Stickman's Weekly Column April 27th, 2014

Lumpini Park Today

It's many an expat's favourite place to exercise, or just get some fresh air. It's the only place in central Bangkok to see monitor lizards in a natural habitat. It is the lungs of the city, the one large green space in downtown Bangkok yet the locals' dislike of the heat and a preference for light skin means you often see more foreigners roaming around or exercising in Lumpini Park than you do locals. Except for now.

Bangkok protesters

It's several weeks since the anti-government protesters relocated from the major intersections they had strategically chosen to cripple downtown and relocated to Lumpini Park. The Shutdown Bangkok / Restart Thailand campaign is not getting the press that it was but the movement has not faded away. Far from it, protesters have been camped out in Lumpini Park for months and their numbers swelled in early March, and have remained high ever since.

Bangkok protesters

mens clinic bangkok

From the top of Silom Road, looking north.

Lumpini Park is located in the heart of the city, just north of the main business district, just west of many of the big embassies and just south of some of the city's most expensive condominium buildings. It's bordered by some of the city's busiest roads, including Rama 4 Road to the south and Wireless Road to the east.

Most of the occupation is within the fences of the park itself and the only affected road is Rajadamri Road, with the lanes that run south beside Lumpini Park in the domain of the protesters with vendors set up selling all the usual stuff.

Bangkok protesters

Upon entering the park the first thing that strikes you is that the tents go as far as you can see. The Rama 4 / Rajadamri Road intersection was one of several downtown protest sites and protesters have been at the park for months. The first wave of protesters occupied but the south-western corner of the park around the main entrance to the park. Today the protesters' tents extend throughout the park with landmarks such as the Chinese temple and the clock tower surrounded by portable cloth shelters.

Bangkok protesters

Many of the protesters are rugged folks, nothing like the fair-skinned delicate and delightful office girls who fill the skyscrapers of Sathorn and Silom just a few hundred metres away. These are people of the land with dark skin, sinewy arms, lean and mean.

Bangkok protesters

Many of the tents and sleeping areas are right up against the lakes in the park. The setting may be pretty but it is hellishly hot, even at night. It is though, much more comfortable than being in the thick of the concrete jungle, surrounded by skyscrapers and sleeping on bitumen.

Bangkok protesters

The park already has its own infrastructure, but more has been brought in. Mobile toilet buses are parked throughout the park and homemade shower facilities have been built. Most of the kitchens are near the main entrance and there are booths dispensing food throughout. Water distribution is excellent with enough bottles of water to stock a suburb of 7 Elevens.

Bangkok protesters

The issues might be serious, but a bit of humour is never a bad thing. The hotel did not seem to be doing any business, in fact it appeared to be closed.

The one part of the park with few occupants is along the eastern edge where few tents have been pitched. There are, however, plenty of guard outposts as protest guards keep a wary eye out for any threats.

Bangkok protesters

The placard says it all and encompasses much of what the movement is about. Translated in to English it says, "one law for everyone."

In 2 hours wandering I saw only one monitor lizard. With thousands of people living in the park – men, women and children, the majestic creatures who are scared of humans seem to have gone in to hiding.

wonderland clinic

Bangkok protesters

In the north-eastern corner of the park, near the primary school located within the park grounds is a fenced area with signs in Thai that translate as something like special forces. Further signs in English and Thai say strictly no photos. Those guarding the area closely monitor all walking by. Some of the guards are real mean-looking dudes.

Bangkok protesters

At each gate – there aren't actually that many gates at Lumpini Park – protest guards patrol. Sand bags are stacked forming makeshift bunkers providing protection. There have been a number of late night attacks on guards at the park.

Bangkok protesters

A stage is set up just inside the main park gate but in the afternoon heat few were watching. Some everyday folk were being interviewed, their conversation broadcast on large screens and speaker systems throughout the park. The fervour by speakers on stage which at times bordered on hysterics and extremism seems to have been tempered somewhat.

Bangkok protesters

It's awfully hot with temps reaching the high 30s through much of the day and only dropping below 30 well in to the night. Protesters have made all sorts of oddities with the used bottles from doorway arches to bottles strung up on lines outside their tent.

The sign says "Village / home of those who fight and don't take a step back".

Bangkok protesters

Guards whizz around the park on motorbikes, two on a bike, patrolling and keeping an eye on things. Others catch up on zzzz.

Bangkok protesters

In many ways the protesters in Lumpini Park remind me of the red shirt protesters who occupied the same place at the same time of year, 4 years ago. My over-riding memory of that period is of rural people sleeping throughout the day….and that's exactly what I saw this time.

