The Road To Wellington
I don't regret my 17 years in Thailand. It was a roller coaster ride at times but the highs far outnumbered the lows. At the same time being away so long came with an opportunity cost. As closely as I followed what was going on back home, I could never have predicted what would happen in the property market. I left a city where a good home in a reasonable suburb was around $250,000. Today, an average – read: very average – house in Auckland won't leave you any change out of $850,000. After so many years in Bangkok of paying less than $1,000 a month for a downtown condo of almost 100 square metres, Auckland house prices caused serious sticker shock. Auckland is New Zealand's one and only international city, the best choice for a modern, urban lifestyle. It is to New Zealand what Bangkok is to Thailand. Wellington is arguably NZ's next best city, has a fun vibe and great people but is chilly and being the capital is even more politically correct. Housing is much less expensive than Auckland. $850,000 is a lot of money in anybody's book, so this week I hit the road to Wellington with the express purpose of finding an affordable property.
There are more than enough odd and interesting sights on the roads of provincial New Zealand to fill a book. Planes converted in to diners, giant vegetables and signs boasting of being the sheep shagging shearing capital of the world.
On State Highway 1, the main trunk highway which runs the length of the country, dozens of pairs of old flip flops hung on a wire fence out the front of their property. Jandals we call them in New Zealand, an abbreviation of Japanese sandal.
Given their thing about feet, what would the Thais make of this, the sole of cheap and nasty, old flip flops facing someone as they approached a person's home?
It's the middle of winter in New Zealand and by the time I hit the south Waikato area – about 250 km south of Auckland – there was snow on the side of the road, light falls and much of it had already melted. On the hills sheep surrounded a sprinkling of orange and took me a while to realise that carrots had been brought in as feed.
Auckland, the country's largest city, doesn't see snow and even in Wellington, 600 odd clicks south, it's very rare for snow to fall in the city although the surrounding hilltops may get a dusting in the coldest days of winter.
It's more than 35 years since I last played in the snow and it was fun to feel like a kid again, to park up and to wander around snow-covered fields on a magnificent winter's day with not a cloud in the sky.
I don't fancy the cold so that rules out New Zealand's South Island. Lovely scenery, friendly people, but the winter weather? Forget it! I guess Thailand spoils us in that respect. But I do like the changing of the seasons and that's something you don't really get in Thailand.
Driving through the high plateau, the roads would have been covered in snow earlier in the day but by the time I got there a combination of snow ploughs, traffic and sunny skies had melted it away making for an easy drive.
But I fancied a bit of fun. I was off to Wellington to spend all of my money and then some, to go from someone who had money in the bank to someone who had nothing. I wanted to have a bit of fun and on snow-covered side roads I saw my chance. My sense of adventure almost got the better of me and the combination of a high-powered vehicle without 4-wheel drive, a gravel road and snow – and in shaded areas – ice, were almost a recipe for disaster. As if I needed a reminder, I wasn't in Thailand any more. Let's just say that it's just as well the fence wasn't closer to the road…
Just off the main road I spied a car graveyard. Hundreds of cars, many of them older English cars – a testament to New Zealand's automobile history, indeed the country's very upbringing. When I was growing up the words Jap crap were used by many to describe Japanese automobiles and older Kiwis decried the idea of buying Japanese or worse still, German-made. They never forgot the war. Rover, Triumph, Austin and marques long forgotten were their choices.
In a country half the size of Thailand, with a small population and a much shorter history – New Zealand is, give or take, about 200 years old – it's amazing how many fascinating places you come across in your travels. The land of endless rolling hills has much more to see than sheep and movie sets where little people roamed the landscape. Having driven all over Thailand, you do come across the odd hidden gem, but much really doesn't appeal. Call me an uncouth foreigner but eventually all temples start to look the same, much as castles and churches in Europe do too. Road trips in Thailand are a great way to avoid the inconvenience and the dangers of public transport and to be able to stop at interesting restaurants without a fleet of tour buses in the car park. But in terms of genuinely interesting places that appeal to foreigners, places or things that are offbeat, fun or quirky, after a few road trips everything became same same.
Just south of the volcano district is Waiouru, a small town at a high altitude in the centre of New Zealand's north island best known for an army base, army training area in the nearby rugged terrain and the Army Museum.
