Ab Gep Dtung
All around the world more middle-class men are settling down with middle-class Thai women. You’d expect these relationships would settle in to the familiar pattern of typical middle-class relationships where both he and she go out to work, makes a living and each contributes financially to their shared expenses. But if my observations are anything to go by, many Farang / Thai relationships remain lopsided.
Traditionally, a Thai wife’s responsibilities were in the home while the husband went out to earn money. At the end of the month the husband’s earnings would be handed over to the wife who was responsible for making sure everything in the home was taken care of. The husband would be given a small, daily allowance to cover his necessary expenses.
Times have changed and in Thailand today it might be necessary for both husband and wife to work to make ends meet. As such, the roles of husband and wife have become less clear. She might contribute to the bills and in some – admittedly less typical – cases, she might even contribute more towards home and shared expenses than he does.
What I find particularly interesting is the behaviour of Thai women in relationships with Kiwi men in New Zealand, and in particular the way some of these Thais are selective about what parts of Kiwi culture they adopt and what parts of Thai culture they insist on retaining.
Most Thais in New Zealand are gainfully employed and they like the fact that they earn real money. Some work full-time, but many are part-time. Those I know working full-time seem to take home between $600 and $800 per week, or in their minds 65,000 – 90,000 baht per month. Yep, Thais who have been in New Zealand for many years still seem to think of their income in baht terms. It’s decent money – and more than enough to contribute to the general costs of family life in what is a very expensive country, with plenty left over to take care of their personal expenses, send some money to family in Thailand and still have some left to set aside for a rainy day.
But how many contribute to the day to day expenses? How many willingly open their purse at the supermarket checkout, or when the power bill comes? A few do, but plenty don’t.
I’ve always felt that both partners need to make equal contributions to a relationship. That does not mean paying the same amount of $$ towards shared expenses – one partner may not contribute financially at all – but each party ought to be contributing to the relationship. And no, laying on her back doesn’t count. I cringe when anyone says that.
If each partner is capable of contributing but chooses not to, why would you want to be in a relationship with them? Of course, if one partner brought a much larger amount to the table or their income is many times that of their partner, they might pick up all of the bills. Fair enough. But in egalitarian New Zealand – and I suspect in most Farang / Thai relationships in Farang countries – that is not often the case.
My observations here in New Zealand are that rather a few Thais do not contribute a single cent. They expect that all shared expenses be picked up by their Kiwi other half, as well as the lion’s share of their personal expenses be paid for by their Kiwi husband too. Some even expect that he will contribute to the upkeep of her Thai family back in Thailand, notwithstanding that they might be in full-time employment. She might even have a vehicle or property in her name in Thailand that is being paid off and expect payments to be made for that too! Mr. Farang is essentially maintaining two households.
I have observed this pattern in many Farang / Thai relationships. Irrespective of whether they are married or merely living together, whether they have children or otherwise, there is an expectation that he will pay. For everything. Always.
Even after a trip to KFC earlier in the day she may later present him with the receipt for $5 which he is expected to reimburse her for. I don’t get it, I really don’t.
How many Thai ladies in relationships with Kiwi guys contribute to the general household expenses is an area of contention. And when it comes to the big one, making payments on their home / mortgage, how many contribute, notwithstanding that she would have a claim on the property if the relationship went bad and / or she decided to walk.
Earning a decent income and avoiding shared expenses means that many Thais in New Zealand have plenty of cash left over at the end of the week. Much goes in to a secret stash of cash that their husband doesn’t know about. They talk about this amongst themselves – it’s the usual case of one-upmanship where they try to outdo one another. It seems that, on average, $100 – $150 a week is squirreled away – which over the years becomes a significant amount. Some keep the money in New Zealand, others use the dodgy local Thai money changer to send small, regular payments to a secret account in Thailand.
Many Thais in New Zealand have a propensity to ab-gep dtung. Translated in to English, dtung is slang for money, gep means to keep or save and ab means to do something in secret, so ab-gep dtung means to squirrel away a secret stash of cash.
