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Found 62 results

  1. Version 1.0.0

    59 downloads

    Koh Chang Guide Issue 3 - July 2017 - download the PDF version using the green download button or read the issue online here. All the latest information about Koh Chang
  2. Koh Chang Guide Issue 2 - July 2017 View File Koh Chang Guide Issue 2 - July 2017 - download the PDF version using the green download button or read the issue online here. All the latest information about Koh Chang Submitter Jonathan Fairfield Submitted 06/23/2017 Category Thaivisa Members Files  
  3. Midweek rant: Bikers deserve some respect too, you know Yes, I accept I am a second class citizen. I can see why you might think I am near the bottom of the vehicular food chain. I admit I don’t have film tint on my windows. I don’t even have windows. I am just a downtrodden motorcyclist. Just a bloody biker…. But you know there are quite a lot of us and despite what some car owners say we are human. We have feelings…..all we are after is a little respect and consideration. And some fair treatment from the cops – if you can do fair. In return I promise to stay off the sidewalks. Promise to obey the rules of the road. I’ll even stop if I inadvertently scratch your car… Bikers in Bangkok – or any other major Thai city – are treated as the lowest of the low. It is rather unfair. Some of us have cars but we just want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. We have jobs to do and families to feed – in fact there are an awful lot of us about. And we take up much less space on the roads and rarely block other people. Firstly can I say to the police…… Would you mind not ripping us off and preying on us just because we are unlikely to be people of influence and are relatively easy pickings. How about show some parity with the car drivers who break all the laws – and often kill us because they don’t bother to look where they are going. How about stopping these ridiculous checkpoints that are used to fleece us for using various bridges and tunnels? It is absurd to stop us using such roads and thoroughfares. We accept that we have no right on the expressway or motorways – fine. But we all know why we are stopped in the middle of most days. And how you like us to bring out our wallets for disobeying the ridiculous. Wouldn’t your time be better spent making sure that cars are not making illegal U-turns, are not pushing in and holding everyone up are not running red lights? You can get your fines that way, and be doing everyone a favor into the bargain. Secondly to car drivers….. Would it be possible for you to stick to the markings on the road, stick to your lanes? That way we can get through easily and there will be less danger of damage to your precious paintwork or your expensive wing mirrors. It’s called consideration, even good driving – you may have heard of it. Also please try to look when coming out onto a main road. This involves using the eyes that are positioned just above your nose. It may be necessary to look for a few seconds to make sure you have not missed us. That way you can avoid damage to your car and it will have the added benefit of helping us return to our families at the end of the day. Win-win! To building owners…… Could you remember that we are also your customers? Would it be possible not to pen us in in these underground dungeons that pass for what you call parking lots. Apart from being very bad for the health of your own staff it is almost impossible at times to get our bikes out after they are crammed in. We are admittedly poor and low class but we have spent what little resources we have on our transport as well as car owners. Also to the places that charge for bike parking. It can easily build up to 100 baht in some places. That is a lot for a biker. Would a car that costs twenty times as much be prepared to pay 2,000 baht just to park…..I think you’d have a riot on your hands. For some who have what you call “big bikes” the situation is a bit better as you cordoned off another area. But I note that many of you have changed this to 400cc up. What about the thousands if not millions of us who have 250cc bikes – there is barely room to swing a cat in some of your parking lots. Some better signage about where we should go would also be appreciated – a bike with a big arrow would fit the bill. And not just one – keep the directions going until the parking is in view. To pedestrians….. Would you mind staying on the sidewalks and using pedestrian overpasses. If you have to cross the road try looking…..using those eyes I spoke about earlier. Jaywalking and appearing suddenly in a biker’s path is likely to result in your serious injury – and our death as likely as not. To the people responsible for the road surface…… Could you get out there and fill in some of the potholes. You see for cars it might be a little jolt or mean a spot of wheel aligning is in order. For us bikers we tend to come off and get our brains splattered on the tarmac. It’s messy and very unsightly. If we don’t die instantly just because of a small hole or ridge left unattended we are often flattened by oncoming cars. This can result in damage to expensive cars…… Finally to our dear friends the security guards who are most likely bikers just like us… Would you mind awfully pointing to where we can park first rather than let us park, take off all our protective gear, start walking to our destination……before you tell us that we can’t park there. Then we won’t get so cross. In return for all this we promise to behave ourselves and act as responsibly as you in your cars and trucks. Who knows – some of us may even live long enough to enjoy our grandchildren. We may even feel respected. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-21
  4. Thailand's New 10-Year Visas Meet Mixed Reactions By Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, Staff Reporter - BANGKOK — Expats have expressed enthusiasm about the approval of a plan to issue 10-year visas but worry they may be of benefit to few as more details about how they would work have came to light Thursday. Since the cabinet approved Tuesday a plan to offer 10-year visas to foreign nationals over 50, a number of have expats welcomed the news but said they were concerned about their accessibility, health insurance requirements and unaddressed shortcomings of other visa offerings. Full story: http://www.khaosodenglish.com/news/business/2016/11/24/details-10-year-visas-meet-mixed-reactions/ -- © Copyright Khaosod English 2016-11-24
