It's expensive, they told me. It's boring with nothing much to do – you'll have no social life, some said. It's cold, just wait until winter, another piped in. The cost of living, political correctness, weather, the chance of meeting someone, whichever way they looked at it, moving back to Farangland would be a huge mistake, my Thailand friends told me. The only concern I had was how long it would take to adjust. After all, I'd spent two thirds of my adult life in Thailand, and as much as we try to fight it, I know I probably changed to some extent and picked up some Thai habits. How long would it be until I successfully adjusted back to life in my homeland?
Lake Tikitapu, AKA the Blue Lake, central North Island.
Had I been asked years ago I would have said Thailand's weather was better than New Zealand's. I would have made the classic mistake that because Bangkok doesn't get cold, the weather must be better. We have this silly mindset in the west that cold is bad and warm is good. The Thais don't see it that way and whenever you mention New Zealand to a Thai, often the first thing they say is good weather. And I reckon they're right.
Cooler temps mean it's easier to sleep. A hot summer's day is seldom too hot. The one downside with the weather in this part of the world is the sun which feels like it's burning your skin.
The weather back home was a relief after the heat of Thailand and no adjustment was required.
Christmas lights on a house in Central Auckland.
I have to admit that the cost of living in New Zealand was always in the back of my mind but as it turns out New Zealand is not that expensive at all, in fact it is about the same as Thailand if you exclude accommodation from the calculation and lead a Kiwi lifestyle. If you tried to live a Thailand expat lifestyle in New Zealand it would cost you much more than it would in Thailand, obviously.
I spend almost exactly the same amount each month in New Zealand as I did in Bangkok, accommodation aside. It's only housing and public transport that is cheaper in Thailand and everything else generally evens itself out.
Clifftop homes with harbour views in Auckland's wealthy eastern suburbs.
If Bangkok is an intellectual graveyard then Auckland is a socialite's nightmare. If you want a vibrant and varied social life, Auckland would not be your first choice.
Most of my friends spend what free time they have with their kids – as they should. Before I left Farangland for Thailand we were all at that stage of our life when we went out a lot together, drank, partied and generally had a good time. We're now at a different stage of life but typically, once you settle down here you don't socialise anything like expats do in Bangkok. Personally, I don't miss it so no adjustment has been necessary. For many months before leaving Bangkok I didn't go out that much anyway.
Kayaking over waterfalls in the central North Island.
Many of my friends here in New Zealand are the same age as me – no surprise given we were friends at school or grew up in the same neighbourhood. And obviously all my friends are Kiwis. Friendship groups in Thailand expat circles tend to transcend nationality which makes for different perspectives and interesting conversations. My closest friends included Americans, Brits, Welsh, Canadians and Aussies. That's something I miss and I think I will miss more in time. It's been great reacquainting myself with the Kiwi lifestyle but in time, I am sure I will crave the variety of friends from all around the world. Auckland is cosmopolitan, but cannot compare to Bangkok expat circles. Still, I always knew that would be the case.
Ohinemutu, a small Maori village on the shore of Lake Rotorua.
Not socialising much means I hardly drink in New Zealand – and I never drink at home. I'll have a few when I meet friends in bars, but that's not something I do often. You're more likely to go over to someone's place for a meal or have a few while watching the rugby.
I went out to bars regularly over a long period in Bangkok so why don't I do that here? The reason I think many of us go out in Bangkok is because of the absence of other things to do. Once you've done all of the touristy stuff in Bangkok, you're left with shopping malls – no, thanks – and weather which is hardly conducive to playing sport or being outdoors. That leaves the bars as the primary place for socialising. I can't remember the last time I was in a bar here – we're talking months!
Lake Rotokakahi, AKA the Green Lake, central North Island.
The lifestyle differences between Thailand and New Zealand are huge and are perhaps best summed up by saying that in New Zealand you are more likely to do stuff outdoors during the day whereas in Thailand you are more likely to go out at night and be indoors.
