First impressions weren't good. He's the guy you see in every open air Aussie bar in South-East Asia, in a beer-branded singlet hugging his huge belly. He's flabby, has a hairy torso and a face as red as a fire engine. He's happiest when he's with his mates, with a schooner in hand, watching rugby league. He is what we call in this part of the world, a "bogan". This is the story of Darren, the bogan who went to Thailand looking for love.
Darren signed up with the Thai branch of a love tour company with branches in various countries known for beautiful women.
A Foreign Affair operates a couple of love tours a year in Thailand, the fee running a couple of thousand bucks which gets tour members their hotel, guides, city tours and the main event, two socials where ladies keen to meet a foreign
man are brought along to meet the tour members. A Foreign Affair has interpreters on site as the men are encouraged to chat with the ladies, collect phone numbers and see who they hit it off with. After that tour members are on their own.
Darren didn't meet a special someone at either of the socials and it wasn't happening for the lovelorn Aussie. In a city of beautiful women, love wasn't in the air. So Darren looked through the catalogue of ladies listed with the firm and one lady stood out. There, staring back at him was Ning. Sweet-looking and quite beautiful, Darren requested to meet Ning. A representative from the company contacted her and a meeting was arranged.
Ning had never dated a foreigner. She had not attended the socials as, she was keen to explain, she is not a lady who enjoys such settings, and neither was she confident in English.
At the first meeting a translator was present. Everything went well and Darren and Ning agreed to meet again.
At that second meeting they were on their own. Apps on their respective mobile phones were used to translate the conversation.
Darren had had failed relationships with Asian women before which probably explains why he insisted on going to Ning's room. He was frank with her, he wanted to check if she was hiding a Thai boyfriend or husband. There was nothing there to suggest cohabitation with a Thai dude.
Love blossomed and Darren was happy with this Thai darling. But as good as things were, Darren – or Dazza to his mates – could not stick around forever. He had business commitments back in Australia that he had to get back to.
Darren would go back to Australia, attend to his business and return to see Ning as soon as he could.
Darren wanted Ning to be comfortable so he left an ATM card with her. He needn't have. Ning was not jobless. Rather, she worked in a restaurant where she earned 13,000 baht per month plus tips, enough to live a comfortable, if not luxurious life
in the outskirts of Bangkok.
In March, Darren travelled to Thailand to be with his beloved. Initially Ning stayed with Darren at his hotel but as he planned to stay in Thailand with her for 2 months, he moved in with Ning to her small Thai-style room in a part of town few foreigners reside.
It was the hot season and Ning's room did not have air-conditioning. It was brutal for the beefy bogan with this year's hot season seeing the longest heat wave in Thailand in 60 years. In April there were nights the temperature barely cooled off and the mercury was in the mid 30s at 10:00 PM.
Somehow the happy couple coped with the heat and plans were made for their future. The age gap – Darren is twice Ning's age – did not bother either of them and they agreed to marry. Both wanted children. They would marry, move to Australia
and have a baby.
Pre-wedding photos were taken and posted across social media, Ning announcing to the world that she was no longer available.
Ning was your regular middle-class Thai who had come to the big city from the provinces. She was what some refer to as a good girl. She had never been married and had no children. This was all new to her.
Agreeing they wanted children, protection was dispensed with. The inevitable happened right away and hospital tests confirmed that Ning was pregnant.
That should have been the happiest day of their life. Maybe it was. But unhappy days were to follow…
Darren and Ning found themselves arguing over small things. According to Ning, Darren had a very high sex drive and wanted sex many times a day. He had the sex drive of an A-list porn star. Ning complained about morning sickness and sex was the last thing she felt like.
Darren had planned to stay in Thailand for two months and they would put in a visa application so Ning could go to Australia.
One Friday they had a big argument. On the Saturday things were ok. On the Sunday, Ning came home from work to find her room empty. Darren had gone. Darren left a note for Ning.
In the note, Darren said that he was bored staying in Ning's room alone and the heat was too much for him to handle. He needed some time out and was going to Ko Samui for a week. He said that his telephone would be off as he needed some time to himself. He had taken all of his belongings with him as he feared Ning might get angry and throw them out. He declared his love for Ning and would see her in a week.
Ning told me about how things had been before Darren left. The argument on Friday aside, she felt that everything had been good, Darren's extreme sex drive aside.
Ning tried calling Darren, but his phone was off. She sent him texts, but there was no reply. So pregnant Ning waited patiently for Darren to return.