  5. Midweek rant: Save Our Pattaya – time for less back slapping and more action The sight and sound of Pattaya’s top cop Apichai Krobpetch slapping the backs of his men and praising them to the skies last week was worse than laughable. Apparently his upstanding men were doing a great job and fully merited the millions of baht of new motorcycle presents they had just been given by HQ. Everything was just hunky dory down by the sea! Even by the double standards of Pattaya this was patently absurd. The force in Chonburi – read Pattaya – is rumored to be one of the hardest to get into. Not because of the difficulty of the exams or the quality of officers it attracts – because of how much that has to change hands just to get a job there. Such are the rich pickings. Many of the officers in the province make the rest of the country look like angels in comparison! How many times have we read about cops at the resort trying to fleece and extort money from the public? There was Nang Fa karaoke, women picked off the streets on trumped up charges, people harassed even raped….the list goes on. When the force investigates its own it descends into farce. How many times have we seen their total inactivity when they were needed most? And how many times have we seen their shambolic efforts to clean up the mean streets? Surely it is time to look at the performance of the force under the current leadership and at least have a few serious words. Make some threats – they might understand that language after all. Pattaya is now meant to be priding itself as a hub of all that is good in tourism. But as officialdom tried to play down reports of the dangers in Thailand as a whole the microcosm that is Pattaya could hardly escape the spotlight. Yes, foreign residents always bang on about it being like that since the year dot. Well, that isn’t good enough if the resort is going to drag itself up to a semblance of respectability…if that is ever or even possible. Two cases in the last couple of days seem to show motiveless attacks against foreigners. One was an Australian and one was an Indian out for a walk with his Thai girlfriend. Sure, people who have had a drink sometimes conveniently forget they might have upset someone but these two cases are nonetheless worrying and should be thoroughly investigated. The last thing Pattaya needs is roaming gangs of bandits in pick-ups out for a bit of Clockwork Orange style bashing. Then there is the continual cases of snatch theft happening almost daily. The victims seem to be blamed for wearing jewelry or conducting insurance scams more than the police for not being on the beat or trying to prevent and heaven forbid….actually solve crime. When the cases are reported the force go through the motions – they phone ahead to stop the miscreants, villains who always flee into the night on their bikes and escape; they check CCTV that is either not working or unhelpful; they promise a follow up. Yawn! Absolutely nothing happens and the next day there is another incident. And so the cycle of inactivity continues. It is a far cry from the chief’s utopian claims. Whatever happened to the “Happy Zones” where the eyes and ears of CCTV and an empowered public were supposed to be working with the police in eradicating crime? That is a rhetorical question because all we see is absolute total farce and pathetic lip service. The military obviously have their work cut out when it comes to reigning in the Chonburi force. Changes have been made to the top brass but it still seems to result in more tarnish. Apichai further claimed that his men represented value for money for public taxes. But for many people who love the resort, who call it their home and would like to see it cleaner, safer, friendlier and above all less corrupt, his words fell on decidedly flat ears. And the tragedy is that no one was particularly surprised at what he said. That is the level to which Pattaya has sunk. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-14
  6. Midweek rant: A plea from a lowly pedestrian It’s not that I’m not grateful for the wonderful train being built outside my front door. It's not that I can’t wait for three or four years until it’s finished. It’s not that I can’t put up with the traffic and the mayhem that all the building is causing. It’s not even that I am so unhappy with the state of the bumpy footpath full of holes – at least clearing it of vendors has made it a bit easier to walk. I can even put up with the flooding. It’s just that when I am out with my daughter and her buggy I can’t really go anywhere any more. Are we expected to be some kind of prisoners in our soi and immediate area for the next several years…until things get better? You see, I might not have many years left and I want to make use of the time I have to try and enjoy life a bit with my kids. If I perch them on my motorbike I worry. If I get in the car we can’t move anyway. I don’t ask much – I just want to go out for a walk. My daughter feels the same. She'd tell you herself it's just that she is only one. I refer specifically to the building of the Green Line extension to Saphan Mai in the Ratchayothin area – but my plea is applicable to other construction projects throughout the country. Around here all the pedestrian overpasses have been taken out. I get that. But what did you replace them with – a few holes in the construction fences where pedestrians could dash across if they saw a chink of light in the onrushing cars. Yes, I know you call them Zebra Crossings – it’s just that nobody stops. They never have. Unless perhaps you’re killed on the road and even then they might not stop. There’s a sign on one disused bridge that says I can cross 15 meters ahead – I’d do that if I had a death wish and wanted to see the back of my one year old daughter. I don’t. Anyway, I remember seeing a video of some tourists in Chiang Mai doing that. It kinda scared me. I’d rather cross, if possible, with a modicum of safety. You see there are some lovely places to get to nearby where we used to go before you started improving things. The gardens at SCB with the fountains and the museum. The pond with all its animals and the well maintained aquarium at Kaset University. The playground on the other side of Pahonyothin Road. But I can’t get there anymore. I am afraid my kids will be teenagers before I can cross the road again. I am not asking for much. Just a bit of consideration. I know all Thais are world famous for that. I see it every day with the ordinary people in the streets trying to cope with the mess. They open doors for me and say lovely things about my daughter as they try to help on small flights of stairs. So how about a sequence in the lights to give pedestrians a chance to cross the road while the cars and bikes wait for a minute. Even thirty seconds would be OK. Then we could hurry to the other side – I can still step on it a bit despite the dodgy farang back I hurt falling in one of your potholes recently. And it’s not just me and my buggy. I imagine that anyone in a wheelchair would just have to live somewhere else. Even the most able-bodied people along with the rest of us are finding it difficult enough. Oh and another thing – it’s nothing really. Could you make sure those orange crane like things on top of the pylons are tied on with a few nuts and bolts. You see a couple of them, actually three, have fallen on pedestrians and workers in the area in the last few months. Four people won’t be walking anywhere in the future after that. Maybe someone forgot – please have a word. Throughout the city and in the rest of the country we are glad that one day we shall have some extensive public transport to be proud of. But for now could you just spare a thought for our lives as lowly pedestrians. And at least help us to walk safely in our towns and cities. And get from A to B. And maybe even back home again….. Alive, if possible. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-31