Rotorua Museum, Rotorua.
Adjusting back to New Zealand has come with a few surprises. In the first few weeks I inadvertently started a sentence or responded to questions in Thai before correcting myself and reverting in to English. It happened enough times to make me wonder if there was something wrong with me. In recent times in Thailand I spoke as much Thai as I did English so I guess that has something to do with it. This tended to happen in the company of people I didn't know or when someone asked me a question and I responded quickly without thinking. It stopped after a few weeks.
I also found in the first few months that my English was letting me down. Sometimes I would be trying to come up with a word and I couldn't remember it. Sometimes I would rack my brain but just couldn't come up with the word. That took somewhat longer to get over, maybe 6 months or so. Does that perhaps mean that my (our?) use of English in Thailand expat circles was dumbed down over time?
Muriwai Beach, West Auckland, on New Year's Day.
I'd been living in Thailand for more than a year before I really started to think of prices in Thailand in terms of Thai baht. Up until that point, I would often find myself converting prices for many things in my head back in to New Zealand dollars and then weighing up if it represented fair value or not, comparing it to what you would pay for similar back in NZ.
Having moved back to New Zealand from Thailand I was instantly back in to dollars and never gave what an item would cost in Thailand a second thought. I guess it may go back to the fact that when I first moved to Thailand it was always going to be a temporary thing – I only initially planned to stay a year or two – whereas moving back to New Zealand was semi-permanent and for the foreseeable future at the very least.
Auckland city at sunset.
I love the way you can do things spontaneously here without the need to plan ahead, irrespective of the time of day, or the day of the week. If I feel like going for an Indian curry at my favourite curry house on the other side of town I just jump in the car and go. Unlike Bangkok, I don't even think about traffic conditions. I just go! In New Zealand, traffic isn't a restriction on your lifestyle.
Hot pools in Rotorua.
I don't miss dealing with the authorities in Thailand, especially the annual trip to Immigration. I really don't miss the dread you felt before you had to deal with pretty much anyone in uniform or in authority in Bangkok. It so often seemed these jobsworths got great pleasure from making others' life difficult.
Having had to deal with banks, realtors, lawyers and the tax man here in Kiwiland, everything has been so easy and frankly, that has been refreshing. People in uniform / authority are here to help you, not rob you. It makes a huge change from Bangkok where over the 18 months or so before I left I felt like I needed a GoPro permanently attached to me whenever I went out so if anything happened with those in authority making false accusations I had proof that I was innocent.
West Auckland black-sand beaches.
One of the downsides compared to Thailand is that New Zealand is a do-it-yourself country. Anything labour intensive, even unskilled work, is expensive. You expect to pay for skilled, qualified tradesmen but things you take for granted in Thailand like a 100-baht car wash is not the same here. You do it yourself. Still, the other side of this is that doing it yourself brings a sense of pride. That said, I miss the 100 baht car wash – and the local car wash in Bangkok did a better job than I do!
Looking across Auckland City from Mt. Eden.
The female situation here is, obviously, very different to Bangkok and while you don't have females falling over you, it's not nearly as bad as some Thailand expats make things out to be.
Auckland is full of Asians and there are A LOT of pretty Asian ladies in Auckland, many of whom are single. Plenty of Kiwis just don't go for Asian women. And there are heaps of single, attractive white women. Due to demographics (there are considerably fewer males than females in the 25 – 50 age group in New Zealand), meeting local ladies is not difficult at all.
There hasn't been a drought.
Something I really don't like is the way people expect you to account for yourself, people who have no valid reason to ask you impertinent questions about how you spend your day. It's a pet peeve. New Zealand used to be very laid-back and only the neighbourhood busybody paid any attention to what others were up to. That has all changed. Worse still, the idea of keeping up with the Joneses was never a Kiwi thing. Not today, at least not in Auckland, where it seems everyone is comparing themselves with everyone else. Who cares where others live, what they drive and which fucking breeder they bought their dog from?! Unfortunately many do and it's just plain toxic. Is your post code really part of who you are? In Bangkok no-one gave a shit whether you lived in Soi Langsuan or in a 3,000 baht a month hovel. It's been a surprise, and not a welcome one.
