Stickman's Weekly Column October 20th, 2013

CheckInn99, 50+ Years of Bangkok Bar History


Nestled amongst the hair salons, tailors' stores, restaurants and pharmacies between Sukhumvit sois 5 and 7 is a short, narrow corridor. This may be the busiest stretch of Sukhumvit Road, but thousands pass by this corridor every day without knowing it leads to Bangkok's longest continuously running bar and nightclub, CheckInn99.

Just 2½ years ago CheckInn99 was within hours of being demolished when it was saved by someone who hated to see such a historic venue resigned to Bangkok bar history. This week I spent an evening in CheckInn99 and enjoyed good food, great music and the company of some real characters. I chatted with regulars, was entertained by the owner and was regaled with tales by the loyal staff at CheckInn99, for some of whom it is the only workplace they have known.






CheckInn99, Bangkok

The short corridor leading in to CheckInn99 is full of photos, articles and excerpts from magazines and tourist brochures highlighting the venue's rich history. There are many gems from a bygone era including a photograph showing Sukhumvit Road before the Vietnam War, back when it was but a dirt track.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

The origins of the venue's name go back to the mugging of the manager of the day. Locking up late one night during one of Thailand's many coups, he was set upon by some goons and never recovered. The venue stopped trading for a short time before being acquired by some Danish entrepreneurs who set it up as a sort of mini-Copenhagen restaurant, a home away from home. Whilst popular amongst Danes, it never really took off. At that time nightclubs and bars around town were booming.

The place to go in Bangkok back then was Club99, in Silom. That's where the women were. Girls were needed and the decision was made to entice girls from Club99 to the bar by merging the two bars. And that is exactly what happened. Many of the girls from Club99 came to work at what was then known as The Copa. Amongst them was a Mama Noi who had previously worked at The Copa before moving to Club99. With a club full of girls, customers would talk about checking in to 99. The phrase check in 99 stuck and the venue was renamed and officially became known as CheckInn99. For a period it was also known as CheckInn Garden.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

There was a time when the front door was locked and if you weren't of Viking heritage some fast talking was needed to get inside. First you had to get past the famous dwarf who guarded the door. From there it was a few steps down the dimly lit corridor before reaching a gothic glass door, and the bar proper.

Back in the day there were 40-odd short-time rooms above the club, which have since been sealed off by the current owner. A stairwell at the rear of the venue used to lead up to the rooms in what must have been the grandest of bordellos. There has been no connection between the bar and those rooms for years, although up until about a year or so ago they were home to dozens of ladies of the night.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

Rumours hit this column in early 2011 that CheckInn99 would close and on the last day of March, 2011, the club was just hours from demolition. I'd only ever been there once during a period of disrepair and as such didn't take a lot of notice. Like many, I didn't know of its rich history and while reporting its imminent closure, I admit I didn't give it a great deal of thought.

The long-serving staff knew there was only one way to save the club. They would call in monks whose job it would be to deliver a miracle!

A group of monks came in early on the morning of the last day of March, 2½ years ago. 30 minutes of chanting later they stopped, announcing that CheckInn would not close. They promptly left.

At 3 PM that same afternoon an Aussie who loved the venue was offered the lease just hours before the planned demolition was to begin. That same afternoon the Danish shareholders arrived for a grand goodbye that sounded like a cross between a drink the bar dry bachelor's party and a plate-smashing Greek wedding. But the party was cut short when in walked the new owner with lease in hand, having paid just 72,000 baht for the business.

The new owner was elated and ran over to the staff waving the lease wildly, announcing to all that the venue would survive. Your jobs are safe! We can celebrate!

There was none of the joy he expected.

He was greeted by expressionless faces like that of the otherwise kind and friendly Loong Wat, above. "We already knew the venue wouldn't close. We called in the monks this morning and when they left they told us everything would be ok."

The bar was restored – not renovated – to its original condition, taking the opposite direction to nearly every other venue in town, making it a sort of time capsule of the old Bangkok.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

The cleaning staff are the first to arrive at the club, opening up early afternoon. While they perform their duties, drinks are delivered, glasses are cleaned, bottles are checked. Food is stocked, tables cleaned and adjusted. Sound equipment checks are made and the air-conditioning activated as service staff trickle in. The Joss sticks are lit, the spirit shelves served the first rounds of juice, water and brandy. With the spirits appeased, the extraction fans are activated to clear the smell of incense before the second scared ritual, the staff dinner. With their bellies full, the staff are ready for another night.