Without exception, every Thai woman I know in New Zealand has a good life and has done better for themselves than they likely would have had they stayed in Thailand. And deep down they all know it – not one wants to return to Thailand permanently. So why do some become so selfish when they meet a man?
Choose the right Thai lady and you will have a gem of a wife. Choose the wrong one and all she will be interested in is availing herself of the advantages of being married.
I’ve never got my head around why you’d stay in a long-term relationship with someone who does not contribute. It seems to me that many of my fellow countrymen don’t feel the same way.
Where Was This Photo Taken?
Last week’s photo was taken from the building site just north of Terminal 21 where there are 3 crane towers. The reader who provided the photo entered the site in the middle of the night with his friend. They climbed under a wall of a sub-soi of Sukhumvit soi 19, up the inside of the building, up some scaffolding, and finally all the way up the crane tower shaft, right to the top. He knew it was dumb, but it was a thrill at the same time. They prepared for the climb at Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy, waiting until the construction crew finished work around 1 AM. They told the girls what they were going to do and went back the next day and showed the girls the photos of their naughtiness.
FROM STICK’S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.)
The LSD of countries.
I think Thailand is like the LSD of countries – wherever your mind is, Thailand magnifies and intensifies it. If you’re heading towards debauchery you’ll sink deep. If you’re a pseudo-spiritual backpacker, you’ll happily float through the country captivated by temples, food, and culture, oblivious to the seedy underside of Thailand.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
For a long time I thought it is best to find a way to keep a foot in both places. What I mean by that is finding a way to spend significant amounts of time in both one’s native land and in Thailand. I know it’s not an easy thing to do but it would end up curing a lot of the mentioned ills. That’s pretty much what I do. I spend about 40% of my time in Thailand and about 60% in my native country. It’s not easy and takes a special job and set of circumstances to do this but IMHO it’s BY FAR the best way. I like and dislike things about my native country, vice versa Thailand. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It also helps to have interests outside of mongering and drinking. Now there’s something to be said about both activities but not for the long term. I do think, however, that many of these guys who drop and liquidate everything in order to go live in Thailand are, unnecessarily and unwisely, burning bridges.
Expat relates to the Thailand expat disease.
I enjoyed reading “The Expat Disease” and I had to smile as I am guilty of some of the bad habits you mentioned. I have lived in Bangkok for approaching 20 years and it is not easy to avoid falling in to this trap. However, you have helped remind us expats to constantly make personal improvements to our lifestyles. Dave the Rave.
Some Thailand expats are like Farangland welfare recipients.
Just read the Thailand Expat Disease, wow, hammer meets nail! I agree 100% and actually felt myself slipping a bit in to it with my wife when we lived there. We were not reckless per se and were mainly there to support her aging parents. Our trigger point was reached and we moved back to the US. While in Thailand you do find yourself thinking, I could exist like this for years and maybe never have to do anything again. But looking back I agree with your summary and often I compare expats there to what we see in welfare recipients here. They sit their life away, somehow feeling they have won with their meager food stamp allowance and small income, never really noticing how big and exciting the world is. Instead they feel they have pulled one over and found a paradise because they don’t have to do anything, albeit one under military dictatorship in which they have no rights and may live on a shoestring without healthcare insurance. They always seem to think no problem if a health emergency arises – I can go back to my home country (which as you pointed out they often bad-mouth). Exactly as you said, “They have checked out of life and intend to see out their days as wasters in Thailand“. That would be a great T-shirt slogan: “Waster in Thailand”!
Interesting activities keep you busy.
Most of my time in early visits in Thailand was spent in the bars but as I’ve aged I drink less, be it at home or abroad. That is not to say I’m teetotal but I’m growing up – let us hope. This is at odds with what I see in Bangkok where alcohol for many seems like a nightly event, albeit in levels suited to the following day’s activities. If you are self-aware you soon realise the limits and where you need to draw a line and search for less damaging distractions. Personally, at home, this takes the form of theatre, concerts, comedy stores, lectures, etc. However, in Thailand these are sparse. Here in the UK the societal focus is no longer on the pub as it once was but other avenues, especially fitness or activities which have grown from your peer group, especially amongst those with a university education, which would disgust many of my Bangkok group. I have yet to hear any discuss a hobby of any sort apart from pool leagues, football results or pub quizzes. Don’t get me wrong, sociability is good but there is a lack of challenging mental stimulation in Bangkok. I think you found your own outlet by taking your photography skills out and about but so many flounder in to routine in bars and among company which may in turn be a corrosive cycle eating away at itself, ad infinitum. Perhaps this is why I see so few good friendships in Thailand? Without a shared interest, how do people bond or grow? Personal and mutual development rarely grows in a bar without the influence of an external catalyst. Maybe I am in the wrong company / social circles?