Mt. Eden, close to the Auckland CBD.
One major disappointment is the realisation that quality journalism doesn't exist any more in New Zealand. I was so looking forward to quality newspapers and locally produced in-depth documentaries but there's no such thing. I haven't found a single quality mainstream news source in New Zealand and the supposedly serious newspapers have such rubbish on the front page as who the Prime Minister's son's latest floozy is and where they are holidaying. There are some quality independent websites but almost without exception they have a strong political bias and lack balance. Just like in Bangkok, the BBC runs in the background and The New York Times website is browsed daily.
Beach walks on the west coast of the North Island, near Auckland.
Perhaps the lack of quality journalism is related to the way the average urban Kiwi appears scared of speaking out – crazy in a country where there is freedom to speak your mind and it was the #1 thing we learned at school – to say what you truly believe, come what may. We Kiwis always stood up for what we believed in. Not today! There are whispers and mutterings in private, but people just don't speak out like they once did. As someone who refuses to shut up, I'm seen as a renegade and a danger to the status quo. No doubt I am seen as a threat. My feeling is that it all comes back to the fact that so many are mortgaged to the hilt and are petrified of speaking out and saying something that may cause them to lose their job, which in turn could mean they have no money, cannot pay their mortgage, lose their house and then their family and they are on the road to ruin. The strong, confident type has been replaced by meek weaklings afraid to open their mouth. A few times people have told me to ease up when I say what I think, but without a day job, a mortgage or a wife, I have nothing to lose. I'm still getting used to how things are today in modern New Zealand, but that hasn't stopped me from saying what I think. I just have to accept that even people who may agree are scared to say anything. That has taken some adjusting to.
Moving back to New Zealand has been relatively pain-free and the adjustment back to a life in my homeland has been easy, if not without a few surprises. Adjusting to life back in Farangland has been easier than it was moving to Thailand in the first place.
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken of the Hyde & Seek restaurant at Central World which is said to have great hamburgers although I admit I have yet to try a burger there. Ace photo spotter Ken was again first to get it right, and in fact the only person to get it right!
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 – Bar biz and old codgers.
The bar business will continue to limp along like an aging monger who lost his Viagra but is still trying to get it up. The desire is there but not everything is working right.
Reinventing basic economics.
Imposing a cover charge to view the uncovered and requiring multiple lady drinks for the opportunity to pay a barfine? Oh, yes, this sounds like a winning business plan. And then there's that wonderful employee incentive plan: keep the staff happy or they exercise their right to beat the crap out of their farang manager. All told, 2016 is shaping up rather well, don't you think? Airlines and hotels learned the golden rule long ago. For that matter, even the oil cartels recently acknowledged that they can't fight it: supply and demand determine price.
The 100 baht time tunnel.
I was in Bangkok over Xmas and did visit the increasingly (in)famous Crazy House, my interest piqued by the reports of what went on inside. The 100 baht charge on the door was a surprise but still me and my friend paid up and ventured past the curtain. Official party or not, the place was rocking and having been around the bars for far too long to mention in polite society, it felt like we had entered a time tunnel and stepped out in the late 1990s / early 2000s. In short, it was worth every baht to enjoy the old school atmosphere, and even the frustration of trying to find a seat was reminiscent of Long Gun on a Friday night during 1998 – 2000. On the subject of Long Gun, we did have a look out of habit. Strange place nowadays: bar is comfortable and tidy, toilets clean, and not too shabby on the girl front. But next to no customers. What more can than they do?! I jokingly trace the bar's decline to the refurbishment in the early 2000s which along with cleaning their disgusting toilets with the open urine drainage channel also cleaned out the atmosphere.
The thrill of being surrounded by sex.