  7. Stand-Up Comedy – Chris Henry at Robin Hood Tavern – 10 June 2017 The Comedy Club Bangkok proudly presents stand-up comedy with CHRIS HENRY – live in Pattaya at The Robin Hood Tavern. As part of his his festival tour, packing out venues performing at The Edinburgh Fringe, down under at the Australian festivals and now touring Asia, CHRIS HENRY performs his latest exclusive show “IGNORANCE IS CHRIS” Also seen on British TV and the biggest clubs in the UK, Chris has packed all his observations of our planet into his sixth side-splitting show where you can expect tales of his strange experiences and silly exploits, using his uniquely Scottish perspective on the world. Chris will be joined by special guests. ฿600 in advance online at bit.ly/Comedy-RobinHoodPattaya and The Robin Hood Tavern Pub! ฿800 on the door. FB event page: Stand-Up Comedy – Chris Henry in Pattaya! Hosted by Robin Hood Tavern and Comedy Club Bangkok Saturday, June 10 at 8 PM – 10:30 PM
  8. Midweek rant: Thai news – all we get is tumbleweed File photo Following the Thai news is like going to the movies and suffering a power cut before the final scene. So often we are left in the dark. With no idea how it ended. Time and time again we follow the news faithfully only to be left high and dry at the crucial moment. The Thai news media fall over themselves in the early stage of an investigation. And the police come up with all sorts of theories as an arrest is imminent and the case is all but solved. Later today, Friday at the latest, Tuesday for sure… Then days become weeks and weeks become months before a year has passed. Has the case gone cold? Has the matter been shuffled under the carpet? Or have the perps been arrested tried and forgiven?! Or has the key been thrown away? Thai media seems great when a case is in the public eye. They love a soap opera. But it is like their attention span is five minutes. They move on before it’s over. And following up is a bit like Thai maintenance – virtually non-existent! Unless someone forces the issue that is. And who is around to do that – what pressure groups exist apart from the lowly victims of the crimes. Sure, there are many cases where arrests are made early and confessions extracted. Fine – but what happened next? Did the matter go to court – and if so what were the sentences? At the very least I want those tedious posters who talk about “brown envelopes” and “500 baht slaps on the wrist” as though they have some kind of advanced cultural knowledge of Thailand to be stopped in their tracks. But no…..all we get is tumbleweed. Everyone can think of many cases in the last year or so – cases of such public interest that it should be the duty of the press to follow up and let us know. There are the six police children and accomplices who murdered the handicapped bread seller in Lat Prao. They were initially held but where are they now? What became of Shimon the Israeli and his son who put a friend under the stairs? What of the US citizens who cut up their mate and put him in a Sukhumvit freezer? How about the Suan Kularb teacher in the case of sex with students? It started as scandal and ended in silence. Are the murderers of Tony Kenway in Pattaya just teaching English in Cambodia without a care in the world? The list goes on and on. It is not just crime but cases of all kinds. And the silence is deafening. Come on Thai press. Don’t let your police get away with inaction. Don’t let the authorities whitewash you. Roust them up, demand some answers – think about the public and their needs. Think about the victims. And do your bloody job and report! I’ll read it. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-07
  9. Top Hua Hin Hotels Spread Motorbike Safety Message Hua Hin, Thailand, 22nd May 2017 - A group of leading hotels and resorts in Hua Hin, including Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa, recently held an important joint event to raise awareness about motorcycle safety among Thai schoolchildren. Shocking figures show that less than 7% of Thai children wear helmets when riding on motorbikes with their parents. This means that every day, all across the country, more than 93% of Thai children are risking their lives just by traveling to and from school. In order to address this alarming statistic, 10 of Hua Hin’s top hotels joined forces on May 22nd, 2017, to organize the "Helmet Extravaganza" 2nd year - a CSR event aimed at saving the lives of young people in Hua Hin and Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. Hotels taking part in the initiative included Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa, Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa, Hyatt Regency Hua Hin, Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa, Intercontinental Hua Hin Resort, Anantara Hua Hin Resort, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villa Hua Hin, Putahracsa Hua Hin, So Sofitel Hua Hin and Amari Hua Hin organized a CSR event to generate awareness among the Hua Hin locals to start wearing helmets and provide safety for their children by donating more than 400 helmets to the Hua Hin’s student and schools within Hua Hin, Prachuab Khiri Khan Province, and provide fun activities at the same time by painting the donated helmets in each hotel. “It is a worrying fact of life in Thailand – and across many Asian countries – that many children do not wear helmets when traveling on motorcycles with their parents,” Goetz Bauer, General Manager of the Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa. “There are many reasons for this, but often it is simply that the children do not have helmets to wear.” “By donating more than 400 helmets to local students we could be potentially saving the lives of 400 local children. This is a truly incredible thought, and can I think of no more worthwhile activity to be part of.” The Helmet Extravaganza was attended by an estimated 500 people, including the schoolchildren, representatives of the 10 hotels and members of the media.
