Stickman's Weekly Column January 1st, 2017

Happy New Year, 2017


I had planned to write an opening piece this week but then the sun came out, I went to the beach and when I got home the last thing I wanted to do was finish off the article I had started for this week’s opener.  So this week’s column is kind of light and there is no opening piece.  Regular service resumes next week.

Happy New Year!



Where was this photo taken?


Last week’s photo was taken out the front of the Emporium shopping centre.  One clever reader, Mark of Singapore, knew it well, having dropped $10K in there.  What about this week’s photo?


Stick’s Email Inbox – These are emails from readers.  Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week’s column.

butterflies bangkok

Changing Bangkok.

The point about the naughty nightlife falling outside mainstream expat society you made perfectly.  Even when I leave my gym at the Landmark in the middle of sex tourist alley and walk to the BTS, I almost never see a farang walking with a bargirl.  It has all changed drastically and the guys who do walk with bargirls are way outside the mainstream now.  As a Bangkok resident I am really happy about these changes.  15 years ago your site had mostly readers interested in the naughty stuff.  As times change, can you readers change with it?  I was impressed with what you said stating the truth about Bangkok in 2016.

Destroying the evidence.

Within 24 hours of your weekly going live, the link to Memory Bar no longer has Emmy, and Emmy’s Facebook page is GONE!  Amazing!  Wow, it must have hit someone’s nerve!


How does Crazy House get away with it?

I live across the street from Crazy House and am curious to know how one bar can have completely nude dancers with a lot of fondling and fingering going on inside.  No other bar in Bangkok comes close.  Windmill in Pattaya is similar, but much smaller.  So, my question is how can just a few bars do this while other bars either cannot do the same or chose not to do that?  It looks good for business although I wonder what the girls think of it.  One guy said he thought police owned the Crazy House but I tend to retain some respect for police even when so many people make claims like that about them. Do police own some bars?  Do other bar owners consider this unfair competition?

Thailand’s ageing population worries.

A quick comment regarding your mention about Thailand’s ageing population.  You’re correct and it’s VERY bad news for the next several decades.  Thailand’s median age against other South-East Asian nations which clearly indicates a serious issue that will, probably, lead to the following for many, many years:
1)  SLOW economic growth (falling exports and domestic consumption).
2)  Stagnant wage levels.
3) Increasingly women turning to the ‘nightlife’ for (at least) extra income.
Thailand will likely NOT be an economic tiger for several decades (if ever).  Vietnam, on the other hand, is a place watch.


Gogo bar economics.

I can add a further example of the bizarre economic logic operating in the bars in Bangkok to the many you and your readers have posted.  I recently visited Shark Bar in Soi Cowboy and called over a very beautiful and vivacious girl.  She spoke unusually good English, had travelled and was able to maintain a conversation over a range of subjects.  I asked her how busy the girls were and whether they would all manage to get taken out of the bar that night.  I obviously only have her word for this but she told me that business was slow and that she hadn’t been bar fined for three nights and many of the girls were similarly left over at closing time.  When I asked her the price for short time her she insisted on 3,000 baht.  I pointed out that this didn’t make sense if business was slow and she would end up ahead if she accepted less and got more business.  She acknowledged this but then told me that she needed to charge more because she had had so few clients recently.  Totally illogical!

Pronunciation struggles.

In this week’s column you talked about Thais having difficulty with some words in English.  You said ’roundabout’ was difficult for Thais.  I would add that Thais have difficulty with words that have two hard consonants in a row, like ‘star’ or ‘spaghetti’.  Thais will usually say “s-tar” or “sa-pa-ghetti”.  But, you should also point out that there are many Thai words that we farang cannot pronounce.  My wife will say a Thai word, and I will (try to) say that word.  My pronunciation of the Thai word sounded to me just like what my wife said.  My wife will say “no” and say the word again.  And, again my attempt will not be right according to her.  I could not hear any difference.  My name is “Fred”.  My wife and most Thais will call me “Frank” thinking they said my name correctly.

Thais, intonation and word stress.

In your last column you talked a bit about words Thais can’t pronounce correctly. Although many Thais do have a problem with the example given, there are quite a few that can handle it, including my wife.  I did however find another language problem for which I have never found a Thai who could actually handle it.  It has to do with tones.  Foreigners have a lot of problems with the use of tones in the Thai language but Thai find intonation and word stress in European languages equally or even more impossible to handle.  In the Thai language the tone changes the meaning of a word. However, in English intonation and word stress changes the meaning of the sentence while leaving the meaning of the words the same.  Take the following sentence:  Do you come tomorrow?  There are 2 meanings, the difference of which is instantly clear to any native speaker:
1)     Do YOU come tomorrow?
2)     Do you come TOMORROW?
The only difference is the tone but 2 entirely different meanings.  I have tried this with Thais who studied in the US and UK and are fluent but they were still not able to distinguish between the two.  I guess because in Thai only the meaning of a word can change through changing the tone, the idea that the meaning of a sentence can change by changing the tone of a word is a totally alien concept.


