The Girl is Mine
He said he'd been visiting Thailand since the '90s and with 25 or 30 trips under his belt he reckoned he knew the bar scene well. But I immediately wondered how much he really knew when he asked me to check with a bar manager to see if his girl was still being barfined. That's kind of like asking the bank manager to print a list of another customer's transactions. He was 10,000 miles away and the constant worry of what his girl was up to was driving him crazy.
There was another option…
He'd come out of an on-again-off-again relationship with another bar lass which had ended in the saddest way. As if proof is needed that past actions are the best indicator of future behaviour, soon after the funeral he found
himself in the arms of another.
They spent a couple of weeks together before he returned to the States, she to Soi Nana.
They would speak every day on the phone. He knew that she was still going to the bar. But, she said, she did nothing more than perch at the railing, watching the street-side zoo and one of the world's great nightly shows.
She worked as a hostess, receiving a monthly salary of 9,000 baht. She made another 6,000 baht in drink commissions and tips, a take home of around 15,000 baht per month.
15K baht is a decent monthly salary for unskilled work in Thailand and a common starting point for new graduates in office jobs. The average Thai gets by fine on 15K baht a month in Bangkok.
He hadn't caught her in a lie but things were playing on his mind. There was the guy from Latvia who paid her handsomely when he came to town, but who she claims she did not have sex with. There are guys for whom simply being
around a woman is what they crave, a woman to talk to, a woman to sleep next to – and for some that is enough.
So she was still being barfined by past customers and not having sex with them? Plausible. Not likely, but plausible.
Then there were the phone calls he made which went unanswered for a day or two. He maintained that she would always have a plausible reason. That word again. Plausible once I can live with. Plausible twice makes me think implausible. He never did tell
me what those plausible reasons were. I started to wonder if he was in denial.
Thais have a love affair with their mobile phone and don't miss a thing. Multiple missed calls not returned means they're avoiding you. A phone turned off for extended periods means they are avoiding you. Failure to reply to a series of texts
sent over a period of time means they're avoiding you. Any ongoing issue with the mobile phone means….they're avoiding you.
But does a guy have a right to insist that the phone is always answered? It smacks of control and this guy didn't strike me as the controlling type. Quite the opposite, actually. He came across as reasonable and willing to give
a girl a chance – admirable traits, but traits which leave one vulnerable to being taken advantage of.
But, I started to wonder, just who was taking advantage of who?
He was supporting her to the tune of several hundred US dollars a month. On top of the 15,000 baht total she earned from the bar, money should be no problem. There was no reason for her to drop her knickers, at least not for money.
She didn't have children to support.
He was well aware that she went to the bar every night. For that she had his blessing, for she had explained that she needed to make more money. How could a Thai lady live on several hundred dollars a month, she had asked him. With
25 or 30 trips under his belt, I wondered just how much he had learned…
Was she perching at the railings or was that simply what she did at the start of the night, staring at hotel room ceilings later in the evening?
The task was simple. I had to establish if she could be barfined. There was no need to pry in to what she got up to away from the bar, or whether she had other guys supporting her. It was as simple as it gets, a throwback to the old days: could she be
She was right where he said she'd be, sitting at the railings of a bar in Soi Nana, that increasingly sleazy neighbourhood where rural Thai women and lonely Western men satisfy each other's needs.
There was no need to build up a complex ruse so I kept it simple. A friend was in Thailand a couple of months ago and had ventured in to the bar. He had chatted with her but had to rush off as he had a flight to catch. He was still thinking about her
and he wanted me, his friend resident in Bangkok, to pass on a message to her that he would be back in Bangkok next month.
It's a ruse that works well. She gets a drink off the bat without even asking. She learns that another guy wants to see her, a chance to make some easy money. She goes from mild confusion at being approached over all the young women in the bar to
I too am smiling; in a few minutes I'll have all the answers. And I know what the answer is going to be.