A week passed and there was no word from Darren. The Sunday after Darren left her, Ning went to sleep for the 8th night alone.
Ning started to worry. Why hadn't Darren been in contact? Why couldn't she contact him? She kept trying to contact him but couldn't. The phone was permanently turned off. Emails weren't replied to. And the security settings on Darren's Facebook page were set to the maximum so he could not be reached there either.
One week became two weeks, and still there had been no contact from Darren. Ning was now beside herself with grief. Had something happened to Darren? Ning didn't know what to do. At that point someone referred Ning to me.
Ning and I chatted on the phone. She sent me photos of her and Darren together as well as various documents of his that she had copied, everything from his travel itinerary to pages from a diary to other personal documents. She sent me photos of the odd
looking couple out about, the beefy bogan and his pretty. A greater mismatch looks-wise is hard to imagine.
When I saw the photos of the sack of shit I told her what I thought. This guy's a no good bogan. He probably got scared when you became pregnant and that has caused him to do a runner. You won't be hearing from him. He's gone. There is a chance he has had an accident and is somehow incapacitated, but unless that is the case, he has gone. That caused a waterfall of tears but she soon recovered and her composure regained, she asked me to contact Darren on her behalf. I agreed.
I sent this email to Darren.
How are you doing? I hope you have enjoyed your time in Thailand.
I am writing on behalf of Miss Ning, your girlfriend in Bangkok, who you left approximately 2 weeks ago with a note saying that you were going to Ko Samui and you would return a week later.
Miss Ning is highly distressed because you have not returned to her as you said you would. Ever since you left Ning you have not been contactable, which is very upsetting for her because, as you know, she is pregnant.
This email is a gentle request for you to make contact with Ning immediately. Can you please respond to this email ASAP as Ning is, as already stated, highly distressed.
The email was resent a few days later and subsequently a longer email was sent with much the same message. Darren never replied. I guess Darren hoped both I and Ning would just go away.
I toyed with the idea of contacting Darren's relatives but speaking with Ning about that we decided it was best to sit on that. We could do that at a later date, if necessary.
When Ning asked if that was it and he was gone, I said no. I explained that in Australia child support is a serious issue and if she was to pursue him there could be money in it for her. He was a business owner, after all. Ning perked up at this, until I explained that while it was doable, it was not straightforward and would require time, money, perseverance and maybe even a lawyer. I felt the best thing for her at this stage was to look after herself and stay healthy for the sake of the baby. I would be happy to point her in the right direction when the baby was born, if that is what she wished to pursue.
Ning would continue to work and return to her home province, Mahasarakham, when it was time to give birth. Ning accepted that Darren was gone. Their relationship was over. Ning would become just another Thai lady who had fallen pregnant to a man who declared his love to her, only to run away before the baby was born. The difference with most of these cases was that this time the father was a farang.
Why had Darren done this? After all, he had come to Thailand to find a wife. He had met an attractive lady who was keen to get married and she had announced this on social media. She was pregnant with his baby. She was keen to go to Australia. Yet after all of this he abandoned her, cutting off all contact with her.
I wanted to do more to help Ning and while I didn't wish to blame anyone, I considered the role of the company which introduced Darren and Ning. Maybe I have been watching too many issues of Law And Order where the plaintiff looks for the weak link who legal action could be brought against.
From A Foreign Affair's website it is not entirely clear just what the company does. Its website describes itself as a love tour agency. Not an introduction agency and not a sex tour group, but a love tour operator.
Introduction agencies introduce men to marriage-minded woman. The agency typically has a catalogue of available women and recommends a lady based on what the man is looking for. The most professional introductions agencies provide a comprehensive service from start to finish, holding the guy's hand through everything from the initial introduction, to a representative accompanying the couple on dates to provide translation assistance and explaining cultural differences, right through to helping negotiate the dowry and the visa application process so the lady can relocate to the man's homeland. You don't hear much about introductions agencies these days and the bottom has fallen out of the industry. With internet dating sites, most men feel that can do it all themselves.
Introductions agencies are very different to sex tour groups. Sex tours are where a small group of between half a dozen and a dozen men sign up for a 7 – 10 day tour and are led through Bangkok and Pattaya's nightlife areas. Despite Thailand's once sordid reputation, organised sex tours have never been that popular.
