It was nice to take a break from the column for a couple of weeks and not even think about Thailand. But as the newsbytes started piling up I had to publish them before they became old news or start from scratch, hence it was time to publish again.
There is no opening piece today. The opening piece takes a lot of time to put together – the recent article on the American in Bangkok who ripped off his employer before fleeing the country took around 25 hours to put together. In the past there have been times I have felt forced to write something as an opener when really I had little to say, and the result may not have been great. Looking forward, when I feel like that I'll just leave the opening spot empty.
Where was this photo taken?
The photo in the last published column was taken inside Fatty's burger bar on the Asoke-Din Daeng Road, about a 10-minute walk from the Rama 9 / Fortune Town intersection. This week's is exceptionally difficult and I doubt anyone will get it right…see if you can prove me wrong!
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 – Please use English!
There have been a few times in the past where I've witnessed farangs butchering the Thai language and the person they were speaking with asked them to "Please use English". Each time I've had a good laugh while at the same time thinking that if that ever happened to me I'd curl up and die right there. Well this past week I had to go to Pattaya Immigration to get my time extended by another 90 days. I also needed a few documents photocopied so I decided to use the shop right next door to the immigration office. As I walked into the photocopy shop, I blurted out in my best Thai that I needed both sides of my ID card photocopied, and before I could I could say anything else it happened. The girl in the shop stopped me from speaking and asked if we could please continue in English. At first I got defensive, thinking, "Oh come on, my Thai isn't THAT bad." But then I started thinking that she obviously didn't understand me, so I either said something wrong or I wasn't speaking clearly. I really wanted to ask what the problem was, but the entire situation threw me off-guard and I was stunned. I decided to just keep my mouth shut and continue our conversation in English as requested. I did notice that the girl spoke English at a high level and so I asked, "How is it that you speak English so well?" She hesitated for a few seconds and then cracked a slight smile as she replied, "I'm from the Philippines."
No fan of Thai women.
I wouldn't marry a Thai woman, from ANY background, even if she was an educated stunner who loves to cook, and was the last woman on earth. They grow up learning to look like submissive little kittens while being actively deceptive toward men. It's a cultural imprint. And the concept of "face" makes them incapable of accepting blame for their own bad behaviour. Some of the cultural norms they learn growing up are diametrically opposed to those we learn in the West. While I'm sure there are many great relationships out there between Miss Noi and Khun Farang, I wouldn't bet my own life's happiness on it. The cards are stacked too heavily against it and I've known too many Thai women. It's time for men to stop eroticitizing them as submissive LBFMs, and see them for what they are – potential threats to a man's long-term happiness. The advice I've used for more than 16 years still applies – leave your heart tucked neatly in your dresser drawer before you leave for Thailand.
The changing appearance of Thai women.
Looking at the photos of the ladies in your weekly at EQ / ex-Nana Disco, all had coloured hair and coloured contact lenses. A topic which needs to be mentioned is the changing appearance of young Thai women both in the bar industry and general population. When I arrived in the '90s, the girls (and I am not a monger at all) all had natural Thai looks i.e. long black hair, brown eyes and were generally slim. A HUGE disappointment to many of my friends is how Thai women have, basically, ruined their natural looks. Dyed orange hair and coloured contact lenses may be fashionable in terms of K-pop etc, but they are completely altering the way they look. I have students like this and although they are generally still nice and Thai in manner, I often look at them and think "I have NO idea what you actually look like!" With orange hair, blue contacts and lots of make-up, one has no idea what their natural look is like. I know many may like this look. It is really not an observation of disappointment or disapproval, just a simple observation of how many young Thai women have significantly altered their natural appearance recently. I believe it is crying out to be written about. If you look at any photos from 10+ years ago the girls were, for better or worse, very Thai looking. Many now look something bordering on 'alien' or robotic. Look carefully at the photos from your EQ article – it's very difficult to know how they really look. I will not comment about their increase in size / fatness as that has already been commented on.
Not my name, not me.
