Filed under: Culture, Health, People, Travel | Tags: accidents, babies, Bangkok, beaches, brain, bullets, cannibalism, carnival, Chao Phraya, Chao Phraya Express Boat, China, Chinese, cirrhosis, conjoined twins, cremation, crime, cruises, deformities, disaster, disease, elephantiasis, First World, forensics, Fred West, holidays, horror, human rights, immigration, Krabi, law, markets, medicine, medicine balls, mermaids, movies, murder, museums, mutants, Myra Hindley, organs, parasites, Phuket, rape, restaurants, river cruise, science, scrotum, serial killers, shopping, shopping malls, Si Quey, Siamese twins, Siriraj, Siriraj Hospital, Siriraj Hospital Forensic Museum, skulls, smoking, temples, Thailand, tigers, tourism, tourist attractions, vibrator, Wang Lang, Watch With Mother
Where should one take a visiting mother in Bangkok? Temple-hopping, perhaps? Bargain-hunting in markets and malls? Rooftop or riverside dining? Or maybe to see mutated babies, preserved serial killers, elephantiasis-afflicted scrotums the size of medicine balls, and all manner of diseased, ruptured, punctured, crushed and deformed organs, skulls and limbs?
If that, rather than a Chao Phraya cruise, is what floats your – or your mother’s – boat, then jump on board a ferry to Siriraj Hospital’s Forensic Museum, which mixes genuine scientific endeavour with the kind of shock appeal previously reserved for Victorian carnival freakshows or 1980s body-horror movies.
Filed under: Expat life, Travel | Tags: 1970s, 1980s, Bang Saray, Bangkok, bars, beaches, Chon Buri, commuting, condominiums, condos, drink, entertainment, expats, fast food, fishing, food, Food and Drink, foreign investment, guesthouses, hotels, Jomtien, Ko Samui, McDonalds, motorbikes, nightclubs, package tours, Pattaya, Phuket, pollution, property, prostitution, real estate, restaurants, seaside, shopping malls, Sin City, swimming, Thailand, tourism, work
Talk to any old-timer expat here in Thailand and chances are that, before long, they’ll regale you with tales of when places such as Pattaya and Phuket were quiet fishing villages, and then lament that if only they’d bought land or property back then, they’d be stinking rich now.
Which raises the question of where tomorrow’s Pattaya or Phuket might be, or whether there even remains such potential in a country which is vastly more ensconsced on the tourist map than it was in the 1970s or 80s. Surely anywhere of commercial opportunity will already be long-discovered?
Maybe not. (more…)
Filed under: Expat life, International news, media, News, Nightlife, People, Thai news | Tags: Amsterdam, Bangkok, bars, beggars, bikinis, blogs, Blythe, Britain, BTS, child brides, child prostitution, corruption, crime, Culture, Daily Mirror, David Carradine, death, Disney, editor, gay, go-go bars, Google, hoaxes, Hollywood, hostess bars, hostesses, hotels, ID cards child sex, investigative journalism, Iraq, Iraq war, journalism, journalist, law, London, magazines, Mark Ebner, market, massage, massage parlours, Maxim, media, media law, men's magazines, middle-aged, movies. holidays, MRT, murder, Nai Lert Park, Nana, Nana Hotel, Nana Plaza, News, newspaper, Nightlife, North Korea, Pacific, Pacific islands, paedophilia, Patpong, Patpong Market, Pattaya, Phnom Penh, Piers Morgan, press, prostitution, red light districts, rickshaws, sex, sex games, shopping, skytrain, slums, Soho, Soi Cowboy, soldiers, subway, suicide, Suvarnabhumi airport, Swissotel, taxis, Thailand, Times Square, tourism, tourists, websites
As I work in the press, I’m always quick to defend journalists, especially against the stereotype that they “make things up”.
It is true, though, that facts can be shaped to fit an agenda, and also that whenever there are two or more sides to a story, a journalist can take whichever side best fits his remit. But they can’t simply make things up.
For a start, it’s against the law. If a newspaper prints a story about a person or event, and cannot prove that it is true if required to do so, then it will face penalties.
Take, for example, the 2004 case of the Daily Mirror‘s publication of photos which apparently showed British soldiers abusing an Iraqi captive. Desperate for a sensational scoop, The Mirror didn’t check the authenticity of the pictures, which were later proven to be fake. The result – editor Piers Morgan was fired.
So, a publication really can’t “make things up” without risking personal, political or financial repercussions. However, that’s not to say it never happens. While I may be quick to defend the press against this stereotype, at the same time I am quick to criticise journalists who do contribute to it.
Filed under: Culture, Expat life, People | Tags: Bangkok, Bible, bottled water, culture difference, drink, English, English language, food, food court, juice, language, Lost in Translation, mineral water, Minute Maid, orange, orange juice, Sprite, stupid, Thai, Thai language, Thai people, Tower of Babel, translation, water
I’m learning Thai, but my abilities remain limited, so I’d never criticise a Thai person’s attempts at English.
I was at the drinks stand of a Bangkok food court. The vendor stood in front of a double glass door fridge. I appraised his wares, and the lingual fun began.
