For anyone keen to live the life of a single guy, moving to Thailand is like winning the lottery. Past frustrations, let-downs and general disappointment with the opposite sex quickly become distant memories. Opportunity exists in Thailand for the single guy to live a life that in the West is the reserve of movie stars, models and the silly rich. And many come to Thailand with that very plan, to enjoy a single man's life. It might be the retiree spending every other afternoon on Pattaya's soi 6, or the young gun who spends daylight hours on dating sites, and nights on soi 11. Some really do live the dream and score all the time. But some manage to ruin it and end up scoring a terrible own goal.
Not playing the long game
The most common mistake many moving to Thailand make is failing to play the long game. If you plan on calling Thailand home, you need a long-term plan. This isn't your homeland, you have no automatic right to be here and there's no safety net. Your first considerations should be finances and your visa. But so many don't look long-term and instead treat their time in Thailand like they're in a casino, their life a game of chance.
When the money gets low, they may get involved with dodgy people and in questionable activities. Selling bogus timeshare. Working in a boiler room. It never lasts. Before they know it their mitts are in bracelets and they're on the big bird back to where they came from.
It doesn't matter if you don't know your nouns from your adjectives, let alone when to use the past perfect continuous, there's a teaching job out there for you. Career teacher or career criminal, anyone can get a teaching job in Thailand. The ability to string a few sentences together will get you a monthly pay packet. But it's teaching qualifications and a degree that will get you legal. With the odd exception, no degree means no work permit. No work permit and you're illegal. Once again, life becomes a game of chance.
No degree sees some make the trip out to Khao San Road where fake degrees are made to order and later submitted as part of the work permit application. Occasionally the Labour Department discovers a fake degree as part of a work permit application. The applicant is charged, prosecuted, appears in court, is fined and sometimes sentenced (a prison stay – often 15 days – is possible) and then deported. Deported doesn't mean blacklisted so in theory they could come straight back. But most are so traumatized by the experience that they don't. Had they planned better they could have stayed in Thailand forever. The dream is over because they failed to play the long game.
Failure to use curtained hotels
Thai hookers aren't known for being light-fingered. Wake up in the morning next to a girl you didn't know the day before and your MacBook Pro and iPhone will probably be exactly where you left them. The real problem with taking a Thai hooker back to your condo is the staff in the building. From the security guard to reception to the maids, everyone will soon be aware of your misadventures. One person sees and soon everyone knows. The average Thai has a mouth like a radio station. In their eyes you have taken a low-class hooker back to the place you live, something no Thai man would do, something they can't reconcile.
It's not that you'll be labelled as someone who uses hookers – not crime in the eyes of the average Thais – it's that you'll be labelled as someone who lacks discretion and who doesn't value face or reputation – which the average Thai would find unfathomable!
It mightn't bother you what the Thais think of you, but eventually you're going to get a Thai girlfriend – sooner or later everyone does – and unless you have built great relationships with the staff of the building you call home, there's a very real chance that word will reach her about your wicked ways. Once she sees you as someone who lacks discretion, she's going to question the wisdom of being with you.
Why risk ruining a future relationship with someone worthy of your affection by saving a few baht by taking a woman every Thai knows is a hooker back to where you live? Would you take a hooker back to your place in Farangland? So why do it here?
Bangkok is full of short-time hotels, curtain hotels, love hotels – call them what you will. A room in a short-time hotel runs but a few hundred baht. Short-time hotel customers are almost invisible. In a country where face and reputation is everything, that's worth much more than a few hundred baht.
It starts with a toothbrush
It starts with a toothbrush and is soon followed by hair-bands and bangles, personal items of little value. One day you realise there are more of her clothes in the wardrobe than yours! The wheels are in motion and before you know it she has slinked in to your life and moved in to your pad.
Initially it's a lot of fun. You're at it like rabbits. Your apartment is cleaner than ever. She brings home small treats – fruit, Thai-style snacks and bits and bobs that make your place more comfortable. Life is good – better than when you lived alone.