The quality of nightlife is declining rapidly in Thailand. So why do punters keep coming? Places like Soi Cowboy, Nana and Patpong offer what is not offered anywhere else – in your face raw sex. Senses are bombarded with sex open and everywhere. Sure it is getting expensive but guys will pay the price just to get the sensation of being where sex is all around them. Not a brothel, but a whole neighbourhood – bars, on the street, everywhere you look a person sees sex in those areas. Walk down Sukhumvit from Nana to Soi Cowboy and sex is everywhere. When I first came it was even more so, but the girls were 200 baht short time and 500 long time. Prices have skyrocketed but the thrill is still the same. Where can you find this? Sure, you can order in women cheaper back home for just sex but where else do you get in your face raw sex like Bangkok and Pattaya offer. Pattaya beer bars are full of suggestive women. Do other countries have this? I think not! A man can spend the night out enjoying himself knowing he can pick one. Sometimes just the thrill of being around it is enough. So in my opinion, punters will keep coming no matter what the cost as long as wide open debauchery remains. In Pattaya and some places in Bangkok it bombards you! I know of nowhere else in the world where a man can experience such decadence catering to lust. There is an old saying – where the girls go the men will find them. I have my own new one. No matter what the price if it is fun enough the men will find the money.
What the girls are missing out on.
Gals who stuck with a farang guy long-term usually got a legacy of 6 or 7 figures when the old fella popped off. Houses in London are now a million pounds and I know gals who got the house when the farang hubby popped off. But there won't be many of those in the coming years and inheritances of million-pound houses will be a thing of the past.
To be inconspicuous?
I agree with your points that changes are probably afoot regarding bars. Most bars are an anathema and embarrassment to Thai society. They are loud and brash and mostly attract the indiscreet, the plastered, the dishevelled and the downright disturbed and evil. If only the bars were more inconspicuous, quieter and the patrons better mannered and attired. If they keep going the way they are going the screws will be tightened more and more.
Why the high season is so short.
Charging for entry to gogos? The death-knell of the industry has been sounded. Why? Watered-down drinks. Bill padding. Sticky-fingered waitresses. Ladies telling punters long-time when they know they'll be bolting 15 minutes after the deed is done. Terrible DJs (aka music selection) assaulting eardrums at ridiculous decibel levels. Thug security. Anyone in their right mind would avoid it all and use a smart-phone if pay for play is their thing. Many do. Prices for good-lookers are right up there with any major metropolis. Take in to account the cost of getting to Thailand and a decent hotel and it's break-even at best and probably more expensive to do (the) business in Thailand. You're better off in your own backyard unless you would never participate in the sex industry in your home country. If you live in Europe (or somewhere close) there are countries where prostitution is legal, safe, easier and cheaper to get to. Why leave unless it is the tropical climate you're enjoying as much as the Thai girls? There is little argument to be made for Western prices with a standard of service below Western standards. Is it any wonder there is now no real high season, only a peak season that surrounds the weeks of Christmas & New Year?
The ladyboy bar goldmine / the future.
Where do I see the bars long term? Interesting question. I think the ladyboy bars are a goldmine. Why? Because they offer a service difficult to get in a western country. You can't get that back in your home country and Thailand (don't quote me on this but I've heard) has the best looking ladyboys in the world so people will continue to go there for that type of thing. On the other hand, I see the average bar with average girls turn in to Western style strip clubs. The coyotes (strippers) prance around collecting drinks and dance while the bar charges a cover charge. If you want intercourse, they will charge ridiculous amounts OR tell you to go to a brothel. End of story. Are the recent difficulties and lull a temporary thing? I'm afraid not – it will get worse. Will world economics affect the Thai bar industry? The hardcore sex tourist and ladyboy lover will still go because it's addiction. Remember, if a homeless person is on heroin he will first buy heroin to support his habit before food (harsh analogy but you get the picture). Westerners will scrape what money they have left in order to be able to go there. Everyone else will move on to other places.
