Stickman's Weekly Column July 16th, 2017

Just A Guy Tilting At Windmills

 

Where Was This Photo Taken?

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Last week’s photo was taken on Sukhumvit Road, standing underneath the Nana BTS station on the even-numbered soi side looking directly across the road towards Sukhumvit Soi 9 and The Game.  With this week’s photo I want to know where it was taken from and not what you can see in the background!

 

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Stick’s Inbox  (The best emails from the past week.)

Not worth the hassle.

Few bars were open on Soi Nana on the Buddha holidays and the one I was in, The Tavern, was serving a special blend of coffee which, shall we say, made it very popular on what was otherwise a dry soi.  It was all going well until the cops entered a little after 7:30 PM.  They ended up leaving with a few unopened bottles of beer (strange – evidence?) and the manager in tow who quickly grabbed her handbag.  It was an awkward 20 minutes or so for punters who weren’t quite sure what part they would play in the spectacle.  After they left the bar emptied pretty quickly.  No-one seemed to want to get caught if they made a return visit.

Ko Tao’s reputation going global.

Now the “mysterious deaths” in Koh Tao is even getting picked up in Swedish tabloids, even though no Swede has been killed there.  Meaning, this whole thing is getting widespread coverage across the globe.  I’m fond of snorkelling myself and am a scuba diving novice also, and I had thought of Koh Tao for a few days.  But honestly, even though most of the “mystery deaths” seem to be connected to the night scene and I have left that scene for the most part and do not believe I would be in danger myself, I’m really put off visiting.  I don’t want to support a place where shit like that goes on even if I’m safe myself.  Especially the two Burmese youngsters who are now on death row, and the victims in that case, makes my stomach churn.  I am convinced the two Burmese guys are innocent.  So not only are two young tourists brutally raped and murdered, now two innocents are convicted and will likely die to cover up for the real culprits.  It just doesn’t get much more sickening than that.  I will do the only thing I can and vote with my feet and never visit a place where that shit is going on.

Why you might not be able to score outside a bar.

Regarding your friend who couldn’t get a woman outside of Nana Plaza to spend time with him, I wonder if the issue might be the possibility of a woman losing her job if her employer discovers that she got a customer outside after the bar had closed.  In such a situation, the employer wouldn’t be happy because they wouldn’t have received the barfine had the customer got the woman while she was working.  If that’s correct, then it’s possible that the employer would fire the woman regardless of how much money the customer paid her.

Those were the days.

With regards to bargirl pricing, I remember, well and fondly, the days when Bt500 got you all night and Bt300 short time.  That went on for years and years, and even then there were geezers who claimed THAT was way too much compared with what they paid previously.

20 years since the baht crashed.

July 2nd marked the 20th anniversary of the baht crashing.  I remember the panicky times well, although I was sitting pretty myself.  And I remember all the fired office girls who showed up along Sukhumvit and in Thermae.  Some of them could be had if you’d just give them a place to sleep and feed them in the morning.  I always gave them some money too though, the going rate, but some guys really took advantage.  I think this year may also be the 20th anniversary of Thermae’s move to its present location, although I am not 100% certain of that.

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Fancy North Korean?

Did you know that the North Korean government operates restaurants in many countries?  There was one in Bangkok, but at an obscure location.  Now, a new North Korean restaurant popped up right on Sukhumvit where an ill-fated Japanese restaurant used to be.  The Pyongyang Okryu Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner next door to the Radisson Blu hotel, near soi 25.  All the staff are supposedly brought in from North Korea.  According to the Internet, waitresses at these restaurants are supposed to break into song and dance, like they do at Hooters.  This is smack in the middle of the tourist district, but I wonder if many visitors will have mixed feelings about this place.

If you’re getting head colds, keep your feet dry!

The thing about Thais getting sick from the rain is probably true.  Not because of getting their hair wet but getting their feet wet.  Most Thais wear flip-flops or sandals and walk through sewage and filth exacerbated by the downpours.  Leptospirosis is a common disease that can be contracted from exposing unshod feet to contaminated rain runoff and puddles.  Many of the symptoms are like flu or cold symptoms.  I wonder if this is what makes them sick?

Avoiding the rain in Thailand.