The conversation was a mix of my limited Thai and his limited English, but for simplicity’s sake I have transcribed it in English only. But even allowing for language differences, there’s no way such a simple transaction should have been anywhere near as protracted. Sprite is Sprite, whether in English or Thai, written or spoken.
Me: Sprite, please.
Him: Bottled water?
Me: No, Sprite, please.
(He reaches for a bottle of Minute Maid orange juice.)
Me: No, Sprite.
Him: No have.
Me: Yes, you have (pointing at the Sprite in the fridge).
(He reaches for the orange juice again.)
Me: No, down.
(He reaches two shelves down, passes the Sprite, and goes for the bottled water again.)
Me: No, up.
(He reaches two shelves up and goes for the orange juice again.)
(He looks at me as if I’m stupid.)
Me: Sprite. Suh-prite? Spuh-rite?
(He continues to just look at me.)
Me: There! (Pointing again).
(He reluctantly opens the fridge again and we begin to repeat the up-down routine.)
Me: No, up. No, down. Right. Right. No, go right! Yes! That one!
Him: (Looking at me like I’m really stupid) Oh, you want Sprite.
(Note: As Thai for “bottled water” is “nam plao” and “orange juice” is “nam som”, there’s no possibly way he could have confused either with “Sprite”, whether in sound or appearance!)
Filed under: Culture, Health, media, News, Nightlife, People, politics, Thai news | Tags: 2010, advertising, advertising laws, alcohol, alcohol advertising, art, Bang Saen, Bangkok, bars, Beer, body painting, calendar, cander, censorship, Chang Beer, concerts, festivals, gay, go-go bars, hangover, Health, homophobia, Indonesia, Leo Beer, media, models, Nightlife, nude calendar, nude models, nudity, painting, politics, prostitution, reggae, sex, skin cancer, Thai, Thai beer, Thai girls, Thai government, Thai models, Thai people, Thai politics, Thai women, Thailand, Utah, vice, whisky
It is often assumed that the people who complain loudest about something have the most to hide. That’s the prevailing logic about homophobia – that those who hate gays do so because they are seeking to deny something about themselves.
And it is certainly the case with the recent controversy over the Leo Beer 2010 calendar launched here in Thailand last week – and promptly banned from sale or distribution by the government.
The reason for the ban was two-fold. First of all, alcohol advertising laws in Thailand forbid the linking of alcohol with fun. Secondly, nudity is forbidden in the media. As this was a calendar promoting beer through the use of body-painted (so, officially nude in that they weren’t actually clothed, even though they were at least visually covered) models, it was always likely to offend someone in a position of power.
Filed under: News, People, politics, Thai news | Tags: Abhisit Vejjajiva, Adolf Hitler, airports, America, Bangkok, Bumrungrad Hospital, cake, cancer, Charles Bronson, Chatuchak, Chatuchak Market, comedy, conflict of interest, cookery, cooking show, corruption, coups, death, economy, exports, Fawlty Towers, food, foreign investment, government, Government House, Health, high farce, hospital, journalists, liver, liver cancer, markets, media. Thaksin Shinawatra, mosquitoes, motorbikes, obituary, PAD, People Power Party, People's Alliance for Democracy, political demonstrations, politics, Potjaman na Pombejra, PR, press, press intrusion, prime minister, protests, psychology, public relations, public toilets, reporters, Samak Sundaravej, saving face, Somchai Wongsawat, spin doctor, Thai, Thai economy, Thai politics, Thailand, toilet, tourism, USA, yellow shirts
Former Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej died yesterday. He succumbed to liver cancer in Bangkok’s Bumrungrad Hospital, aged 74.
Samak was PM when I moved to Thailand in April last year. He was quite a character and his presence – along with the movements of his rivals and his interactions with the press – could at times be quite comic, if not downright farcical. Before Thai politics turned sour with mob protests, airports seiges and coups, it could even be quite fun to read about Samak’s exploits.
He was the first of three PMs in my time here (three leaders in 19 months in itself is an indictment of the state of Thai politics) and by far the most memorable. He was nowhere near as photogenic as current PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, nor was he anything like as polite as his successor, Somchai Wongsawat, but that is precisely why he made his mark. He behaved aggressively, he was beligerent to the media, he sulked in public, he was unafraid to belittle people if he felt they deserved it, he was stoic in the face of political pressure – and his hardened appearance matched these, ahem, qualities.
