Stickman's Weekly Column December 20th, 2015

2015, The Year In Bangkok

After the turbulence of 2014, this was always going to be a difficult year in Thailand. Once the darlings of the tourism industry, Westerners have had the indignity of falling out of favour first to the Russians and then the Chinese.
Would-be residents have found visas more difficult to come by in the bar industry, the future of Nana Plaza loomed dark with bar bosses threatening to pull out if rents weren't slashed. The smiles were fast disappearing as locals became
disenchanted at everything from the economy to the government to the number of foreigners in their country. 2014 was not a great year for Thailand so 2015 would have to be better, right? I'm not sure that it was.

Visitor numbers have increased consistently year after year, with the odd self-induced hiccup along the way. Thailand is recording record visitor numbers – as are most countries in the region – and much of it is due to the number of Chinese travelling. Even farang strongholds like Pattaya have seen farangs supplanted by the Chinese hordes as the cash cow. Busloads of Chinese single-handedly choke up parts of Pattaya as they are ferried around the circuit. Chinese visitor numbers are so great that places once quiet and relaxing have lost their charm and when the busloads of Chinese arrive feel like they are over-run with locusts. In fairness to Thailand, this is hardly unique to the Kingdom.

Despite record visitor numbers, it's not been all plain sailing for the tourism industry. After directing much effort towards the Russian market, the Ruble crashed, the economy in Russia tanked and overnight Russian visitors stopped coming. The real estate market in Pattaya fell off a cliff with reports of condos in Sin City on offer for 40% less than they were bought for 2 years ago. Now may be a great time to buy in Pattaya but foreign interest in property in Thailand has dried up.

Seldom does a week go by without the international media reporting on another tourist being ripped off, seriously injured or killed in Thailand. Take this week for example. There was the story of a 21-year old Brit missing down south who contacted his parents saying he had been taken by a Thai man and could not get away. Next was the 28-year old Brit who was killed after being pursued across the rooftops of Pattaya by 4 Thai ladyboys who claimed they were owned money for services rendered. And then there was the 22-year old Brit beaten by a tuktuk driver in Phuket who demanded 1,000 baht for a 5-km tuktuk rude. All three stories made international newspapers in what was just another typical week in Thailand. The message has been rammed home that this is not a safe country for visitors, and neither is it a place you want to be a victim. Foreigners seeking justice seldom succeed.

From the criticisms of the military government to the murky affairs of people trafficking to the safety issues in the local aviation industry to numerous cases of foreigners being victims of crimes, when Thailand is mentioned in the news abroad it is inevitably all bad.

2015 was a year in which some expats moved on, others vacated their post and a few checked out altogether.

The most popular column opener of the year was about the demise of Glen Bullard, the boiler room fraudster / drug dealer
/ pimp / gang leader / bully who died of an overdose. Glen single-handedly changed the atmosphere in Nana Plaza, drove many of the faithful away and did his best to rub Nana Plaza off the map.

Glen wasn't the only
thief boiler room kingpin to die this year with two others also reported dead, each perishing shortly after returning to the States. Neither of the other two had the profile Glen had and blood relatives and their band of hangers on / leeches aside, none will be missed.

No doubt Glen would think his departure was the biggest bar industry story of the year but he'd be wrong. That would be Nana Plaza's survival in its current format after new leases were signed by bar operators, despite the outrageously high rents that are unique in the bar business to Nana. Much talk from bar owners that they would walk if the rents weren't dropped came to nothing and they all signed up for another 3 years and it's business as usual in the plaza.

Perhaps 5 years ago or so the tone of reporting on the bar industry changed as I found myself pointing out week after week all that was wrong with it. Some readers turned on me, called me overly negative but today many agree and it is all but the hardcore sex tourists and first-time visitors who see the bar industry for what it is. Sky-high prices, terrible attitudes and scams have turned many away. There is widespread discontent amongst the naughty boys posting to the naughty boy forums these days, which was not the case in the past.

Many bar owners and bar managers privately admit it's much less enjoyable to be involved in nowadays. Emails that I can't reprint and comments that I can't repeat indicate a good few are going to depart very soon.

Probably the biggest story online was the sale of Thailand's biggest expat forum, reportedly for 26 million baht, despite its owner and founder outed as having been involved in cross border visa fraud, deported from Thailand and blacklisted from the country yet he managed to return to the country after changing his name.

