This week is Songkran and in Thailand most will be taking anything from a few days to a couple of weeks off work, breaking away from their usual routines. Songkran usually sees a small and temporary drop in this site's traffic so with that in mind, I decided not to put together an opening piece this week. There is still plenty of news, gossip, thoughts and all the other sections.
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken from Phrom Phong BTS looking at a new apartment block being built next to EM Quartier.
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 – Dirty old men and missionaries.
There are so many young white farangs gallivanting about that Bangkok is starting to look like Fort Lauderdale on Spring Break. Soi Cowboy seems to be a tour group stop. Oh for the good old days – I first arrived exactly 29 years ago yesterday – when the only farangs you saw on the street were DOMs – Dirty Old Men – and the odd missionary.
Sound systems and rock music.
Your comment on EQ needs a response. You propose that the quality of a sound system is well down the checklist. Not for me. And since you are probably correct, I will not share what bars have good sound systems. Who else remembers the fabulous sound from Altec-Lansing at Butterfly on Patpong? Those speakers went to the club that preceded Club Electric Blue. And then they were gone. And now we have readers complaining about rock music. I prefer rock, and never go inside a bar that plays dance music. The point is, no way can I play AC/DC at home at a correct volume. So I listen in clubs. You may find me at Superstar, or Sexy Night. For the music. And the sound systems. Someone had to say it. Perhaps I am the only one.
What's up with the women at EQ wearing blue or green contact lenses? I understand why the owners of EQ are promoting their sound system instead of the women and beers! Personally, not a single woman in the photographs is attractive. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
To escape Australia.
Thailand for me is about a cash economy, simplicity, good food, outstanding weather, low prices, cheap public transport and no income taxes. Girls and bars and alcohol are a long way down the list of attractions for me – I've been there, done that. There is an amount of frustrating red tape in ASEAN but not even a fraction of what we get here in Australia. And if the place goes south in the next few years then Cambodia or Laos are my next choices. At least in Laos I'll pick up the language fairly quickly. Australia is a mess now; going bankrupt because the government hedged all their bets on mining and let manufacturing die out. It's getting nearly impossible to live here; thank goodness I can retire and get out soon.
Where the drains aren't vented.Vented drains are unheard of in Thailand. Houses are simply not designed or built with vented drain plumbing as is required in the west. A friend of mine put drain vents in his house himself after the workers went home for the day. It's the only house I know of that has vented plumbing. I have been in 3 houses in my 8 years here and none have been designed and built with vented plumbing drains. My Thai wife continually complains of the odours coming from the drains. I tried to explain to her why the odours were there but I doubt she could understand. Fortunately the septic tanks are vented.
Barfined how often?
You've often mention how bargirls can get barfined a few times a night. I don't see it. Of course, some bars have their A-team of superstars but I rarely see the average bargirl getting fined as often as they were 10 years ago. The majority of girls in the bars are unattractive to my eyes and it seems to me that the majority probably never get barfined at all. Few girls last longer than a couple of months, which I'm guessing is because they don't make their monthly quota; if such a thing exists anymore? Of the bars I know best, the girls in Tilac are the longest lasting, and the line-up has barely changed in 2 years. But even they often complain to me that most customers are lookyloos (like me, although I buy drinks and they seem to like my company as I'm a friendly and familiar face). Certain bars are more popular for barfines but many are Japanese-oriented. They're as trigger happy as always but we farang are a stingy lot. That said, I'm happy to accept I don't see everything that goes on. I generally stay a maximum one beer or two in each bar, and rarely stay out later than 11 PM. I'm also almost never there on weekends. But this is nevertheless my observation.
Why hongs are so small.
I had a good talk with a real estate guy in the mall here in Pattaya yesterday. I asked him why things were so small i.e. 26 square metres these days and was interested in his take. He said single people like small. And the 1 – 1.5 million baht price tags for these small places are in the single guy's budget. He said when they start needing 40+ square metres the price goes way up and at that point they need the space for family and will opt for a house / townhouse instead.
McDonald's signage explained.
Regarding McDonald's, I notice that the older branches have the name in Thai script and the newer ones (in tourist areas anyway) seem to only have the name in English.
McDonald's signage explained part 2.