The happy hour acoustic musician arrives before 6:00 PM, along with the first customers and early diners. It's the start of another night at CheckInn99.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

There are 2 owner operators, an Aussie / Thai couple who each have full-time jobs and prefer the title caretaker rather than owner, along with a silent partner overseas.

Unique in the industry, the venue doesn't have a manager. The staff are empowered and everyone knows their duties and responsibilities. The owners have tried to find the right person to manage the venue but Thai managers just don't get the idea that staff have the authority to make their own decisions. With some staff loyal for more than 30 years, whose bar is it anyway?!

A total of 25 staff operate the venue, including bar, restaurant and wait staff. Today there are less than half a dozen hostesses, down from 35 when the current owners took over 2½ years ago.



CheckInn99, Bangkok

When Chris and Mook bought CheckInn99 in March 2011 for 72,000 baht (not a misprint), it was known as much for available ladies as anything but with very few customers, a few stoic regulars aside.

Today there are less than half a dozen hostesses and for the most part you would not even know that the odd lady may be available. The hostesses double as service staff.

No conscious decision was made to tone that part of the club down. Through natural attrition the number of available ladies has declined. At the same time takings have gone up and the general popularity of the venue has soared. Coincidence?




CheckInn99, Bangkok

The venue features an eclectic mix of decorations, ornaments and artworks, some of which are collectibles, some of which are scarce and some of which may even be irreplaceable.

Advertisements for products discontinued decades ago line the walls, alongside posters for Hollywood classics.

4 parrots perch throughout the club, their clothing changed to match parties or special events taking place. One of the parrots was dressed in orange after a party for some Dutch revellers a couple of weeks back.

Acknowledging the club's Danish heritage, Viking hats kept behind the bar are happily donned when the previous owners visit.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

Classic Thai nude prints from a bygone era hang on the walls of the corridor leading to the toilets. Said to be of considerable value, they have been stolen more than once prompting frantic Facebook appeals to locate them and ask for their no questions return. Today the original prints are bolted to the wall in the bar and copies were made for the person who returned them.




The original of Chris Coles' famous expressionist Soi Cowboy painting hangs behind the band, and attracts offers each week. It's not for sale and feels like it belongs where it is. Doesn't art increase in value after the artist dies? This being Thailand, it might be time to for you to get a bodyguard, Chris Coles!

The white flamingos behind the band inspired the latest noir novel from James Newman. Thom Locke based his voila moment in the latest Sam Collins crime novel, "Jim Thompson Is Alive" on Mama Noi's recollections of the people who knew Jim.

A number of Bangkok expat fiction writers have adopted CheckInn. Dean Barrett will launch his historical thriller "The China Memoirs" in CheckInn later this year and Christopher G Moore and James Newman are scheduled to host literary events next year.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

Undated jazz band figurines share a shelf with bottles of the good stuff. They were found buried in a pile of liquefied cartons in the old cellar when it was drained and they fit nicely with the recent addition of Sunday Jazz.

The previous owners closed the doors on Sunday in the belief that opening that day wasn't worthwhile. Today, Sundays are one of the busier days with 12 hours of non-stop live music in a club that delivers an astonishing 60 hours of live music a week!

Speaking of chattels of value, 18 Tiffany lights were left after the previous shareholders can't have realised their value. They go for 15,000 – 20,000 baht each at Chatuchak Market and the replacement value is estimated at 300,000 baht, nearly 5 times the purchase price of the bar.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

With so many long-timers on the staff, CheckInn is full of stories.

Khun Yao has been cashier for more than 30 years and was romantically involved with Neil Davis, the Australian combat cameraman who was recognised for his work as a photojournalist during the Vietnam War and other conflicts in the region. He happened to be a visitor to Checkinn99 during its heyday. Neil was killed in an ill-fated and short-lived attempt at a coup in Bangkok in September, 1985.




Candidography




CheckInn99, Bangkok

The venue prides itself on offering home-style food, prepared by cooks – not chefs. There's none of this nauseating pretension you see on all of these silly cooking shows. The sign says it all, this really is food for the soul.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

The food menu has not changed in decades and there's a good mix of Thai and Western dishes.

Of particular note is the Chateaubriand, a quite lovely cut of meat which has been on the menu for the last 30 years. Once prepared, it is sliced and served at your table.