The cyber world is a bigger part of the real world than ever before but that didn't stop a few long-term expat commentators from shutting up shop or departing Thailand altogether. Andrew Drummond,
who has been reporting on expat affairs, exposing fraudsters and connecting the dots between boiler room operators and the bar industry, fled the country after threats were made on his life following years of reporting on the boiler room operators.
Another foreign correspondent with 20+ years in country, respected German photojournalist Nick Nostitz announced he would be leaving after he fell out of favour with those in power and its supporters hassled him to the point it became difficult
to find work in the country. As I wrote earlier this year, after many years in Thailand, I followed through with what I said I would do last year and also left the country. Like me, Drummond continues to comment on Thailand even after his
site was blocked in Thailand back in April.

But it wasn't just individuals who said goodbye, Thailand's best regional farang-centric news organisation, PhuketWan, will pull the plug next week after several years of courageous reporting and, at times, cutting commentary from the island. PhuketWan transcended coverage of the tourism industry and expat affairs with quality investigative journalism that has seen it break major stories of international interest. It stands out as the quality, independent news source for foreigners in Phuket at a time when many news sources in Thailand just copy and paste from other online sources, often pulling stories from the Thai media with a farang slant and publishing them in English with no citation to the origin of the story.

The climate of repression that currently exists in Thailand has seen reporters, bloggers and columnists depart the country or shut up shop, leaving expat society desperately short of any genuine advocates. Thailand was once a bastion of free speech and freedom of expression in the region, but those days seem a very long time ago. It's a sign of weakness when farmers and students are arrested for pressing a like button on a website. How can someone from a Western country who is taught to speak up for what they believe in retain any semblance of self-respect when they are silenced by the fear of spending many years in a Thai jail simply for offering an opinion? It's made all the worse as some Thais have become ultra nationalistic and ultra sensitive and will pursue with vigour anyone who says anything about Thailand that is anything other than gushingly positive.

I left Thailand several months ago and have no regrets. I did return briefly for a quick visit and to tie up some loose ends. That visit reinforced to me that leaving when I did was the right thing to do. In Bangkok, I felt a tension in the air. Riding the skytrain felt like being in a tomb as everyone's head was down and people were buried in their mobile. It wasn't just that people weren't making eye contact, smiling or laughing, it was like they were scared to do so. What happened to the laughter and smiles at every turn that once made Bangkok such a fun place?

Despite all the problems, I've no doubt that Thailand's expat population continues to increase in number. Long-termers tell me they are leaving, or at the very least are considering it. Some admit they would like to leave but their finances don't allow it. It's amazing how many expat retirees live on around 25,000 baht a month.

I have no regrets about leaving. Much of what I liked about the country is fast disappearing and while Bangkok is undoubtedly more livable than the city I first moved to, today more and more it feels to me like just another international city. Today, New Zealand is immensely more charming than Thailand.

What the future holds for Thailand is moot. The country has traditionally been a magnet for low-spending tourists and an inexpensive place for aged expats and retirees to see out their days. But to me the value in Thailand these days is not at the lower end at all, but at the other end of the market. Rooms in many Bangkok 5-star hotels can be had less than $200 per night. Luxurious spas are far better value than similar establishments in much of the world and with unlimited fine dining options, while perhaps not 100% the experience you'd get in a first-world country, it costs much less and as such represents decent value. That's where Thailand excels as a tourist destination today and I totally understand why the country is targeting what it terms quality tourists.

The bar industry is in a permanent state of decline from which it will not recover. Some hardcore naughty boys talk of the economy tanking (it's already there) and thousands of pretty young lasses leaving their 9 to 5 to go chase riches by laying on their back. No chance. Sex tourism in Thailand was once the domain of the hardcore who would travel across the globe in pursuit of carnal delights until the mid '90s when it was discovered by a more mainstream crowd who had never been with a hooker until visiting Thailand. By the time the Internet became a big part of most people's lives, anyone who had searched for sex online had come across information on the nightlife areas in Bangkok & Pattaya which fueled a huge surge in popularity. Peak sex tourism has passed and many pundits now acknowledge that the sex tourism industry in Thailand is in a slow and irreversible decline.