She returns with a drink and asks about my friend. I show her a photo on my phone of a friend from home. She makes me laugh when she says, Yes, I remember him! He's never even been to Thailand, I think to myself. Just
as well I'm not drinking or I might laugh a little too loud.
He'll be here in a couple of weeks, the day after Christmas, I say, and he's keen to see you. He plans to stay in Bangkok for a couple of days before flying to Ko Samui to celebrate New Year. I think he wants someone to
join him, I say, adding that his marriage went bad recently.
She says she'd like to go with him.
She's still going with customers.
We chat a little more about work in general and she tells me how quiet the bar has been with the protests. Bar trade is well down, she says. She tells me she usually makes about 50,000 baht a month – but won't make that this
month. Not bad coin for someone pushing 40.
Where you stay, she asks me.
Right there, I say, pointing at a high-end condo building you can see a small part of from the railing of the bar.
I go with you, she says.
I inquire about her fee. She says that the mamasan has made the girls charge standard fees – 2,000 short-time, 4,000 long-time, but, she whispers, she'll be happy with 3,000 for all night.
I make my excuses, settle the bill and leave.
I had gone to the bar looking beat. I hadn't shaved and my hair was all over the place. I'd exercised at the local park as the sun was going down. The client had told me that she was picky about who she went with. He had
believed that she was only going with customers once or twice a week before he had entered the picture and insisted that she was choosy about who she went with. He had made the valid point that while she might decline an invitation from
me, all that would prove was that she would not go with me. She might go with someone else, someone more handsome.
Looking my worst, she was still up for it. She'd be up for it with anyone.
That she had told him that she continued to work in the bar but didn't go with customers made no sense and as someone with 25+ visits to Thailand under his belt and a history of bargirl relationships he should have known better.
Bargirls have a quota of barfines they must reach each month. Their salary is cut heavily if they fail to achieve that number. Ditto with lady drinks. They are allowed 2 days off a month and are cut for every day over those 2 they don't go to work,
yet the average girl works only 20 – 25 days a month.
A girl who doesn't go with customers and goes to the bar, say, 25 nights a month would find her basic salary cut almost to zero. She would be working for tips and drink commissions only. The 6,000 baht a month in lady drink commissions and tips she
claims to make would barely cover the cost of transport to and from work, let alone other expenses. Continuing to work in the bar while not being barfined doesn't add up for beer bar girls.
That her phone went unanswered or was turned off for a couple of days is a major red flag. There is almost no plausible reason for it. Even if the phone was stolen, a replacement SIM card can be issued immediately. And mobile phone coverage reaches almost
every last village in the country. Being outside the coverage area is an excuse that no longer cuts it.
She was being supported to the tune of 20,000 baht per month. For ladies from the boondocks, 20,000 baht is plenty. The guy was reliable and the payment was always made at the agreed time. Logic says that a lady pushing 40 would be delighted with 20K
baht a month and the chance to return home to the quiet life. But money is not the only thing she considers.
To say she shouldn't cheat on him when he is supporting her financially is missing the point completely. Too many guys seem to feel that throwing money at an (ex-)bargirl reserves her for him. What often isn't acknowledged is that a woman wants
commitment. Yes, money is needed to survive and if a guy asks a woman – any woman, bargirl or otherwise – to stop working then he has to be willing to provide for her. But he needs to do more than that. He needs to be with her. Irrespective
of whatever reasons he may have for not being with her, being left alone just doesn't work for most Thai women.
With Thai ladies who worked as bargirls, you have to get her out of the bar and in to a place with you. Being together is the only hope you've got of beating the odds and making it work.
Thai girls don't do long distance, especially when they have other options. How many times do I have to say that while you can rent her pussy, you can't buy her heart?
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken of the skytrain passing the huge advertising screen at the Interchange Building at Asoke. 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.
EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Missing Bangers.