Bangkok protesters

For those who enjoy the park, it remains still open to the general public although it's not nearly as relaxing as usual.

You can still exercise in the park and there people running, although fewer than usual. The walkways are open but there are a couple of checkpoints set up around the main 2.5 km circuit. Some of the small villages that have been set up don't allow outsiders to walk through and be careful in the north-eastern corner of the park where the militant wing seems to be based.

Bangkok protesters

For visitors to Bangkok, while Lumpini Park is slap in the middle of the city there's no need to be concerned about this occupation. There are no disruptions to life in the city and the protesters for the most part seem to be occupying – and that's about it.

The occupation of Lumpini Park feels like a rural Thai village – the natural setting, that it's oldies and young 'uns with not many in between…and most are laying around sleeping! It's all so docile with so many unproductive. At the same time you get the feeling that they're there for the long haul and they're not going to just fade away. They've got systems in place with places to sleep, places to eat, places to shower, wash clothes and there are plenty of toilet facilities. Food is provided as is entertainment and security is in place. They look docile but remain determined in the cause. They're not jumping up and down and cursing like they were, but neither are they going anywhere. They've settled in for the long term.

Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken of the small sad man bars and tattoo parlour on Pattaya's Soi Buakhao, opposite the
area where the Buakhao Market sets up. This week's photo is back in Bangkok.

(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 Defining freedom.

Freedom means different things to different people. Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should. People in Thailand talk about the joy of flying around on a moped sans helmet…but if you get knocked off your bike, wouldn't you rather have the FDNY there to pick you up? If you happen to be in the vicinity of a firehouse, they might even send out the truck just to be there a minute or 2 faster…that's what your taxes pay for. Other people think certain countries relaxed attitude to narcotic painkillers is better than being in a nanny state. Some of the things I've read on forums are quite shocking – they go around munching on these things like they're M&Ms and what one individual recommended was quite scary. He likes to take a handful of them on a long-haul flight and this knocks him out for the entire 18 hours!

Freedoms afforded by Thailand.

Why do foreign residents say they feel freer in Thailand despite your rational argument? Because they're doing things in Thailand they would never do in their own backyard. They feel a sense of freedom by indulging in activities they would deny themselves in their native land.

Outsiders reminded of their status.

Having to report every 90 days is basically probation / parole status in most countries. One reason I live in Hong Kong is that as a permanent resident, I am no more / less than any other HongKonger, albeit not being able to speak the local dialect at all well. I am treated reasonably, and counting up the points in your column, Thailand is not reasonable when it comes to non-Thai residents, whether whiteys or Burmese / Lao / Khmer labourers.

Freedoms, the UK vs. Thailand.

I agree with most of your comments regarding freedoms in Thailand. But on the other hand as a man in his 50's brought up in the 1960's and 70's I really do think I know where people who say they feel free in Thailand are coming from. Although still a regular visitor, I moved back to the UK 9 years ago and for a man of my generation the now all encompassing culture of political correctness, over the top health and safety lunacy and positive discrimination can be far more maddening than Thailand's various foibles!

A good reason to prohibit the sale of alcohol in the afternoon?

Regarding the law which forbids the sale of alcohol from 2 to 5 PM, what immediately sprang to mind was that this was when kids walk home from school. By making the sale of alcohol illegal in quantities a child could afford, it cuts back on the potential prospect of child alcoholism. What happens at 5? Mom and Dad get home and can watch the kids.

Just who is the idiot farang?

"Yes, we had some arguments with some idiot farangs, but they all get a soaking, like it or not. This Is Thailand – do as the Thais do!"I am not sure if the writer is playing devil's advocate for
his own amusement or is really that deluded. My Thai friends and colleagues dislike the anti-social and disrespectful behaviour associated with Songkran as described by the writer as much as I do and I do exactly as my Thai friends do – stay
away from such people and activities in an attempt to enjoy the holiday and time away from work. It may be worth noting that my friends and colleagues are professionals of middle and upper class background, and that the people I saw behaving
in an anti-social way over Songkran were either teenagers or adults of a lower class and low educational background. With his comments the writer may be telling us more about himself, his background and his lifestyle than he realises, and
with some calm reflection he may wish to re-consider who the 'idiot' farang is.

The rising cost of quality medical care.