The town itself is non-descript with pretty much the whole town on the main drag – a police station, a few gas stations, cafes, diners and that's about it. With the north island's mountainous area nearby, the harsh environment and the army presence, I often think of it as being similar to that small town Sly Stallone returns to as a drifter in the original Rambo movie. I always find myself looking for someone living rough, someone who perhaps resembles Sly, someone who perhaps will ruffle the locals' feathers.
We no longer have an air-force and our navy seems more intent on protecting the fishing zone than going in to battle. Is this as good as our military stocks get? Is this tank the pride of New Zealand's military hardware? I didn't figure out if it was a museum exhibit or was ready to repel invaders.
Seatoun, in Wellington's eastern suburbs, is quiet and peaceful.
I would eventually reach Wellington and the property hunt would begin.
It's late afternoon in the middle of winter in Seatoun, one of the more desirable suburbs and the mercury is about to drop below two digits. Just 8 km from the heart of the city, you make your way through the city's eastern suburbs and pass through a short tunnel before coming out in a quiet seaside suburb. It's the end of the line so there's no through traffic because there's nowhere to go. The beaches are nothing to write home about, but the setting is classic New Zealand – quiet, peaceful and at one with nature.
Inter-island ferries float by at a snail's pace, a full chapter of the book I'm reading passes by and the ferry is still in sight, no doubt regulations limit vessels' speed in the harbour to a crawl. Signs on the road say to look out for penguins crossing but the word from a local is that he hasn't seen one in years. In nearby Seatoun Village, Franco's Trattoria does fantastic pizza and coffee. With the omnipresent government warnings and seemingly nowhere in Godzone untouched by politically correct nonsense, I half expect to see a sign quoting some government regulation that any more than 3 slices of pizza is bad for your health….and too much coffee is no good either. Guilty, your honour, on both counts.
It makes me think about what I have left behind, and what I have gained. I've turned my back on an Asian metropolis which now transcends the reputation it once had for a thriving nightlife and a commercial sex industry. Political correctness has arrived in Thailand – as much from recent (and I'd suggest younger) expats as from locals (particularly those who studied or grew up abroad). I now find myself back in a land where everything works, where people are as friendly as they are genuine and where if something goes wrong, there is help at hand and resolution is never far away. But at the same time not a lot does go wrong because there are warnings and rules for this, that and everything else. Failure to heed warnings can mean steep fines. It makes everything safe, relaxing even, but much of the fun has been sucked out of the place.
Back to Seatoun, it's a gorgeous setting. But I have to ask myself whether a pretty, clean, peaceful, low-crime country with genuinely nice and friendly people – if at times overly PC – is enough to keep me genuinely happy? That's a question only time will answer.
I scope out the city from atop Mt Victoria, which is adjacent to downtown and look south-east over the airport. It's the best spot to orientate myself and get an idea about all the suburbs I am looking at property in.
New Zealand's capital city has a small population of around 350,000 and the airport is hardly what you'd expect in the capital of a developed country. With a short runway just 1.8 km long, big birds like the 747, 777 and the 380 can't land there. What that means is that out of Wellington there are no long-haul flights out of the capital, no direct flight to Bangkok. If you want to go somewhere interesting you're going to be connecting via Australia.
Wellington Harbour at sunset.
Why Wellington?, everyone asks. It's not that long ago that Wellington was a bit of a backwater that you escaped as soon as you could. One mate tells the story of when he was working for a firm based in Sydney and had to fly across to Wellington regularly for meetings. If the meeting was on a Friday, they would hurry things through in the afternoon so they could get the last flight out because no-one wanted to be stuck in Wellington on a Friday night!
But Wellington is not that bad. Actually, in many ways it's pretty good. The capital of Kiwiland has a thriving hospitality industry with some of the best coffee houses you'll find in the country and is known as not just the administrative capital but the coffee capital. If you are an ice-cream fan and happen to find yourself in Wellington, make sure you go to Kaffee Eis. Quite simply, Kaffee Eis has the best ice-cream I have had anywhere.
Is this the view from Stickman's new HQ?
Wellington is a hilly city with suburb after suburb full of houses built on the side of hills. The eastern suburbs of Wellington are established and there are many houses on the flat and as such, it is the eastern suburbs which appeals. They're close to the city, quiet and peaceful, yet downtown is just 10 minutes away.