I miss Bangkok. Every day in most every way. But mostly in a way my children and I dare say my Thai wife could never understand. Even now, the life offered to most farangs who are willing to learn a minimum of language skills, bend / compromise on the small stuff, and who have the ability to stay out of trouble (keep the drinking under control, put your health first, and to always keep the women in perspective) is like no other life offered anywhere in the world. A veritable paradise. But only when you have a real country to fall back on. A country where everything makes sense, the politics, justice system, work ethic and much more. It is only in comparison to our home countries that a paradise by definition could exist. God bless that which we take for granted.
Be careful what you wear!
Yesterday I was walking down a neighbourhood soi here in Chiang Mai, minding my own business, when a Thai guy dressed in red, complete with headband, yelled “Yellow shirt!” at me. I had not even noticed him before his outburst, so I nodded politely; however, he angrily yelled “No!” as we each continued on our respective ways. That was the end of it but it made me think WTF?! The garment in question was a yellow T-shirt from a buddy's website featuring his website logo. Since it was a Monday, I thought it would be no problem. Boy, was I wrong! Like you, I would not hesitate to recommend people visit as long as they avoid the protest areas. However, this incident has given me pause in the vein of how the ongoing political tension will affect me personally. There are a lot of devotees on both sides of the political divide who are unable to think critically and are easily lead and manipulated by others. It could get a bit dicey if an opportunist decided to, you know, score a few points with the mob. You've forgotten more about Thailand than most foreigners will ever know but just sharing one guy's actual experience. Take care of yourself down there!
The long road to Khao San.
Yesterday I went from Sukhumvit and was trying to get to Khao San Road. The bus stopped and everyone was told to get off and walk. I walked for ages. There were massive numbers of people. I tried getting through but could not. I tried various routes and spent hours. I tried going right around but couldn't find a way around it all. I ended up sitting in a store and waiting for ages then saw a slight thinning in numbers on the street and made it down to an intersection and got caught up in a march but got to the other side and then eventually to Khao San Road. I spoke to a few tourists who got caught up in it and they said they could not get through. It was crazy, but also very peaceful with no sign of trouble. I have never seen anything like it! I could not guess the numbers, but it covered a MASSIVE area, wall to wall people. Something that should have been a 5-minute walk became 4 hours!
But she's different!
That was probably your best weekly piece this year. It had the best advice for foreigners who wash up here as "ไก่อ่อนs" and try to get their sea legs under them. I've met all too many foreigners who were suddenly hooked up long-term with Thai whores. Almost to a person the story plays out the same. It's like watching a slow-motion train wreck. Still kudos, it was a good piece! Now how many people will heed your advice? Possibly very few, because as we know this one's different!
It's easier to sleep with a Filipina.
I concur with you about Filipinas being a better long-term choice than their Thai sisters. Both are great fun in their own special ways, but in my experience the Filipinas have a softer edge to them. Both will pout when they don't get their way or you disappoint them. But where the Filipina will go quiet and withdraw and expect you to approach and gently soothe her, a Thai girl can and often does go absolutely bat shit crazy on you. Bad enough in a hotel room, but in your own flat as a live-in situation, a right nightmare! I've been with the same Filipina for 17 years for a reason. My house needs to have knives in it and I like to sleep there.
The alcohol issue.
If you want to touch a nerve, address the issue of alcohol consumption in a forthcoming column. We all know that's a co-factor in many bad decisions made in Thailand. Some reader tales would help. I believe it's the combo of neon / girls / fantasy fuelled by alcohol that reduces common sense and helps lead to bad decisions. And I feel this is accurate: alcohol is an integral part of UK social culture. Getting pissed with the lads. Sure, people from other nations get trashed and get in trouble but the UK seems to have it institutionalized. A friend of mine who likes to get down to the pub and be social (he's Canadian) was offered a job in London, but was so put off by the alcohol-based culture that he turned it down. That, he told me, was the deciding factor. I like Brits and pub grub (not a sports fan though), but at times I've felt this near-obsession with alcohol – they gotta have it. It's somehow different from Japan, where they can't handle it but slam it down anyway. There it's like peer pressure – even for middle-aged types. In the UK, it's some sort of ongoing ritual. I don't get it. Even though I can't drink, I'm happy to hang out with people I like while they enjoy a pint or two. But some Brits I know talk about alcohol ad nauseum: they discuss how drunk they were earlier, where they're going to drink, how funny it is, how trashed they get, all before they even start. I'm usually gone by that point. The next day they talk about how hung-over they are. We Americans have our own obsessions, but few blather on as much about drinking.