I had my gallbladder removed in a private Bangkok hospital in 2012. The doctors and nurses were very helpful and the room was fantastic. The surgery was more complicated than normal. It cost 330,000 baht including a 7-day stay in a private room. Thank God I have insurance. Sometimes I am a bit shocked that my friends here don't have any health insurance. Many think the hospitals are cheap. They are not. Before surgery I went to the local government hospital. I left quickly. I'm sure I would have died if I had had surgery there. So maybe the health theme could be an idea for a column. Good hospitals in Thailand are definitely not cheap!

Changing regulations for medication?

I have been getting my meds at the same Bangkok pharmacy for 7 or 8 years and never had a problem until this week. They had the meds and everything was fine until the receipt was being made out. Normally I fill out the bill in English with the information that my USA insurance wants included like 90-day supply, unit price, and generic name of the drugs. That went fine then the pharmacist said I HAD TO fill in the taxpayer ID number which I have never done before. He explained that there is a new law that this number has to be used. I told them farang retirees like me do not have a taxpayer ID number. So it was a 20-minute back and forth wait while they phoned company headquarters to find out what to do. Finally they took my passport number and added it at the bottom. I asked whether that would be sufficient next time and he said he didn't know. So maybe a bit of advice to your readers that they MAY be in for a bit of a problem if they need to buy meds every so often.

Americans, second-class citizens in Thailand.

Yes, FATCA will become law on July 1st. This is a very important issue for us Americans! Last month, I had a CD mature at SCB. The interest rate at SCB was lower then that at TMB, so I took the cash and went to TMB. They would not open the account since I was an American! They have started this crap already. They pointed to the AMLO poster on the wall and said, “…cannot open account for Americans…”. I had my SCB account book to show that 15 minutes earlier I had closed out an 18-month CD and no way was there any money laundering. The answer was still no.

International travel checklist.

Wifey and I headed out to Suwannaphum Airport on April 14th for a trip to Philippines. We're ready to roll but they won't let us board the plane because we don't have return or ongoing tickets. Huh? I was there 2 years ago and nobody asked for a return ticket. We go upstairs and purchase 2 return tickets. OK, ready, set, go, right? No! I see a worried look on the reservation clerk's face and there's another problem. My wife's passport has 10 days short of 6 months validity. She can't board the plane. More arguing gets us nowhere. I never heard of this 6-month thing before. They refunded the 2 return tickets but Philippine Airlines wouldn't shell out a baht of my original booking. However, Travelocity gave me a one year $200 voucher for further travel. Nothing refunded from Tune Hotel either so I'm out about 400 bucks. You might want to inform your readers about the ongoing return tickets thing and especially the 6-month passport deal.

Girl of the week

Sophia, escort exclusive with

Featured in this column in early 2013 and described as a

Bangkok escort superstar
, Sophia has returned to work.

Sophia Bangkok escort

Sophia Bangkok escort

Sophia Bangkok escort

It has taken more than 3 months for the name to officially change and Nana Plaza's Fantasia is another bar name consigned to Bangkok bar history. What was Fantasia is now known as Hot Lips as the new neon went up this week. The interior of the venue was completed some months ago and with the owners having undertaken a recruitment drive – successfully it should be noted – Hot Lips is one bar in the plaza that really does have a bunch of pretty girls making it very much worth going out of your way for. And for those who watch their pennies, Chang is 99 baht all night, every night. Hot Lips has a neat feature whereby when your bill comes you get 2 dice to roll. If you roll 11, all of your drinks are free. Note: you still have to pay for any lady drinks, but all of your own drinks are free. The manager mentioned a funny story where 4 Indians came into the bar, ummed and ahhhed about staying and eventually ordered 4 Changs – the cheapest drink on the menu. They each nursed their drink for an hour and when given the dice, they threw 11 – meaning they didn't pay a single baht and had an hour's free entertainment. Their delight was such that you'd think they'd won the lottery!

It's all over at Washington Square and the lights have finally gone out. Denny's Corner has closed, as have the remaining couple of venues just inside the soi 22 entrance to the square with those buildings now the focus of a demolition crew. It's not the end of the road though for Denny's Corner which has moved up to the top of soi 22, on the front side of the new Holiday Inn, next to Boot's.