Girl of the week

Nancy, escort,

An oldie but a goodie, she will appeal to anyone
looking for a lady with a few miles on the clock
(and the benefits that come with that!)





Well done to Patrick and the crew at the new New Wave in Sukhumvit soi 7/1 which opened this past week.  The popular pool bar which was a fixture of Sukhumvit soi 7 for many years can now be found on Sukhumvit soi 7/1 in the space that was Bangkok Beat.  The official grand opening is this coming Saturday, January 7th.

Nana Plaza’s first live music venue was due to open this past Friday in part of Bangkok Bunnies. Sadly, the shop supplying the instruments and furniture was late in delivering so the music will start on Thursday.  Expect classic ’60s / ’70s / ’80s songs played at a reasonable volume i.e. not too loud.  Nana Plaza is obviously best known for gogo bars and that is the attraction to foreign men.  For that reason alone, I wonder how well the venue will do in this location.  But another thing that makes me wonder is, to be frank, the quality of live music in Bangkok is generally lousy.  5-star hotels offering live music tend to bring in Filipino bands who for the most part are much better than their local counterparts.  As the proprietor of the new live music venue said to me, it’s a nice addition to an empty dark corner in Nana and it’s not like a gogo bar has been closed.  Even if it doesn’t work, it will always be better than having part of the bar closed so when you look at it that way, it can’t fail.

What’s with the weird hours with the branch of McDonald’s in the petrol station at the top of Soi Nana?  It’s open from 10 AM – 5 AM or in other words, is closed from 5 AM – 10 AM.  Given that that is one part of town where things are definitely going on at that time of the day, are they missing out on an opportunity?  Or maybe the very early breakfast crowd in the Nana area is trouble and it’s best to close for a few short hours?

Word from Soi Nana is that trade picked up this week – as you would expect.  Observations from one bar boss are of a change in the profile of customers with more young guys and more groups of holidaymakers.


One of my complaints about the ladies in the naughty bars these days is their lack of manners.  But is this a bar industry thing?  I am of the belief that the idea of good manners (as distinct from good behaviour) is not actually that big a thing in Thailand.  How often do people say the equivalent of please or thank you?  Oftentimes it seems to me it is foreigners in Thailand who are more likely to display good manners!  It seems to me in Thailand that a lot of people only display good manners when they are OBLIGED to i.e. they are dealing with their elders, their boss or people of great influence or power.  One of the things that was drilled in to us when we were young was the importance of good manners.  I just don’t see that in Thailand.

Thailand expats used to say that the rule of thumb to know the number of Farangs in Thailand was to find out the number of subscribers to UBC – the main cable television provider in Thailand which has long since been renamed True Visions, the inference being that it was only foreigners who signed up for cable TV with international programming.  That method would not work these days with many foreigners not subscribing to True Visions and many not even having a TV.  But who would want to use True Visions when you have so many options these days and with the way that True Visions has been chopping and changing channels.  It’s latest announcement will see it cut another 6 movie channels, HBO and Cinemax amongst them.  Fortunately there are other TV options these days and with reliable, high-speed internet connections available nationwide (ironically, the major Internet service provider is True Internet – which is True Visions’ sister company), you can simply sign up to alternative TV packages like Amazon Prime, Netflix etc.  And, of course, most expats are quite savvy when it comes to ummm, errr, sourcing the latest movies online through the likes of the Bay of Pirates.

Have you given much thought to the differences in life expectancy in Thailand vs your homeland?  I am not aware of any studies looking at the life expectancy of westerners who stay long-term in Thailand compared to their homeland, but I would imagine that in Thailand one’s appointment with the Grim Reaper comes rather sooner than in Farangland.  In Thailand, I know *many* people who have died in their 40s and 50s whereas in New Zealand I struggle to think of anyone I know who has died so young.

Another major change to the visa regulations starts today.  Under the new regulations, foreigners entering Thailand at a land border crossing on a visa waiver (i.e. they do not have a visa) can only enter Thailand twice in a year.  There are a few exceptions such as Malaysians and countries with bilateral visa agreements with Thailand but I don’t think there are any Western countries which had some agreements in place.  This will affect some Western travellers, but probably not a large number.  Those who sure will be affected are Westerners living in neighbouring countries like, say, the many Westerners in Vientiane, Laos, who frequently cross over the Friendship Bridge to Nongkhai and visit Thailand for a weekend away from Laos or to make a shopping trip and stock up on the many things they cannot get across the border.  Such people will only be able to do so twice and after that will need to get a visa for these sorts of trips – which may be more hassle than it is worth.  The real worry however is that some border points may interpret the new rule rather differently and even those who have a valid visa may be prevented from exiting and re-entering after two land border crossings.  Don’t dismiss this quickly as there are already border points such as Poi Pet – the busiest crossing between Thailand and Cambodia – where they interpret the rules their own way and some simply cannot use the border point.  Give it a few weeks and there should be some clarity about what is ok and what is not.