But you're white, she's Thai and no matter how strong the attraction and how good the sex, the two of you are very different. She wants to watch the soaps, you want to watch the football. She wants to eat som tam, you want pizza. You can only sleep with the air-con on, she can only sleep with it off. The truth is that the differences are so great that most long-term relationships between Thai women and Western men are doomed from the start.
The problem is when you tell her that things aren't working out as you had hoped. (Note: Isn't it amazing that in the West it's often the woman who calls things off but in Thai / Farang relationships in Thailand, it's almost always the guy. I guess it says something about who has the most options.) Moving her in was easy, now try moving her out! If she is the nasty type and has anything over you (you indulge in weed, you don't have a blue book, your visa expired etc., she ain't going anywhere and she might even make threats that could see your once near perfect life turn in to a total misery.)
In Thailand when a couple moves in together, they are signaling that it is long-term. That's exactly what she's thinking which leads to….
Rushing to the registry office
She may be living with you, but that might not be enough. She wants more, but you resist!
The most common strategy is feigning calling things off because, she says, you have not shown commitment. You are doing as every wise fellow should, taking time to really get to know her before committing.
When she threatens to leave, many guys default to what they knew in the West. The end of a relationship could mean a drought. You're not getting any younger, you two were happy once and in a moment of weakness you somehow allow her to put the first handcuff on. A number of ceremonies fly by in a blur and before you know it you're sharing the same surname.
Many a Thai woman is keen to lock her man in for the long term. Every Thai woman knows that decent guys have almost unlimited options in Thailand. They also know that the fact a guy is in a relationship won't prevent other Thai women from showing interest in him. She needs to lock him in and some can get quite manipulative to make that happen.
Getting married is not a bad thing. Just be sure it's what you want. Don't get rushed in it, and don't get married for the wrong reasons (she threatens to leave you if you don't / getting married to qualify for a marriage visa / you made the biggest mistake of all)…see below:
Forgetting to visit 7 Eleven
There are so many diets these days that anyone who wants to lose weight has unlimited choices. But if there is one piece of advice I would give someone keen to lose weight, it would be to avoid 7 Eleven. Most food sold at 7 Eleven is junk and will do you no good. But that's not to say that 7 Eleven stores should close. No way! If anything, there should be more 7 Eleven stores in Bangkok because they stock the world's greatest invention. 7 Eleven stores are full of condoms! Different brands, different sizes and if it's your thing, different flavours. Having stores open 24/7 within walking distance that sell condoms is a blessing!
The worst sight in expat society is that of a white guy walking with a local lass through a shopping mall, pushing a stroller and looking downright miserable while she has the biggest grin in the place! Where moving to Thailand is winning the lottery for a single white guy, getting pregnant to a white guy is winning the lottery for a certain type of local lady.
Having children is the biggest decision of your life. It is bigger than getting married. It's much bigger than buying property. Having children is forever. You are part of someone else's life, in some capacity, for the rest of your life. If you want to live the life of a single Western man, this is the one sure-fire way to mess it up.
When kids arrive, your life will change forever. If you want kids, plan it! Choose Miss Right carefully, get married and have a family. Just plan the when and more importantly, the who! Make sure it is you who chooses her, and not her who traps you! Having kids may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you but in my observations, when pregnancy in Thailand isn't planned, much pain follows. The average Western guy usually fronts up to make the best of the situation and do the right thing. Maybe he will even marry her. But if the relationship was stressed before pregnancy and there were unresolved issues, the added pressure of a new-born just makes thing worse and while he might try his best, don't expect a happy ending. Good years slip by, his looks deteriorate and his bank account goes sideways. Often he ends up full of resentment.
Getting the wrong girl pregnant is the ultimate own goal. It's like being challenged on the half way line by the worst player in the other team, turning around and kicking the ball back to your own ‘keeper but inadvertently putting it over his head and sticking it in your own net.
There's a 7 Eleven in just about every neighbourhood in Bangkok with many brands of condoms for sale. Embrace 7 Eleven!
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken of the bridge that links the National Stadium skytrain station to MBK. There are two prizes each week, 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 in Bangkok.
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.
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.