The smiles will return to Bangkok but that's not going to happen overnight. Blank expressions and frowns could be the norm for some time to come. Even for those who love Thailand and everything the Thai lifestyle has to offer, this isn't a bad time to explore elsewhere. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Record visitor numbers aside, 2015 hasn't been a great year for Thailand. I'd love to be more positive but how can I when time after time Thailand gives you the impression that it doesn't give a shit about foreign visitors and expat residents. The overwhelming feeling I get is that there is no longer even the slightest pretence that foreigners are welcome in Thailand for anything more than a very brief stay.

Where was this photo taken?

Last week's photo was taken at the start of Sukhumvit soi 12. The first person to get it right was Ken, who responds most
weeks and seldom gets a photo wrong. This week's photo was taken outside of Bangkok, but not that far outside…

(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.

He Clinic Bangkok

EMAIL OF THE WEEK – The city that doesn't make sense.

Part of Thailand's problem is the hubris of the pooyai. They're like children who have inordinate power and a sense of entitlement. I still find it hard to believe that Bangkok is one of the world's five most touristed cities. Do you have gangs putting beggars on the streets in London or Paris? Will the cops perform illegal searches in Singapore? Organised gem scams in New York? Yet the tourists pour in, get scammed, get drunk, get laid, pay absurd amounts, then go back to their boring jobs and dream of Noi with the doe eyes and plan their next trip. How long will this go on?

Plastic money in Thailand.

CBD bangkok

Until Thai banks have similar protections for plastic users to the protection I have in Australia when using cards, there is no chance that I would use anything other than cash for most transactions in Thailand. Here in Australia, the bank refunds any transaction that I dispute before the repayment date occurs, and they also send an SMS about any suspicious activity. I don't believe anything like this happens with Thai banks. Let me give an example, which happened to us just before Loy Kratong. The other half went to withdraw cash from an ATM at Sukhothai Airport. She mistakenly put her duplicate Amex card in the ATM (same colour as her Bangkok Bank card, but different pin), and the ATM promptly spat it out. Next day I get an SMS from my bank in Australia that there has been an $AUD 840 transaction at Sukhothai Airport, asking if the transaction was legitimate. Phone calls to the other half, following which the cards were cancelled (by return SMS, didn't even need to make a phone call to the bank). The ONLY way that the card number could have been obtained was through the use of a skimmer, but the skimmer wouldn't have caught the PIN no (it wasn't used), or the security number on the card. Yet somehow, somebody made an $840 transaction. I'd hate to be in the position of arguing with a Thai bank about such a transaction. Now this transaction doesn't even appear on my statement, and the only inconvenience was that the cards were cancelled (and we cancelled her Bangkok Bank card as well just in case, because she had used that too). We only use our credit cards in Thailand in an emergency, like if there was a hospital admission.

Nightmare by the sea.

Back in Pattaya after not being here for 12 months and I gotta say this place is in a state of decay. My only thoughts about the place after driving around on my motorbike for a couple of hours this afternoon is it has become the "nightmare by the sea." Traffic jams worse than Bangkok, surly locals and bargirls looking increasingly like hefalumps. The demographics have changed completely. All roads – Beach Road, 2nd Road, 3rd Road, Pattaya Tai and Pattaya Nua are choked with buses full of Chinese hordes. During the day they clog up Beach Road as the hordes head across to the beach for a quick swim or are ferried out to the jet ski area. I sat on Walking Street for an hour last night and I reckon I saw less than 50 westerners while the Chinese hordes to'd and fro'd behind their flag bearers past me. Pattaya is now officially in the grip of the Chinese tour hordes. The place is truly appalling. Whatever it once was, is no more. Give me Bangkok any day over this dump. Leaving for Bangkok this morning, thank god. Pattaya is now the modern version of hell by the sea.

Postcard from Phnom Penh.

wonderland clinic

According to bar owners, some Thai expats visiting Cambodia make the mistake of going into a bar, pointing at a girl and saying "how much for short time?" It doesn't really work like that in Phnom Penh. Many of the old bars are now closed, including Cat House and Martinis. Shanghai on Street 51 is still going strong but the young manager (who used to work for G in Nana Plaza) has recently departed. There is a growing number of new Western-owned bars, some of which are nicely presented. These bars tend to be a safer option especially for new visitors to Phnom Penh (less chance of bin-stuffing etc) and the owners provide good conversation. Those that spring to mind are Honey Pot, Loco and Angry Birds on Street 130, Cheers and Sweet Spot on Street 104 and I Say on Street 51. Less smart but still Western-owned are Bunny on 104 and the Pub on 174. A new Martinis is shortly due to open on 174. Some Khmer-owned bars are well run, such as Rose bar on 104, Oasis and Xanadu on 136, and Oscars on 104 (with a really good rock music cover band). It's very important to remember that Phnom Penh is not as safe as Bangkok. Take precautions, don't walk in quiet streets at night and don't get your phone out anywhere anytime unless you are sure it is safe to do so. Oh, and don't walk around too drunk, but hop on a moto or a tuktuk. Or call one of the growing number of meter taxi firms – flagfall at $1 but the meter goes up rapidly after 1 km. You can't hail them in the street, instead you have to call a number and they can take a while to arrive.