Shirking the trend of constant price increases in recent years, menu items have not changed price in 6 years.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

CheckInn99 was the first bar in Bangkok to offer Crystal Head Vodka, Dan Aykroyd's own brand of high purity vodka which has gained popularity for its unique bottle and ultra smooth taste. The profits from the first 200 bottles sold are being donated to 3 selected orphanages – being in line with the Blues Brothers' theme nights which are held twice a year.


CheckInn99, Bangkok

Few bars or nightspots have a team of staff who are so genuinely happy in their work.

Older staff may grimace for the camera – par for the course for those of their generation – but get them talking and they are all smiles and fun. Younger staff go about their duties with obvious satisfaction, all of which contributes to the club's fun vibe.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

The grand dame of Sukhumvit, Mama Noi, is looking as dignified as ever. She adjusts her cleavage, proud of what she is packing and asks me how much she should show. Several photos are required before she feels we get it just right – not too little and not too much!

Hang them out, Mama Noi, I joke. She grabs me and for a moment I wonder if she has a thing for younger men.

I'm just joking with you, she says, in that engaging and playful manner of hers. As flirtatious as the most dollied up bird on Sukhumvit, Mama Noi enjoys the attention of, and fun conversation with a gentleman.

Mama Noi experienced a surge of visitors when she was featured in this column last year and even today, Stickman readers make the trek to CheckInn to meet her. Mama Noi enjoys receiving visitors so don't be shy to stop by and say hi. The Mama Noi article has been printed out, laminated and compiled in a folder with supplementary photos added. She'd love to talk you through it and share her stories with you.




Owner Chris attributes much of the venue's success to the house band, Music Of The Heart, a supremely talented Filipino band who has been belting out songs at CheckInn for more than a decade. They are a great example of dedication and professionalism, one family with 3 generations on stage performing every night of the year!

They arrive at 6 PM to get ready and are on stage from 8:30 for the first of 5 high-energy sets of covers, hits and golden oldies with dancing and choreographed moves.

When most are heading home, the band heads for lunch between 2 – 3 AM to recharge their energy levels in readiness for 4 hours of rehearsals from 3 until 7 AM, each and every day, before their very strict regime of 8 hours sleep a night. The talent and dedication of Kiko, Cherry, Grace, Donna, Badz and Jess is amazing.

They greet every customer – those who have been in before by name and for first-timers a warm welcome with a polite question as to where they are from. They will often respond with a local song from that person's home country and sing numbers not just in English, but in Afrikaans, French, Chinese, German and even Swahili.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

CheckInn goes through several phases each night. Early evening is relaxing with the solo artist performing and diners chatting.

When the house band first gets on stage they are dressed in cocktail dresses and perform lighter songs and some easy listening.

From the third set on the place rocks with the house band raising the tempo with a mix of dance and rock hits.

As the night progresses it typically fills up. Crowd wise it's usually busiest between 10:00 PM and midnight.

1:30 AM is usually the last song but on a busy night the band might go until 2 AM.




CheckInn99, Bangkok

The band is in full swing and the party atmosphere is being enjoyed by a diverse mix of people. Harley riders sit next to bankers and diplomats. Soi Cowboy girls with their beau leap up on stage and show that they really can dance when they want to. A bunch of pretty female expats look longingly at the few single males. A professor whines to a columnist about his constant references to the good old days. Irrespective of their background, everyone is treated the same – like an old friend. The service is friendly, the hospitality genuine.

I'm no fan of Trip Advisor with so much content from unknown authors to be taken with a grain of salt. Its popularity and influence, however, cannot be questioned. Remarkably it's not Angelwitch or Bacarra or Rainbow 4 which holds the number 1 nightlife attraction in Bangkok position on Trip Advisor, but CheckInn 99! For nearly 2 years it has held the number 1 spot and it was recently nominated by Trip Advisor's own destination experts as one of the Top 20 Hidden Gems. Not in Bangkok, but in the world.

Checkinn99 is a real Bangkok treasure. It's full of history, has many stories, and unlike other long-running Bangkok nightspots, it's still a blast today. If you're a Bangkok nightlife history buff, like a good night out or are just looking for a place where the music is good, the food like your mother made and the hospitality genuine, take a look at CheckInn99.