Honest girlfriend, honest guy.
My girlfriend of 7 years just came out with, "What's the point of being your girlfriend if you don't give me money?" I was getting fed up with the constant and recently increasing demands for more cash coupled with the rapidly decreasing amount of sex and affection. Time for a change, I think.
Premier League pre-match.
Your readers in Thailand who subscribe to CTH for Premier League football know there are six channels named Stadium 1 -6 showing the football on channels 131-136. What they might not know is that there is a 'secret' Stadium 7 channel. Logically that should be on channel 137, but this is Thailand so it on channel 83 instead. And that channel shows the English pre-match, half-time and post-match analysis, rather than that of the Thai commentators.
Hong Kongers' concerns.
News in Hong Kong today is that the government has raised the travel alert for Bangkok to red, middle-level. A couple of the big tour operators cancelled some Bangkok tours. However, this wasn't enough for some legislators, who were complaining to the security minister. They want the level raised to black, the highest. Note this doesn't prevent anyone from flying to the affected area (the Philippines has been black since the 2010 bus-hostage fiasco), but it affects organised tours and of course solo travelers take it into consideration. So Hong Kong is in wait-and-see mode. If things get violent Hong Kong might raise its level. Hong Kongers are relatively few, but Bangkok is a favourite destination. Stay safe.
Breakfast at 2 PM.
I rose late and decided to have breakfast at 2 PM at the Old German Bierhaus. Ordered a glass of Erdinger, followed by their American breakfast. Half way through my beer a cup of freshly brewed coffee appears on my table! Called the head waiter and asked for it to be taken back, reheated and served after food. To those who attribute this level of service to "third world" or "Asian" mentality, I say – you have not been Indonesia or Sri Lanka or India or <add your Asian country here> where regardless of economic progress common sense prevails, Philippines excluded.
Kassikornbank changed their ATM machines. Before one button came up in English reading 'Change Language'. Now when you press it you get a variety of languages which includes English, Chinese or Japanese. When you press English out pops your card! Kassikornbank informed me they have a problem. I think their biggest problem is having the button in English they might as well have it in Thai. How many Chinese or Japanese are able to read 'Change Language' in English?
I have had a mild do-over with a Thai but quickly learned some commonsense rules. First, if you are 60 plus like me and a 25 – 30 year old hottie is telling you how much she loves you – it's rubbish. Take a long look in the mirror, check your date of birth and give yourself a very hard upper cut! I am in a relationship with a Filipino who is a teacher in Thailand. She is 48 years of age, intelligent, loving, caring and honest. We have been together (although I still am living 50/50 in Aussie as I am pension age in a couple of years). She never asks me for anything. When I give her something, she thanks me repeatedly and she truly cares for me. I am not a wealthy man but she does not care. She loves me because I treat her fairly and lovingly, something she has not experienced before. But I am the head of the house and she knows that. The moral of the story as far as I am concerned is to find a woman who is educated, mature and with has a lot of common sense. Take your time in the relationship and tread carefully.
Bye bye Bangkok, hello San Francisco!
I was turned on to your weekly columns some time back as I am considering vacationing in Thailand soon. As part of my research, I have been reading many of your weekly columns. I happened to be reading the column called Hands Out in Bangkok and was struck by the begging monks. You said the begging monks had largely disappeared. Well, it appears they may be in San Francisco, California (where I live) because I have recently seen numerous begging monks in the financial district. Most recently I saw one on a cellular phone outside of Starbucks. The next time I see one begging, I'll snap a picture and send it to you so you can see if they look familiar, although I'm sure the fake monk scam has made its way to SF with different perpetrators.
Many bar owners are concerned about the effect on business the ongoing protests in Bangkok will have with the negative exposure the city is getting. At the same time some aren't doing anything to help the situation. A ground floor Nana Plaza bar with a huge flat screen TV facing the centre of the plaza appears to be permanently tuned in to the local news channel which is broadcasting the worst of what's going on in the city over and over again. For residents who have been through this before it's nothing new, but for tourists or first time visitors it won't do anything to allay their fears.