Pet peeve.

What is it about these guys who lay in wait for you in the gents toilets, just to run the friggin' tap for you and hand you a tissue for which they want 20 baht! The worst offenders are in the Hilary bars. Can't someone find them something more meaningful to do?

Widen your search.

In California people used to grab handfuls of gold from the streams. No more. But gold is still richly mined. In Texas you struck oil by digging a hole. Now you must search further and drill much deeper. But oil there be aplenty. In Thailand you found a friendly and pretty lass on most any stage. Now you must redouble your efforts. But she is out there and all the more appreciated when found. So grab a handful and drill deep, lads, as Thailand still holds many riches.

Out of control tourists is a sign that high season has arrived. In Soi Cowboy on Friday night at around 9:30 PM, one fellow who was partying upstairs in Dollhouse had an argument with Johnny Walker as to who had control of his legs. While descending the stairs the issue was settled and indeed it was Mr. Walker who was in control. The police assisted and first aid was administered at the bottom of the stairs.

The number of female visitors to Soi Cowboy suggests that the Hangover 2 DVD is still being shown in guesthouses and budget digs. Soi Cowboy features in Hangover 2 and the area has benefited with more female farang visitors than the other bar areas ever since.

Soi Cowboy might be doing ok but reports from Nana Plaza and Patpong are less rosy.

2015 has not been an easy year for The Arab as his bars continue to be the target of derision amongst bargoers frustrated that his 7 bars take up so much real estate and are so badly run. Through the low season there were nights when some of The Arab's bars didn't open and even those properties that did often didn't open the doors until 9:00 PM. He might have some of the hottest girls on the soi, but many are not available, something which you won't find out until you've bought her a few lady drinks. Like all bar bosses, he finds recruitment one of the most difficult parts of the operation and girl numbers aren't what they once were.

Speaking of recruitment, one surefire way to get yourself in trouble in a bar is to suggest to girls in a bar that they consider working elsewhere. That's exactly what happened this week in Bangkok Bunnies not just once, but a number of nights. In what turned out to be a he says she says sort of situation, I received emails from both the person who was accused of trying to recruit girls inside the bar and the bar boss who was furious that a customer to the bar was approaching girls within his bar and trying to convince them to go and work somewhere else. The recruitment agent was representing the new Hooters branch in Soi Nana. Ain't it interesting that they are recruiting in Nana Plaza, especially when Hooters in Thailand has a strict no tattoo policy? Anyway, one guy was in Bangkok Bunnies on a number of occasions trying to recruit girls and eventually the management had enough of it and security had a chat with one of the guys in the group. One version was that if the guy was ever seen in the bar again parts of his body would be broken, the other version was that a nice and friendly chat was had about what is ok and what is not in a Bangkok gogo bar. With the recruitment and retention of bargirls such a big deal these days, anyone trying to poach girls from another bar should be prepared for the consequences. Seriously, I know a few bar owners who would not use words to let recruitment agents know how they felt. The recruitment agents are not employed by Hooters but on a commission. The things some foreigners in Thailand will do for a buck.

Tilac in Soi Cowboy is doing a Star Wars and making a comeback. Word is that it's doing well and the fun party vibe is back.

What was mentioned in last week's column as rumour can now be confirmed as fact. The New Wave / ThaiVisa bar on Sukhumvit soi 7 that never seemed to work after it crossed from one side of the soi to the other will be put out of its misery once and for all at the end of December and close for good.

The space next to Black Pagoda in Patpong soi 2 has been renovated and a party will be held there on December 24, 25 and 26. Amongst the goodies on offer will be many hot hostesses and free champagne…sounds like it might be worth checking out!