* Disclaimer: CheckInn99 is not, nor has ever been, an advertiser of this website. I have long wanted to profile the venue and the caretaker graciously allowed me to do so and made the staff available to answer my many questions.






Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken of the outside of the Terminal 21 shopping centre. This week's photo was taken one rainy afternoon this week. There are two prizes, a 500 baht voucher to use at Bully's, on Sukhumvit Road between sois 2 and 4 and a 300 baht voucher to use at Sunrise Tacos, Bangkok's original Mexican grill with several branches.

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 and ONLY the first answer emailed counts! You MUST specify which prize you would prefer and failure to specify a prize will disqualify you from being eligible to claim one.


Sunrise Tacos


FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick. ) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.

EMAIL OF THE WEEK – To not do as the locals do.

You identified one of the great conundrums for a foreigner living in Thailand – do you “do as The Thais do” or do you stick to your own values and belief system? I made the choice. I recognised the slippery slope that I was on. I think I got clarity holding my newborn son in my arms. It was at that moment that I realised there was no way I wanted him to grow up in Thailand. I didn't want him to learn that what passes for “normal” there is okay.

What chance do farangs have?

I visited the abbot of a local temple and encountered a scam. I have known this monk a few years and consider him a friend. For 8 years this temple has had an insurance policy to cover any surgery bills for the monks. Each month the temple paid a fairly heavy price, collected by the insurance agent. And for the last 8 years the monks have enjoyed good health, mainly due to the fact this temple has few monks and no elder ones. Last month the abbot got real sick and needed surgery, so he went to the hospital and told them to contact the insurance company, giving their contract number. There was no such contract! For 8 years the insurance agent collected money each month and simply pocketed it. He made himself scarce as soon as they found out. So if the scammers target monks without shame, of course farangs are fair game! And before you ask, no, the abbot did not ask me for any money, so he is not trying to scam me. He was clearly a sick man, and shy to admit what had happened. The temple has lost hundreds of thousands of baht.

Mobile phone turn off!

I took an English mate for his 2nd ever soapy massage here in Pattaya. In the first place 90% of the girls had their face stuck in their smartphone. On telling the papasan that this was really poor service, his reply was to give us our bill for 2 beers. No problem, I thought. We went across the road to the so-called best soapy place in Pattaya. 65% of the girls had their faces planted to their IPhones, 15% were watching TV. Of the rest I picked one. As soon as I offered her a drink, out came the smartphone. I told her to either turn off the phone or leave. She left. Needless to say she ended up paying for the drink and this so called pleasure palace missed out on more than 4,000 baht. Your recent comments re: quality vs. cost are very much noted.

Farangland reality check.

Much is said about the class of tourist in Thailand and what they are doing there. I am vacationing now at Disney World at a cost per day similar to a week in Pattaya, including entertainment. Other than not carrying a beer bottle, the beer guts are in evidence. Men are spending fortunes on women twice their size. I have seen tens of thousands these last 3 weeks and maybe 3 worth a second look. Sad to say as many may be good partners and mothers, but most men have a faraway and beaten look on their face.



True to oneself (but not one's partner).

After reading Stick's column this week it was somewhat amusing to me to find out that I must be gay. I mean I like ladyboys and have slept with ladyboys so therefore I must be gay. Oh dear, all these years I have been hiding my true sexual preference. What is one to do? I am a 48-year old Aussie in a very loving relationship which I would not change in a million years. We have been together 9 years and she, did I say she, is a wonderful lady (not boy). Not married but living together happily – it's just the same thing these days, isn't it? Do we love each other – well, I know I love her. Is she with me for the money – I don't think so. Do you want to judge me for cheating behind her back – if you want. So what's this got to do with ladyboys? Well, for the last 7 years I have been travelling to Thailand and other places for R&R. I have a highly stressful but profitable business and this allows me financial freedom to some extent. I found ladyboys 6 years ago and can float back and forth between the two, females and ladyboys. It's sex. It's fun. It's pleasurable. And it's all fake. It is what it is. Am I gay – could be (depends who you ask). Am I bi – probably by definition, yes. Do I worry about being gay, bi or different – no. Am I denying my true homosexuals feelings – could be (he says laughing). But what about the 50 or so heterosexual relationships I've had so far with non-working girls? I mean loving relationships, not one night stands! Would I go out with a man – hell no! But you already have, I hear you say. Ok, so what defines a man or woman is what's between their legs? So you meet a great girl, attractive, well educated, funny, kind, loving, etc but unfortunately when she was born her body didn't form correctly and she doesn't have a *#[email protected]@y. Sorry – no *#[email protected]@y you don't qualify as a female. To me, what happens on holiday stays on holiday. Remember it's sex, it's fun, it's pleasure and most of all, it's fake. To those who judge me – that's ok, you have a right to your opinion and I have a right to my opinion about your narrow mindedness too. Come on, who really cares. I am happy you are happy, whether boy, girl, ladyboy or any variations. Remember, to thy own self be true.