  10. Target the 21 million tourists per year in Bangkok Bangkok is the number 1 tourist destination in the world, bigger than London, Paris and New York; so getting your business in front of this tourist group represents a staggering opportunity - and until now it has been very difficult to do. On June 1st, Choice Group Asia Media Group launch the only 24 hour television channel in Bangkok that targets tourists. It will play in over 10,000 hotels (or 1 million hotel rooms) in Bangkok. Being the only local channel for foreigners it means it will be the go to channel for tourists wanting to find out more about where to go and what to do in Bangkok. Target Tourists on Huge Scale and for Less To celebrate this significant launch, Choice Group Asia offer low introductory prices. A 20 second advert played 12 times a day on this digital channel will cost only 15,000 baht, whilst a 40 second advert played 24 times a day will cost only 40,000 baht. A minimum contract of 6 months and a production fee of only 10,000 baht will be charged (reduced from 25,000 baht). This offer closes on June 15th 2017. Email dan@choicegroupasia.com or ring 086 155 2500 for more details. Example of Channel Content
  11. Foreigner jumps into Chiang Mai canal to save Thai teen from sinking car By Coconuts Bangkok Photo: Guru Chiang Mai/ Facebook CHIANG MAI: -- An elderly foreigner was praised online for saving the life of a Chiang Mai teen whose car had strayed off the road and into a khlong last night. The heroic act of James Charles Grand, 61, was shared by Chiang Mai Facebook community “Guru Chiang Mai,” after the foreigner dove in to retrieve the injured teen from the sinking car. Grant, whose nationality was not disclosed, was reportedly riding a motorbike when he passed by the scene of the accident in central Chiang Mai. The Thai teen was sent to the hospital by rescue volunteers. Full story: https://coconuts.co/bangkok/news/foreigner-jumps-chiang-mai-canal-save-thai-teen-sinking-car/ -- © Copyright Coconuts Bangkok 2017-05-23
  12. Midweek rant: The power of money – but what about the public interest? File Photo Too often in Thailand the soothing power of money replaces justice. What should be something in addition to criminal prosecution is frequently used as a convenient and easy way out. Especially for the rich and famous. But also for any Tom, Dick or Harry who has a reasonably full wallet. It begs the question – as more and more cases are settled by the passing over of cash is the public interest being served? Is it my foot! This week we were reminded of the case two years back when Thai/British actress Anna Reese simply bought her way out of trouble. It was all done in full view of the public. But it wasn’t a fine. It was just something agreed on under the auspices of the police. The family accepted money in the death of 44 year old Suphanburi policeman Napadol killed in his patrol car. Was it just celebrity and wealth that got the actress off? Not really – anyone with money can buy their way out it seems. What kind of message does this send out, especially to young people reading the news? I’ll tell you. It says if you can pay you don’t need to take responsibility for your actions, that’s what. And as we see the actress once again behaving atrociously and drink driving this week we can see that she has absolutely learnt nothing from killing another person. Do it again, just pay some more. The tragedy is, while the latest case is going to court, it may still have been settled in cash if she had hurt someone else. Time and again we see crimes settled with the handing over of everything from a few thousand baht to a few million. It happens in everything from assault, to criminal damage, to negligence – even in cases involving children who are maltreated. It happens everywhere, all the time. Sometimes the figures are not even revealed leading to more lurid speculation and lack of transparency. The time has come for the police to prosecute all cases especially those in the public interest. And stop interpreting the law when they have a duty on behalf of the public. If money is to play a part then it should be IN ADDITION to criminal prosecution and jail time, not instead of it. When OJ Simpson managed to escape justice in the celebrated double homicide case there was still the civil matter than gave something back to the families of his victims. He was hit for millions but only after he was tried. While many foreign legal systems try to grapple with the issues of compensation and justice few are like Thailand where financial compensation seems to rule the roost. Of course, settling things with money also suits the police. It is much easier and involves less work and loose ends can be tied up in one sweet little bundle. Everyone looks good and everyone seems on the surface to go home happy. But the law and the people are made to look like fools for the sake of cute expediency. The public should demand of their lawmakers that crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Not just when the police decide – and not just when poor people accept money. Criminals must end up in court and be given appropriate sentences. Not just allowed to open their wallets and move on to the next crime, the next victim. Victims must not be pressurized by either the police or the system into accepting money. Sure, many are impoverishedand we know why they accept. They need money even if it is a pittance to the guilty. And their cultural background screams too much to them to live and let live. Move on, a sense of fatalism prevailing. Your lot is what it is! These people – as much as the public – are not served justice. They should know that those that harm them are first and foremost being prosecuted for their illegal actions. THEN, and only then, will they have the opportunity to be financially compensated for their loss, for the damage done to them. The system needs to be a double edged sword directly squarely at the criminals with clear guideline to show that justice is done and seen to be done for the sake of all in society. Stop treating money as the universal healer. And start thinking about justice and appropriate punishment for crimes. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-24
  13. Motor mouth: T. rex could bite with the force of three cars By Will Dunham REUTERS FILE PHOTO - Bill Simpson looks inside a fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex known as "SUE", before removing its forelimb to be used for research at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. on October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have come up with one more reason to be amazed by Tyrannosaurus rex. When the huge carnivorous dinosaur took a bite, it did so with an awe-inspiring force equal to the weight of three small cars, enabling it to crunch bones with ease. Researchers on Wednesday said a computer model based on the T. rex jaw muscle anatomy and analyses of living relatives like crocodilians and birds showed its bite force measured about 8,000 pounds (3,630 kg), the strongest of any dinosaur ever estimated. "T. rex could pretty much bite through whatever it wanted, as long as it was made of flesh and bone," said Florida State University paleobiologist Gregory Erickson. In quantifying the power of T. rex's chomp, they also calculated how it transmitted its bite force through its conical, seven-inch (18-cm) teeth, finding it generated 431,000 pounds per square inch (30,300 kg per square cm) of tooth pressure, another measure of its power, on the contact area of the teeth. Bite marks on fossilized bones of dinosaurs like the horned Triceratops that lived alongside Tyrannosaurus some 66 million years ago in western North America indicated T. rex was a bone-cruncher. The