The Strip, Patpong

At the peak of the high season some bars inflate barfine rates to ensure they have enough girls in the bar and they are not all barfined early in the night. Remember, the bars are usually given a dispensation to open late on New Year's Eve, through until 6 AM. These premium barfines – as some bars like to call them – can run anything from 1,000 – 5,000 baht. At least one bar has already implemented higher barfine rates. Some bars won't allow girls to be barfined before midnight on the odd night, often New Year's Eve, and some bars may have a policy in place where girls can be barfined before midnight but can only be gone from the bar for an hour and must return to work so a short-time becomes a very short time. Don't be surprised to come across higher barfines than usual from now until early January.

Bar bosses are in agreement that so far December has been worse business-wise than November. As one bar boss put it to me, We're working harder to try and make low season money in high season.

Getting back to the recruitment agent trying to convince girls to go from one bar to another, unless you have done something really bad (and trying to poach girls is really bad), don't worry too much about threats from foreign bar bosses. They may blurt hot air and yeah, some think they are untouchable but deep down most know they are not. I've been threatened up and down Sukhumvit over the years by bar bosses whose reactions to what I had written about their bars ranged from embarrassment to fury. I've been barred from a few bars over the years which never stopped me from going back. Nothing ever came of it. If a foreigner
employed in a bar threatens you odds are nothing will come of it. If a Thai threatens you, steer clear for a while.

Today I received this email from a long-term reader about being stopped by police in downtown Bangkok. The email, printed verbatim. Can we assume that the hassles of police stopping foreigners in downtown Bangkok for no other reason than that they are foreigners have resumed?

Yesterday at about 1:15 pm , I was stopped by two police officers at the corner of Tanon Sukhumvit and soi 27. They asked me where I was going and also to look in the small bag I was carrying. I permitted them to look as I had nothing to hide. They did not request to see any ID. This took approximately one to two minutes before they said " ok , no problem. " I was headed to my hotel which was located directly across the soi from where they were standing. I walked past there on the south side of sukhumvit and saw them there again today.

Margarita Storm

Guido, of G's German restaurant in Patpong soi 2, found the rents in Patpong soi 2 were eating away too much of his profit and has moved to soi 4, the next soi up the road. It's something of a gay soi transforming itself into a gentrified restaurant row. He has a four-storey shophouse now where the first floor restaurant portion is open for business and is doing tremendous trade – which should be no surprise as Guido is an award-winning chef. A new art gallery is coming to the second floor which will be called Art on 4. There will be both a physical gallery and an online gallery (for open & limited edition print sales) featuring contemporary art and of interest to Stickman readers (you didn't really think I would mention an art gallery without good reason, did you?) also feature some edgy stuff such as fetish photography.

I commented a couple of months ago about one of the things I noticed when I was back in Bangkok for a few days – how so many expats in Thailand look unhealthy and don't look after themselves very well. One of the things you notice between Farangland and Thailand is that in the West most people look much healthier, and people are generally more conscious of their general health. Fitness is often talked about and staying fit and eating healthy is a big part of many people's lives. I mention this because a Bangkok bar boss and a good friend of mine's health caught up with him recently and he posted on Facebook how diabetes complications led him to hospital where he underwent an amputation – and even posted the photos of the aftermath for his many friends to see. Life can be fun in Thailand and a party lifestyle can be addictive, but don't neglect to look after yourself. Nothing is as important as your health and well-being. Get better soon, Dave.

It has been my experience that the ground crew at airports in Thailand are remarkably lax when it comes to baggage allowances at check-in. When was the last time your carry on was checked? I think I can say mine has never been
checked, which is the complete opposite to the jobsworths when flying out of Auckland Airport. With things so lax flying out of Bangkok some people take the piss to the extreme. But don't go thinking this is a region-wide thing. Take Air Asia in Phnom Penh, for example. Cabin baggage might not be weighed in Bangkok but don't go thinking it's the same for the return journey. They are much more officious flying out of Cambodia and if you have more
than the 7 kg allowance you might be in for a shock at how much the charge is.

There are still a few free Stickman Jugs available so if you fancy a free 1-litre jug of Heineken and can make it to CheckInn99 (on Sukhumvit Road between sois 5 & 7) this coming Wednesday, December 23rd, just send me an answer to this question: What date was the first ever Stickman Weekly column published? There will be free snacks provided along with a slideshow of Stickman photos including many never before published on this site.

Quote of the week comes from EyeNitNoy, "I prefer the company of bargirls over about 95% of the Farangs in Pattaya and I generally trust them more too."