I don't know if anyone has pointed this out to you but McDonald's is a franchise operation. The owners of the operation have leeway in being "local" in signs and layout as well as food customs (no pork in certain countries). This may account for signs in Thai at one place and not at another.
Hooters thumbs up.
I'm sitting here at the new Hooters looking across at Hillary 4 as I write this trying to figure out why I'm sitting in a basically empty bar with about six totally hot women in hot pants and not at Hillary 4 which sports 50 fat unattractive ladies. I suppose I answered my own question there. It's testament to what you have said so often that it's not the amount spent on bar infrastructure that makes the difference you gotta have hot women. Hooters has cold beer and hot women. Yes it's corporate but here I am – and I'm no rookie, been visiting since 2003. It's a sad testament to how far the Nana area in general has fallen.
The biggest holiday of the year in Thailand, Songkran, kicks off in a couple of days and mayhem will break out all over the country. City-wide water fights and 24-hour partying might appeal to some but it comes with a level of recklessness that makes being out and about scary. Songkran was once considered the marker for the start of the low season and the consensus from Bangkok bar bosses is that slow season has already begun.
As far as visiting bars over Songkran goes, don't expect it to be business as usual. Getting to the bars dry can be a challenge and once there you will find a much smaller number of staff than usual as many girls go home to spend time with family. Nana Plaza has always been a magnet for foreigners sporting large water cannons and some like to guard the entrance to the plaza like their life depended on it. Anyone attempting entry can expect to be drenched. Whether the security guards at the mouth of the plaza will have anything to say about that sort of carry on, who knows? (Emails to the management of Nana Plaza enquiring whether they had any plans to police what happens at the entrance to the plaza went unanswered.) If you want to be part of a huge water fight with bargirls, Soi Cowboy is the place to go and by day time there's a carnival atmosphere on the soi. When the sun goes down the water fighting takes a backseat and it's business as usual. Getting to Soi Cowboy dry can be a problem and even having a cab to drop you off right at the start of the soi comes with zero guarantees as there are water fights all over the area! Patpong is also a problem because Silom Road – right next to Patpong – is where many Thais gravitate to party. I've never been to Patpong at Songkran so have no first-hand experience, but videos show bedlam! The party inevitably spills over in to Patpong and foreigners can become a target. Pattaya is a nightmare at this time of year and if you're not in to Songkran, I'd avoid Sin City where Songkran lasts a full week. The official Songkran dates are April 13th – 15th – that's Wednesday to Friday this week, but they vary around the country and some areas celebrate it over different dates. Expect the water fighting to start as early as today or tomorrow in some places and kick off in central Bangkok late on the 12th.
A memorial birthday party will be held for Dollhouse Darel who would have turned 55 in June. The most fitting way to celebrate Darel's 55th birthday is to hold a dance contest in his name. A Nanapong-style dance contest will be held @ Dollhouse in Pattaya with girls from that bar competing with girls from the two Club Electric Blue bars. Nanapong-style dance contests are hugely popular and some guys like to plan their trip around them so put June 4th, 2016, in your diary.
Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy (a different entity to Dollhouse in Pattaya) has devised a new way for its girls to make more money with beer lady drinks running 250 baht, of which the lady gets 100 baht. The idea came about from the new management and was not the norm when Darel and Taffy were running things. A beer will probably take a lady longer to drink so if she does not just abandon it and leave you – which would be very cheeky – then you might actually get more of her company….in which case it might actually work out to be a good deal after all!
Crazy House has joined Lighthouse as a bar in which some girls order two ladies drinks at a time. Offer a lady a drink and she may come back with two. Ladies doing this in Lighthouse usually come back with a shot of Tequila and a tumbler of Coke – and both can be thrown back in seconds.
The Rainbow 4 team recently moved to the bar next door which has been renamed to The Four and was formerly known as A Fairy Bar, previously as Candy Land 2 and before that G Spot. But many girls didn't follow the move and the number of girls dancing in Rainbow 4 The Four has dropped markedly. To make matters worse, a more disinterested bunch than in The Four you would be hard pressed to find.