I keep hearing good things about Bada Bing in Patpong soi 2 which according to some sources may be the best, if not the busiest bar in Patpong at this time. And if you're on a budget, Leo runs just 100 baht at Bada Bing.
Those promoting Equality use all sorts of warm and fuzzy terms to promote the venue, from ground-breaking to modern to open and welcoming. While Soi Nana has undoubtedly overtaken Patpong as the area for ladyboy lovers (I've lost count of how many bars in Nana Plaza have ladyboys; at last count it was approaching double figures), when will the management of Equality get it through their thick heads that ladyboys are an anathema for most straight guys in Bangkok's bar areas?! A straight venue works. A ladyboy venue works. Mix them up and now your target group is first-time visitors. Equality tries to explain until they are blue in the face that Equality is not a ladyboy venue – so would they please answer the question as to why they only have ladyboys dancing on stage and why it is ladyboys handing out flyers for Equality on Soi Nana!
Down in Pattaya, management of Secrets tell me they have received a lot of praise over the holiday barfine system and the sideline girls also – "sideline" being their term whereas I prefer the more commonly used freelancers. An entire new lighting system has been installed in Secrets and the bar is said to be looking better than ever.
In the style of the ill-fated Game, Fat Andrew Elvis will open in Chiang Mai with the grand opening this coming Friday, January 15th at 6:00 PM. Bold claims are being made about the quality of the food at a price point that is described as being as much lower than any of its competitors. The chef is known for sweating so I guess the food comes out of a scorching hot boiler room.
Speaking of hot, I was sent a photo of the kebab vendor on Soi Nana who has operated just outside the entrance to the plaza for years which brought back memories of the heat it emits. I wonder if those sitting at the railings of the bar right in front of it feel the heat.
Somchai pulled the trigger and Dollhouse Darel had a meltdown. That's one explanation for the series of events this past week or so that started with Darel being battered by his staff at Dollhouse Soi Cowboy, was followed by him announcing that he had sold his share in the two Dollhouse bars (which no-one has been able to verify), before the main event when Darel trashed a restaurant in Pattaya and ended up at soi 9 (colloquial Pattaya-speak for the Pattaya Police Station). That was resolved and no charges were laid. Not long before he had dropped 40,000 baht in a few hours in a Walking Street gogo bar and ranted that his offer to buy a drink for 100+ girls in Sensations had been turned down. A plea for help went out to friends of Darel from relatives abroad. Darel's friends in Thailand stepped up to the plate. Darel has always been the life of the party, a popular bar boss. In an industry full of rogues and scoundrels, Darel is one of the good guys. Those close to Darel are supporting him through a difficult time and getting him the help he needs.
Why is it that so many readers tell me I am wrong when week after week I say that the gogo bars are moving away from what they were and towards the same business model as bars in the west? Let's check the facts: 1.) You may be asked to pay a cover charge to enter. 2.) Drinks are more expensive than in mainstream (non-strip club) bars. 3.) The girls may not be available. 4.) What you get for the money is a show and a tease. It all makes me wonder if the word barfine is going to exist in Bangkok in x years time. In, say, 5 years time, how confident are you that the word barfine will be as commonly used as it is today? Will the concept of being able to barfine a lady still exist in every gogo bar?! Are we racing towards the point when you will really be being honest when you tell folks back home that the reason for going to Thailand really is for the beaches, the culture, the food and the temples?!
A collection of 1,918 original CD soundtracks is offered for sale in Bangkok, including many CDs described as rare. The collection belonged to a German who lived the last years of his life in Northern Thailand. He has since passed away. Now the collection is being kept in On Nut in Bangkok where it is offered for sale. The fellow started collecting vinyl in the early '60s and in the '80s changed to CDs. A full listing is available and can be requested by email at : [email protected]. Arrangements can be made to view the collection which is available complete only and will not be separated and sold piece by piece.