The company which introduced Darren and Ning, A Foreign Affair, is neither an introduction agency nor a sex tour operator. Rather, it operates love tours. I guess the easiest way to think of it is like a cross between an introduction agency and a sex tour group. Men from around the world fly in, are met by guides and introduced to single, marriage-minded ladies. It's similar to an introduction agency but the service is less personalized and it's more social.
I wondered about the operator's involvement. Were they matching sweet, innocent and naive Thai ladies with Western sexual predators? From his photos and Ning's description, Darren did not strike me as the nicest guy in the world. Physically, he was exactly the type you expect to sign up for a love tour. So what measures does A Foreign Affair take to ensure that all parties involved are genuine?
I sent an email to A Foreign Affair Thailand. It wasn't answered.
I decided to seek the opinion of a man who used to run a world-famous introduction company, who wishes to remain nameless. I described the situation to him and outlined my concerns about such introductions services. He was amazingly candid.
In the case of introductions agencies, he admitted that most outfits do zero checks on men. It is the man who pays (most females don't pay anything). The agency could be signing up an axe murderer and would never know – and in many cases they never meet the customer until he arrives in Thailand, payment for the service long since deposited in to the company's account.
With females, a very basic check is carried out. Typically, a Thai female member of staff would go over a questionnaire with ladies keen to sign up. It is not a check per se, but building up a profile with such basic questions as her age, height, weight, likes etc. Agencies rely on the interviewing employee's judgment as to whether the lady is suitable to meet a foreign man, or even whether she is genuinely relationship-minded.
The truth is few are ever turned away. It's all about making the sale.
Many foreigners know that Thailand feels like the land of false promises, where what you pay for and what you get can be very different. Darren may have been expecting to meet women who looked like those in his favourite porn flicks and would be just as willing to acquiesce to his wishes. Ning may have thought she would be meeting a cross between Brad Pitt and Bill Gates.
So it didn't work out between Darren and Ning. Ning is pregnant with Darren's unborn baby and Darren has disappeared. It's a story that has been told in Thailand thousands of times. But at the same time it's really a quite horrible thing that Darren did and I found myself hating the guy.
In Darren's near illegible scrawl he said that he had taken his belongings with him as he was scared Ning might throw them out. He also said that he had not told her he was going because she would not let him go. What was that all about? What was I missing? Why would he say that of this sweet-looking, softly-spoken Thai lady carrying his unborn child?
I'd tried to contact Darren. He had refused to respond. We had decided not to contact his relatives. Short of travelling to his location and knocking on his door, he was gone. My involvement was over. I told Ning there was nothing more I could do. I wished her well and told her that if, in time, she wished to pursue Darren for child support, I would be happy to point her in the right direction.
Out of the blue I would be contacted by a third party in Bangkok, someone I had known for some time, someone I trust implicitly. This person would be an intermediary speaking on Darren's behalf.
The intermediary was a neutral and not a friend of Darren's. I understood most of the situation, but I did not know it all. He was able to fill in the gaps.
This version of events was very, very different to Ning's.
The way they Darren and Ning had met, and the way the relationship developed was exactly as Ning had described it. Yes, Darren had agreed to marry Ning and yes, they had agreed to have a baby. That much was all true. And yes, Ning was pregnant and they had been to the hospital and had the ultrasound to prove it. But the details as I understood them – as they had been explained to me by Ning – were very different.
Ning had pressured Darren in to getting the pre-wedding photos taken. That had not been his idea and the very concept was unknown to him. He wanted to wait a while before they got married but before he knew it they had been posted online. Ning fell pregnant and Darren recognizes, in retrospect, that that was much too fast.
Ning had wanted to get married quickly and Darren was like, hold on a moment, this is all going too fast. Ning became manipulative to get her way.
Initially Ning threatened self-harming. When that didn't work she threatened to drink household cleaning liquids and try to kill the unborn baby. One night Darren woke up to Ning holding a knife over him, threatening to kill him.
Those threats, as bad as they were, were not what concerned Darren most. Darren feared Ning would go to the police and claim he had raped her. There was much evidence of a relationship from all of the photos together to the pre-wedding photos, plenty to show that the relationship was genuine, but foreigners in any dispute with a Thai in Thailand, even if they are absolutely in the right, are quite sensible to be concerned about the Thai Police getting involved.
The sweet-looking Thai lady was a psycho!
Ning's comments about Darren behaving like a porn star were refuted. As soon as she became pregnant Ning refused to so much as kiss Darren, telling him it would cause her to lose the baby.