Chinese on tour.
I endorse what was written about offensive behaviour by Chinese tourists to Thailand. A month ago I stayed at a Chiang Mai 4-star hotel. More than half of the guests were Chinese tour groups who did all the things mentioned: shouting, pushing, queue-jumping and noise came from their rooms. It was hard to get out of a lift as the Chinese tried to shove their way in before others could get out. There have been reports that China is trying to educate its citizens how to behave when in other countries. More work is needed.
Why does Thailand attract that element?
Much has been written about the hoards of Chinese tourist groups in Thailand and how unpleasant they can be as they shovel up the buffet, shout at each other across the room and generally make the environment uncomfortable for those who are unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity. And yet, I have been spending time at a hotel in Dubai which usually has a large of group of Chinese at breakfast before they go off on tours, and they are perfectly well-behaved. Yet again it appears that, somehow, Thailand tends to often attract the worst of society.
I’ve been living in Jomtien for 6 years and every year new developments go up and room size decreases dramatically. A typical mid-’90s 2-bedroom condo is over 70 sqm. A 3-bedroom condo in the majority of new developments is around 56 to 58 sqm and floor plans show a gap of between 450 – 550 cm from the end of the bed to the wall and a mere 1.5 to 2 m from your living room couch to your TV. The vast majority have no view other than the condo rooms apposite but they all tell you how wonderful the pool and gym is. The other downside is that all of these developments have only enough room for about 10% of the occupants to park their cars which means that everyone else park outside making navigation of the already small sois even more difficult. The other huge drawback is that the majority of developments are purchased off plan. So if you are unfortunate to be one of the first tenants then you have years of noise from continued construction.
Girl Of The Week
Miss Redhead, dancer, Billboard, Nana Plaza
The 19-year old Bangkok native has a distinctive shock of wild red hair
She enjoys drinking with customers in the bar.
Climax is a goldmine, possibly the most popular of the late-night freelancer bars. I think of it as one of the few pure late-night freelancer bars insomuch that a very high percentage of the ladies are, shall we say, up for it. At many of the other late-night venues on Sukhumvit soi 11, local lasses might just be out for a good time – and some would be horrified at a guy offering her a couple of thousand baht for a couple of hours of her company. Anyway, if you like Climax then you ought to enjoy it while it lasts. Word from the inside is that the hotel wants Climax out. When? Word is as soon as possible. The end of Climax would be the end of an era. Climax has been the late-night spot on Sukhumvit for years and in many ways is the closest thing these days to the legendary Nana Disco when it was at its peak, some 15 odd years ago.
The owners of the curiously named Enter, the gogo bar on the top floor of Nana Plaza, are the people behind the equally curiously named Easy Lick, the gogo bar on the ground floor of Nana Plaza which was until recently PlaySkool. Where do they get these peculiar bar names from? Do they have a dictionary that only lists all the words starting with “E”? What will they call their next bar…Elephant Herd?!
Americans missing a taste of home can head to Cactus in Soi Cowboy where Budweiser is available all night long at just 90 baht – which if memory serves me right probably makes it cheaper than what it goes for in a supermarket. And as a reminder, Cactus joined the ranks of Cowboy bars with a happy hour. All drinks – lady drinks excluded – are 90 baht between 7:00 and 9:00 PM.
It’s not always easy commentating on the state of the industry and how busy – or otherwise – things are around the traps. While I like to get the gossip from the horse’s mouth, more than a few bar bosses will happily give you their (often rather optimistic) impressions, but most are reluctant to divulge actual numbers. But trade cannot be too bad after I heard from one bar boss in Nana Plaza that his venue hit 3 figures for the number of barfines one night last week, a phenomenal achievement.