About getting sick in Thailand when it rains, it is very TRUE!  Because it’s a humid / tropical environment, we sweat a lot.  Factor in wet hair and moisture / wet clothes on your body and then walk into a very cold air-conditioned room and our bodies find it difficult to acclimatise, and we get sick. There’s another factor and that is, especially in Bangkok, the air isn’t clean.  It’s like you say, when it rains it feels fresher because the rain cleans out the atmosphere which is full of smoke and pollutants. You don’t exactly want to be out when it rains because it’s the same as having dirty water poured on you.  A few years ago I was bike riding across the top of Isaan and when it started raining my Mrs went under a bus stop and refused to ride until the rain stopped.  Me, being naïve, thought she was being ridiculous and continued riding, saying I would come back for her later when the rain stopped.  Big mistake.  A day later I developed a sore throat.  2 days after that I had one of the worst cases of the flu.  I couldn’t get out of bed and my throat was burning, literally.  I was shivering and wore a jacket everywhere.  My Mrs took me to hospital, she was that concerned.  Doc said I had the flu and it will pass.  I told the doc I thought I was going to die.  She gave me a course of antibiotics and I went home.  For the next 5 days I wore jackets outside, trying to sweat it out.  People thought I was mad. It finally went away, but I learned my lesson.  Another interesting observation.  My mate who wants to retire in the Philippines has a very rare condition.  His chest / shoulder area becomes infected and affects his lungs which in turn develops an infection.  He started getting it around 20 years ago it’s never come back UNLESS – here is the interesting part – he goes in to the rain and then in to an air-conditioned building.  Sure enough, he can feel that area become infected / inflamed again and needs to go on a course of antibiotics before it gets worse.  The moment it rains in Asia he either takes an umbrella or stays indoors.  He says it’s the only time his chest / lung problem flares up.  Doesn’t happen here in Melbourne but only in the tropics.  We farangs think the Asians are mad when they run away from the rain.  Having experienced what I did, now I run away with them!

 

 

Girl Of The Week

Pui, dancer, Enter, Nana Plaza
*  photos kindly provided by the Nana Plaza marketing department.

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The Thai Police have acted on recent commentary and rounded up the Africans on Soi Nana. (Photos taken and kindly provided by a long-time reader)

 

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Khun Africa might be looking at a long flight home, or a long stay in the IDC (Immigration Detention Centre).

 

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The lobby of the Nana Hotel is known for dark-skinned working girls, but not usually this dark.

 

After many complaints spanning a period of several months, Bangkok’s finest decided they had finally had enough and descended on Soi Nana on Thursday night and rounded up many of the Africans who have been doing their bit to reinforce the soi’s reputation as the world’s largest adult playground (TM).  Scores of police officers rounded up dozens of Africans, male and female alike, and took them away.  A sense of normality has returned to this soi and now local lasses will have to find something new to complain about. They can no longer gripe that African women are stealing their customers.

Thinking about the situation with all of these Africans on the streets of downtown Bangkok, Africans in Asia are nothing new.  They have developed a reputation region-wide as peddlers and traffickers of substances, but in Bangkok there is a difference.  In Bangkok, you find African hookers.  Is there anywhere else in Asia where African hookers operate / are so visible?  It makes sense that this might be a Bangkok thing as the city is widely regarded as the world’s #1 sex tourism destination (even if Pattaya has a much stronger case for that title).  The market for these African women in Bangkok is not local men, but Westerners. Remember, Asian men typically don’t go for dark-shinned women.

It didn’t take long for problems to arise after the no barfine policy was introduced at Bangkok Bunnies.  To recap, last week I wrote that Bangkok Bunnies had done away with barfines altogether and any dancer who wished to leave the bar with a customer was free to do so – with no requirement for said gent to pay a barfine.  Some girls saw this as an opportunity to benefit themselves, and told customers who wished to take them out of the bar that while he did not have to pay a barfine, he had to buy her at least 3 lady drinks before she could leave, explaining that this was the bar’s new policy.  In fact it was not the policy and all of the girls were told that if it happens again they would be fired.  I guess it was rather optimistic to think that this new policy would go without a hitch.

But then I did not really think the no barfine policy at Bangkok Bunnies would last and come Thursday night the policy was abandoned and barfines were back.  They had to revert back to the barfine system after the policy was abused.  During the few days of no barfines, the number of girls leaving the bar each night went through the roof, many leaving without even a single lady drink bought for them.  With no barfine income and greatly reduced lady drink income, it was clear this was not going to last.  It wasn’t helped by girls who kept asking customers to take them out of the bar so they could go home and sleep. Few customers said no to such requests while others saw it as an opportunity to take 2 or even 3 girls with them.  With an exodus of girls every night and the bar’s nightly take plummeting, there was no way this could continue.  Full marks to Bangkok Bunnies for trying something different, even if it didn’t work out.

On the issue of barfines, girls do have the option of whether they wish to go with a customer or not. Some girls do turn down customers – it’s not common, but it does happen – and the way things are these days with demand for the girls’ services sometimes exceeding supply, girls can afford to be choosy.  With that said, any lady who gets a reputation for being fussy and turning down customers tends to find that their services are no longer required.

The Hooters branch in Soi Nana has not been a winner with Stickman readers with a few suggesting the main problem is not so much the prices (which plenty still complain about), but that it is staffed mainly by Filipinos.  Now I hear that Hooters in Sukhumvit soi 15 is also full of Filipinos.  Why are they hiring Filipinos?  Soi 15 used to have great Thai staff.