Ning was not the sweet and innocent girl she had made herself out to be at all. She had made copies of Darren's documents, his diary, contacts lists and various other information. As I learned more about Ning and looked back at everything with fresh eyes I saw a cunning and manipulative woman willing to do whatever it took to get what she wanted.
When Darren left a note saying he was going to Ko Samui for a week, he was just buying time. Darren did go to the airport, but he didn't take a flight to Samui. He flew back to Australia. Ning's crazed actions and threats had caused him to put self-preservation first. He was on the plane to the safety of home.
Darren is not the deadbeat Dad I had made him out to be. He is keen to know what happens with the baby and would like to make a positive contribution to the baby, but is not sure how to go about that.
Probably each of Darren and Ning entered the relationship with misguided ideas and unrealistic expectations. First impressions had Darren as the bad guy, but ultimately he was guilty of nothing more than being naive.
Ning and Darren become just another failed Thai / Farang relationship. Their child will be just another child brought up in Thailand by distant relatives in the provinces as the mother and father get on with their respective lives.
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken at Dusit Zoo (Bangkok's zoo) and NOT Lumpini Park as many thought.
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 – Not everyone wants to go home.
It is interesting that the escorts you interviewed all share the objective of going home. I find that interesting because my wife comes from a village in Buriram, has a mother and large family there. But she has little interest in going back, and generally finds 3 – 5 days is the most she can handle there now, for a whole range of reasons. There was another girl in her village (who lived next door) who married a German guy. After many years away (and a divorce), she built a real nice house and decided to return to the village. But she also could not handle it – and now the huge house sits empty and she is back in Germany. So the desire to return home probably is more for those selling their bodies in Bangkok every night than for those that have made a real life for themselves elsewhere.
Bangkok losing its charm.
Checkinn99 closing is terrible news. That's the last of Sukhumvit character after Washington Square went and nowhere else would really work would it. Bugger, better go down in the next few weeks. So many old entertainment places have gone, not round there but music places, replaced with modern rubbish full of TVs and all the character of a car park. Bangkok has really lost its charm over the past ten years.
Time for a new entertainment area.
On the wake of ever increasing rent in all the established night venues, I think the time is ripe to get a new venue a little away from those prime properties. I used to think that Onut would have the next Soi 4, before they demolished the Onut Market and beer bars next to the BTS station. Any place a little away from touristy areas but close to a BTS station would be a good candidate for such a venue as I believe.
How much do you need?
Very good article about the agency girls and what they consider enough savings to live on. I'm with you, their perceived amounts are way too low. Many financial gurus recommend that it's “safe” – as in not outliving your savings – to with draw 4% of your capital per year. Some girls mentioned 30,000 baht as their monthly financial requirements. Well, 30,000 x 12 = 360,000 baht; then 25 x 360,000 = 9 million, the savings that they should, in theory, need to fund their lives until they pass on. With all the family financial demands on these girls, not to mention their own ideas of how they should live I would even question if 9 million baht is enough!
Changing expats, changing Stickman.
Having lived overseas for more years than I care to remember, including in Bangkok, it seems obvious to me that the average expat and his / her expectations have changed somewhat. 20 years ago it would have been his expectations and not his / her as more and more females have joined the ranks of expats. Years ago an overseas posting usually came with a certain hardship in often rough and austere living conditions with brief R&R periods in certain capital cities where the guy's would blow off steam, drinking and looking for female company. This is no longer the case as banking, insurance – white collar jobs in essence – are now populated by expats worldwide, and of course the ease in which we navigate this planet of ours now. Also to a certain extent the availability of expat women who have come in to their own in the last 10 – 15 years. The politically correct world in which we live in now would look down on most people availing themselves of a short time assignation, the exploitation of it all! My early days were spent living and working in extremely harsh conditions in an all-male environment with short breaks to avail ourselves of as much beer and pussy as we could get, given this all male testosterone world it was expected that all behaved in this fashion! However, things have changed a lot and the use of prostitutes to most 20-something expats would be a total no-no and greeted with derision! As such I have watched with interest your column change, less about mongering and more about the actual day to day pain in the ass problems that the average expat faces such as visa problems etc. No, the sex side will not disappear, but even that evolves with the changing attitudes and wants and needs of the market forces, or dies a death as many bars have. I see your column changing more, and I for one welcome the changes and the extra effort on non-monger activities, but still including news and gossip on the monger scene. Change is inevitable, prostitution is inevitable, the way it is approached changes and evolves, as has your column. Keep up the good work!