I think you have to think of working girls and their working names as using a "stage name" so they can pretend that it is not really them that is actually working as a hooker. And, it is not just porn star names like Claudia, Organ, Beauty, and Rainbow et al that are being used, but also innocuous other common names like Ploy, Pu, Nam, and Ooy et al, which are not as noticeably "stage names". Any name that is NOT their real nickname will do…and the farther away from a similarity to their own real nickname, the better. That's so when they leave the business, it was never really them (in their own minds) that worked as a hooker.
Amazing Thai police.
I just had a funny experience with a taxi driver. I agree they are worse than ever at the moment. I was with my Thai business manager and my friend from Philippines (I am sick of Thai girls) going to the ThaiFex trade show around 10 AM on a Wednesday trying to get a cab to the Impact Centre which is a long way away. We were at the entrance to Sukhumvit soi 6 where I stay. We tried about a dozen cabs but nobody would take us so we started walking down soi 4 towards Sukhumvit where we may get better luck. You won't believe what happens next. A tall, skinny cop with mirror shades comes along on a bike, starts talking to my Thai manager loudly, pulls over to the gutter, jumps off, puts his hand on his gun and walks across to our side of the street. My Thai is ok but I was starting to think we were going to get searched or something as he looked a bit fed up. He flags down a cab for us, with his hand still on his holstered gun, opened the door and told the driver we are good business people and he needs to help us get to our trade show on time and that Thai people need to work together to make a better Thailand. What a legend! I gave him the biggest smile and wai I could, we jumped in the cab and an hour later we were at the show! It really made my day and restored a little of my faith in Thailand. Not all cops are bad and he didn't expect anything from us. There was never any hint of that. He just wanted to help and make an impact and I am really happy and grateful for that. Amazing Thailand!
Taking indifference to a new level.
I live in Thailand and travel to and in a number of countries in Asia (Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, China, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam). Due to the nature of my job, we can spend 2 or 3 hours in a car with local colleagues. It never ceases to amaze me the difference between Thais and all the other countries. In a car there is nothing much else to do but talk with each other. In all the countries I go to I have real conversations with my colleagues. They are interested and engaging and they know what is happening in the world. They are inquisitive and curious about who you are and what you do and what your life is all about and what you know. It's basically just normal conversation and interaction. By stark contrast, when you are with Thais in a car (or any situation), they have absolutely nothing to say, will give "hmmm" as an answer without committing either way. They never ask you anything about anything, and they seem to have absolutely no idea about affairs even in Thailand, let alone elsewhere. They have a complete lack of curiosity and seem completely uninterested in learning anything. I long ago gave up on having any conversation or asking them the most basic of questions. It's a complete waste of time in my opinion. The more I stay here the more I despise the Thais for their total apathy to everything. From what I understand, the situation regarding conversation and engaging the Thais does not change even if you speak good Thai.
Got my flight booked for a 6-month stay. Prepared forms, photos, money for the multiple-entry tourist visa. For 17 years, the Los Angeles consulate had not wanted to see travel or banking documents. This year they say they are under orders from the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington to carry out strict enforcement. So far no problem. But then I'm hit with rule that for the METV you need $7,000 in the bank; it's $700 for single-entry. OK, I make some moves, borrow a little (a lot) and it's there. But no, it has to be in there for six months. If I had that kind of money lying around I'd be vacationing in New Zealand.
The entrance to CheckInn99, between sois 5 and 7.
Bangkok's longest continuously running nightspot, CheckInn99 closed this past weekend, having been given just a month's notice by the landlord. It is hoped that a new location can be found for the venue. Hopefully some good news will be confirmed very soon.
The 50-plus ladyboys on staff at the Check-In Bar (a completely different bar to CheckInn99) are moving again. A new location has been found on Sukhumvit soi 10 for the last functioning occupant of what was known as The Tunnel, the back alley connecting Sukhumvit sois 5 and 7. The new location for the Check-In Bar is in the first sub-soi off soi 10 which is on the left, just after you enter from the main Sukhumvit Road. The lounge format will continue with both indoor and outside bars and pool tables when the new location opens on August 6th.
The multi-storey building going up next to what was The Tunnel has what looks like lots of small booths for vendors to operate from, almost like a miniature Mahboonkrong. It is understood that it will be themed as a Marrakesh style market. Ain't it funny how there's a sense of loss with the demise of The Tunnel while at the same time, when it was operating most of us thought it was grotty, seedy and to be avoided!