Add watches to the list.
Further to your comments about getting things done in Bangkok at a better price, be it cleaning teeth or camera, add watches to the list. If you have a premium brand such as Rolex, Omega, Tag etc., it is much cheaper here than in the west, plus it gets done more quickly. My Tag was serviced and a new battery fitted in a week. It used to take a month in the UK. So anybody passing through with sufficient time should look up the Bangkok service centres. And yeah, my watch is still going!
I just returned from a business / anniversary trip to San Francisco with my lovely Thai bride (10 years and counting) and we can confirm the begging monk sighting in San Francisco. We saw ours walking with his alms bowl near Pier 39, a big tourist spot, and the wife thought he looked Thai. Lots of others "begging" in this area so he fit right in.
Lo-so farang birds people watching.
I am shocked how many lo-so farang females are perched on stools surveying Nana, soi 4. It's very upsetting when you travel half way around the globe to get away from these people in the UK.
Girl of the week
Nun, 26 years old, gogo dancer
@ Club Electric Blue, Patpong soi 2.
Nun always has a smile on her face and loves to be sexy!
The protests in Bangkok continue as is becomes increasingly clear the latest ongoing political issue has caused widespread cancellations as visitors choose not to visit Bangkok. Protests, coups and general political wranglings are nothing new in Thailand. In the past the bar industry has not suffered as badly as attractions which appeal to a more mainstream type of tourist. Rain or shine, coup or peace, the naughty boys would come. But that has changed. The average bar customer today does not have so many visits under his belt and the naughty nightlife industry does not have the pull on punters it once did. Since the middle of last week i.e. 10 or so days ago, things have really slowed down in the neon jungle and pretty much every bar has seen a big drop in trade. This past Friday night I did the rounds in Patpong and it felt more like a Sunday in June.
The concern with the protests is not so much any perceived notion of danger, but the possibility of the massive inconvenience and hassle if the airport should be closed again. It is 5 years since the sit-in at the airport which destroyed the 2008 / 2009 high season but that is stuck in some people's minds and it is that which is the main reason being cited by those who are staying away. And frankly, who can blame them?
Away from the areas popular with Westerners, the Arab quarter is particularly quiet and wandering around soi 3 and 3/1 last night it was clear that those from the Middle East are staying away.
The question that needs to be asked at Nana Plaza is what came first: the drop in visitor numbers or the drop in the number of dancers, which is now acute? For Nana Plaza, 2013 has been like a game of two halves played a mercurial football team. For the first half of the year the plaza was brilliant with bars booming. The second half has been an absolute disaster. Two big name bars in the plaza this past week each had fewer than 10 girls. The boss of one of these venues lamented how he gets on Facebook and sees his girls posting. Some have gone back to their home province. Some post from their apartment and cannot be bothered going to work. Some have taken a quick jaunt down to Singapore for 2 weeks to make real money.
The dissolution of the government and announcement that new elections will be held on February 2nd hasn't been well-received by bar owners. Expect the weekend of the election and the weekend before (which is designated as advance voting day for those who are resident in one province but registered in another, giving them a chance to go home to vote) to be dry. And no, this won't be localised, but nationwide. The prohibition of alcohol sales on election days is strictly enforced and bars are usually closed. This is yet another hit to the high season which this year started so well but now looks like it's going to be a fizzer.