Just a little further down Soi Nana, Hanrahan’s has been closed since Thursday of last week.  Word is that those running it had done a particularly poor job and now British pub mogul Nicky is in the process of taking it back.  He is doing it legally which takes a while.  It is hoped that Hanrahan’s will reopen this week.  In the meantime, the Hanrahan’s crew are working at Herrity’s.

Still on Soi Nana, a new bar has opened in the space that was the failed Italian / Indian restaurant and was previously, Finnegan’s Pub.

Building progresses slowly on the new Hillary Group bar on the corner of the Rajah Complex in the space that what was formerly a 7 Eleven.

If you prefer old-style gogo bars, you know that slowly but surely the old favourites are being bought up and converted in to shiny, modern bars with a very different flavour.  Don’t despair, there are enough old-style bars still going with owners who refuse to sell.  One such old-style gogo bar is Thigh Bar in Patpong soi 1.  The girls are friendly.  Much of the music play-list is from last century and some beers are just 100 baht.  If you pine for the good old days, stop by the wonderfully named Thigh Bar.

Bacarra in Soi Cowboy is firmly of the modern gogo bar style, and is currently undergoing a facelift.  That aside it’s business as usual.

The police showed up at Queens Park Plaza on Sukhumvit soi 22 last night to ensure all the bars closed down at 1:30 AM. Not 1:00 AM, not 2:00 AM, but 1:30 AM!

The watchful eyes of the authorities is becoming an issue in Bangkok bar areas where one nightlife photographer had to abandon a photo shoot because he felt Nana Plaza was too hot.  Some of the images captured in bars – especially in show bars or during dance contests – could easily be considered objectionable, and this is not a case of photographers being paranoid.  Not a concern for everyday visitors but for those who do take shots in bars, you don’t want to have to explain what you’re doing to the plod.

 

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Still on the issue of taking photos in the bars, plenty of barladies do not wish to be photographed.  It’s been that way for a good few years.  And now even many ladyboys don’t want their photo taken either. The reason is exactly the same as with the ladies – they have sponsors i.e. guys from abroad sending them money and they don’t want that income stream affected.  Apparently it is not at all uncommon for ladyboys to have a Japanese guy or two sending them money every month.  So much for the idea that Asian guys are supposed to understand the game better than us white guys, eh?

I am told by a reader that the pedestrian bridge that connects Sukhumvit soi 7 with Pacific City Place has FINALLY seen the fuck corruption message painted over.  It took them three years to get that done.

Chuwit Park, between the Bangkok Bank branch near Sukhumvit soi 8 (where more dodgy foreigners have accounts than perhaps any other bank branch in all of Thailand) and Sukhumvit soi 10, reopened this week after what seems like a year or so of the gates firmly closed.  It’s a nice, albeit small green space in the middle of the farang district.  It’s not big enough for laps if you’re serious about exercise, there isn’t a lot of seating and there is no duck pond – and with no water ways I have never seen a monitor lizard there. Seriously, a park in Thailand without a dua hia is like going to be a pub in England on a Saturday night and not seeing a fight.  You feel like you only had half the experience.

Two readers have both commented on Papa’s, the new farang eatery on Sukhumvit soi 23 where the Offshore once was and which for a short time was known as the Fish & Ship.  Two different readers have both commented on how good the fish and chips are at Papa’s so do drop by if you’re hungry and in the neighbourhood.

It is all of the inconsistencies in Thailand that have us foreigners scratching our heads.  Saturday and Sunday of last weekend happened to be two of the big Buddhist holidays – and the sale of alcohol is forbidden on such days.  The naughty bars obliged and the likes of Nana and Cowboy were closed.  On such holidays in years gone by, many hotel restaurants would still serve alcoholic drinks if you ordered them with food in the hotel restaurant but this year hotels had notices posted which explained that by law they could not serve alcohol over the weekend.  But there was one exception – in Thailand there is always is.  At the Nana Hotel it was business as usual with beer openly consumed from beer bottles and in beer glasses at the terrace with none of the usual pretense you get on public holidays with alcohol served in paper cups or coffee mugs.  It is especially amusing when you consider that Hooters – which is part of the Nana Hotel building – didn’t serve alcohol.  Needless to say, the Nana Hotel terrace did a booming trade last weekend.