ability to pulverize and eat bones gave T. rex, which was about 43 feet (13 meters) long and weighed about seven tons, an advantage over competing predators that could not. "Predators with bone-crunching abilities are able to exploit a high-risk, high-reward resource: the minerals that make up bone itself and the fatty marrow that is contained inside," said paleontologist Paul Gignac of the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, lead author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports. "The risk is the potential to accrue extreme tooth damage from biting into bone, making it difficult or impossible to capture prey effectively or rupture the long bones of carcasses." Previous studies have estimated Tyrannosaurus bite strength but the researchers in the new study called their approach more sophisticated. Their computer modeling was developed and tested on alligators, with the researchers studying how each muscle contributed to the bite force. They concluded T. rex possessed the greatest tooth pressure of any creature ever studied. Its bite force far exceeded that of any living creature, but was not the greatest ever. For example, they estimated in 2012 an enormous croc called Deinosuchus, which lived a few million years before T. rex and weighed even more, had a bite strength of 23,000 pounds (10,400 kg). (Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-19
  14. Midweek rant: The conflict of compromise and accountability File Photo One of the things that the Thais pride themselves on has become a public millstone around their necks. It is the ability to find a compromise. On first coming to Thailand it was always heartening to see the Thais’ ability to interpret the law. At first glance it seemed better than some rigid notion from the West. There always seemed so much wriggle room and, perhaps in a blessed state of rose tinted naivety, one thought this was a national trait to be proud of. I still do to a certain extent but those initial days of youthful optimism have now been replaced with more heard hearted realism. Because compromise often leads to a complete lack of justice with particularly the weaker and less influential members of society on the receiving end. And ultimately what began as a worthy spirit of compromise – seeing both sides of a conflict perhaps satisfying a mutual satisfaction for a semblance of justice as well as face - leads inexorably to just one inevitable and unwanted conclusion: An utter lack of accountability. How often do we see in high profile news stories where officialdom is not held accountable for their illegal and negligent actions? That is rather a rhetorical question – countless fires, boat accidents, building collapses and the like have largely gone unpunished. Corruption is one thing – but hiding behind a veil of compromise as if this is a human virtue to be cherished above the rule of law is quite another. It lends a kind of legitimacy to the result of cases and is fed to the public like cake. And leaves victims in a limbo where social mores seem to have been given priority while the law is merely paid lip service. Last week’s case of a gun toting cop threatening bank staff who came to repossess a car is a clear case in point. Despite ridiculous claims of extenuating circumstances the actions of the cop, a supposed upholder of the law, were threatening in the extreme and left the leasing employees scared and bewildered. Not only should the cop have been stripped of his job but there should be no doubt what awaits people who do this kind of thing – jail. There is no need for an inactive posting and an investigation. He needs to be locked up. But what do we see instead? Talk of a prosecution, yes, but the whole case then becomes muddied by compromise. The wife – who shouldn’t be part of what her husband did – goes on TV then shakes hands with the bank staff. The smokescreen of luvvy-duvvy compromise with handshakes all round tells everyone that a supposedly satisfactory solution has been found. The Thais have done it their way again and the whole world can rejoice! Who leaned on who is irrelevant. What matters is that by inference a man who should uphold the law is seen as somehow innocent for brandishing a gun at people doing their jobs in a lawful manner. The employees of the bank are left to wonder what will happen to them next time. For there will certainly be a next time if people are allowed to get away with such scandalous behavior. Maybe they will be shot….and the compromise will be a payment of 20,000 to help with funeral expenses. No justice was served in the case – either for the bank staff or the interests of the public at large. No one was held accountable and compromise was seen as somehow triumphing over evil. The police can talk all they want about the law running its course – it is almost a euphemism for letting time run its course until everyone has forgotten what happened. Then we had the tragic case of the four year old girl falling down the drain while playing at a housing estate south of Bangkok. It was heart wrenching to see the hapless little child step on some flimsy sticks and fall to her death on CCTV. Where will be the justice for Yosita and her grieving family? Just like countless negligence cases before and doubtless after one fears there will be none. The case will get lost in a mire of compromise and lack of accountability as the authorities who acted so negligently in leaving the drain open find excuses. And effectively are allowed to hide behind incompetence. For what – for face and dignity. Where is the dignity for a little girl who should be protected? Hiding behind a curtain of lack of funds is no good. Any right minded person knows that you need to cover a drain – especially in places where children might be playing. It is basic common sense. And what is the cost in some sturdy wood and a few bricks before the cover is properly repaired as was promised. Not a lot – certainly worth a lovely little girl’s life. Those concerned should already have been charged and held. And not just the workman. But their bosses right up to the top. But no one will hold their breath on that. The wais will come out, the forgiveness will be offered along with a paltry sum and everyone will go home. There will be pictures for the press as everyone slaps themselves on the back for the Thai way of doing things. Foreigners may look on aghast – but foreigners don’t understand our ways…. But Yosita will still be dead – there will be no justice for her. Who doesn’t grasp that conclusion? And what is the inevitable consequence of this compromise and lack of accountability. It will just be repeated, again and again. Because just like a schoolboy is not cowed by a teacher who threatens without applying sanction, a body of laws that exist without implementation are toothless and will make no one bother to obey them. Time and again compromise, the wai, the graap, forgiveness – noble tenets of Thai culture are used as tools of subjugation and injustice. The time has come for the law to be applied. The time has come for some Thai smiles to be replace by a sterner visage. The time is well overdue for accountability. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-17