2 other very long-running Sukhumvit Road expat hangouts have closed, the Fish And Chips Shop and The Offshore, on soi
23. The adjacent venues had quite a following and date back decades. I used to really enjoy stopping by the Fish And Chips Shop when I was a Bangkok newbie and while I have not eaten there for years, I will still miss it. Directly opposite
these two shophouses sits popular Bradman's Bistro with its outdoor balcony and TV with live sports where Aussies like to perch and enjoy the soi 23 show. They are disappointed that it's not Crazy House 2 about to open in place
of the 2 closed venues, but The Ship Inn making a comeback. The Ship Inn used to operate 50 metres further up the soi in the spot where Crazy House is now. The rumour on soi 23 was that Crazy House 2 would open but that was never going
to happen and I am not aware of any plans for a second Crazy House bar. The new Ship Inn should open within a couple of months.

Naughty boys enjoying the naughty bar areas became decidedly uncomfortable as a more mainstream type of visitor started descending on the naughty bar areas a few years back. It was most noticeable at Soi Cowboy which attracted a mix of backpackers making the slow stroll along the soi with a 7-Eleven-bought bottle of Chang or Leo in their hand, and groups of Western females, some of whom weren't shy to point at the sight of 150 kg 60-year olds pawing a 20-year old sweetie. And it was not just the neon they were photographing! Naughty boys will be delighted to know that it seems that mainstream visitors to the bar areas are now in decline. Why is that? Other than the obvious that there are fewer visitors coming to Bangkok due to all of the political protests, it's just as likely that Hangover II is not so fresh in people's minds. When Soi Cowboy featured in Hangover II the soi was well and truly put on mainstream visitors' lists of places to see. The naughty boys didn't welcome their presence and won't be sad to see less of them.

Yes, the expert oral practitioners at Dr BJ's, the increasingly popular house of oral relief in Sukhumvit soi 7/1, will go back to your hotel and stay with you all night if that is what you're looking for. There is a standard overnight rate of 5,000 baht, all inclusive.

Popular long-running Walking Street hostess bar FLB Bar has reopened. The interior has been redone and there is now a small beer bar at the entrance providing a prime spot to perch and watch the world go by.

A ladies only pool tournament might not normally be considered by the girl-watching community here in Bangkok as a must see, but perhaps it should be. Strikers Sports Bar in Soi Nana will host a ladies only 9-ball Tournament with 64 contestants over 2 days on April 29th and 30th. There will be a number of attractive competitors and plenty of similarly attractive gals following along in support, many of whom are unattached and available – so the owner of Strikers tells me. It is expected many of the best female pool hussies from Bangkok and Pattaya will compete. The chance of winning what is for most Thai gals serious money, is increased by having both double elimination and a handicap system that won't enable a poor playing lady of limited skill to prevail, but will balance out the field such that a player of perhaps finer skills can be bested by another who is perhaps more determined, more hungry and focused enough to raise her game and come out the winner. Employing a system like this usually sees one or two of the top four finishers being those assigned handicaps and creates a competitive atmosphere. Many talk of how accomplished Thai girls are with a stick in their hand. A good looking gal in jeans and heels with a confident smile and gaze that scans and checks for fellow players is quite a sight and the stories and sub-plots attached to each girl, like any real social or demographic segment, are potentially as interesting as anything else – although the heels and hair help out a lot!

The World Cup is rapidly approaching and yes, you can watch all the games in the comfort of your condo with English language commentary! You can watch all the 2014 Football World Cup
matches with commentary in English from BBC or ITV in UK. Alternatively you can choose to watch the coverage provided on Sportsnet in Canada, or ESPN from USA – meaning you get your favourite commentary team and build-up from the expert
analysts you're used to in your own country. The games can even be enjoyed with commentary in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish or German from TV channels broadcasting from those countries such as NRK from Norway, SVT from Sweden and DR
from Denmark. You simply have to sign up with the local farang-owned and operated

Without wanting to dwell too much on the fact that bar industry receipts are down and some venues have found themselves caught in a downward spiral where dwindling girl numbers means fewer customers, just as fewer customers means girls don't stick around, I wonder if there could be a simple solution for large bars? Just as cars with large engines are less popular these days with petrol more expensive than it once was, maybe it's time for the large bars which just can't get enough girls also to downsize? Once upon a time a bar like Rainbow 1 had 150+ girls on weeknights and over 200 at the weekend – all the more amazing when you consider Rainbow 1 is really not that big. With so many girls the atmosphere was amazing. Long-running bars are the same size and some have even expanded. With girls so hard to come by, that just does not make sense. A large bar with 2 or even 3 dozen dancers just doesn't have any atmosphere. With all of this in mind, would it perhaps be an idea for some of the bigger bars to split in 2 i.e. sell off a shophouse and create a whole new bar. In Nana there are a couple of candidates that come to mind. Incidentally, there once existed a plan to knock out the wall between Hollywood 2 and Carousel on the top floor of Nana on the left-hand side to make one large bar – which the owner hoped would be the biggest gogo bar in Asia. Just as well he didn't go ahead with it as it still would never have been as big as the biggest gogo bar in Bangkok which is out at Saphan Kwai.