Tomorrow, Monday July 4th, is Independence Day in the U.S. and many American-themed bars and restaurants all over Bangkok will throw a party to celebrate. In Nana Plaza, Bangkok Bunnies is showcasing America cuisine with 29-baht hot dogs from Bunnies' new kitchen. They will be matched with fine American beer, Budweiser. The party starts Monday at 8 PM.
Most naughty bars have similar drinks lists with local beers and a mix of cheap spirits along with decent name brands like Jack Daniels, Johnnie Walker, Bombay Sapphire etc. Few naughty bars stock quality beers and it's not easy to find a bar that has both pretty girls and quality drinks. The Strip in Patpong now stocks a couple of Belgian beers including Palm Royale, which are even served in the proper glass. They have this one Belgian beer which is served in a glass attached to a wooden handle so your hand never actually touches the glass (and causes the beer to prematurely come up to room temperature). Prices are competitive – while quality German / Belgian beers typically cost 250 – 280 baht around town, The Strip stocks Kwak @ 220 baht, Palm Royale @ 200 baht and Limbourse Witte @ 180 baht.
The walls are white outside Billboard with the bar's original advertising material and signage removed. Ditto for the bar next door. Expect new signs to go up soon as Billboard joins other bars in the plaza sporting new signs as they all fight for what seems like a smaller number of customers.
The owners of Billboard have acquired the long-troubled, cavernous bar directly opposite, Jail Birdz. The last report I have from Jail Birdz is about 10 days old – it was said to be slow with sad, bored-looking girls. There is reason for optimism though given what the owners of Billboard did to turn that bar around and every reason to be confident that they could build Jail Birdz up to be something special. One cannot say resurrect as Jail Birdz has yet to hit the high notes in its relatively short life.
A change is in store on the top floor of Nana Plaza in the bar next to Billboard that was once known as Bubbles. It has been taken over by the owner of Bangkok Bunnies and will be renamed Music Garden. It will not reopen as a gogo bar but will be rethemed as a live music bar.
Just along from Billboard, the storage room / office in the back left corner of the top floor of the plaza has been completely removed, effectively widening the walkway.
I understand it's nothing new, but I hear there is an Oreo cookies show at Spanky's where customers are invited to eat Oreos off the ladies. Spicing up your sex life is all good and well but I never thought bringing food in to the bedroom was the way to go about it.
Still in Nana Plaza, some girls who used to call Dollhouse home are now dancing at Bangkok Bunnies.
From the team behind both of the Club Electric Blue bars and Dollhouse Pattaya comes a new bar with an old name to Pattaya. G Spot will open on Pattaya's Walking Street this coming Tuesday, July 5th.
A bar industry figure who is a long-time fixture in Pattaya wishes to remain anonymous when he says that trade in Sin City at this time is just dreadful. Many are crying that it's the worst low season they have seen, which should be no great surprise with the last high season said to be the worst in memory.
Dave The Rave has gone up in the world and is now the IT marketing guru for the Stumble Inn Group.
IT marketing jobs have popped up in the bar industry in the last few years and present an opportunity to those who fancy working in the industry but don't wish to invest in a bar themselves and are not really cut out to be a bar manager. IT marketing essentially means flooding the 'net with positive stuff about your employer's bars. Typically, the IT marketing guy runs the company's Facebook page and their website where he posts frequent updates. He also posts to the forums and is charged with taking photos of the girls, creating posters and promotional material and maybe even organising events. Salaries for IT Marketing positions in the bar industry tend to be in the 70K – 80K baht per month range which is comparable to a bar manager's position but without many of the hassles. There are perhaps half a dozen IT marketing guys in the industry. There would be more but it's only really viable for a big group to have such an employee. A stand-alone bar turning over 1 – 1.5 million baht a month can't justify such a luxury, at least in a full-time role.
A bedsheet-sized poster mounted on a temporary wall in front of the bar that was known as The Dubliner states that the venue will reopen soon under new management and with a new name, Harrity Pub. A fence covers the whole frontage and work is taking place. When will it open? Or should I say, will it open? Remember the Bull and Bush in soi 33!
