their pockets checked without the men in brown so much as asking for permission. Civil liberties? You're in the wrong country! My mate speculated that with the 4 AM checkpoint may have been targeting the late night crowd emptying out of Glow and Narz.

Following on from comment in last week's column about tax rates on alcohol increasing, the new Heineken wholesale prices in Ko Samui has gone from 990 baht to 1230 baht per case, effectively a 10 baht increase per bottle. Wholesale prices aren't the same nationwide but with increases like this don't be surprised to see prices go up sharply. Bars in Bangkok haven't put prices up yet, but one gets the feeling no-one wants to be first. Once one bar does it, they'll all follow.

From time to time I am asked about action at Chinatown. Why I am asked I do not know, but my best guess is that there are out of date reports online with info from the early days of the web when there was a thriving scene at Chinatown. One may find services available but to be frank, what's available at Chinatown is the very bottom end of the market. Think worse than Pattaya's Beach Road. It's not for foreigners and is best steered clear of. If you absolutely insist on checking it out, there are many venues in the area and they open before lunchtime. The tell-tale sign of a house of disrepute is a middle-aged women perching in a doorway with a little too much makeup and showing more flesh than she ought to. Specific location? The Broadway Hotel on the main drag at Chinatown where girls can be seen sitting at the foot of a staircase set back from the doorway. It's not obvious unless you're standing right there. I really
wouldn't recommend it.

The Scottish Business Group is presenting a night of Scottish comedy with Raymond Mearns and TV star and comedy award winner, mad Phil Kay to raise funds for The Gift of Happiness Foundation. It takes place on October 4th at the Holiday Inn Ball Room, Sukhumvit soi 22, from 6.30 PM. This is an annual event – it being the second time in Bangkok – and though Scottish they are said to be perfectly comprehensible. It promises to be a fun night out with a buffet, wine and beer, plus the comedy. You can book tickets / tables now. The early bird price is 2,550 baht until September 20th or 2,850 baht thereafter. Tables of 10 are 25,000 baht. To book, call 081-8243157 or email: Note: there are no walk-ins. There will also be a show on Saturday October 5th at the Havana Bar at the Holiday Inn on Pattaya's Beach Road, and in Phuket on Tuesday the 8th at the Holiday Inn Resort. Both are independent events and prices are between 1,000 and 2,000 baht per ticket.

Checkinn99 will hold its Casablanca nights next weekend, on both Friday 20th and Saturday 21st September. Starting at 8 PM, Checkinn99 transforms into Rick's Café Americano from the famous Casablanca movie starring Bogart and Bergman. How does it manage that? By doing very little at all as it already looks like it! The bow-tied waiters will don a fez. Staff will dress evocatively, some provocatively, and Music of the Heart will adorn themselves with Moroccan jewellery and entertain with classics from the 40s & 50s. You can come as you are or dress in a white shirt, bow tie and smoking jacket. You might need to book through their website
as the Casablanca night is one of their biggest nights of the year.

CheckInn99 Bangkok

I get grief for always mentioning the same Mexican restaurant and not talking about anywhere else so I tried two other places this week. First was Bourbon Street, not a Mexican restaurant per se, but they have a long-running Mexican buffet every Tuesday night, all you can eat for 330 baht. There's no other word for it than excellent – quality food, lots of it, fresh salads, and a good selection of desserts. I also tried La Monita which some people rate but which to me was a major disappointment. We ordered a salad and chicken fajitas. Neither dish was sizeable and each tasted, well, like Thai food! La Monita struck me as being like the ladyboy of Mexican food in Bangkok – putting on a good show but hardly what you'd call the real thing.

Being able to understand the local language helps you to understand the local culture somewhat. But sometimes it isn't what you say or what you hear, but that which isn't said. The total vocabulary of the Thai language is but a fraction of that of English, and for many English words there really isn't a Thai equivalent. There may be words or phrases that are close, but in many cases the meaning is not the same. Unfortunately these nuances are often lost, a situation which is made worse by some dictionaries which provide definitions which are close, but not really what I would call accurate, and which are ultimately misleading. Take a couple of examples, the English words "guilt" and "empathy". I don't know of any words with exactly the same meaning in Thai. You can explain and express the concept of each of these words in a full sentence, but the closest Thai has for guilt (as in the feeling that you did something wrong and *importantly* you feel bad about it) translates as admitting that you made a mistake, which is hardly the same. There are so many words in English that have no equivalent word in Thai, which goes some way to showing that culturally, the Thais and those from English-speaking countries are very different.

Town Lodge Hotel on Suhkumvit Soi 18 has reinstated its English GM, Kevin Meacher, who is excited by recent changes in a property that needed money spent on it. Ownership changed in early August and the business is now being operated by the owners of the building and a full refurbishment is underway. All rooms are being fully redecorated and new flat-screen televisions have been installed. Town Lodge is walking distance to Soi Cowboy and a short taxi ride to Soi Nana, yet offers guests a quiet location where you can sleep without fear of noise outside. The hotel has a special deal for Stickman readers only with double rooms just 899 baht until the end October. Breakfast can be included for 100 baht per day. For more details, go to the Town Lodge website.

Quote of the week comes from an expat planning to visit his girlfriend's family upcountry "In Bangkok I am merely a farang but in Nakhon Sawan I am an alien!"