The future of Stickman.
I was thinking about your site and hints you are re-thinking everything. It struck me that a great asset of the Stickman site that is under-promoted at the moment, your fantastic archive of bargirl & bar milieu photography. Your terrific photos are a very valuable & enjoyable archive of a world that is perhaps fast fading away. The front page does not adequately present or give a good gateway to the photo pleasure inside. And I think that could be a key to the site's future. Many people enjoy the eye candy. I have often viewed with an Asian female over my shoulder and they love the bar photos, a window in to a world women in general find intriguing. Certainly, you should write less often or regularly and perhaps even downscale the bar news to just the facts – openings, closings, remodellings, renamings, new management, with the cheery photos the bars themselves supply to you. But the front page should be a gateway into the wonderful, historic photo collection inside. As you re-do the site, my thought is the photo archive should be highlighted. This is a big one-time re-organisation job but once done the site would largely pilot itself. And you could add text on a more relaxed or irregular or impulsive schedule as it suits you. It strikes me that your photo collection is a gold mine which is now a bit laborious to access easily. Make that access easier – organise by area – then bar – including the closed and long-closed and name-changed ones – and I think you have a web treasure for the world.
Girl Of The Week
Escort, exclusive with NewBangkokEscort.com
It's bleak in the bar biz in Bangkok right now with low season trade even worse than usual, so some Patpong and Nana bar bosses tell me. Angelwitch used to kick off their famous shows with Dave The Rave announcing on the microphone, "Ladies and gentlemen, you're sitting in the right place at the right time…." One Bangkok bar owner intimated to me this week that things are so difficult now that if Dave was still on the microphone it would be, "You're sitting in the right place at the wrong time!"
Patpong soi 2 was plunged further in to darkness this week with the bar on the corner opposite the new Dragon's Head (formerly G's) that was run by the King's Group closed. That means that both sides of Black Pagoda are shutters down after Glamour closed permanently some months ago.
When Hooters arrived on Soi Nana some months back, many of the regular crowd said that it wouldn't work, intimating that the venue was not fitting with the theme of the soi and too expensive (presumably, for them). Maybe they had a point, with word that Hooters no longer honours the 20% discount cards that were distributed to punters. The discount card can now only be used by large groups.
Long-running Soi Nana institution Jool's will close up in the next month or two, the reason cited a big rent increase and an increase in key money. Word is that Jool's will relocate out to somewhere near Khao San Road.
Rival Soi Nana bar Chequers which is located just a few shophouses along from Jool's is said to have been offered a similar deal. Unlike Jool's, Chequers will swallow the increase and continue trading on Soi Nana.
For those on a budget, cheap beers can be had at The Strip on Friday night with all local beers including the likes of Heineken and Beer Lao just 99 baht, all night long. It's nice to see a bar including decent beers on special and not limiting discounted beers to cheap drops like Leo and Chang.
A new happy hour is being introduced with genuine happy hour prices in the largest bar in Nana Plaza, Bangkok Bunnies. In a move that has some bar owners in the plaza displeased – with some even going as far as calling the boss of Bunnies "crazy" and "an idiot" – 49 baht will be the price for Leo and Chang from 7:00 – 9:00 PM. The owner of Bunnies says prices had to come down and acknowledges that they had reached levels that caused some punters to go elsewhere. And, in his words, the never-ending excuse used by some bar bosses about high rents necessitating price increases is bullshit. All you need to do is sell more drinks. If anything, he argues, a rent increase should cause owners to consider lowering drink prices. He is aware that introducing such low happy hour prices might not work but he is going to give it a go nonetheless. He is also aware that he could become the black sheep amongst bar owners in the plaza. All power to him, I say, and do support Bangkok Bunnies!
Cocktail Club in Soi Cowboy, AKA Tilac Junior, has been renamed Crazy Cat.
For football fans following this year's European Championships, Soi Nana's best beer bar – Stumble Inn – is a great spot to catch the action. Throughout the tournament, pints of draft Tiger will be just 100 baht during each and every game. Every punter wearing their nation's jersey while watching the game will get a bottle of local beer free. And Stumble Inn's free-to-enter 'Score Predictor' could see you nursing 3 litres of Chang Beer for simply correctly predicting the score of any game. Stumble Inn is a lively spot where you can watch the football and take in the madness of Soi Nana at the same time. While you're there, grab a Bangkok Funcard from the bar which gets you a further 10% off your food and drink at Stumble Inn as well as other selected bars in Bangkok.