Bacarra in Soi Cowboy is regarded by many as the best gogo bar in the country. The 2-floor bar with a glass dance floor upstairs plays good music and is jammed full of hot dancers. Bacarra in Soi Cowboy is great, BUT Westerners are voicing their disapproval at door staff enforcing a policy which favours Japanese while discouraging others. Caucasians customers report being refused entry, or being asked to buy a drink at the small bar outside before they can enter the gogo bar proper. In some cases punters are told to purchase a drink which they have to pay for right away but are then told they are not allowed to enter the bar after all – and can only use the small outdoor seating area! Bacarra has every right to run the venue as they wish and to allow entry to whomever they wish. It has however reached the point where they should consider erecting a sign outside that says something like "This bar is primarily for Japanese customers; others may be welcome when the bar is not full." I have not heard similar reports from Bacarra on Walking Street in Pattaya where white guys are always welcome and there is no requirement to buy a drink before entering.
Club Electric Blue in Patpong soi 2 is starting 69 baht Tequila Sundays from tonight. Every Sunday, Tequila is just 69 baht a shot. And Club Electric Blue is still running their popular 50 baht draft beer special all night, every night which is the lowest price for beer at any gogo bar in Bangkok.
Stumble Inn in Soi Nana is offering 80 baht draught Chang, Heineken and Tiger everyday between 9 AM and 5 PM with live music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Some Frenchmen opened a 3-storey beautifully decorated and done out bar on Patpong soi 1 this week between Madrid and Goldfinger which they have sunk serious cash in to. Lust looks like it's going to compete for the late night crowd and it's so nicely done out that its location might not count against it attracting Thais who don't typically party at Patpong. As a venue that opens early but doesn't get going until late, expect to pay well in excess of 200 baht for a drink.
The Nana Group – operator of around half the gogo bars in Nana Plaza, including the 2 Angelwitch bars, Billboard and Lollipop – no longer accepts payment by credit card. Payment is now accepted by cash only.
The neon sign mounted on the railing outside Lone Star on the top floor of Nana Plaza has been turned on for the first time in months and now says "This could be your club! If interested please call …" as the Nana Group looks to offload another of their properties.
Long-running Irish pub on Silom Road, O'Reilly's, has been renamed Flann O'Brien's. It was closed on Friday night and I am not sure when it will reopen – you'd think soon, it being high season and all, even if this year's high season won't set any records.
Fantasia in Nana Plaza will soon be known by another name and the bar is undergoing some minor renovations. The bar has taken on new sexy dancers and on Wednesdays and Fridays they wear sexy, fantasy costumes. They have also started nightly shows. Check it out for yourself!
The Big Mango Bar in Soi Scott, the small sub-soi off Soi Nana, is undergoing renovations and should reopen before Christmas. Even though it has been closed for a few months, the owner has continued to pay the rent and generously also continued to pay all of the staff – so as soon as the work is done it's good to go.
It's not often I mention Ko Samui in this column and it's time to put that right. Tequila Dragon on Soi Reggae at Chaweng Beach will celebrate its 9th anniversary this coming Friday, December 20th. Bangkok bars could learn something from Tequila Dragon about party nights with the bar putting on a free buffet, free shots & shooters, and all beers will be priced at just 50 baht a bottle all night long. Tequila Dragon is an air-conditioned hostess lounge with plenty of attractive girls and barfines are just 400 baht. And if you are wondering about the name, this is the original Tequila Dragon and opened nearly a year before its namesake in soi 7/1.
For the Russian readers, the classic bargirl novel, Private Dancer by Steven Leather, is now available on the Kindle in Russian.
Dean Barrett will be signing copies of his newest novel, China Night, at CheckInn99 on Sukhumvit Road between sois 5 and 7 this coming Wednesday, December 18th, from 6 – 8 PM. China Night is an erotic love story set in China so the Checkinn99 girls will be done up in cheongsams and there will be interesting Chinese snacks. Some of Dean's other books will also be available at a discount.
The Christmas / New Year lights that are an annual fixture in downtown Bangkok have been a bit of a disappointment this year. I guess the uncertainty of what will happen next with the political protests and the concern that it might spread downtown meant less budget allocation for the lights this year. They're not nearly as impressive as in years past when there was a real wow factor.