I still venture down to the Thermae 2 or 3 times a year, for old times' sake as much as anything. And each time I go I feel a little less welcome than the previous as the cavern has become a Japanese stronghold, where the girls dolly themselves up in a style that appeals to Japanese men and where I wouldn't be surprised if the staff now speak Japanese. And while I don't wish to sound cynical, the looks that you get in there from both the Japanese customers and some of the girls makes me wonder if a sign will ever be posted on the door next to the sign that ladyboys aren't welcome…that Caucasians aren't welcome either. One shouldn't complain – in the past there were just a couple of late-night freelancer venues in downtown Bangkok whereas today there is close to a dozen.

If you want to make some local male friends in Thailand, Thai male friends, what's the best way to go about it? How can one go about meeting your regular average Joe Thai, someone to shoot the shit with, enjoy a drink with and do stuff away from the bars with, like have a day out taking photos or playing football with. The way Thai men socialise can be rather different to your average Westerners, from the places they go to the way that one person may pay etc. They tend to have a different outlook, a different way of doing things and a very different way of partying. If it's something you fancy, probably the best chance you have to enjoy the company of Thai men is to go out with colleagues. If you're employed and there are Thais of a similar position to you in the company, they'd be the best bet. Those of a much higher or lower position might not feel that comfortable. Alternatively, if you know any Thai males who have spent time living / working / studying in the West and have since returned to their homeland you might strike pay dirt. While some foreigners boast of all of their Thai male friends, you generally just don't see a lot of socializing between Western males and Thai males in Thailand.

It's easy to become jaded as some of Bangkok's charms have been lost as the city becomes more cosmopolitan, more international and as a result, less exotic. At the same time no-one can deny that there have been huge improvements in the city and one area is general cleanliness. When I first moved here you could reasonably describe Bangkok as dirty. There were piles of rubbish everywhere, the smell was bad and crap was discarded on without a second thought. And it's not just the streets which are cleaner, but so is the air. There used to be a distinctive, pungent thickness about Bangkok's air which felt like you could cut it with a knife. With a newer vehicle fleet and fewer buses belching out black clouds, the air quality is much improved. And if you want really good air just get out of Bangkok and go to the coast where it's fine. In fact just 2 hours north, Khao Yai is supposed to have some of the cleanest air in the world. I'm not sure I believe that when I think of places like New Zealand, Scandinavia and Canada, but that's what they say!

If you could live anywhere in Bangkok, where would you choose? For me, if money was no issue, I'd live on Soi Langsuan, the soi that runs from Central Chidlom to Lumpini Park. The Chidlom skytrain station is at the top of the soi, major shopping areas are nearby, there are heaps of restaurants in the soi and Lumpini Park is a short walk away. Unfortunately it's much too expensive for me with rents running 60,000 – 80,000 baht per month for a decent one-bedroom unit. I can dream.

Golden Week Bangkok

Bangkok pool tournament

Quote of the week
is an only in Thailand quote from a barlady working in Sukhumvit soi 7/1 telling a customer about her 4-year old son and is totally bizarre, "He's so beautiful I want him to grow up and become a katoey!"

Reader's story of the week comes from Will, "Don't Blame Thai Girls, Blame Yourself!"

It's hotting up in Angeles City gogo bars with authorities raiding Sisters Bar and taking
away staff AND customers.

Passengers missed flights as a mass traffic jam resulted from a mob closing a main road, blocking access to Phuket Airport.

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
: Following on from a question answered by Sunbelt Asia on 20th April re: child support, whereby if the mother takes the father to court and is proven to be the father of the child the court will order him to pay child support.
I am separated from my Thai wife and voluntarily pay an agreed figure monthly to my wife for our young son. However, what if she demands a higher, exorbitant amount, I refuse to pay and she takes me to court – what mechanism does the court
have to force me to pay? I am retired and do not have any income in Thailand. I am 53 and do not claim any pension at the moment either. In England the court will order your employer to deduct an amount direct from the salary of the father
which is then paid to the mother, but how can they enforce a payment here and if I refuse, what action can they take?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: The mother of the child may file a claim with the Courts but the Court's decision will be based on what is reasonable and justified and what the biological father can afford. The Court's will not take in to consideration ridiculous or outrageous claims but will base their decision on what is reasonable and affordable.