Further to the CheckInn99 files, the venue is looking at options to relocate. Chris achieved wonders turning around the old venue in just 6 years and have some exciting plans. Any interested parties who would like to be part of their future can email the Chris at : [email protected]
CheckInn99 lives on so put this in your diaries – a special movie screening of the award-winning family adventure / romantic drama Patong Girl will be screened at CheckInn99 next Sunday, June 19th at 7 PM. The movie takes viewers from the nightlife of Patong to the North-East of Thailand and has been described as an hilarious adventure fans of Thailand will relate. Entry is 250 baht includes a welcome drink and popcorn. Patpong Girl will be the last full feature film screened at CheckInn99 at its current location before it relocates.
One thing I noticed when in town recently was the continuing trend of working girls using a working name i.e. not using their given nickname as their fore-sisters traditionally have. Why do they all choose a working name that just screams hooker? It's the same with escort services which give the girls a working name of the sort that you typically only find in the porn flicks. Names like “Diamond”, “Tiffany” and “Amber” just scream hooker and kill any notion of it being anything other than a hooker experience.
Thais are stuck in their ways and reluctant to reconsider the ideas of outsiders. It's hard to think of many changes in the behaviour of Thais. They are more likely to form a queue where 20 years ago they seldom did, but I can't think of a lot of other changes in the average Thai's general behaviour. But one area where I am convinced there will be change has to do with the way they look at old things. While the average Thai likes all that is shiny and new, some Thais are acknowledging that the rapid development of Bangkok means the destruction of historic places and parts of the city's heritage. Forget the historic bars and nightspots which we foreigners know about – they will mean little to the average Thai. There are old markets, shophouses and historic places that are being destroyed to make way for modern developments, especially in the old parts of the city. There are Thais who are fighting against these developments in the hope of preserving the city's history and I really do think this movement is gaining momentum. It becomes a question of how much of the city's heritage will be destroyed by the time the masses acknowledge that such destruction comes at a great cost.
The Thai consulate in Brisbane was long known as the most user-friendly Thai mission in the world. With former consul Bill Dunn in charge, visas were issued on the spot and getting even the holy grail of visas, the non-immigrant B multiple entry, was a piece of cake. A disagreement with the founder of the ThaiVisa forum after the two had had a commercial relationship in which dodgy visas were procured and they each profited handsomely from the situation which later resulted in threats caused the consul to resign and that was the end of the mission. A new consulate has opened recently in the Brisbane CBD and details can be found here.
In the old days I could never get my head around the way so many Americans would fly to Bangkok, stay just a week and then fly back home. They'd leave the States on a Friday night or Saturday, arrive in Bangkok some 24+ hours later, spend a few days there, shoot down to Pattaya for a few days, and then fly out the following weekend and be back in the office on the Monday morning. Flying from Auckland to Bangkok is a relatively easy 11 hours, yet it takes me days to get over that. I just don't know how the Americans coped with such long journeys. Seldom these days do I hear of Americans visiting Thailand for such short periods, in fact the number of single male Americans aged from late 20s up to around 60 odd travelling to Thailand seems to have dropped off markedly. The single male American used to be the most common profile of visitors in the late '90s and around the turn of the century. Not these days.
One of the common themes in general emails over the past few years is a definite resentment towards expats in Thailand moving to other countries in the region from the expats already in those countries, all of which is amusing given some of those unhappy about the arrival of former Thailand expats once called Thailand home themselves! Expats come and expats go and while the number of expats moving to Thailand exceeds the number leaving, the number leaving is not insignificant. The major beneficiaries of expats leaving Thailand are the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam. It's curious that some expats in those places don't like the idea of those who once called Thailand home moving to their location and it seems particularly acute amongst expats in Vietnam who once lived in Thailand. What's that all about?
Quote of the week comes from a reader, "With all the reverence Thais have for their elderly, it surprises me that they don't have more heritage sites."
Reader's story of the week comes from The Pretender, "There's Nobody More Dangerous Than A Free Man".
A 40-year old Brit is arrested in Bangkok after police search him and find 500 grams of cocaine in his backpack.
A Bangkok soapy massage parlour that had a following amongst both Thais and foreigners was raided this week by police with the details of payments made paid to certain people listed.