Reader story of the week comes from Mega, "A Tale Of Two Islands: Part Two".

Schools have been ordered to improve scrutiny of foreign teachers after the arrest of a Western paedophile
in a Thai school.

The Sydney Morning Herald looks at the best way to see Thailand's mesmerizing hongs.

Super sleuth Gavinmac is on the trail of Mick the POM, a Brit on the run after allegedly murdering his Thai girlfriend
in 2004.

I love these articles comparing photos of the Bangkok of old with the Bangkok of today.

A Brit's final memories will be of a gaggle of ladyboys in hot pursuit of him for
money owed for services rendered.

A private Bangkok museum celebrates the Thai sex industry
and its workers.

A tourist is beaten with a metal bar by a tuktuk driver in Phuket who demands
1000 baht for a 5-km trip.

A Swede who murdered a Kiwi in Pattaya 3 years ago sees his charge
change from manslaughter to murder.

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.

: I travel on a New Zealand passport. I live in Auckland but from time to time I also live in my condo in Pattaya, usually for no more than a few months at a time before I travel to a neighbouring country or back home where I
still work albeit less and less. My usual visa in Thailand is a visa on arrival which I extend beyond 30 days with the assistance of an APEC travel card. My woman friend is a Myanmar national who travels on a Myanmar passport. When we live / stay
together in Thailand she usually has the benefit of an education visa. We have agreed to marry and wish to do so in Thailand. Having said that, we do not wish to live in Thailand long-term or in retirement. We may return to New Zealand or we may
live in Myanmar. What if any steps do two foreigners need to take before they can get married in Thailand? If there aren't any, how do we go about getting a marriage licence in Pattaya (or Bangkok) and where do we do all this and what is
the cost going to be?

Sunbelt Legal responds: Foreigners need to contact their respective embassy or consulate in Thailand first to determine their country's requirements for marriage. Some countries do not recognise marriage overseas and it is important that this be checked first. Once it is determined that the country does recognise a marriage overseas, the foreigner(s) needs to sign an Affirmation of Freedom to Marry at their embassy. This would then need to be translated in to Thai and then both the original and translation certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before a marriage can take place at any District Office (Amphur). Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist with the translation and certification but it is key that you both determine your respective countries' requirements regarding marriages overseas.

Question 2: I am a US citizen married to a Thai lady who is now a US citizen. My question pertains to a life insurance policy she has here in the States. Right now I am the beneficiary
with her wish that I give her father and brother 50% of the payoff. Both still live in Thailand. Are there any limits, taxes or restrictions on monies from such a policy? Or should we list them as beneficiaries even though they do not have US
bank accounts or tax ID numbers?

Sunbelt Legal responds: Under Thai law, entitlement to a Life Insurance Policy would be excluded from a normal estate distribution so it would be at the beneficiary's discretion whether or not to share their right to the policy with other beneficiaries of the estate. However, as these are U.S. insurance policies, you will need to check with local laws regarding inheritance of life insurance policies. It is possible for a non-US citizen to inherit it and would depend on the insurance company and if they allow benefits to be paid to someone who is not a resident of the United States.

Question 3: I am a UK national, married in Thailand and divorced in Thailand some 3 years ago. As required by Thai law, I swore an affidavit of ‘freedom to marry' at the British
Embassy and had it legalised at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Will the Thai divorce certificate now serve as an ‘Affirmation of Marital Status' and be acceptable at an Amphur office?

Sunbelt Legal responds: When registering a marriage at the District Office, the foreign spouse must present his or her Affirmation of Freedom to Marry issued by their embassy as well as the Thai translation, and both must be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is unlikely the District Office or the MFA would accept a divorce certificate as a substitute document for the affirmation. It would be best to take your divorce certificate to your embassy and sign a new Affirmation of Freedom to Marry confirming your eligibility to marry. Once this is done, you need to have it translated and taken to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for certification and then you can get married at any District Office. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist you with the translation and certification once you obtain your signed and witnessed Affirmation at your embassy.

Khao San Road cat

If you're looking for cute, feel-good commentary you're in the wrong place!

I make no apologies for the negative tone of today's opening piece and know that not everyone will be agreement. I always welcome your feedback so do drop me an email and let me know what you think about the state of things in Thailand. As always, the most interesting emails will be published in next week's column. Agree or otherwise, these are interesting times for Thailand…

Your Bangkok commentator,


nana plaza