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  16. Midweek Rant: When, oh when will Bangkok be finished? I know this may be asking a bit much for a Midweek Rant. But can I please ask on behalf of those of us who have made Bangkok our home? When will our City of Angels be finished? You see I am not getting any younger and I am genuinely concerned that all of you beavering away to try and improve it will still be doing just that when I am passing through my local temple’s chimney. On the way to another heavenly capital somewhere in the clouds that will hopefully have been long since completed. It’s not that I am ungrateful for all the improvements since arriving in the 1980s. For example, all those pipes you put in in Sukhumvit Road and elsewhere certainly helped with the flooding that used to stay festering on the ground from one month to the next. The stores and the supermarkets have been a boon for my shopaholic wife – I don’t even blame you for my bank balance going down. The sky train and the underground have been great, even the busses are a tad less smelly – it has all made the city so much better. But everywhere I look the evidence is mounting up. Nearly four decades down the line and it just seems as far away from finished as ever. I’m not blaming you for the traffic per se. But was it really necessary to build about ten major rail projects all at the same time? Yes, I know some of you wanted to return happiness to us after all those barricades and shouting but have you ever thought you might be overdoing it a little. Might your pursuit of happiness on our behalf be a little overzealous? Could you not have put a little store by the “P” word. Progress? The Public? Prosperity? No, no…the word I am thinking about is planning. How nice it would have been if someone somewhere had had an idea to stagger all these projects, just to make life in the intervening years a little more bearable for the average Bangkokian. We are, after all, the lifeblood of the nation… 40% of GDP doesn’t lie! I mean I love riding a motorcycle on these wide boulevards. I always leave the car at home to avoid murdering the wife and kids when stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. But now we are all stuck on the bike – all four of us….there is nowhere for even two wheeled transport to move. Unless it’s three AM. And all those signs saying 5,000 baht fines for riding on the sidewalks are scaring me into submission. Even if I know you really don’t mean it. Perhaps you could just let up for a year or two. Do a “Hopewell” on a few of the new projects and open up some floor-space to traffic for a few months. Just to show willing, you understand. Give a bit of respite to the weary. And could you put some new signs in please to tell me where I am. There are so many new buildings around or being demolished that all my landmarks have gone. It’s a bit like when my local pub in England was shut down – I don’t know where I am anymore. I thought I knew Bangkok now I am just as bewildered as the tourists off the plane who think it is all great fun. It just isn’t fair – I’ve paid my taxes, you see. Rather like looking after grandchildren the tourists don’t mind – they can give Bangkok back at the end of their stay. We have to live here. Day in day out. Now I know it is true that much of Bangkok is so ugly that it needs to be torn down and replaced. But how about coming up with a schedule – and sticking to it so that the residents know what is going on. Some of us lucky ones might even be able to move out for a while so you can finish the relevant bit that impacts us the most. We wouldn’t mind going somewhere dull like Hua Hin or Pattaya for a while if we knew that such a “prison sentence” had a reasonably chance of time off for good behavior. Then we could get back to normal. And smile those famous Bangkok smiles. I said it in the 1980s when it usually got a laugh. Maybe some in the 90s thought it still worth a grin. But by the noughties the joke was wearing decidedly thin. What was that I said? “I like Bangkok – but I’ll really love it when it’s finished”. So please try and complete the job as soon as possible. For the sake of my love affair. At least before the inevitable happens with my visit to the temple; and everybody else sinks beneath the encroaching waves of the Gulf. By which time you’ll have to start all over again. I’ll probably be looking down glad I’m not there for that. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-10
  17. Midweek rant: When will the punishment fit the crime? It is getting utterly ridiculous. Pick a mushroom in a forest and get thirty years. Have a trace element of an illegal substance in a wallet and kiss goodbye to freedom for a few decades. But rent a taxi to a double convicted rapist and pay 3,000 baht. This is not a rant about people who are not brought to justice a la Red Bull heir. This is not a rant about those who slip through the net and never face justice. Though that is horrendous enough in Thailand. This is about those people who have broken the criminal law or those who have fallen foul of government regulations – and get such ridiculous sentences that it makes a mockery of the very word justice itself. Lenient sentences that both belittle and are a disgrace to victims, light sentences that make criminals snigger with glee as they serve five minutes in jail and are out again to repeat their crimes. Severe sentences particular, but not exclusively, against the poor and downtrodden, that advertise Thailand not merely as a place with a ruling elite that can do as it pleases with its unwitting population, but as a country of absurd inconsistency and patent ongoing injustice. This is not a topical rant. One brought on by an isolated incident. Any week of the year you can find poor people like the mushroom sellers who are facing the most incredible harshness because they couldn’t afford adequate legal representation. Every week you can find people who will not see the light of day because someone had it in for them and the system could not protect them. Every week you can see terrible crime – crime that has been confirmed in a court of law, or admitted in a police station without duress – punished by the proverbial slap on the wrist, sometimes even let go because an apology was made to society or a graap or a wai was forthcoming. The inconsistency is staggering, shameful and institutionalized. It is nothing short of disgusting and an affront to the public who deserve so much better. But nobody seems to be doing anything about it. The clamor for change seems to be muttered in markets, quietly spoken of on buses and in queues for street food. The people who are so aware of injustice should be shouting for change. Many laws and statutes seem to have been in existence from a bygone era. They have simply never caught up to modern times. Fines seem to be stuck in a time-warp – it’s a wonder they are not announced in ticals. But it is the sentences that really rankle. Someone seems to have plucked figures from the air – where is the consistency, where is the fairness? There is virtually none and consequently the faith of the public in what passes for the justice system could hardly be lower. The jails are full to the rafters with those convicted of drugs’ offences – just like in America. While in the US the overwhelming majority are black and poor here they are darker skinned and poor. Seems awfully similar. Few would say that drugs are not a scourge in either society but is there not a woeful imbalance? And do the harsh sentences handed down to minor dealers address the problem. Of course they don’t – they just make the authorities look as though they have done something useful while the big fish go free and are almost never apprehended. So what needs to be done? Well first off, there needs to be a National Commission set up to review sentences and make recommendations to address the haphazard imbalances in both civil and criminal systems. Then those recommendations need to be taken on board - if and when the country is returned to democracy, that is. Equally, the fines that are handed out need urgent review. Companies that flagrantly rip off and con the public need to be slapped with something that hurts. Not something they can find in the till that might have been a reasonable sum in 1905. The rich who break the law need to pay. And pay through the nose. The commission’s watchwords need to be modernization and justice. The people – as quiet as they seem to be at times - are fed up with inconsistency and patent unfairness. The time to act is actually long past. But if something is not done soon those who point the finger at Thailand’s justice system and laugh at the absurd inconsistencies will just gain more traction. And the face that Thais are so desperate to protect will just get increasing hard for anyone to take seriously. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-03