The age old problem of tourist safety on boats in Thailand got more press this week.
A Brit on Walking Street found to be on overstay is deported and blacklisted from returning to Thailand for 5 years.
In Pattaya, a Thai lady jumps from the balcony of a hotel room after discovering her boyfriend's infidelity.
Tourist safety in Thailand gets a swipe from long-time Bangkok Post writer, Alan Dawson.
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: I'm sure this has been asked before and I missed it so I'll ask again. My Thai wife will soon be eligible for Australian citizenship. How will this affect her rights as a Thai citizen, and most importantly her right to own land in Thailand?
Sunbelt Legal responds: Section 22 of the Nationality Act states: 'A person of Thai nationality who has been naturalized as an alien, or who has renounced Thai nationality, or whose Thai nationality has been revoked, shall lose Thai nationality.” So, according to the strict interpretation and enforcement of this law, any Thai person (man or woman) who marries a foreign national and acquires her husband's citizenship has technically lost her Thai citizenship. It is important to note that she would need to inform the Thai government of this change for it to be enforced. Should the marriage end in death or divorce, the Thai national could then regain Thai citizenship.
Question 2: I have been coming to Thailand from Australia for around 9 years, always staying between 10 and 21 days and visiting anywhere from 5 to 8 times a year. Recently I have been coming more often and in April had my first full 30-day stay. Not once in 9 years have I stayed even 1 day past the expiry date of the entry stamp. I have never bothered applying for a visa in advance as holding an Australian passport I get the automatic 30 days on arrival. Last Thursday I arrived for another 30-day stay and was told "Sorry, you cannot enter. You come many times". Yes? So? I come and I go home. "Why you can come many times?" Because I am the boss of my own company and can have many holidays. After seeing this was going nowhere I asked for his supervisor who told me I can only enter 3 times a year on the automatic 30 days. When I asked how I could know this and where on the embassy website it says this, his female colleague who was listening in laughed at me and said, "You don't read website, you ask us here!" Yeah, a bit hard to do from Australia… The supervisor finally relented but told me I would no longer be able to enter on the 30-day automatic visa waiver but would need to apply for a tourist visa in Australia before I come. It was interesting to note that it wasn't the original Immigration officer who flagged me, it was on his computer. He happily showed me the screen to prove it wasn't his fault. So, what can you tell me about these new regulations?
Sunbelt Legal responds: One of the steps the Thai government has taken to filter tourists entering the country includes the adoption of an advanced immigration screening system.
This system works with immigration offices and airline carriers to screen air passengers before they arrive into Thailand to see whether they are already on any blacklists. Any matches will alert immigration officials.
It appears the repeated number of trips in and out of the country may have raised a red flag here. These new regulations were created to encourage foreigners to secure a visa in advance from a Royal Thai Embassy prior to their arrival. The new rule will also limit the amount of back-to-back visa runs being made by foreigners to extend their stay. Your best course of action is to obtain a tourist visa. An alternative would be a sponsored non-immigrant B visa should you consider seriously doing some business in Thailand, such as sourcing supplies for your Australian business.
Question 3: A friend tells me that Thailand law requires that an autopsy be performed on every foreigner who dies in Thailand. Is this correct?
Sunbelt Legal responds: Unless the person dies in a hospital, the first thing that occurs is that the police get involved. They take note of the facts, secure the person's belongings, and prepare a police report. They also inform the Embassy or Consulate of the deceased.
Second, a death report is issued. This is done by the hospital where the person died or if the body was taken there. Otherwise, the death report is issued by a mortuary or forensic centre.
Third, a death certificate is issued by the local amphur (District Office) based on the report.
Unless the cause of death is very clear, any foreigner who dies in Thailand will have an autopsy performed at the request of the police.
What to do with the Stick collection of Thailand nightlife photography?
The last email in today's emails to Stick section touches on something that has been on my mind for some time, but on which I have never really reached a conclusion. I enjoy photography, obviously, and have long thought about doing something with all the nightlife photos I have taken over the years. I've just never been able to come up with a way to present the photos in a way I liked. The idea would be to provide a history of the bars in the time I have been photographing them. It would be nice to do something with the photos already on this site and add to that collection with others that have never been published. But what is the best way to present them? I just don't know. Use a commercial service? Do they need commentary tying them together? What would be the best way to create something that is actually historic? Honestly, I just don't know, but if you have any thoughts about it, I'd love to hear them!