Thai Airways paints over the airline's name and logo after one of its planes skids off the runway in Bangkok
this week.

From the Sydney Morning Herald, Thailand's infamous Full Moon Party
turns 25.

A Thai man acquitted after being accused by his brother of defaming royalty gets press around the world.

Phuket has been attracting record numbers of visitors this low season.

A concerned expat living in Phuket writes a letter outlining the disgraceful situation of public transport in Phuket.

Thailand's equivalent of USA's FBI, the DSI are working with local authorities to work through the situation in Phuket.

Time magazine claims there are hundreds of Westerners living on the streets of Thailand.

After complains about Thai Airways handling of the aircraft incident this week, a tourist court at Bangkok Airport
is mooted.

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
My question is about foreigners who operate hair salons. Could you or Sunbelt Asia shed any light on the issue that only Thais are supposed to use scissors in beauty salons? A Japanese friend gets her haircut by a Japanese stylist but said that this is illegal as foreigners are only allowed to use clippers, curling irons, nail files etc because the use of scissors is not permitted by foreigners in Thailand. She said that all the Japanese stylists are on the 2nd floor of the salon that she goes to and only the cash register and waiting room is on the first floor. If anyone comes to check they will lock the door. Is my friend in violation of the law by getting her haircut by a foreigner?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: Your friend is not in violation of the law for having her hair cut by a foreigner, but it would be the shop and the foreigner who are violating the Foreign Labour Act which limits not just holding scissors but any hair styling; haircutting, hair colouring etc. Hair stylist is a prohibited occupation.

Question 2: I just read your Sunday column as I sit here in Phnom Penh on another failed visa venture. It appears only single entry tourist visas are available, here at least. I'm just
after a bog standard 3 month multiple-entry tourist visa so that I can travel in and out, be legal and later upgrade to a 1 year business visa. Last time they asked for a whole load of documents, including the chanote for my condo in
Bangkok, copy of my bank accounts and a fully paid ticket out of Thailand. This time I paid 50 dollars to a travel shop and will get the visa this week. However, I need the multiple entry. Can this be arranged in Bangkok on an existing visa once
I am there, or will it necessitate yet another expensive trip abroad?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: There are several different classifications of visa; the Tourist visa which is valid for 2 months. Some embassies and consulates will offer a double entry tourist visa whereby you can enter the country and gain two months. While in country you can then extend that one month before you need to leave. Re-entering the country will give you a further two months and this you can also extend at an Immigration office for a further month. The government fees for this extension are 1,900 baht. Sunbelt Asia can assist you in obtaining this extension in Bangkok.

The other visa is the non- B visa or non-O visa. Most embassies and consulates will only issue a single-entry 3-month non-B visa if you do not have a work permit or have not yet applied for one. Other countries will vary, and some embassies and consulates will issue the one year, others will not. The O visa is based on marriage to a Thai national in most cases.

With the 1-year multiple entry visa (the bluish sticker), even though it states 1 year you are required to leave the country every 90 days (commonly known as doing a visa run or doing a border run). Upon your return, again, you would be given another 90 days for you to stay in Thailand. This would need to be done over the course of the year or until the last valid day of the visa (the sticker).

Alternatively, if you have employment in Thailand and you have a work permit, you would be eligible to apply for an extension domestically in Thailand, where you must be earning no less than what the immigration stipulate for your nationality (e.g. American, British is limited to no less than 50,000 baht a month). This type of permit is called “Extension of Stay based on Business”.

Under this extension you are allowed to stay for a full year but you must report to Immigration every 90 days and must obtain a re-entry permit if you wish to leave the country and keep your visa valid. If you leave the country without one your visa will be cancelled.

Sunbelt Asia can assist you in obtaining the extension if you have a work permit already.

Question 3
: My Thai wife wants to bring her son from a previous relationship to live with us in New Zealand and has obtained a Thai passport for him in preparation. As far as the Thai authorities are concerned, is there a problem bringing
his passport out of Thailand even though he won't be leaving Thailand at this time? I'm concerned because the Thai authorities might view it as taking her son's passport on holiday i.e. visa runs. The reason for bringing the passport
to NZ is that we have to make the application in Bangkok rather than here in NZ and the whole application can be sent as one package.

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: Your wife can take the passport out of the country but it cannot be stamped at New Zealand Immigration if the child has not entered the country. Once they child needs to travel out of the country then they will, of course, need the passport in person to apply for the visa.

If you are applying for your child to get into a school in NZ, then you should take only a copy of the passport and later once the child arrives in NZ, then present them with the original. Otherwise contact the education / learning centre in Thailand to assist with the school application or best to contact the NZ embassy for further enquiries and the status of the education institute.

Playskool, Nana Plaza

There was a time when Bangkok with its many canals was known as the Venice of Asia, but with most long since filled in that's the distant past. The city again looked like Venice again this week, if only for a few hours. Mother Nature let us know this week that she hadn't forgotten her appointment with Bangkok and the monsoon rains hit hard on Wednesday night and parts of Sukhumvit Road were under water. Taxis were more reluctant than usual to pick up passengers and David Copperfield must have been in town as metered fares disappeared completely. Some sois around Asoke were 12 inches or more under water in the worst flooding I have seen in Bangkok in a good few years. With September and October the two wettest months, hopefully we won't have too many more days like this.

Your Bangkok commentator,



nana plaza