Work has finally commenced on the pile of rubble that has long been known as The Tunnel – the dark, sleazy sub-soi connecting Sukhumvit sois 5 and 7 which was home to streetwalking hookers, drug dealers and deadbeats. Pile-driving has begun at the soi 5 end and foot traffic transit at that end is at the whim of workers who control a big rolling metal gate. The Tunnel will be replaced by a Marrakesh-style bazaar that will run its length and be a home away from home for the Middle Eastern visitors who today dominate Sukhumvit sois 3, 3/1 and 5.
In related news, the CIB ladyboy bar in the lane has had its lease extended for another year. No word yet on what's happening with Country Road.
First, The Strip in Patpong soi 2 started giving away free beers to customers with a no catch, free beer for all customers entering the bar before 9 PM and now its neighbour Club Electric Blue is in on the free drinks act. In fact, both Club Electric Blue bars (Patpong soi 2, Bangkok / soi 15, Pattaya) as well as the Pattaya branch of Dollhouse are offering free shots to customers who log in to the bar's Facebook page on their mobile phone, like the page and write a small review. Get likeing – and claim a free shot of your choice!
Dragon's Head Tea House & Sake Bar will open on Patpong soi 2 after Songkran in the space that was previously G's superb German restaurant.
The Robin Hood has much to like about it – a convenient location close to a skytrain station, good food, decent service and generous drink specials. A pint of Heineken will set you back just 119 baht – that's the all day, everyday price. The Robin Hood is located between Sukhumvit sois 33/1 and 35, very close to the Phrom Pong skytrain station.
Why has the price of Beer Lao jumped in supermarkets? Small bottles are now 55 baht at Foodland and it's 62 baht for the dark lager. Beer Lao has never really broken in to the Thai market and doesn't have anything like the following it ought to, its popularity limited to foreigners. I guess the Thais just can't get their head around the idea that their northern neighbours who they like to joke about make a brew infinitely better than anything brewed in the Kingdom.
Sukhumvit soi 22 has always had a mix of massage houses, some decent, most not so decent, where decent = a legitimate massage outlet with not a hint of impropriety. But the truth is that staff in many soi 22 massage shops have zero formal massage training and while venues may have an air of respectability – girls in uniform outside the shop and signs and price cards with a full menu of (legitimate) massage options – most girls will steer customers towards an oil massage and in the room will pressure them to opt for extras. But at least one venue makes no pretence about what's on offer. With a name like Miss BJ Massage you just know that it's not a place to get your aches and pains kneaded away. At Miss BJ Massage the menu leaves nothing to the imagination with a pricelist that uses the words handjob, blowjob and sex. You won't see the word "foot" nor the phrase "head and shoulders". The girls at Miss BJ Massage may or may not be expert oral practitioners but with the prices they're asking, a naughty boy with an itch to scratch is probably better off heading to Lolita's or Kasalong.
There is much conjecture about visa rules and regulations in the wake of a tightening up on immigration rules and greater difficulty for those aged under 50 who are not working legally in Thailand and married to a Thai national to remain in Thailand long-term. Some experts point out that by law there are only a small number of reasons an immigration officer can cite to turn someone away at the border. Technically, these experts are correct in what they say, but this is Thailand and things don't always follow the rulebook. Since late last year there have been numerous reports of people with a history of frequent visits to Thailand being questioned at the border. Here is the latest such report received from a long-term reader:
Just got pulled at Suvarnabhumi they were going to send me back to Oz but I managed to talk my way out of it. I had a spouse visa in the past but I never bother because with the fifo thing I only stay 4 weeks then back to work 4 weeks. Never had a drama this time they tell me you in out too many times I'm say no problem VOA lets me stay 28 days then I go. They say no you have big problem have to go home can't stay Thailand. I asked to see a supervisor and said I have done nothing wrong never overstay never do border hops just fly in and fly out month on month off. Showed my marriage certificate pictures of the kids etc he said ok this time but never again I need visa. 2 questions if I've done nothing wrong can they stop me from entering? And is there a limit on the amount of times you can enter on a VOA at Swampy in one calendar year? Am I in trouble next time?