Are ladyboy lovers straight?

You say that you firmly believe that guys that go with ladyboys are gay. This is not true in my case! I have been with many ladyboys in Bangkok and Pattaya and also have been with countless bargirls. Maybe I'm a one-off but I don't think so. I would say men who go with ladyboys don't class themselves as gay.

Why coyote girls double up bras.

The 'bra under bikini top thing' in tonight's column might be because Thailand / bars in Thailand do not have push-up bikini tops. A coyote girl has to advertise what God didn't give her.

Flooding blues.

It's the time of year for Thai-inflicted floods – I say Thai-inflicted as they keep the smaller tributaries gated in, in the hope of protecting Bangkok which creates tremendous hardship for local villages. Now some villages are taking in to their own hands to solve the flooding by cutting up roads with macros. Thankfully it is helping us and we can see a reduction in the water. This year we have only seen 4 snakes but one was a large black cobra which climbed in to the house through a window. Luckily the wife saw it and it was disposed of. Once dead the head was removed and the rest served up for dinner. Apparently it has very powerful effects!




Girl of the week

Da, 19, gogo dancer, The Strip, Patpong soi 2.
She comes from Korat, AKA Nakhon Rachasima.



Thailand gogo dancer



Thailand gogo dancer



Thailand gogo dancer



The Strip Gogo Bar Bangkok



It's musical chairs down in Pattaya with farang bar managers moving around. Secrets announced what many already knew – the new manager will be Mister Egg, a popular Brit who has been looking after Babydolls. And in what some may see as something of a straight swap, uber popular manager Larry will become guest relations manager at Babydolls in what is a huge coup for the house of filth. Like many bars, Babydolls hasn't had a great low season and recruiting the most popular manager in the industry would seem to me to be as good a move as any to try and revitalise Babydolls. Babydolls will also have a new farang manager with Paul, formerly of Paradise in Soi LK Metro running the place. Just how the roles of Larry and Paul will differ is not immediately clear. Their respective start dates have yet to be confirmed but expect to see everyone in their new position early next month once the requisite work permits have been issued.

High profile Pattaya expat Howard whose impressive CV includes being a former leader of the Pattaya Tourist Police Volunteers, the star of a TV documentary series about Sin City, a quasi diplomat, Pattaya media mogul and bar owner. One can only assume that bar ownership has been enjoyable, profitable or both, for Howard is following this up with a much more ambitious bar project. Howard knows that Soi LK Metro has developed a following with genuine bar customers, those who desire an atmosphere more akin to that of the old days, where the most common sights in bar areas were middle-aged white guys and slim birds from the provinces and so Soi LK Metre is where Howard's next bar will be. The exact location has not been revealed nor has its name. All that is known is that it won't have the same name as Howard's current bar on the darkside, Booze Lounge. Howard tells me it will be a themed bar with a twist and is hopeful that it will open at the start of December.

Nana Plaza hasn't completely recovered from the crackdown that took place a couple of months back and the effects linger. Despite this, the landlord is maintaining standards and doing a walk-through one day this week the cleaning crew was going about their work around the plaza. Small repairs were being carried out with the sort of attention to detail seen in 5-star hotels, and exceeded my expectations in what is the self-described world's biggest adult playground.



Nana Plaza cleaning crew





An 8-day Bikini Beach Party kicked off this past Friday at The Strip in Patpong soi 2. Through until Friday 25th, the girls are dollied up in beachwear and there will be drinks specials. Every night at midnight there is a round of free shots (tequila or whiskey) for all customers. Booths are available at discounted rates.

Rumour has it that a bar down towards the other end of Walking Street could not pay its staff (again) and a load of girls have left to go to Rhino.