Word is that while business is strong on Friday and Saturday nights – the two nights many local expats head out – the last 2 weeks have seen trade drop off on weeknights, suggesting fewer tourists are about and the high season is over. So with the high season behind us, what’s the verdict on this year’s? Not bad at all – and certainly better than the last two years.
A couple of parties are scheduled for next weekend in Patpong, with more details on the posters below. A unique night of sensual indulgence and masked pleasure at Bar Bar – Patpong’s fetish house – sounds like it could be worth going out of your way for.
Posters like the two above are included in this column free of charge. I am very happy to help bars and restaurants let the readership know about special promotions, events, parties, short-term promotions etc. So if you have a favourite bar or restaurant that has a one-off or short-term special or promotion, let them know that they can get a mention here and run a poster for a week at absolutely no charge.
African hookers and there nasty-looking African pimps are all over Soi Nana – and much of the blame for that can be levelled squarely at EQ – the ground floor in the Nana Hotel which is now essentially an African bar. The owners have embraced the new wave of visitors and why wouldn’t they – finally they have support after the venue failed to attract punters in serious numbers under its previous guises. For anyone who hasn’t visited Soi Nana in a while, the first thing they notice is the number of African hookers about. One is surprised at how the local constabulary appears comfortable with their presence.
The best way to describe the nightlife in Pattaya this past week might be “disrupted”. After an English tabloid described Pattaya as the sex tourist capital of the world the local authorities had to be seen to be doing something in response and there have been some raids but those in Sin City tell me that things are pretty much back to normal. The one exception is soi 6 – where local expats escape their other halves and head for the variety of some afternoon delight. The whole business model in Pattaya’s soi 6 is built around the convenience of on the premises stress relief but for the time being most venues are not using their short time rooms and making the girls go out which doesn’t help their business model.
Word is that the Pattaya Beer Garden – the bar and eatery built on the pier behind the Siren Beer Bar Complex, the first bunch of beer bars right at the start of Walking Street – is going gangbusters. The Pattaya Beer Garden draws the crowds early evening and is so popular that they hand out numbered cards to those who are waiting to get a seat. With all of the headaches of running a business in Thailand, it’s great to see a genuine success story. That’s what happens when you have a Kiwi running the show.
The profile of Bangkok bar customers is changing as the single, middle-aged guy becomes much less typical. The average punter in the bar areas is just as likely to be a young guy in a group of 3 or 4 for whom barfining is the last thing on their mind as it is a middle-aged guy on a mission.
I’d never heard of Beer Lao Gold until recently, the premium brew from the region’s best beermaker. 330 ml bottles of Beer Lao Gold are on the shelves of Foodland at 79 baht (standard Beer Lao is around 50 baht a bottle). If you’re out and about, the one venue I know of which stocks Beer Lao Gold is Cheap Charlie’s in the small sub-soi off Sukhumvit soi 11 where it goes for 90 baht a bottle. You’d better be quick though – Cheap Charlie’s and all of that sub-soi will close at the end of this month.
I saw a Thai lady wearing a T-shirt with the slogan Fuck love, I have food. Given the importance so many Thais place on food, it seemed appropriate. Nobody blinked at the slogan – the T-shirt was black and that overrides any crass slogan. Yeah, the populace is still in black.
Cafe Amazon branches do perfectly decent coffee which is so much cheaper than you- know-where. It’s a shame there aren’t more Cafe Amazon branches around.
The Kiwi on Sukhumvit soi 8 does a pretty good breakfast spread for 199 baht. Order the breakfast and you are given a pad and a pencil to select seven breakfast items from an extensive list that includes different styles of bacon, eggs cooked various ways, baked beans, tomatoes, hash browns, fried potatoes etc. You have the variety of a buffet but it’s all cooked fresh to order. At 199 baht, it’s one of the better breakfast deals on Sukhumvit Road. The one minor criticism I would have is that there is not an option for whole grain toast. Still, all bread is brown once it’s toasted, right?!