I hear that the manager of a major Bangkok bar area – note: I say manager and not owner – now walks around town with a bodyguard in tow. What's the reason behind that? Did he receive death threats? Does he fancy himself as the man about town, perhaps? Has he been bonking the wrong Thai dude's Mrs.? Or…..?
Police stopping and hassling foreigners in downtown Bangkok – in exactly the same area as it used to happen (near and east of the Asoke intersection, Sukhumvit soi 22 and the general area) – is still a problem. A long-time reader of this column was having lunch with his good lady this past Thursday afternoon on Sukhumvit soi 22 when they observed the scene many of us have witnessed so many times in the area – 2 policemen on a motorbike stop a foreigner. Said Stickman reader observed that the 2 foreigners stopped had their passports on them, pulled them out, showed them to the police and then a discussion ensued. One of the foreigners made a call and a Thai lady arrived a few minutes later. The situation ended up with a police car coming, and the 2 foreigners and the Thai lady all being driven away! So the cop stops are still going on, but perhaps there was more to it? Maybe one these guys stopped was wanted, or perhaps one or both were found to be on overstay – which means instant arrest.
Why are the queues at the tiny Super Rich money exchange branch at the Asoke BTS so long? That particular branch appears particularly popular with the biggest group of visitors to Thailand, the Chinese. What makes this branch's popularity so unusual is that the area has no shortage of money exchange outlets and the main branch of Vasu – which often has the best rates in town – is just a few hundred metres up the road. Super Rich and Vasu are the best known foreign exchange outlets, but you will almost always get better rates at the main Vasu branch at the mouth of Sukhumvit soi 7/1 than you will at the Super Rich branch at the Asoke BTS – which is a smaller, satellite branch and which does not have the same attractive rates as the main branch of Super Rich at Rajadamri. And in Vasu the service is quick, there are seats and the waiting area is air-conditioned. There's none of this queuing outside in the Bangkok heat nonsense – and being in full view of passersby which is never a good idea if you're plonking down a large stack of banknotes. I wonder if perhaps this outlet of Super Rich has been mentioned on a popular Chinese website, or in a guidebook in the Chinese language?
The Japanese working in Thailand are all wealthy, right? They just have to be because so many have a chauffeur who picks them up each morning, drops them off at the end of the day and ferries them around to social functions, factories and maybe even to the odd bathhouse. You gotta be creaming it to have a car and driver, right? Maybe not… Did you know that most Japanese nationals employed by Japanese companies in Thailand have a clause in their contract that specifically excludes them from driving in Thailand, and to ensure that they are not penalised by losing the flexibility and comfort that a private car gives you, a local driver is provided for them – even if they are far from top level management.
A reader in Mukdahan has asked me to list his property here which is up for sale. Let me state from the outset that I am not sure about the details of the property and whether it can be purchased by a foreigner or not. You need to direct these sorts of questions to the vendor directly and carry out your own due diligence. It is described by the owner as a house block (I have no idea what this means – my best guess is that it is what I would call a shophouse). The photo below provided by the vendor should give you an idea of what it's like. A number of Thais have expressed interest in it and offered 1 million baht, but the vendor is asking 1.2 million. The aspect is described as northwest> north> east> south east. The reason for the sale is that the vendor is moving to Vietnam. You can contact the fellow directly at : firstname.lastname@example.org If you're looking for the quiet life and have a limited budget, it looks like a nice spot.
This property and these views could be yours (or your Thai wife's) for 1.1 million baht.
Quote of the week comes from Big Jim and was in response to last week's column opener, "If you're going to play, play with the players and if you want to settle down, fish from the proper ponds."
A brutally honest editorial in the Bangkok Post comments on the recent spike in tourist deaths in Thailand.
An Italian victim of a robbery reports the crime to police who discover he is on overstay and therefore he has to be deported!
A serial baht bus pickpocket is arrested in Pattaya.
A Thai woman is refused boarding on a flight after she is unable to show the credit card which was used to book that flight.