Once the Court decision is made if you fail to make payment she can proceed with a breach of agreement case with the Courts to enforce payment. She can also use the previous Court order to support her claim if she files at a court in your home country.

Question 2
: I have been employed by a US organisation in Bangkok for the last 3.5 years. I am part way through my second fixed-term contract with them (which has another 18 months to run) and have learned I am likely to be laid off as
part of global restructuring and cost cutting soon. My contract provides repatriation but no severance / redundancy compensation. The contract says that its provisions and the employment relationship will be governed by the laws of the particular
state in the US where the employer's HQ is. However, since I am employed and work physically in Thailand, and taxes are paid here etc, would I have the right to seek severance compensation under Thai law, or would the Thai authorities
accept the jurisdiction defined by the contract and reject any entitlement?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: Since you still have a work permit to work legally for your employer in Thailand, even though your employer is a foreign organisation based in Thailand and your employment contract is with an offshore juristic entity (overseas headquarters), this does not remove your rights under Thai labour laws. We recommend that you consult with a legal advisor as to the legal conflicts between the two. Sunbelt Asia can assist you in this matter and help you determine what you are entitled to claim under Thai labour laws. Feel free to get in touch with us for a free initial consultation.

Phnom Penh sunset

Just as the end of Washington Square was signalled some time before the sun eventually set, so too have I given ample notice that I won't be operating this website forever. I wrote last month that I planned to leave Bangkok within a year and have included a few hints since. This has generated a heap of questions so to put an end to all the speculation, here are answers to the questions I keep getting asked.

Are you really planning to leave Thailand within a year?


Are you sure you're going?

90% sure.

Why do you want to leave?

The reasons are many and numerous and I will write about them in much more detail when I really do say goodbye. The main reason is that where once Bangkok was a good fit for me, I increasingly feel that the city has changed, I have changed and Bangkok and me are no longer a good match. This is reinforced whenever I travel outside the country. Once upon a time I used to really look forward to returning to Bangkok but that's no longer the case. Instead I often find myself thinking about extending my stay away.

What will happen to the Stickman site?

This is a tough question to answer as there are all sorts of permutations.

If someone wants to take over the site then they should contact me about that. They should prepare plenty of reddies. There are parties who have shown an interest in taking over and some have the resources to make it work, but whether or not anything comes of that only time will tell.

If the site remains in my hands – and let's be frank, that's the most likely scenario – once I depart I don't expect that any more weekly columns will be put together. I might still put up readers' submissions…but even then I am not sure.

The site will definitely remain online and there are no plans at all to ever take it offline. There's a huge amount of content on the site now and many like to go back and read old stories, look at old photos etc. This site has chronicled the history of a sub-culture of Bangkok and the material should remain online for people to be able to enjoy.

So will there be a goodbye column?

Yes, and it will be the longest column ever.

Will you be going out in a blaze of glory?

Certainly not. Once upon a time there might have been a temptation to pull down everyone's pants and run but I'm more mature these days, more circumspect and doing something like that is not my style. I've never thought well of those who have worked for someone, taken money for their labour and become privy to certain things which they later divulge at a profit. And let's not forget that this is Bangkok – say the wrong thing about the wrong person and it won't be their lawyer they set on you.

I won't have any negative parting words for Thailand Inc. The country has ultimately been good to me and I ought to be grateful for my time here.

What about a book?

I have been encouraged to write a book, although it sounds like a lot of hard work for little return. It seems to me that the reason to write a book would be for personal reasons, and certainly not to make $$. A published author said to me recently that a number of his friends approach him asking for advice about publishing a book. He usually tells them that it would be bad idea. In my case I never even mentioned the idea to him but knowing that my time in Bangkok will soon come to an end, he is imploring me to do a book. Of course it would be a great way to say goodbye by producing a book, but I just don't think it's going to happen. Writing a book is much more demanding than putting together an online column. The bar is much higher, professional editing is required and the whole exercise could take months – and at the end of the day not make a cent. That's a big ask.

For now life rolls on and it's business as usual. I'll continue to put out a column each week and I hope you continue to tune in. If you have any thoughts on the future of the site, or just want to say you think I'm mad to be giving up this lifestyle and wish to try and convince me otherwise, feel free to drop me an email. I always enjoy reading your feedback and thoughts.

Your Bangkok commentator,



nana plaza