  18. Midweek Rant: Pack mentality – why keyboard warriors are no better than the Thais they criticize Every time a story hits the news about a mob attack in Thailand the keyboard warriors are quickly on the scene. Thaivisa forum is no different to any other site where Thai stories are viewed. Though not always without justification, they attack the mentality that sees cowardly locals ganging up ten on one on security guards or defenseless members of the public. An unpleasant attack on a handicapped guard in Bang Saen this week is a case in point. Ok, fair enough it is despicable behavior and the guilty parties need to be jailed. But the matter never ends there. The very same people who scream to anyone who will listen that this is standard Thai behavior are themselves just the same kind of gutless bullies. They will pick on virtually anyone – always weaker than them, always outnumbering them. If it was just the angst shown against some Thais who hunt in packs it might be tolerable – but it never stops there. Firstly they cast all Thai men with the same brush calling them weak and scared. Every one of the keyboard warriors would see them off in a fair, bare knuckle fistfight, one on one. But then they take it to the next level – a level that shows who they really are – just bullies. The keyboard warriors themselves, be it on internet forums, social media or in the comments section on news sites then gang up on sub groups in Thai society. They often don’t even realize what they are doing. They feel right is on their side as they agree with each other in attacking all manner of people in Thailand. They have now become the pack themselves. So who do they target? I shall pick just three groups. The first are lady boys. Despite this group of people representing a significant minority in Thailand they are all tarred with the same brush according to the internet pack. They are thieving good-for-nothings who should all be jailed without so much as a trial. Get them off our righteous streets, they yell indignantly. Mmm. Might this be that many of the warriors are Pattaya based and have yet been unable to broaden their horizons in any significant capacity. I don’t know – what I do know is that it is totally unfair to pick on lady boys and associate them with those in their group who might break the law. Even in Pattaya. Law abiding lady boys are not responsible for the actions of a small minority. But the warriors condemn them all and the vitriol is nothing short of what the Nazi’s did in referring to untermensch or “the masses from the East”. Then there are gays. A recent very happy story about a gay wedding in Thailand between a Brit and his male spouse also featured a swathe of homophobic comments – once again here were the self-proclaimed “full blooded males”, as they probably see themselves, ganging up ten on one at least. Sure, some used the story to bang on about dowries but many used it for veiled if not direct homophobia. And before they deny it saying it was just a “bit of banter”, that is not the way some gays who commented on Thaivisa saw that reaction. One was moved to thank a Sunday columnist for standing up to the bigoted bashers. Is it right that people in our community should feel threatened for a lifestyle that is a little different to the “norm”. Of course it is not, everyone deserves respect and the right to lead their lives as they see fit within the law. My third “disadvantaged” group is the innocent. The pack online is never more vociferous than when a suspect has been arrested for a crime. These weedy warriors are convinced of their guilt just because the story is in the papers or online and like a pack of baying hounds they turn on the suspect with their gnashers drooling spit as they spout their interminable nonsense about “hanging them high” and “rightful retribution” awaiting in the shower rooms of Thai prisons. Not for them the courts, the pack have decided…and they of course are always right because they are so goddamn smart. So much smarter than everyone else in Thailand. Amid all the attacks it is noticeable that it is invariably Thai men who seem to be the root cause of society’s ills as the warriors complain of their “childishness” and “laziness”. With so few Thais on a forum like Thaivisa or commenting on the popular expat social media groups there are hardly any to speak up for them as the pack descends. And of course is people defend them, they are condemned as “apologists”. Absurd. But interestingly, these abject bullies hardly ever seem to turn on Thai women. Maybe they are scared that their strong Thai wives might be looking over their shoulders as they type. Bullies always fear strength, don’t they. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-26
  19. Survey results: Expats say no to Songkran! Picture: File photo The results are out for the Thaivisa survey about what people do at Songkran. And the figures are clear at least for the middle aged group of respondents - we hide at home or get the hell out of Dodge! Asked what people do at Songkran almost ten percent said they decided to leave the country altogether. While 71 percent of respondents indicated they would stay home or not venture out. Less than 20 percent of respondents said they played Songkran. However, it should be noted that 75% of the people who replied to the survey were aged 51 and over compared to just 4% under 30 years of age. The nationalities that responded the most were British, 30%, US, 25%, Australian 15% and German 3%. All the remaining were of other nationalities. Asked where they live 20% said Bangkok, 20% Pattaya, 8% Hua Hin, and 7% Phuket. The rest lived elsewhere in the kingdom. Forum comments on the subject mostly backed up the survey's findings. Darksidedog said: "I leave the country for ten days. And before anyone asks, yes, I am a miserable old git!" While Phuket Man was a stay-at-home-boy commenting: "I stay indoors for a week wearing noise reduction headphones". Some 162 people have filled in the survey so far. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-18