A Chinaman's online relationship with a Thai darling goes bad when he realises that she is in fact a he!
A drunk customer leaves a $1,000 tip at a Thai restaurant in the US and returns the next day to ask for it back.
An increasing number of fake thousand baht notes are in circulation.
A leading Thai academic looks at what he terms the myth of the Land Of Smiles .
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: Last week it was advised by Sunbelt that a Thai citizen who obtains citizenship of another country loses Thai citizenship. Also that Thailand needed to be notified of this by the Thai citizen. I have 2 questions:
1. Would a Thai citizen who owns property in Thailand lose the ability to own such property if they become citizens of another country?
2. I have 2 children with my Thai wife who are eligible for Australian Citizenship by Descent. If I register them as Australian citizens would they lose Thai citizenship?
Sunbelt legal responds: Our information last week stated the substance of the Nationality Act in regards to dual nationality but in actuality the government is usually less rigid about the matter. It does not expressly forbid dual citizenship but Immigration and the Ministry of the Interior generally view it as not being desirable. There are provisions that do allow for the revocation of Thai citizenship but that is usually in the case of people who naturalize as Thais or those who obtain citizenship due to being born in Thailand to alien parents, that is if both parents are not Thai nationals but hold permanent residency at the time of birth.
Women who obtain Thai nationality through their husbands can lose their Thai nationality generally if only convicted of a serious crime. Thai women who obtain the nationality of their foreign husbands will not lose Thai nationality and will be able to purchase land but it is generally suggested that the Thai government is not informed of the adoption.
The Nationality Act does offer the opportunity to surrender their Thai nationality between their 20th and 21st birthdays but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no issue with dual national children with a Thai passport through the Thai parent and a foreign passport through the foreign parent. However, not all other countries allow for dual nationality so it would be important to check the regulations of your country.
Question 2: I have a 4-year old daughter with an ex Thai girlfriend, which I got confirmed through a DNA paternity test some months ago. Since then I see my daughter on a regular basis. Because I want to request a Dutch passport for my daughter, I also want to register myself as the father on the birth certificate of my daughter (now only the name of the ex Thai girlfriend is on there). When I legalised the DNA documents, got all the paperwork ready and asked the Thai ex to come meet me at her local district office, she responded that her mom got worried since it would mean that they would always need my permission
when my daughter for example would change schools (the school would then always need my signature, so the mom is 'assuming'). The logic of the mom doesn't make any sense to me, and I think the real reason would be, that she's just afraid that once my daughter has her passport I would kidnap her to my country or something. So I would like to know if it's true that a school needs permission of both parents, if the daughter changes schools, and if it's also possible to request a passport for my daughter, without being registered as the father on the birth certificate.
Sunbelt Legal responds: A child born out of wedlock is, in general, considered the legitimate child of the mother. The birth mother's legal rights are automatic but the father's rights are not. A common misconception is that a father's name on a birth certificate establishes paternal rights, but this claim is incorrect.
If the father submits an application for legitimization of a child in Thailand with a local district office, the mother and the child must express their consent to the application. However, if such consent is not given by the mother and the child within 60 days after the filing, the father has to file the petition of legitimization of the child to the applicable court.
If the father of the child files a legitimization of child in Thailand, the custody issue can be petitioned together with the legitimization case. The court in the same case will decide whether the father is suitable to exercise the partial or whole custody over the child.
The signing authority with the school as well as for the passport application procedures will therefore rest on the outcome of the said legitimization procedure. Simply having your name on the birth certificate would not provide authority to sign for either process. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist in the Family Court process if the mother refuses to consent to the legitimization application.
There is more info online about Thailand than ever, but don't let that put you off starting your own Thailand-centric site or app. There is money to be made online by foreigners sharing their life in Thailand with the world, and I strongly disagree with those who say otherwise. I mention this after a nonsensical discussion on a Thailand forum where someone keen to start a Thailand website was discouraged from doing so by other posters who said there's no money in it. That's just nonsense! You can make a very nice living and if you're really lucky, you might be even be able to sell your baby when you're done with it and really cash in. Don't listen to the naysayers who say that you can't make good money producing Thailand-related online content. You can!