Wellington can be chilly in winter and unlike Auckland, there are no direct flights to Bangkok. But does that matter? Do I even have a plan to visit Thailand any time soon? Nope. Will I be happy in Wellington? Will the political correctness of New Zealand become too much? So many questions. Only time will tell…
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken outside of Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy when the soi is full of vendors. This week's photo might look obscure at first glance but it was taken in central / downtown Bangkok…
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 – Host responsibility.
Regarding the non-closure of 808 Club in Pattaya – had the closure taken place, it would have been extremely unfair. The club was packed. The girl started to 'perform' and the security threw her and her party out of the club within 2 minutes. They can't be held responsible for everyone's bad behaviour, only how they handle it. To close a business for ten days, punishing owners and staff because of one stupid hooker would be a travesty.
A MILF fan.
I was interested to read about the proposed milf bar in Nana Plaza and your comments were spot on. I have over the last decade spent a lot of time with girls in Thailand on the basis of the younger the better and boy, was that a mistake! Girls 22 – 23 who had the sole aim of getting drunk every night, spoke very little English, were obsessed with taking selfies at every opportunity (even in a cinema toilet followed by I not understand film! to post on Facebook followed by grovelling comments by their FB "friends", and treat you like dad at the school disco if you don't want to get hammered every night. Sex was crap and infrequent (why would you bother when so many guys want you?). I am currently seeing a 37-year-old who is great in bed, speaks good English, makes me coffee while I shower and all the other little things that make a massive difference when you spend 24/7 with someone. She can actually hold a conversation, looks stunning but does not think it, and wrongly probably thinks she has to try harder because she's in competition with younger girls. We all know what Milf stands for and the majority of girls in bars, whether beer or gogo have at least one kid whatever their age and those guys appalled by the idea of having sex with someone over 30 should look at how it looks trailing round with their "daughter"!
The Swedish model.
There is no sign of actual legislation concerning Swedes sex buy abroad. If you believe that making prostitution illegal will reduce the trade (and that should be a goal for all societies), then protecting the often weak seller is not a bad thought. However, apparently it did not work out that way. The girls have become even more vulnerable with current legislation. The hilarious thing in Sweden is that we have 250 – 300 Thai brothels in Stockholm alone and the authorities just pretend they don't exist! The argument that the poor girls would be unemployed and possibly starve if they can't hook is of course bullshit. There are always other options.
The Swedish model and jurisdiction.
A number of countries use the Swedish model. Sweden isn't alone and wasn't the first. In general, there's a number of countries that enact various extraterritorial laws. This whole area of law is a minefield that relies on not being challenged. I know that at least Norway and Sweden have these on the books. Norway has had some prosecutions, but less than a handful. The legal basis they claim is that the Norwegian state does have jurisdiction over its subjects even when abroad. Now, this all gets very fun in a hurry when you look at someone like me. I'm not a Norwegian citizen, but I am a Norwegian subject (residency and being taxed here), but my citizenship is from a country that does have legalized prostitution. According to this mix of laws, I could then theoretically be prosecuted by a foreign state after moving home to Denmark, for doing something that is legal in my own country. Now, that opens up a whole can of worms, with further claims that various states want their views enforced outside their border to third party citizens. One thing is the recent aggressive enforcement of US laws on intellectual property outside the US, and at the other end, various laws in the Middle East on drawing the prophet. All in all, lawyers will be gainfully employed for a good while, it seems.
What about naughty girls?
I wonder if Sweden and Ireland had considered including the female contingent of sex tourists from said countries i.e. the women who travel to Ghana and Jamaica for the local talent, not to mention those who partake in the Bali cowboy scene. That's different, I expect.
Cross Sweden off the list of places to visit.
I think it has been mentioned in your column before that Swedes travelling abroad and engaging in prostitution could face charges on return to Sweden. It occurred to me that it may not only be Swedish nationals that would be liable under such a law. I would think that lawmakers in Sweden would not have a law that applied to only Swedish nationals. It is more likely to just to read "persons travelling abroad who engages in prostration can be charged in Sweden". What I'm trying to say is that anyone of any nationality that engages in prostration in any country and then travels to a country that has a laws where you can be charged for such behaviour could be charged if they enter a country that has laws prohibiting such behaviour. Of course there is still the question of evidence. But there some dumb people in this world like I can see it now. Some clown (from whatever country you like) does a documentary on banging bar girls in Thailand and then takes the video evidence with him or her to a country that has a law banning engaging in prostitution abroad. Do I need to say what the outcome would be?