 

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Can foreign residents now use the Fast Track lane at Immigration at the airport without the need to purchase a Fast Track ticket (which run around 1,000 baht)?  A long-time reader flew in to Suvarnabhumi on the evening of June 29th.  As the flight was descending, an arrival / immigration video was played. Said reader’s ears pricked up when he heard the narrator stay, “Foreigners residing in Thailand may use the Fast Track Priority Immigration line.”  As he is residing in Thailand on a retiree visa, he informed the Immigration officer / greeter that he had a retiree visa and asked if what he had heard in the video on the plane was correct.  Said officer smiled (ok, maybe our reader exaggerated that part) and said, “If you already have your visa you may use Fast Track.”  So, off to the Fast Track lane he went and there was no-one in line.  He was stamped and done in no time.  Apart from buying a pass, airlines give Fast Track passes to those travelling business class / first class.  Those who are infirmed, disabled or aged 70+ can use it at no charge.  Said reader is aged well under 70, so can we assume that foreigners on a retiree visa qualify to use Fast Track too?  Any other retirees resident in Thailand who have had luck using it, please let us know.

I don’t like to comment on what is being said on the forums, but at the same time it would be remiss not to mention two posts made on ThaiVisa this week that are relevant to those staying in Thailand on back to back short-term visas.  In two separate reports, a Dutchman and a German who had each flown in to Suwarnabhumi Airport were denied entry in to Thailand and turned around and had to fly out.  Each has a history of residing in the country on back to back visas with only short periods outside the country.  What is interesting is that of the two Bangkok airports, Suwarnabhumi had been considered a soft touch and regular travellers felt the likelihood of people with their travel history being questioned was greater at Don Meuang.  It looks like it could happen at either airport now.  If you stay in Thailand on back to back visas, it is wise to have at least 20,000 baht or equivalent in foreign currency in cash on you to show you have funds to support yourself as well as an air ticket out of the country.  That, hopefully, should satisfy the Immigration officer but even then, if you are suspected of working in Thailand illegally they could still deny you entry.  It really does seem that Immigration is getting tougher on those who have resided long-term in Thailand using visas intended for short-term stays.

 

 

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Quote of the week comes from a friend, “Who can get very excited about paddock-model Nana / Cow encounters when Thai women in the wild can be so open and receptive to somewhat game-oriented however natural, “in the wild” action?

A German slashes his own throat as police move in to arrest him for the murder of his Thai girlfriend.

An Aussie looks at what could cause turbulence in Thailand in the future.

An Aussie plunges to his death in front of his wife while parasailing in Phuket.

The Immigration commissioner has warned that any officers accepting tea money could face dismissal.

The Phuket Gazette announced that the print edition will end at the end of the month.

A young Canadian who hanged himself in a Thai police station had amassed a fortune with a notorious dark web site.

 

SunbeltLegal

Ask Sunbelt Legal

Sunbelt Asia’s legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand.  Send any questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and run their response in a future column.

Question 1:  What can be done when an old Malaysian (or Singaporean or Lao) car or motorcycle is driven to Thailand by a tourist under a one-month temporary import permit (called a “Simplified Customs Declaration”) and it suffers mechanical failure so complete it is not worth the extreme cost of shipping it out on a truck to be scrapped back home?  In other words, it should be scrapped right where it broke down (or was smashed up), in Thailand.

Is there any way to clear the temporary import permit without actually trucking the broken-down vehicle out of Thailand?  For example, can the foreign-registered vehicle be handed to a Thai scrapyard in return for a receipt which can be used to clear the temporary import permit?  If so, who to contact?

Otherwise, does the tourist risk future arrest (for failure to re-export the vehicle) if he abandons the undrivable vehicle?

What happens in practice, in such cases?

Sunbelt Legal responds:  The car cannot be scrapped in Thailand.  Upon application for the one-month import permit, a contract was signed with the Customs Office that stated how long you were allowed to keep the vehicle on Thai soil.  The contract also required a security deposit.  If the car is on Thai soil longer than 30 days the penalty is three times the deposit fee.  The car needs to be taken out of the country or the penalty paid.

 

Question 2:  Is working as a real estate agent, or for a real estate agency, a prohibited occupation for foreigners?  The Alien Business Law refers vaguely to “brokerages” and “service industries” but I can’t find a clear direction regarding real estate agents specifically.

Sunbelt Legal responds:  Working as a real estate agent is one of the jobs reserved for Thai citizens. However, you can work in a real estate company as a consultant, or advisor, you can also be in charge of marketing or management.

 

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What a shame things didn’t work out at Bangkok Bunnies and its attempt to abolish barfines failed.  It was a nice try.  The way the bar scene is going with 200 baht lady drinks becoming more common, coyote dancers dominating many bars and barfines in some Bangkok bars costing as much as long-time in other parts of the country is not sustainable.  I really think that bar owners ought to look closely at the way they operate.  The hardcore punters aren’t going anywhere but first-time visitors will be just that, folks who visit once – but don’t become regulars.  Abolishing barfines obviously didn’t work, but something is going to have to give sooner or later because without regulars, some bars are going to be in trouble.

 

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

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