One of the trends in the last year has been the number of new escort agencies. Some of these escort agencies are professionally run operations, others are nothing more than a booking company – the whoring equivalent of online hotel reservation services. When some of these agencies receive a booking all they do is contact the service provider who they have a very limited relationship with and instruct them of the booking details. The rest is over to the service provider. One customer found out this week how things can go wrong. He had made a 24-hour booking for an escort at a cost of 10,000 baht. The girl went to the guy's room, he paid her and an hour later, presumably after round 1, she did a runner with the 10,000 baht, never to be heard from again.

It's illegal to shoot endangered species, right? Does that mean we can't take photos of pretty bargirls?

Probably more than half of the gogo bars are foreign owned, but not that many actually have a foreign manager on the premises. If things go wrong, you can feel very much as if you're on your own. So when a friend sent me a photo he had taken of a notice posted above the urinal in a Walking Street gogo bar I was impressed. It's great to see a gogo bar taking customer service seriously. In Sugarbaby A Gogo the owner's phone number and email address are posted so that any customers who experience a problem can contact the owner or the duty manager directly. A big thumbs up for Sugarbaby!


Sugar Babies A Gogo


Despite expected economic benefits, rural Thai families get nervous at the thought of their daughter going to live abroad with a foreigner. The perception is that Farangland is dangerous and anything could happen to her there. There is a pretty good argument that, statistically at least, most of Farangland is safer than Thailand. But for one Thai family, their worst fear became reality. A retired American known as Navy Ron because he always wore a t-shirt with Navy on it was part of a group who hung out at the Nana Hotel. About 3 years ago the then 64-year old took a 20-year old Thai girl with him to Las Vegas. Things didn't work out as and last week he shot her before turning the gun on himself and putting a round through his head. Amazingly, the injuries she sustained weren't life-threatening and she will make a full recovery. This story doesn't seem to have been picked up by the local Thai press, a good thing for those guys keen to take their Thai darling to the West for it would make the parents think long and hard. Shooting news report here.

The labour shortage in Thailand has forced businesses in some industries to recruit from other countries in the region. For positions where all that is needed is a warm body, Laotians or Burmese typically make up the numbers. In positions where English is a requirement such as restaurant workers or hotel staff, the Philippines is often the source country. Thailand has a growing Filipino population and many sign up to local Thailand dating sites. For expats in Thailand who have become disillusioned with local women, you might like to try seeking out a Filipino lady instead.

Anecdotal reports have it that some offices of the Immigration department are checking up on foreigners residing in Thailand on student visas. As has been mentioned in recent columns, ED visas are fast becoming the easy option for foreigners keen to stay in the country long-term but who do not qualify for a visa through other means. What happens is that they sign up for a language course, get the visa, but don't go to class. The practice has been accentuated with some language schools encouraging it by pushing the ED visa in their promotional material and largely disinterested in whether students attend classes or not. The school gets the full tuition fee, the student gets a 1-year visa, a win : win situation. The Immigration department has other ideas. In some cases Immigration is checking that the holder of the ED visa is showing progress in Thai, and in others the department is asking to see class reports. Reports at this stage are spotty and like everything related to visas, the enforcement of the rules varies around the country.

For Aussies and Kiwis with an APEC card, there is clarity on how to make sure you get 90 days permission to stay when you enter the country – and not the 30 days some APEC card holders have reported receiving. On the Immigration arrival form you must write the number of your APEC card (which is the number of your passport) in the section of the form where it asks for your visa number. Do that and you get 90 days; failure to do so and you get 30 days. Easy!



Some expats make out they have power and influence, when almost none do. The most common threat from expats trying to make themselves out to be someone powerful is threatening others with deportation or being blacklisted from ever entering the country again. Deportation generally only occurs when a foreigner in Thailand is convicted of a crime or a foreigner resident in Thailand is found to have a criminal history abroad, in which case they may be removed from the country immediately. Blacklisting isn't common at all. There is a misconception that deportations means blacklisting. It does not. I overhear this talk from time to time and it makes me laugh.

It's not recent news by any stretch, but I notice that the owners of Oh My Cod, the fish and chip restaurant that had quite a following with Western residents in Bangkok and which was once a prize provider for the photo competition in this column, have posted on their website the reasons for its closure. I'm not sure that what they have written is prudent.