The Thai and the crock-pot.
When you stated that Thais may not like Western food, I must tell you about my Thai wife and crock-pot cooking. One night I started the crock-pot with beef and some BBQ sauce. That night the whole house smelled of BBQ – heavenly! The next morning my wife said that she almost threw up because of the smell! Now, whenever I cook via crock-pot I must put the pot outside to keep those smells outside the house!
Bangkok is more than just red-light areas.
A reader said he was at Patpong every night for a week. He then said for entertainment he went to the lobby to flirt with the girls and re-entered the bar scene several weeks later for his last week in Bangkok. Nowhere did he mention that for many weeks he went to some of the fabulous rooftop bars / lounges in and around Bangkok or the great restaurants and eateries around town or to see a jazz group or a house DJ or a blues show or even trolling the nice malls and seeing a movie. There is a whole slew of things to do in Bangkok just like any other city. If you think that a few adult areas are the extent of expat life and entertainment in Bangkok then you are sadly mistaken! You can find so many things to do and with guys from other places who will offer you chances to make friends to visit in Europe or Australia or America or wherever! To not take the opportunity that is being abroad in a dynamic metropolis with people from around the world is a shame. Bikers / hikers / artists / musicians / culinary interests / birdwatchers / computer geeks / movie buffs / cigar groups etc., all in Bangkok just like at home! If no one showed you Nana, Cowboy or Patpong and you didn't know of them, you would still be in a city that has a lot to do only limited by your mind. And you can still get a nice lady for sex or companionship even if temporary, paid or unpaid. Bangkok is an enjoyable city even if all the sex areas were shut down. If those places are all that you see, you must have never gotten any at home to be that desperate!
Girl Of The Week
Peggy, escort, PureBangkokEscorts.com
At 165 cm tall, 18-year old Peggy
is much taller than your average Thai lady
The Tunnel, between Sukhumvit sois 3 and 5, has been demolished.
Photo kindly provided by reader, Christopher.
The back alley that connects Sukhumvit sois 5 and 7, known as The Tunnel, looks like one of General HappyFace's tank commanders went on an urban training run through it. All that is left is rubble. Now just four businesses are still operating – and that is counting the shwarma stand at the soi 5 end. Ladyboy lovers will be pleased to know that the alley's ladyboy lounge, Check-In Bar, will operate as per usual – it has another entrance through the lobby of a short-time hotel, which in turn has an entrance from another alley closer to Sukhumvit….so I guess that means to get to the ladyboys you've got to take a couple of back doors. The alley which is just off prime Sukhumvit will be converted in to a covered street market targeting visitors from the Middle East.
Bar owners tell me that business in the bar areas has not been great. Rain has kept customers away some nights and it's only Friday and Saturday when you can be sure of decent numbers.
On the subject of that part of the world, the one we call The Arab (who is in fact Persian) will be pleased with the general consensus being that his bars are doing ok. Raw Hide may be the most popular of the Arab-operated bars and business can't be too bad with the girls less aggressive and not trying to drag every man passing by inside. Unlike the other Arab bars, Raw Hide has show girls and gogo dancers, not coyotes.
Long known as one of Cowboy's diddling bars, Toy Bar has joined the ranks of venues which boast coyote dancers. Translation: they have probably had difficulties recruiting and as such have resorted to paying an agency to supply the bar with girls. Toy Bar is a single shophouse and I've never thought such small venues were suited to the coyote concept.
The grand old dame, Mama Noi, has returned to Checkinn99. She says she cannot sit around home any longer and at 75 she says she will die if she just sits around with nothing to do, hence the return to the bar.
Last night at around 10 PM, plain-clothed police from the local Bangrak station entered Goldfinger in Patpong soi 1 and carried out checks of the dancers' IDs to make sure that they were all Thai nationals and of legal age to work in a bar. One lady was found a few months short of being 18 and was taken away. Will Goldfinger face a closure order?