I have to admit that while I can understand where they're coming from, I feel a tad uncomfortable and put off by the not insignificant number of Westerners saying they hope the Thai protests are prolonged, that major problems follow and that the Thai economy collapses in a repeat of the 1997 Asian Economic Crisis. Those making such comments – and there is no shortage of them – wish for such a disaster for two reasons. First, they want the Thai baht to crash so they get more baht for their foreign currency. Many are retirees – and such comments make me think that they retired prematurely without sufficient funds for surely if they had enough they wouldn't feel that way. Others are hoping for economic calamity as businesses would go bust, many would be out of work and there is then an expectation that stocks of girls working in the bar industry increases. I don't hear these comments from tourists at all, only from Westerners resident in Thailand – and most are older guys. It is a nonsense when Westerners resident in Thailand try to convince those around them how much they love Thailand and how it is the best place on the planet and how much they care for the country and its people – yet they want to see Thai people suffer so they have more money to spend here and more prostitutes to choose from. It really is quite shameful.
The Robin Hood (corner of Sukhumvit Road and soi 33/1) is promoting its Christmas menu which is more reasonably priced than some of its competitors in that little neighbourhood where there are 4 British pubs within a stone's throw of each other. 950 baht gets you a full Christmas menu with no compulsory service charge nor VAT surreptitiously added to the bill. I note that the renovations are about complete and the Robin Hood is more spacious.
Good vegetarian food isn't easy to find in Bangkok, Indian restaurants aside. Most Thais don't have any real concept of vegetarianism, save the 10-day vegan food festival during Buddhist Lent. If you're looking for good vegetarian in Bangkok and crave something other than Indian, try May Kaidee restaurant in the alley directly behind Burger King at the eastern end of Khao San Road. The food is great! They understand the difference between vegetarian and vegan. Every dish is priced under 100 baht and if you're feeling particularly hungry, they do a vegetarian buffet on Saturday nights from 6 – 10 PM with all you can eat for 150 baht. The restaurant itself is modestly decked out and doesn't have air-conditioning but the food is great.
Only loosely related to Thailand, this past week I heard of 3 different people here in Bangkok, none of whom know each other and each of whom is legally employed in Thailand, who received a letter from the ATO – the Australian Tax Office – along with a bill for back taxes. One fellow was not even an Aussie and had worked just one year in Australia, some 10 odd years ago. It's all something of a mystery because none of the 3 had advised any Australian government agencies that they were living in Thailand, let alone provided a postal address. Aussies who have tax issues at home ought to keep an eye on the mailbox. As an afterthought, I wonder if this could be an elaborate scam?
In last week's column, Scoring An Own Goal, I listed the ways single guys keen to live the life of a single
guy in Thailand screw it up. I maintain that getting a girl pregnant by mistake is the biggest brain fart of all. Even though it seems that no-one is listening, you're playing a dangerous game if you don't practice safe sex – and by
that I mean taking responsibility yourself and using a condom. The person you can trust is yourself. I was thinking about things recently and about how many guys I know who have got a bargirl pregnant. I thought about it, ran through the list
of everyone with a Bangkok number in my phone, made a list of some old friends, some of who no longer live in Thailand and a handful who have passed away, and I reached the conclusion that somewhere between 20% (and this is the absolute minimum)
and 25% of people I know in Thailand have got a bargirl pregnant. I'm not talking about guys who met a girl in a bar, took her out of the bar, settled down with her, married her and they later had a family together. No, that's an entirely
different situation. What I mean is that between 20 and 25% of people I know reasonably well have impregnated a bargirl while she was working as a bargirl. Maybe I am naive but it strikes me as quite incredible. One guy said that sex with a condom
was not sex, but simulated sex – and as such if a girl insisted he use a condom then it wasn't sex and he would venture elsewhere. I've never understood what prompts some foreigners to indulge in such high risk behaviour in Thailand.