Strolling through Khao San Road last night, it was much quieter than I would expect at this time of year with fewer foreigners about. This should be no great surprise given it is the one part of town popular with foreign visitors with Khao San in the shadows of the main demonstration site.
Next week Spanky's in Nana Plaza is starting a bunch of new shows. Spanky's has consistently been one of the busiest bars in Nana this year. The Pattaya branch of Spanky's has picked and the bar's second anniversary will be held on December 20. More details about that next week.
The official grand opening party for Wild Things (briefly known as Tokyo Player and Las Vegas before that) on the top floor of Nana Plaza will take place on Tuesday, December 17th. There will be a free lap dance for every customer who buys a lady drink – I expect some girls are going to be quite busy and the party will feature a booty shaking dance contest. Customers are encouraged to slap a sticker on the dancers' derrière and whoever gets the most stickers wins a cash prize. Heineken, Tiger and Tiger Light will all be just 69 baht, all night long.
The biggest operator in the plaza, Nana Group, has sold another of its bars. G Spot went a few weeks back and now Fantasia, on the second floor next to Temptations, has gone. The new owners of Fantasia soon found themselves in for a bit of a surprise. They had intended to bring in some ladyboys but the lease explicitly states the bar cannot employ ladyboys, be they pre-op or post-op. So how does this work and what's the story with the existing ladyboy bars in the plaza? Do they have similar restrictions? Apparently there is a clause in the leases of Nana Plaza bars that puts a ceiling on the number of ladyboys the bar can employ. Such a clause would probably result in some sort of discrimination law suit in other parts of the world but this is Thailand where just about anything goes. Steve, ex Stumble inn and Strikers, is managing Fantasia.
Barfine rates have crept up to 700 baht in a number of bars in Nana Plaza. They have been 600 for some time and in terms of inflation, an increase was long overdue. Prices in Nana Plaza are still a good deal lower than some bars in Soi Cowboy. With that said, with attitudes and the general experience in many bars these days hardly anything to get excited about, price increases won't go down well with some customers.
Just a few doors along from Fantasia, the revamped G Spot is due to open in mid-January and could see something of a change of direction with word that it's going to be more akin to a gentleman's club than a gogo bar per se. The word is that the bar will feature sofas and a more comfortable style of seating than is typically found in gogo bars. This is all rumour at this stage and the new owner didn't reply to my request for details so we'll have to wait until it opens…or perhaps I should just go and stick my nose inside and ask the builders? The Pimp who will run it has much experience with more upmarket clubs giving weight to the rumour. A bar with a new concept in Nana would not be a bad thing.
British pub Crossbar (a 5-minute walk up Sukhumvit soi 23 from Soi Cowboy, perhaps 3 minutes past Clubhouse) will hold a pub quiz this coming Tuesday, December 10th, starting around 7 PM.
There are many more British pubs in Bangkok than there used to be, along with more sports bars and foreigner oriented bars (think The Kiwi, Australian Pub, Bradman's, Sportsman etc). Most are packed Friday night and weekends, but during the week they can be quiet – the market is getting crowded. These venues compete on many levels from price, service and increasingly, the quality of the grub. I see Crossbar is making steps towards becoming something of a gastro pub. Over the next few months more high quality items will be added. Lamb shanks was the first such item to appear. They are served in either in a Portobello and red wine sauce, or a rosemary and mint sauce. No knife is required and the meat just falls off the bone. It is served on mash with a choice of veg. The weight of the shanks is just over a pound. Lamb lovers, check it out.
I note The Kiwi (previously known as Soi 8 Bar) is running a special for teachers on Wednesdays with discounted drinks.
When The Dubliner moved from its original home at the Sukhumvit entrance of Washington Square across Sukhumvit Road to soi 33/1, the quality of the cooked breakfasts and the food in general took something of a nose dive. I ate there soon after the move and was really unimpressed. I gave it a second chance recently and am pleased I did – it's everything it used to be. If you're looking for a really good English – ooops, I mean Irish breakfast – don't look past The Dubliner.