The word “normal” has a certain negative connotation here in Farangland. Few people like to be described as normal, as if it somehow makes them sound dull and boring. But with so many weirdoes in Bangkok and so many fractious friendships, I think it’s nice to be around people who are normal and the word normal in Bangkok has a rather more positive meaning. I was chatting to a mate in Bangkok and he said that I was one of the few people he had never fallen out with in Bangkok to which I responded it’s because the two of us are normal!
From this past December to the end of February, single-entry tourist visas for Thailand were free. In mid-February it was announced that the visa fee would continue to be waived for several more months. However, either that announcement was wrong or there has been a change of heart and single-entry tourist visas will not be free for the next several months after all, at least not for the holders of a passport from a Western country. It has since been announced that single-entry tourist visas will be free only for those from a small number of countries whose citizens require a visa to enter Thailand, amongst them China and India. Any Westerner applying for a single-entry tourist visa anywhere in the world will be charged the standard fee.
I prefer not to look at any of the Thailand forums, Thai360 aside, but as much as I dislike it, I have to admit that when it comes to what is happening with visa rule changes and the current situation regarding visiting Thailand, you cannot beat ThaiVisa. Glancing at the section on visas for Thailand this morning, there is a very definite trend emerging, something which I have commented on for some time. If you don’t believe things are changing, please note the titles of current discussion threads in the visa sub-forum, all of which started in the past few days:
1. “Rejected Entry to Thailand because lack of funds (METV)”
2. “Rejected entry at Savannakhet land border(SETV)”
3. “Thai immigration officer at airport didn’t allow me to enter”
4. “Rejected entry to Thailand because too many tourist visa”
What is interesting is that in what seems to be a further tightening up with reports that amongst those being refused entry are people who have a valid visa and meet the financial requirements i.e. can show cash in hand being sufficient funds to finance their trip – a regulation which has long been in place but which has seldom been enforced. I really think it would be a good idea for a new, clear regulation so that when it comes to tourist visas and visa waiver stamps, you can spend a maximum 180 days in Thailand per calendar year. That would be super clear and easy for everyone to understand.
Quote of the week comes from a reader who was referring to foreigners doing business in Thailand, “Give it a decade or so and Thailand may find itself the runt of the South-East Asia litter if it does not adapt.”
Reader’s story of the week comes from Judge Dredd, “Trapped By A Young Girl, I Need Advice“.
A policeman on Ko Phangnan is accused of extorting money from a Russian couple.
Is Thailand about to get its own Michelin food guide?
This week the Pattaya police did what the Bangkok police don’t do – round up the African prostitutes.
The Bangkok Post took a look at Thai wives who get married and move abroad.
Ask Sunbelt Legal
Sunbelt Legal Advisors is here to answer any legal questions you have related to Thailand. Drop me an email and I will forward your questions to Sunbelt Legal and run their response in the next column.
Question 1: I am trying to find out how much it will cost for my Thai wife’s sister to transfer the title of their house in to my wife’s name. The house is located in Bangkok. I am looking for any info on what it will cost to do the paperwork and if there are any other fees or taxes that will need to be paid. A friend is a realtor here in the USA and says it is a simple transaction here (in the USA) that would cost about $50 to do a “Quit Deed”…so we are trying to find out what a similar thing in Thailand will be. No money is changing hands between my wife and her sister. If need be, do you have, or can you recommend a legal person who could make sure this transfer of title is done legally and correctly?
Sunbelt Legal responds: To change the owner of house between siblings, the following is needed:
1) Chanote of house.
2) ID card of both parties.
3) House registration book (blue book or tabian ban).
4) If married then the marriage certificate of both or divorce certificate or death certificate if the spouse has passed away.
5) Letter of approval of the spouse of the sister who is transferring the house.
Fees will be applied and include:
- Transfer fee 2% over the appraised value of the property
- Business tax 3.3% over the registered (sale) value or appraised value (whichever is higher).
However, the business tax 3.3% is exempt if the seller is a person and the property is transferred to a legal heir or heir in a will in an estate; and the seller has had the property for more than 5 years and it was the seller’s principle place of residence and the seller’s name is in the house papers for at least 1 year before the sale.