You see, if you're loose with your lips or hot with your temper or even hit the send button in haste on an email or forum posting, you should be very careful who you say nasty words to or hurl abuse at. To Thais, being the target of foul language directly or being abused to their face is a much bigger deal than it is in the West. Thais may say things about others behind their back, but actually saying something abusive directly to someone immediately escalates the situation in Thailand to a dangerous level. The best advice is to keep your trap shut. Merely sending an abusive email can cause some to go to extreme lengths to exact revenge against you.

Many Bangkok nightspots celebrate Halloween. Bars are decorated with ghosts, ghouls and goblins and bar staff love to dress up. One event brings together three variables that always generate excitement in Thailand – horror, transvestites and a love story. Checkinn99 is performing Richards O'Brien's musical The Rocky Horror Show for 4 nights over the Halloween period, from October 30th through to November 2nd. You can join in the cult musical horror comedy show in Bangkok's very own historic cabaret bar which, the staff tell me really is haunted! So just take a jump to the left for a full evening of live entertainment in a unique cabaret-style venue. The talented Music Of The Heart band and a cast are ready to do the time warp with you. Dinner will be served from 6:30 PM and the show starts at 8:15pm with entertainment all the way through until 1:30 AM. Tickets sell fast and can be ordered at Checkinn99bkk.com. Gold tickets are 2,000 baht including a set dinner and 3 standard drinks. Silver tickets are 1,200 baht, show only. It's a night of fun not to be missed!





Bangkok fetish house



Quote of the week, "You know you've been in Thailand too long when you sit in a bar in Bangkok surrounded by naked girls and just want to watch the golf on the small screen in the corner!"

Reader's story of the week comes from Mega, "Vietnam Reprise: A Short Foray Into Saigon And Vung Tau".

Four Lithuanians are accused of using fake ATM cards in Pattaya.

A few weeks after Rihanna tweeted about a sex show in Phuket, the venue is raided by police.

A Thai woman is accused of stealing a Swede's ATM card in Udon Thani and making large withdrawals from the account.

It seems Thailand is going to charge tourists a fee to enter the country, supposedly to cover the cost of medical expenses!

Volunteers posing as tourists will be used by police in Phuket to catch scammers in Phuket.

A Canadian expat claims that he has been left to die in Thailand due to disinterest by the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok.

A couple of Aussie kids narrowly avoid being kidnapped on Ko Chang.

Phuket's steamy underbelly is looked at in today's Bangkok Post.



Ask Sunbelt Asia Legal

Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Email me any legal questions you may have 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 am a long-time reader of your site. Unfortunately there is one piece of advice I did not listen to – do not buy a condo in Thailand! I wish I had because now I am in trouble. A few years ago I bought a condo freehold in a small, new development. After making my final payment I was supposed to get the title deed. That did not happen. There have been many promises by the developer to fix this but so far nothing has happened. I am not the only one in the building with this problem. After contacting the Land Office, I was presented with a document stating the ownership of each condo in the building. My condo has the developer as the owner with additional information saying "Sell with the option to buy back to Mr. ________." On my neighbour's condo it says that the developer is the owner with the additional information "Mortgage to Mr.________." What does "Sell with the option to buy back to Mr._______ " mean? The developer has asked me to give him more time and not to sue him. He tells me that he would win in court and that it will cost me a lot of money and cause me a lot of trouble. I have been living in my condo all this time.

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: It is difficult to say given the information in your question. We would need to see the Condo Sale & Purchase Agreement and fully review it to determine if the developer has any leg to stand on. Once we've reviewed the contract we would determine the best course of action, either a complaint to the Consumer Protection Division or go to Court against the developer. You would need to decide if you would want the contract terminated and your funds returned to you or if you stay in the condo and the developer pays a penalty fee. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors would highly recommend that you make an appointment to come in and have one of our legal advisors review the contract.







I used to have a policy where I would only profile a venue once. The reason was that I didn't think readers would want information repeated. One reader appealed to me a while back to do a feature on CheckInn99. I explained my then policy that as I had already given it something of a mention in one column I did not feel it appropriate to profile it again. However, venues change, old readers go and new readers come on board, and as such I felt that it was time to rethink my policy. I am glad I did because I really enjoyed putting together this week's opener on CheckInn. It's nice to do something positive as opposed to the op / ed style think piece which doesn't always make for warm fuzzies. Photo essays and column openers built around photos are what I enjoy the most. If there are any venues you'd like to see profiled that you think fit with this column and its readership, let the manager / owner of the venue know and if they are interested in doing something, encourage them to contact me. The exposure could be very good for business.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


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