Filed under: Culture, Outside Thailand, Travel | Tags: AB Motel, Asian travel, Bangkok, Batu Ferringhi, beach bar, beaches, Beer, British, Broadway Budget Hotel, Brunei, cable car, car hire, Cenang, Cenang nightlife, Chinese, Chinese food, colonial Malaysia, coral, coral reefs, ferry, fish, fish feeding, fort, Fort Cornwallis, Georgetown, grouper, guesthouses, hiking, Indians, Jalan Penang, Kuah, Langkawi, Langkawi nightlife, live band, live music, luxury resorts, luxury tourism, Malays, Malaysia, Malaysian people, mangroves, marine park, military, Miri, monkeys, mountain, Muslims, Nightlife, octopus, Pantai Kok, Penang, Penang nightlife, Pulau Payar, Pulau Payar marine park, reggae, reggae band, reggae music, resorts, river, Rough Guide, scuba diving, seabass, seafood, seaport, Seven Wells, sharks, snorkelling, South East Asia, South East Asian travel, stingray, swimming, taxis, Thailand, Thais, tourism, tourist attractions, tourists, tropical islands, waterfall
I spent last week in Malaysia wth my girlfriend, Waew. It was our first proper holiday together and my first proper trip to Malaysia (I did a brief border hop from Brunei in 2005 but that was essentially just to tick another country off the list). It was also my first proper holiday in South East Asia since moving to Thailand last year, having so far failed to live up to my promise to myself to see as much of the region as possible while living here.We flew in and out of Penang, where we spent half of the week. The other half we spent in Langkawi. It proved a decent mix of city and countryside, culture and relaxation, with stays in three locations.
The morning ferry from Penang to Langkawi necessitated a pre-dawn wakening in order to drive from Batu Ferringhi to Georgetown, drop off the hire car and walk to the port (no taxis being available at that time) in time for check-in 45 minutes before departure. Consequently we got to drive through a pretty sunrise and negotiate a sleepy Georgetown before the city and its inhabitants fully woke.
Filed under: Culture, Outside Thailand, Travel | Tags: Asia, Asian travel, backpackers, Bangkok, Batu Ferringhi, beach, bhangra, Blue Diamond Hotel, Broadway Budget Hotel, Brunei, Buddhism, Buddhist temples, Burmese architecture, Butterworth, car hire, carpetbag steak, China, Chinese, Chinese architecture, Chinese food, chocolate, coffee, colonial architecture, crabs, European food, expats, fabrics, Georgetown, Georgetown bars, Hindu temples, Hinduism, holidays, Indian, Indian food, Indian music, Islam, Jalan Chulia, Jalan Penang, Kek Lok Si, Langkawi, lizards, Malay, Malay food, Malaysia, Miri, monitor lizards, mosques, multiculturalism, Muslims, nightclubs, Nightlife, Penang, Penang Bridge, Penang Butterfly Farm, Penang Hill, Penang Snake Temple, Penang Tropical Fruits Farm, prayers, restaurants, Rough Guide, sari shops, Shalini's Guesthouse, South East Asia, South East Asian travel, steak, stray dogs, temples, Thai architecture, Thai food, Thailand, tourism, Travel, tuk-tuk
Filed under: Expat life, Health | Tags: Bangkok, Bangkok Christian Hospital, dermatologist, dermatology, doctor, food, food poisoning, Health, hospital, immune system, leg ulcer, NHS, private healthcare, private hospital, pyoderma gangrenosum, Silom, Silom Road, Thailand, tropics, UK, ulcer, United Kingdom
My health is generally fine. I’ve only taken one day off work since moving here, due to a particularly violent bout of food poisoning. I’ll spare you the details, but on two occasions (the other being on a weekend) I have been rendered utterly housebound by the ill-effects of dodgy food. I guess this comes with the territory when living in the tropics, and twice in less than a year and a half is not bad, really.But I am still trying to resolve a health issue which I brought with me from the UK – a leg ulcer which has been present for two years now. I have a skin disease called pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) and I must be very special, because it affects just 1 in 100,000 people!
It is basically an inappropropriate immune response – the immune system attacks a wound or blemish, but gobbles up good skin, too. This is what creates the ulcer and what continues to prevent it healing. (more…)
Filed under: Culture, Nightlife, restaurants, Travel | Tags: Bang Saen, Bangkok, bars, beach, Britain, Buddha Cave, Cha-Am, Chinese, Chinese temple, European people, Germany, guesthouses, Hua Hin, Kaeng Krachan, Khao Sam Roi Yod, Khao Takiab, Ko Chang, Ko Samet, macaques, markets, mass tourism, Monkey Island, monkeys, Naresdamri Road, national parks, night markets, nightclubs, Nightlife, Pattaya, Queen Victoria, Queen Victoria pub, red light distrcut, Scandinavia, sea, seafood, seafood restaurants, sex tourism, south Thailand, sports bars, tailor shops, temples, Thai people, Thailand, tourism, tourists, Western food, Western restaurants, Yorkshire, Yorkshire Inn, zoo
Hua Hin is the best beach spot within easy reach of Bangkok – by a long way, in my opinion.
Pattaya remains the busiest, but its popularity is more due to it being Thailand’s sex central – and unabashed position as such – rather than its unremarkable beach, dirty sea and culture-less city centre.
Cha-Am and Bang Saen have a nice atmosphere to them, but their beaches are gritty, with parasols spoiling most of the views (Thais like to be beside the seaside as much as Europeans, but hate the prospect of the sunshine darkening their skin).
Ko Samet and Ko Chang are both wonderful, but at around 4-5 hours’ drive from Bangkok, plus a ferry ride, they’re just a tad too far for a short hop.
Hua Hin, then, at 2-3 hours’ drive from Bangkok, is not only viable but also offers a lot that the aforementioned seaside spots don’t. (more…)