A report was received from a long-term American reader this week about the length of time he was permitted when he entered Thailand. Upon arrival at Immigration he was asked how long he would stay and he responded "about 10 days". He did not notice that he was stamped in to the country for exactly that, just 10 days. When he went to leave the country 12 days later he was told he had overstayed which he inadvertently had. After a bit to and fro, the overstay fee was waived. This fellow was travelling on an American passport, only visits Thailand once a year for a short stay, does not have a chequered visa history and instead of getting the 30 days American passport holders expect, he received 10 days. A copy of the visa stamp shows it clearly. To avoid being caught up for an inadvertent overstay, make sure you check the stamp in your passport to see how long you are given – it's a lot easier to sort it out there and then than later on when you may have overstayed!
And that was not the only incident of Immigration asking a traveller how long they were planning to stay. A Kiwi friend reported that in December he was asked how long he would be staying – so the American traveller's experiences was not just an isolated incident. If you are asked by the Immigration officer how long you plan to stay, it might be an idea to say the full duration of the visa / permission to stay that you are entitled to, lest the officer stamp you for a short period of time.
If you're on Instagram, here's a chance to win a 5-night stay in a Sala Pool Villa, at the Westin Siray Bay Phuket, a prize which really is worth flying to Thailand for! This competition is open to everyone and runs until January 31st – and there are unlimited entries. Visit the following link for details Instagram.com/wandererinasia
The Chiang Mai Immigration office gets the odd mention in this column and many expats in the area talk about how busy it has become. Expats arrive before the sun goes up to join the line and get a queue number. Apparently, there is a quota for the number of visa extensions by visa type each day i.e. there might be xx number of retiree visa extensions processed each day and if you miss out on a queue ticket, you have to go back the next – which could become an issue because you can only extend a visa within so many days of it expiring and once it expires it's all bad news. It would seem that the massive increase in the number of foreigners living in Chiang Mai and its surrounds has not seen a similar increase in staff at the Immigration office which may not have the manpower to process all the visa extensions that come in every day. As it is, observations are that the officers often work very late to process as many visa extensions as they can. What some foreigners now do is retain a visa agent for a fee – often 10,000 baht – to handle the visa extension for them. Some say they are essentially forced to do this unless you're willing to arrive hours before the sun rises and prepared to hang around for many hours. OK, so the 10,000 baht agent fee won't break the bank, but that's 10,000 baht less to spend on fun things, isn't it?
The statistics for the number of foreigners visiting Thailand has long been a talking point as some question their accuracy. Some feel the numbers are inflated. I've never prescribed to that theory but I have to admit that this past week I started to wonder just a little. The New Zeeland Herald newspaper published statistics this week showing where New Zealanders like to vacation – and in 2014 the number of Kiwis visiting Thailand was listed at 28,540. At the same time, Thailand listed the number of New Zealanders who visited Thailand that year as 108,081, quite a difference! The number published in the New Zealand newspaper appeared to count New Zealanders living in New Zealand who visited Thailand. I imagine the count was made of New Zealanders returning to the country who wrote Thailand on their arrival card as the country they spent the most time in while outside New Zealand. Those who visited other countries and whose primary port of call was elsewhere would not be counted, presumably. Neither does the figure of 28,540 count those New Zealanders who live elsewhere (there are 400,000+ Kiwis resident in Australia, for example), as well as Kiwis living in other countries, Kiwis in Thailand who regularly exit and re-enter the country etc. While the number Thailand states for New Zealanders visiting Thailand is probably right, when you consider those who visited multiple times and those who made multiple visa runs in a year etc, the total number of New Zealanders is likely quite a lot lower than the number of entries.
Quote of the week comes from reader Richard, "How come Thais are so good at getting money out of us but so poor at getting money out of an actual ATM machine?"
Reader's story of the week comes from Mega, "2015, The Year That Was".
The high season crackdown on female visitors showing off their titties is under way.
An excellent article in The Diplomat says Thailand is going from The Land Of Smiles to The Land of Shame.
A drunken Aussie makes a grand exit at the Pattaya Police Station.