And there is another change tied in to this regulation.  All Westerners now get 30 days when entering the country at a land border whereas previously it was 30 days for those from G7 countries and 15 days for the rest of us.


From across the border in the Cambodian capital, on Street 172 where a lot of long-time expats hang and backpackers hang out a number of lady bars are sprouting up.  Word is that initially they didn’t appear to be well supported but it seems the sheer number that have opened is seeing some gaining traction.

Apparently Street 130 also has a number of new bars, many of which are new and they are said to be a nicer than your average bar with new venues with nice bathrooms described as meeting western standards.  That would make a nice change from some of the truly disgusting hong-nams I remember from previous visits to Phnom Penh.

Next to Honey Pot Bar a new bar is going up once the existing motorcycle shop moves all the bikes out and the shop is gutted.  The name has not been decided but it is going to be run by the same owners as the successful Angry Birds bar – a very cool name for a bar which would seem to be rather more fitting for Bangkok than Phnom Penh.  All three bars are fully renovated and I am told by a Phnom Penh local that they are known for ladies a little more attractive than elsewhere.


A Thai female is sentenced to prison in America for a counterfeit handbag scam.

A Thai teenager is charged with hacking Thai government websites.

The BBC will support veteran reporter Jonathan Head as he faces a computer crime defamation case.

A Ruskie is arrested after he tries to steal money from an ATM in Hua Hin by blowing it up!

Police in Pattaya don’t take a Russian’s report of theft seriously so he has to return to the police station with video footage showing proof his complaint was genuine.

The SCMP says Thailand’s hostility towards Chinese tourists goes back to its history of immigration.


Ask Sunbelt Legal

Sunbelt Legal Advisors is here to answer all of your legal questions related to Thailand.  Feel free to send in any questions you may have and I will put them to Sunbelt Legal Advisors for you.

Question 1:  The international school my daughters attend has for a long time been using illegal copied textbooks which parents have requested be removed.  This despite the fact that some parents pay book fees of up to 15,000 baht annually.  All request by parents to school management to remove these, both written and verbal requests, have been ignored.  As such, parents contacted one of the publishers (British, as the principal is British too) to ask if their use was legal.  Immediately, the publisher wrote to both the School Director and the Principal to have the illegal books removed instantly. The next day all copied books were removed from the library by staff.  Following that, the Principal wrote to the publisher that he had no knowledge of the use of copied books in the school (the publisher copied the principal’s reply to parents), even when this was far from the truth.  Thus repeating request from parents as to why the School Director and Principal didn’t remove the books upon parents’ first request has been ignored for more than a year now – even we still sit back with more than 2 handful of old illegal copied books and a copy of the Principal’s dishonest reply.  How can we take legal action against this misbehaviour of the school management and where can we proceed / report this former illegal use officially?

Sunbelt Legal responds:  According to The Copyright Act B.E.2521 it first needs to be checked if the country where the article or book was first published is a member of the Universal Copyright Convention.

The Act states that if yes, the author of the copyright work in this Act is entitled to identify himself as the author and to prohibit the assignee or any person from distorting, shortening, adapting or doing anything against the work to the extent that such act would cause damage to the reputation or dignity of the author.  When the author has died, the heir of the author is entitled to litigation for the enforcement of his right through the term of copyright protection unless otherwise agreed in writing OR The owner of copyright may assign the copyright of the whole or in part and may assign it for a limited duration or for the entire term of copyright protection.  The assignment of copyright by other means except by inheritance must be made in writing with the signatures of the assignor and the assignee.  If the duration is not specified in the assignment contract, the assignment shall be deemed to last for ten years.

Before taking any legal actions you must submit a request to “the Copyright Committee” under the Ministry of Commerce to investigate.  The Copyright Committee is headed by the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Commerce.  If the offence is committed with a commercial purpose, the offender can face imprisonment for six months up to four years or a fine starting from 100,000 baht to 800,000 baht or both.  The Ministry of Commerce can be reached at Tel. 662-507-7000, 662-507-8000 or E-mail :



Am I safer in New Zealand than in Thailand?


I guess 2016 will be most remembered for all of the political upheaval but I try not to take much interest in politics and I think for me 2016 will be remembered as the year the Grim Reaper was particularly nasty.  A number of well-known, long-term Thailand expats and personalities passed away, as did many international superstars.  At times I wondered who would be next.  With 2017 now with us, here’s hoping Mr Reaper’s appetite has been satiated and he leaves us all alone for a while.  All the best for a great 2017!


Your Bangkok commentator,