Christopher G. Moore's latest book of essays, "Fear and Loathing in Bangkok", is now available for the Kindle at Amazon. It is timely given the current political turmoil with several of the essays describing the forces leading to the confrontation. Also, The Marriage Tree – the latest Calvino novel – is available in bookstores in Bangkok now.
After fully sold out nights over Halloween, Checkinn99 is putting on one more Rocky Horror Show this coming Friday the 13th at 8 PM. Tickets are on sale at Checkinn99bkk.com @ 1,200 baht which includes the show and a welcome drink. The night finishes with everyone joining in the classic hits and dance sets. You can do the time warp at Checkinn99 next Friday.
Sunrise Tacos has introduced a super-sized burrito, what it's calling the Bangkok Burrito Bomb. It is 35 centimetres long and weighs a whopping 2.5 kg. It's a real challenge – eat it within 30 minutes free…otherwise the adventure is 995 baht. As it is cooked in the super hot Josper oven it's only available at the Silom and Sukhumvit Soi 12 locations.
On the subject of Sunrise Tacos, the restaurant is doing its bit to bring a bit of happiness to the poor kids in the slums of Klong Toey with the Mercy Centre. I know many expat residents are keen to do something in the community in Bangkok but just don't know how. This is your chance. Sunrise has 180 kids they are keen to give a present to. At Sunrise there will be a bunch of Christmas trees from this coming Tuesday and each will have a star with a child's name, age and whether it's a boy or a girl. The idea is that you take the star away, buy a gift for the child and return the gift and the star to Sunrise. Sunrise will organise for the child to be presented with the gift. There are trees at every sunrise branch with locations at their website.
Bangkok might not be quite the bargain it once was, but there are still some deals out there that are a fraction of what you'd pay in the West. Getting your teeth cleaned costs little, for example – if I was a regular visitor I'd get that done while in town. There are some other bargains on services in Bangkok if you look around. I caught up with world famous Welsh photographer Andrew McNeill this week who was delighted at having had his camera cleaned after a jaunt through India. In the UK, Canon wanted £165 to clean it. He had it done at the official Canon service centre here in Bangkok for just 500 baht – and had it back the same day. That's just 1/16th of the price it would have cost back home!
I'm often unimpressed with reportage in the English language newspapers here and feel that much of what is written is news for Thais written in the English language. What I have noticed recently is the contradictory reports which have me scratching my head. One day you read that 5 people were killed in one day in the Bangkok protests. The next day you read that a total of 3 people have been killed across all the protest areas so far. And then the next day the total is different again. Obviously some of the reports are wrong and that makes you wonder about everything else reported. The way local stories are compiled and how some of the local newspapers operate is interesting. Stories are often researched and written by Thai journalists. Sometimes they file in English and sometimes they file in Thai. If the story is written in Thai it then goes to another Thai who translates the report in to English. From there, the final step is that one of the native English-speaking staff edit it again. Knowing some of the staff, I've been forwarded the odd email of what these foreign editors have to edit and some of it is just gobbledygook.
Technology is replacing many jobs. Will private investigators in Thailand be the next to feel the pinch with the widespread promotion on Facebook of mobile phone monitoring software in Bangkok? Such software is nothing new, but the latest version being promoted by ThaiSpyBangkok is amazingly powerful and would seem to do everything a PI can do – and more. Once installed on a mobile phone, the software can monitor everything that happens on that phone call history, SMS messages and other messages sent via popular messaging systems. Considering how many people use instant messaging like LINE, Skype, Facebook etc, it's scary. These messages may not be sent in English so an additional service is offered to translate the messages in Thai to English – real translation by a human and not a machine. There are 2 versions of the software, one of which allows call interception and the ability to listen to a call live, as it's happening. You can even open up the telephone's mic, so you can hear if the person using the phone is at home – or perhaps out and about somewhere where loud music is playing.
You know the world is going crazy when readers in remote locations (often Middle Eastern countries) complain that this site is blocked because it is classified as a porn site! Who could possibly think that? I don't think I've ever allowed a photo of even a single nipple on here, let alone the good bits.