CNN highlighted 9 of Bangkok's most beautiful bars in a nice photo essay.
Another foreign paedophile is caught in Thailand by the authorities.
A crazed Brit attracts the attention of onlookers in Pattaya.
Andrew Drummond looks at 25 years of murder in Thailand, from a British perspective.
Asian Correspondent asks when Thai soap operas will stop trivializing sexual abuse.
Another Brit is found dead on Ko Tao.
Ask Sunbelt Asia
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: The land and house where I live is owned by a Thai lady and is in her name only. Apparently, her Thai husband has gotten caught up in some kind of serious legal problems that may result in the seizing of his property. I have 24 years left on the original 30-year lease on the land and house that I prepaid to the Thai lady. The lease is properly registered in my name at the local Land Office. I have been told that the wife's property may be seized along with her husband's property under Thai law even though the wife had nothing to do with her husband's actions. Are my rights as holder of the lease protected no matter what may happen with the husband's and / or the wife's property? In other words, can anyone somehow unilaterally cancel my lease over their problems or am I ok for the full remaining 24 years? I am a farang and there was no romantic involvement with the Thai lady but she is simply a friend. Thank you.
Sunbelt Legal responds: Since your lease is registered at the local Land Office, even if it is seized and auctioned off the person who wins the bid will have to honour the registered lease. If the rent for the full 30 years has been paid in advance then you will need to reclaim the remaining balance from the previous owner (24 years worth). This would then be paid to the new owner.
However, it is important to be aware that the new owner would likely seek ways to terminate your lease so your best option would be to review the current lease with a legal advisor to check for any loopholes the new owner could exploit to terminate the lease. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors has extensive experience with lease contracts of this type and could review your lease contract to ensure that you are safe in your home.
Question 2: We own a condo in Chiang Mai which we bought it in my wife's name as the 49% foreigner quota was full in our building. The management told us if a spot ever opened they would alert us. Yesterday we did get notified after years that a spot has finally opened, I guess because a foreigner sold their unit to a Thai. So the condo gave us the papers needed to go to the Land / Tax offices here and get the title changed. I had my doubts as nothing ever goes smoothly here when dealing with government offices – and I was right. After submitting all our papers to the clerk, we were informed that if I wanted my name on the title I need to buy the condo from my wife! My wife said, What?! The clerk said, Yes, we need to show I bought it from her or paid her something to be on title. I said, Fine if this will settle it I can do it. BUT….then he said although I have a lot of money in banks here for visa / a couple of years' expenses etc. that I need to bring "new" money over and this money has to be specified to be used to buy the condo from my wife. After living here 4 years I rarely say this is ludicrous but this is ludicrous, if not insane! I would like to ask Sunbelt if this is true. If a husband & wife bought a condo in the wife's name and later wanted to add the husband to it then he needs to buy again with "new" money, no less?
Sunbelt Legal responds: The Land Office states that the only way a foreigner can own a condominium unit in Thailand is if it falls under the 49% foreign quota and the purchase is made by funds coming in from overseas and that amount must be equal to the purchase price. This the only way for a foreigner to own a condo and have their name listed on the Condominium Ownership Certificate.
Since the condo was not available as being under the foreign quota when you purchased it, it was purchased in your wife's name and if you wish to have it in your name you must now purchase it from your wife. The Land Office requires that the purchase from your spouse follow the same rules as for purchasing a condo under the foreign ownership quota, so you are required to transfer the money in to the country using the Foreign Exchange Transaction Form and you must clearly stipulate the purpose of the transfer which is purchasing a condominium unit.
Essentially, you need to meet the same requirements as if you were purchasing the condo for the first time as a foreigner.
Ladyboys on Soi Bangla, Phuket.
What a quiet week it was for bar news. The feelers went out to bar bosses, bar mangers and friends who are regularly out and about and very little came back. A column without a lot of bar news, who would have thought it? Is it perhaps a sign of things to come and what the future holds?
Your Bangkok commentator,