As I say, I've been emailed about this sort of thing numerous times in the past 4 or 5 months. There are two points that I think need to be made. 1) The people being hassled have a history of travel to Thailand and do not have a visa. 2) It is not known whether any new rules or regulations may have been put in place and as such we can only look at what is happening and speculate. There appears to be an algorithm in the Immigration computer that flags people who have been visiting often (and perhaps staying a long period of time in country on visa waiver stamps). There's speculation as to what the threshold is – whether it is a certain number of times entering the country without a visa or, as I suspect is more likely, a number of days spent in the country without a visa within a period of time. If entering Thailand multiple times within a period of time without a visa, be aware that you might be stopped and asked questions and if you don't satisfy the officer, you might not be admitted. In other words, if you are a very regular traveller and are even a little concerned, it might be an idea to get a visa before you come – in which case entry should be trouble-free.
Who is the white guy driving an orange Lamborghini around downtown Bangkok? Described as a youngish Westerner estimated to be in his 30s, lean, bald and is said to sport a permanent grimace on his face (WTF, if I drove a Lambo I'd have a shit-eating grin you'd see from the moon!). An orange Lamborghini stands out anywhere in the world but a white guy driving one in Bangkok draws huge attention. I'm curious to know who drives such a crazy expensive car in Bangkok – a new Lamborghini in Bangkok is around 35 million baht / about one million US dollars. I expect he is amongst the most handsome men in town for many local ladies!
A white guy is driving an orange Lamborghini around downtown Bangkok.
Quote of the week comes from the email of the week, "There are so many young farang gallivanting about that Bangkok is starting to look like Fort Lauderdale on Spring Break."
Reader's story of the week comes from Steve Rosse, "Why I Stopped Joking Around With Thai Women".
The Telegraph says expat wives' biggest fear in South-East Asia is their husband running off with a bargirl.
A tour guide meets a girl on Facebook, invites her to his room and while he is showering she takes off with the goodies.
The East Asia Tribune looks at how Pattaya is becoming increasingly expensive.
From The Big Chilli, are the current British embassy in Bangkok's days numbered?
Soon one third of all visitors to Thailand could be Chinese.
A young Thai woman who does a hit and run on a Russian on Beach Road is caught further up the road.
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: What is the cost of getting a prenuptial agreement done with Sunbelt? I have been told here in the USA that pre-nups can be challenged if each party doesn't have their own legal representation. Is it the same in Thailand? If, for example, I used Sunbelt to represent me, would my wife also need to retain a separate legal firm to represent her? If you could give me an idea of the cost of the prenuptial agreement, I would be most obliged. It should be relatively simple as we each wish to protect our own assets.
Sunbelt Legal responds: Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors is able to draft a prenuptial agreement for you but you are correct in that your fiancée should have separate legal representation to review the document after it has been drafted. It is important to note that the agreement must be registered at the same time as the marriage. If you are already married, then it will not be valid and it cannot be registered before the marriage. It is also important to know that the agreement can include all your assets abroad as well, and is not limited to, as in the case of a will, only Thai assets.
To draft the agreement, we will need a copy of the passport or ID card for both yourself and your fiancée. A copy of the passport or ID card for the 2 witnesses is also required. (Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can provide these witnesses, if necessary). A list of all the assets you and your fiancée would like to not be listed as marital assets but as personal assets upon marriage. And proof of ownership for all the assets listed above. Here we are talking about for example a copy of the title deed for a condominium or a copy of the bank books in question.
Our professional fees to complete the draft in both English and Thai is 14,500 baht +7% VAT but please get in touch to set up a free initial consultation with one of our legal team to go over your requirements for the prenuptial.
Sonkgran on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok.
Songkran polarises the expat populace in Thailand – some love it, others hate it. Irrespective of how you feel about Songkran, if you find yourself in Thailand at this time do take care. Hundreds of people die on the country's roads over what are known as the 7 dangerous days of Songkran. But it's not just the roads that are dangerous. Parts of the country become one big party and some locals go on a multi-day bender. While Thais are heaps of fun to party with, do be careful if you find yourself in the company of drunk locals you don't know. Drink does funny things to all of us and the combination of heat, alcohol and the pressures many Thais feel at Songkran (increased expenses as they travel to the family home / expectations to give money to members of family etc.) can cause great stress for many and some can become unpredictable. Let your hair down, go out and have fun but don't lower your guard completely. Keep your wits about you. Happy Songkran!