I note advertisements popping up for Christmas Day specials around town. I don't doubt you get quite a feast, but when British pubs advertise a meal for 1,500 baht, I scratch my head and wonder just what's on offer when they offer a sumptuous buffet every week for less than a third of that. But that's nothing compared with what some hotels are asking for one meal – more than many of us spend in a week. Bah, humbug!
I've never been to the Philippines, and don't have any desire to go. What puts me off is the food and the danger factor. In terms of safety and the quality of food, we're spoiled in Thailand. With that said, the people of the Philippines have always impressed me. Anyway, the reason for mentioning the Philippines is that while Western men flock to Thailand looking for a wife, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they might be better off with a Filipino. The Filipinos generally speak much better English, their mindset is closer to that of the average Westerner and many genuinely want to leave their country and move to the West. Most Thais do NOT want to go to the West. It has been my observation that those who settle down with a Filipino woman are generally happier and don't have to face many of the ongoing issues they do with Thais – especially when they take their Thai teeruk to the West. Of course every woman is different and the dynamic of every relationship is different, but with so many relationships between Westerners and Thais going tits up, don't rule out Filipinos.
Quote of the week, "One of the most bizarre aspects of Bangkok is that the poorest, ugliest and least educated local Thai guys have better looking girlfriends than the handsomest, richest and most successful foreign guys."
Reader's story of the week is one man's account of the ongoing agony of getting the wrong girl pregnant, " 10 Months On".
There are so many single women in Hong Kong that many struggle to find a decent partner.
Hong Kong's infamous Sex141 website is busted in a major police
The Washington Post looks at why Thailand has had more coups than any other country.
Thailand is accused of secretly selling Myanmar refugees to human traffickers.
Sukhumvit soi 22 has arrived on the nightlife map according to the South China Morning Post.
An Aussie visitor to Phuket left a paraplegic after being hit by a tuktuk is showing guts and determination to get on with his life.
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 Thai wife has a 4-year old son. He's living in Thailand with his grandmother and grandfather. The boy's father sends 15K baht every month so my wife can take care of his son. Last month without notice he stopped sending money. My wife and the boy's father never lived together. That 15K baht is like alimony, I think. I think he just stopped because he probably knows my wife is living with me in Europe – but I'm not sure about that. My wife says they didn't go to court to make an official alimony agreement. The guy just sends the money every month. They haven't talked with each other since her son was born. My wife tried to contact him but he always refuses contact. What is the law regarding alimony in Thailand? How can she claim alimony from him? How is alimony calculated?
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: It sounds as though the parents were not married at the time of birth. If so, then the child's legitimate parent would be the mother, thus conferring Thai citizenship. Under Thai law, if the parents are not married at the time of birth then even if the father is listed on the birth certificate he must go to the District Office and register as the father. If this has not been done then the mother will need to go to court to ask for child support, which is what she was receiving before. Alimony is voluntary, and only for married people.
If she wants to enforce child support payments she will need to file in a Thai court. They will request a paternity test from the father. Depending on when the relationship with you started they may also request yours and they could even ask her to do a DNA test.
Once his paternity is established then the courts would award child support.
If the parents were married at the time of birth then she would simply need to file in the Family Court for child support.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist your wife with the process of filing with the courts to establish paternity and obtain child support. We have legal experts fluent in both Thai and English and are experienced with the process.
The protests in Bangkok continue although there seems to have been something of a lull the past few days. I followed the red shirt protests in 2010 closely, wandering around the red shirt encampment, taking thousands of photos and writing about what I saw. The big difference between then and now is the way the red shirt movement grew and grew. Before we knew it the red shirts had taken control of a large area of downtown. Looking at the current bunch, there's much determination on the part of the leaders but how many of their followers are really willing to stick with it? I guess we'll know more tomorrow with what is being termed the big day, with a call for the masses to head out in to the streets and to converge on Government House. After many claims that the end was near, they are staking everything on what happens tomorrow. I would like to reiterate what I have been saying all along – that there is no reason to put off travel to Thailand. It's safe, all the attractions are open and there is, at the time of writing at least, very little effect on tourists.
Your Bangkok commentator,