This is Thailand

 |  April 29, 2010

[right]For those of you with any questions regarding Thailand, Thai culture, history, tourism, laws, rules, food, nightlife, sub-cultures, dating; generally anything as long as it is relevant,
we have a panel of three experts who will respond to your enquiries.

1. I’m afraid my relationship with my wife has ended. I suspect she is cheating on me as she makes any excuse not to be with me. I am American and she is Thai. We have one child who I love dearly. I fear that if our child should grow up with my wife and her family it will be a bad environment for her and her life choices will be limited in a small Isaan village. Do I have any chance of getting custody of our child?

I spoke to a lawyer and he told me that there are two ways a spouse can get custody rights over his/her child after getting a divorce, and those are executing an agreement about it or asking for a court order. Though he explained that to win a case against your Thai wife would be very difficult as the court almost always gives custody to the mother in Thailand. You would have to prove the mother has some kind of mental or physical problem, or the mother will win the case. Another reason why you might win the case is if the child wants to stay with you.

2. Is there a speed limit in Thailand, I don’t remember seeing a sign. Is it illegal to speed?

Unless stated otherwise the speed limit is 60 kph within the city limits and 90 kph on the bigger roads and highways, but if the signs state you can reach up to speeds of 110/120 kph, then that is the limit. I have never seen the police checking car speeds in Chiang Mai but they certainly do on the highways to and from Bangkok.

3. My brother-in-law has a mole on his face and there are really disgusting long black hairs sprouting out of it. Do you know the reason why he doesn’t cut those hairs? I can’t even eat near him and I want to laugh when I speak to him.

I went to an in-law for this answer since she sports one of these facial features herself. She says that the retention of mole hairs, a custom much more popular years ago, is usually a male thing and usually Chinese. Having hairs growing out of a mole (and I have seen them over a foot long) is considered a sign of good luck. But cutting them or pulling them out would negate the good luck and bring on bad.

4. Is there a freemason’s lodge here in Chiang Mai?

There is a French lodge: Lodge Les 7 Niveaux de la Sagesse, No. 891, GLNF. You’ll have to contact them to get an address. There are also quite a few English-speaking lodges in Bangkok. Details can be found here:

5. I’ve written a book – non-fiction – on Thailand’s most notorious underworld figures, with many interviews and quite a few pictures. This is my first book. I have no intention of getting it published abroad as it is Thai-centric, but do you know what process I must go through here? Do I need an agent? Can I send my manuscript straight to a publisher?

Many authors in Thailand self-publish. There’s nothing wrong with that but distribution and money collection is a big problem. To get a real publisher is very similar to how all business is done here in Thailand, you just might need to know someone. I met my publisher – I write English textbooks for Thailand – at a U.S. Consulate reception. My advice is to find a published writer and see if he/she can get you connected. You might be able to do this at The Writers’ Club and Wine Bar, 141/3 Ratchadamnoen Road, two blocks from AUA. The writers meet on Friday nights. Good luck.

Unless you are aiming for massive international sales, forget about a publisher or an agent – who in any case will be hard to find. In the past thirty years I have published twelve books. My printer has been Craftsman Press in Bangkok whom I have found to be most reliable. I print 1,000 copies and ask for a quotation for the next 1,000, which will be considerably cheaper than the first printing run and on this I base my price structure. I sold the books myself (mostly on consignment) to some 30 outlets in Bangkok, 10 in Chiang Mai and 10 in the rest of the country, plus specialised customers via the internet and overseas. I never managed to find a good distributor in Thailand. Your printer will take care of such formalities as registration of the ISBN number. So have fun but don’t expect to make a fortune.