The manager of Club Electric Blue Pattaya, Captain Hornbag, will celebrate his birthday with a party featuring the girls of Club Electric Blue Pattaya dancing off against the girls of Club Electric Blue Bangkok. The big boss tells me it will be very much in the Nanapong style – in other words expect things to get wild. August 15th is the date so mark it in your diary.
Another night to remember in August will be the Fetish Ball at Demonia, in Sukhumvit soi 33. I guess a fetish ball is better than a ball fetish.
A heads up that Thursday and Friday of next week (July 30th and 31st) are major Buddhist holidays and while nothing is certain, in all likelihood most bar areas – probably Patpong aside – will be closed. Keep that in mind if you're going to be in town for a short time and looking to party on or around those dates.
At least one of the agencies that supplies coyote dancers to bars has issued numbered buttons to all of its girls similar to what you find on gogo dancers. The buttons are rectangular in shape and say coyote below the number. Seeing that they provide a slew of dancers to a variety of venues and events, can we assume there is a dancer for each number? Someone's making serious coin if that's the case with dancers sporting numbers up to 4xx.
With the sale of Bully's to a group out of Finland which owns and operates about 100 restaurants and clubs in Finland, I guess a change in format can't be far away. Bully's was always a funny sort of a place, one which never really reached its full potential. The location was convenient – easy to get to and sufficiently far away from the nonsense that it was never really a hangout for hookers (and I mean that as a positive). The premises were comfortable but the food was inconsistent, sometimes very good, other times a little disappointing. The sale of Bully's could mean the end of visiting Thailand for Boss Hogg. Never mind, that just adds to the reasons for me to visit the USA again.
CheckInn99 will host a book launch and readings from 6 – 8 PM next Sunday, July 26. The book is Bangkok Beat by Kevin Cummings and is a collection of short essays, images and verse about Checkinn99, its history, its people and their stories. The event will recognise the efforts of the many artists, authors, poets, musicians, actors, staff and customers. The launch will be two hours of light-hearted readings, along with entertainment by Kevin Wood and the Music of the Heart band. You can meet some of the authors and characters featured in the book and copies will be available for purchase.
Still at CheckInn99, this past Friday night, Uncle (Loong) Wat visited briefly after nearly 2.5 months in ICU and a huge rehabilitation program following his serious accident in January which was previously reported in this column. He is now walking unassisted, is speaking again and is almost back to being fighting fit. He is asking when he can come back to work. The Bangkok Post has written another special feature including him in their forthcoming anniversary edition as an example of elderly role models who are still working. He will be at Checkinn99 next Sunday for the CheckInn99 history book launch for those who wish to say hello.
Taco Taxi has joined the growing ranks of mobile kitchens in Bangkok and this new food truck is squarely aimed at the farang / late night crowd. There are six tacos and I am told that a good tip is to go for the double-deckers. Taco Taxi serves soft tortillas wrapped around a hard taco shell with refried beans in between with a texture that means it doesn't fall apart when you eat it. Tacos are just 60 baht, cheaper than a burger or a kebab. The passion fruit margarita sounds good and is just 100 baht. Taco Taxi is permanently parked in the Ambassador Hotel car park and serves tacos and margaritas until 3 or 4 AM. It's only been open a month, but business is booming. More about Taco Taxi can be found here.
Rumour has it that CTH, Thailand's other cable TV provider, is to change its format – and one of those changes will mean just one English language channel (and only one news channel – Fox News). If true, that means English Sky News channel is to be axed.
I prefer not to comment on what is reported in the mainstream news but changes in the law about those who abscond after being sentenced to prison for a long period to flee serving time warrants comment. I did not know that up until a recent law change that if you fled after a judgment – and managed to avoid law enforcement for long enough – you don't have to serve that jail time once a certain period of time has passed. The longer the sentence, the longer you had to remain at large. If, for example, you were sentenced to between 1 and 7 years jail but you fled and remained at large for more than 10 years, when / if you finally came to the attention of the authorities you would be a free man. The law has been abrogated and this is no longer the case. It does help to explain why so many people sentenced in high profile cases just disappear!