It strikes me as just crazy.
Quote of the week comes from Lecherous Lee who finds it ridiculous that some guys genuinely believe their other half doesn't mind what they get up to on the side, "What woman who actually cares about her boyfriend or husband would accept or approve of him hanging out in places where sex is for sale?"
Reader's story of the week comes from Mr. Anonymous who scored an own goal in, "
My Thai Nom".
Three foreigners were arrested in Bangkok in connection with a recent ATM theft in Krabi.
The pole angels of Alcatraz in Pattaya are featured in a short video presentation.
The receptionist in a Pattaya hotel is drugged and safety deposit boxes
in the hotel are ransacked!
The New York Times looks at why the current Prime Minister of Thailand is
an unlikely choice for the role.
30 Navy police attack 3 civilians in a police station after a dispute
gets out of hand.
A thief in England finds out what happens when you get between a Thai and her meal ticket!
An expat who worked as a Tourist Police Volunteer is arrested after he is caught selling methamphetamine in Phuket.
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: In order for Americans to qualify under the US tax law's "bona fide residence test" they must be subject to taxes in the country they are resident in. Because of this it would be useful to know what specifically makes a foreigner legally required to pay income taxes in Thailand. Does anything override these requirements such as tourist or student visas?
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: Thailand's Revenue Department classifies taxpayers into 2 main categories – Resident and Non-Resident. Their definition of Resident is any person residing in Thailand for a period aggregating more than 180 days in any tax (calendar) year. A Resident of Thailand is liable to pay tax on income from sources in Thailand as well as on the portion of income from foreign sources that is brought in to Thailand. As for the Non-Resident, it is where they will be subject to tax only on income from sources in Thailand. This categorisation is not determined by visa type but solely by the amount of time spent in Thailand. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors has an experienced English-speaking accounting team that can assist you with your Thai tax issues.
Question 2: I worked in Thailand for 6 years, resigning from my job in 2007. I stayed on in Thailand for a year and then in 2008 moved back to my country. I returned to Thailand for a holiday
each year. I plan to come back to Thailand permanently in 2014 and look for work (I am a teacher) to start in the new school year in May. When I left Thailand in 2007 I gave notice at my last school and left at the end of the contract. I never
handed back my work permit and it has long since been lost. I also never filed a tax return for that last year – I worked just the first few months of that year, 2007. I remember that with work permit applications you have to provide a tax slip
from the previous year to show you had paid tax. I also suspect that when the work permit office sees my name in the computer there might be something about my work permit not being returned. My question regards these two issues. As I never submitted
a final tax form, after 7+ years will this be a problem? Secondly, as I never returned my work permit, will this cause me any problems? Any light you can shine on these two outstanding issues would help to put my mind at rest!
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: Most likely your former employer would have cancelled your work permit with the Labour Department. There should be no issue when you apply for a new work permit under a new employer if they did. However, if your previous employer did not cancel the work permit then you could have cancelled yourself by returning the work permit. Since you no longer have it you would need to file a police report for the lost work permit then you can use that to cancel it. However, it's best to check with your previous employer to make sure they cancelled the work permit as that is the most likely outcome.
Every income earner in Thailand is expected to file their Annual Personal Income Tax so you will most likely be charged late submission penalties. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors' accounting department is quite experienced in working with the Revenue Department and can assist you in filing back taxes.
A month ago this year's high season was looking so promising, but, oh, how things have changed! Trade is well down in all the bar areas as visitors avoid Bangkok over concerns about the ongoing protests. And to make matters worse, we have 2 dry weekends in late January / early February which all points towards this high season being the worst in years. Low seasons aren't as quiet as they used to be, but that doesn't make it any more palatable for bar owners who eagerly look forward to what are the most profitable months of the year. The protests are well away from where most foreign visitors venture. I reiterate what I have been saying for the past few weeks – there is no reason to cancel or postpone your holiday!
Your Bangkok commentator,