- Stamp Duty 0.5% over the registered value; If the Business Tax needs to be paid then the Stamp Duty is exempt.
- Withholding tax; if the seller is a company withholding tax is fixed at 1% over the registered sale value or appraised value (whichever is higher). In this case since the seller is a private person the withholding tax is calculated at a progressive rate based on the appraised value of the property.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist in the legal transfer of the title. As you can see, it is not as straightforward as in the United States.
Question 2: I am staying in Bangkok for 2 months so rather than stay at a hotel I rented an apartment through Air BnB. I rented one apartment in Rachada for the first month and another apartment in Sathorn for the second month. Everything has been great here so far. However, about two weeks in to my stay a notice appeared in the elevator that reads :
ATTENTION For Traveler Tourist Backpacker Day/week/Month Rental
This place is for residents only. NOT A HOTEL
Day / week / Month Rentals are not allowed and illegal. If you are honestly Not familiar with Thai law, Please contact the Juristic person office. Travelers who do not report to the juristic person will be arrested by the police as trespassers and prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law.
NOTE: Residents who find or suspect people who might be day/week/month renters, Please report them to the juristic person office immediately.
Now I don’t want to report myself because if I get kicked out it is highly unlikely I will get my money back. So I feel freaked out, I lay low, I don’t want to use the pool and I try to wait till the juristic office is closed before going out of the apartment. All the same, the guards all smile, salute me, and say sawadee krap, and I’ve had no issues or any negative attention for being here from the staff or the juristic person (whoever that is).
So what should I make of this? Could I really be put in jail for renting an apartment? I have my doubts but of course I’m not in Kansas anymore! Interestingly enough, the sign is only in English. If they were looking for snitches, you would expect them to post it in Thai also. Is it possible this notice is just a show for insurance companies, the police, and cranky condo owners? Also, could I get my money back somehow through the courts if I got booted out? The landlady certainly represented that she had a clear and legal right to rent this apartment to me.
Sunbelt Legal responds: The reason the apartment would put out such a sign is because they have not got a hotel license which they need in order to rent out rooms for a short period of time. With an apartment license they cannot let a short-time tourist stay there. You will not be arrested for staying there but if there is a control by authorities then you will have to pay a fine and the management of the apartment could have serious problems. Staying at an apartment is only permissible if a lease of at least six months is signed and the resident has to be reported to Immigration.
Question 3: Recently I was in Bangkok on business after a long absence. At the end of my trip, I asked my expat colleagues that live in Bangkok why we hadn’t gone to any gogo bars or gentlemen’s clubs. I was told that the proliferation of social media and people posting on common social media sites, and showing people’s identities meant it was now not a very good idea to attend these establishments. I concur. Having had fun in several such establishments over the course of a decade and a half, me and my colleagues never having more than a few beers in a fun environment, it struck me that being placed in such an establishment for the whole world to see is risky on several levels, regardless of the intent. Can one expect any form of privacy in private businesses in Thailand? Are the people filming in those establishments breaching any part of the civil or criminal code? What legal recourse can be sought against entities such as YouTube and the creators of such material should loss of income or other hardship be realised by the publication of a video placing someone at a “time and place”?
Sunbelt Legal responds: According to the Computer Criminal Act, it is forbidden to publish content if it brings loss of reputation to the individual who is published and a criminal complaint can be filed and the video or photos can be asked to be removed. However, since bars are public space there is no law that prevents the person from taking photos or filming as this is considered as permissible unless the owner of the establishment does not allow it on the premises.
The advertisements on this site have changed recently, both the advertisers themselves and the shape of the image files that make up the ads. There are reasons for this but the main one is the devices used to access the site. Today, the most common type of device used to read this column is a mobile phone, which accounts for 44% of all Stickman users. 42% of readers use a computer (desktop / laptop) and tablet users make up the remaining 14%. The decision was made to use larger, square-shaped banner ads rather than long, wide banners as they look better on a mobile device. Personally, I am no fan of reading stuff online on a mobile device and it seems a shame that all of the photos are only seen by some on such a small device but hey, that’s your choice.
Your Bangkok commentator,