I came across a fellow in Wellington this week who lives in Thailand. We chatted a bit and when I asked him where in Thailand he lived he said Chonburi. I asked him what the appeal of Chonburi was and he said the beach. To that I responded that Chonburi (as in the city, not the province) doesn't have a beach. Oh, I live in Pattaya, he then admitted. It's not the first time I have heard someone who lives (or works) in Pattaya saying they reside in Chonburi – but it is the first time I have heard a foreigner say it. Many Thais prefer to say they live in Chonburi as it doesn't have the same stigma that Pattaya has.
Quote of the week comes from Crab Man, "Thailand is the only place an older white male can feel like an 18-year-old girl feels every day in Farangland."
Reader's story of the week comes from Bangkok Barry, "The Beginning".
An Irishman dating lots of Thai women gets notoriety.
Ekamai Bus Station, where the Sex Tourist Express (the bus to Pattaya) leaves from, may relocate to Bang Na.
Pattaya whorists will be thrilled that a Russian lawmaker wants to put a stop to Russians vacationing in Thailand.
A Pattaya police officer being investigated over social media photos and comments shows how serious the issue is in Thailand.
Time magazine looks at what it calls the secretive world of Ko Tao in the wake of the backpacker murder trial.
The Daily Mail looks at slum children sired by Aussie men in Angeles City who do a runner.
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: On my last trip to Thailand I rented a motorbike and on returning the bike the owner of the motorbike shop said that there was minor damage to the bike. I showed him before and after photos of the bike – which were the same. The owner asked for 20K baht for repairs, which I refused to pay. I left Thailand and nothing further happened. The rental company has a photocopy of my passport. My concern now is that I would like to travel back to Thailand and I am concerned in case the motorbike owner may have made a fictitious report to the police stating that I have damaged his bike, when this was not the case. Can you please advise me on what line of action I should take, as my main fear is arriving at Immigration and being arrested for something that I haven't done!
Sunbelt Legal responds: It would be very difficult to determine how far the owners of the motorbike rental shop may have taken the case. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors may be able to check if there are any outstanding warrants in your name if you have the exact jurisdiction and name of the shop. It would be easier for us to find out if you are blacklisted with Immigration, however.
If the owners of the motorbike were to make a claim, they would have to prove that the damage was caused by you. It would be difficult to determine if the damage to the bike was done by the owner or the renter. If you do choose to return to Thailand without checking, you should bring the photos with you to show police / officials to prove your innocence if there were any outstanding charges for your arrest.
Question 2: Regarding general knowledge on condos, it seems I understand the term LEASEHOLD as a land title on which the condominium is built and the land is leased for a period of time. But for the term FREEHOLD it seems to be a land title and is often used as an equivalent of condominium title, which is not a land title. What are the good terms I need to see if I don't want my condo returning to another owner after a period of time, full owner with no time limit, all legally with no use of fancy tricks?
Sunbelt Legal responds: Whether or not the land the condo is located on is freehold (chanote title) or leasehold, each condominium unit owner will be given a Condominium Certificate upon acceptable ownership of the unit. The Certificate would be given assuming the developer had appropriately applied for and received permission to build and sell the units in the project.
If the land the condo building is on is leasehold, where the developer does not own the land but instead has a lease on it (most likely a 30-year lease) then once the lease expires the condominium juristic management would negotiate with the land owner to extend the lease. Normally the rental payment to the land owner would come from each unit owner proportionally. If the management were unable to renew the lease then all unit owners would be required to vacate.
If the land is freehold, that is the developer of the project owns the land, then the whole project would be considered as co-owners under the condominium juristic management's name.
Both types of holding are legitimate but freehold is more attractive as there is more of a sense of full ownership by each unit owner. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can do due diligence on a property before purchase so that you have peace of mind that a unit is fully yours.
Thanks to friends and bar industry figures who have kindly provided news and gossip of what is going on in Bangkok and around the traps. Thanks also to readers who have tipped me off about things I had not heard about and prompted me to get friends to follow up on. Without your assistance the bar news section of the column would be, well, darn near non-existent. I have long had a small number of reliable sources who help out but obviously now am more reliant on them than ever. In terms of bar news and doing the column from afar, it seems to be a case of so far, so good – and with plans to expand the network further to make sure nothing newsworthy is missed, I am hopeful it will continue to work well.
Your Bangkok commentator,