  20. Midweek rant: Hey Mister Salesman - stop stalking me! File Photo Growing up in England in the seventies the main problem was finding a sales assistant at all. The girl in Woolworth’s was usually far too busy chatting with her friend or looking in a compact case mirror to pay the customer any attention whatsoever. Customer service seemed but a distant dream – if it ever arrived there at all. I know not – I left Blighty’s shores in search of warmer climes and came to Thailand. And wow – what a transformation! There always seemed someone around to serve you! At last the customer seemed if not right, at least reasonably right. That was until the reality sank in. Until they started stalking me. Go into most large stores and there they are – arraigned and aligned almost like a cordon of cops but they let you pass then the cat and mouse game begins. It’s always the same. I want to look at some televisions or compare a line of fridges. I move through the cordon and notice from the corner of my watchful eye that the stalking has begun. Close on my heels, there he is – for it is normally a man. And he is waiting to pounce. I quicken my pace determined to shrug them off. I turn into the next aisle, but no! A colleague has headed me off at the pass and now there is no turning back – I am cornered next to the Toshiba promotion. So apparently I should buy this one. “Why it that I ask?” (In the vernacular as Thai language is not the issue here). “Because it is better – because it is more popular”. This is in fact Thai for “because I get more commission on this model”. I smile the smile of determination and move on at pace but once again an advance guard has tracked my intentions. They have found out I can speak Thai – now there is really going to be trouble as they gang up by the microwaves. So I find something I am genuinely interested in. Remembering Woolworth’s at least there is someone to ask. Just one problem – they haven’t got a clue about what they are selling. They only know about the one on promotion – the better one – the more popular one – the one over there. I’ll show you. I have tried everything. When realizing I am being stalked I turn around abruptly colliding with them like a ten wheeler and a moto-sai on the Mitraphap Highway. It’s no good – the collision is expected. They bring back-up and I am cornered again. The only way out is to leave the store having bought nothing – and do a face-saving lie about coming back tomorrow. Now I know that the sales staff are probably under orders from their floor managers to provide service. I get it – it is not usually the underling’s fault. So my message is simple. To all the managers out there can you tell your staff to be there but to let me browse in peace? And not follow me – I get scared. Keep a respectable distance. But when I do have a question can you train them so that they can give me some answers. Some information about the product that isn’t “it’s the most popular one – it’s on promotion”. Or this one is cheaper – even a fool like me has worked that one out. Homepro and Power Buy – you’re the biggest offenders, but not the only ones. You all know who you are and I know where you live. So I end up in Lotus. And there’s not a salesperson in sight. They are hiding somewhere doing a “Woolies” clicking “like” on their mobiles in some corner. There’s no one to ask. What goes around comes around. I’m back in the UK in the seventies. I just can’t win. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-19
  21. Tradition vs Modernisation: What to do about the lovely old Siamese railways? Picture: Daily News / State Railway of Thailand BANGKOK: -- As the modernization of the railways in Thailand picks up pace many people are asking what will become of the traditional architecture on the lines. Should it be kept or simply scrapped. Many of the stations - not least of all the one at Hua Hin that was opened in 1911 - showcase some of the loveliest buildings that can be seen in Thailand. Daily News asked in a feature article what is to become of them once the rolling stock is changed, once the tracks are upgraded, once the high speed Chinese or Japanese trains become a reality. Is tradition to be cast aside and scrapped and assigned to the rubbish bin of history in the name of progress. Or are they to be cherished as an important part of the history of Old Siam? The present government seems hell-bent on dragging the railways into the 21st century and few would argue that the system is in serious need of a complete overhaul. But many lament the passing of an era and have a great affection for the old lines, their stations and their rolling stock. Look at our pictures today and come to your own conclusions. Source: Daily News -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-13
  22. Midweek Rant: Seven deadly days – it’s just a Songkran smokescreen Every year it is just more of the same BANGKOK: -- With two or three weeks to go before the Songkran festival every Tom, Dick and Somchai from every authority up and down Thailand comes crawling out of the woodwork to announce the latest gimmick for ending the carnage on the roads. Whether it is impounding cars of drink drivers, threatening the convicted with horror trips to the morgue, the checkpoints, the bans on water throwing, blocking up the U-turns, the threats to actually enforce the law….. Whatever. I have had it up to here. Why? Shouldn’t we be glad that the authorities are getting their collective fingers out and doing something to save lives at last? Nonsense – it is just one almighty face-saving smokescreen. Songkran – and to a slightly lesser extent New Year in December/January – are just the biggest of all Thai scapegoats when it comes to the disgraceful inactivity when it comes to improving road safety. The police, the politicians, and the press that really connives with them with their daft statistics every – are all guilty of making it look as though the appalling carnage and mayhem on the roads is a problem specific to April and the turn of the year. Figures might show it is slightly less horrendous than last year. So what does that prove? Nothing. It almost hoodwinks the public into believing that something is improving. Something is being done. Rubbish – it is just lip-service to the problem. There is also this idea that if something is done at twice a year then the problem will somehow go away. Well, it won’t. It will just get shuffled under a Thai carpet of shame. Everybody should all be reminded, constantly, that this is not something peculiar to drink and drug fuelled holidays – this is a national disgrace that is killing perhaps seventy to a hundred people every single day. Not just the seven deadly days of Songkran. Not just the week at New Year. But every bloody, worthless day. Children are dying. Adults are dying. Old people are dying. Rich and poor. Car drivers and motorcyclist. Thais and visitors alike are being mown down, killed and maimed virtually every few seconds. I’m not here to offer any answers. You are paid to come up with the answers. I’m just here to say stop treating the problem as a biannual phenomenon – and come up with some coherent strategy to deal with the situation. A strategy that looks at 365 days a year. A strategy that puts a plan in place for the next five, then ten, then twenty years. You owe it to the people who are dying at your hands. Sure, as the PM howled last week in his own rant the people are often to blame. But the people need your help. They need to be saved from themselves. And the people sure as hell know that this is a nightmare they face every single day. On every single journey on the roads of the big cities or the lanes of the countryside. Whether it’s 16,000 or 26,000 dead each year I know not. Whatever it is, it’s appalling. What I do know is that this is a matter of the utmost national importance. It is your own flesh and blood. Your own “phee nong” you profess to care about. Your children’s own future. So start taking it seriously each and every day of each and every month. And stop patting yourself on the back for doing something about it once or twice a year. Stop hiding behind the Smokescreen of Songkran or the New Year Scapegoat. And get your fingers out. Or you’ll all have the blood of a million deaths on your hands over the next half century. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-05
  23. Midweek rant: Dear Songkran revelers – any chance of leaving me alone? I accept that it is virtually impossible to completely get away from Songkran. There seems to be a mindset that it is some kind of joyous celebration for everybody and you must be some kind of misery if you dislike it. Well you can count me out – I hate it. Now I am not trying to dictate what you do. Splash away – all day and all night for all I care. I shall be doing my level best to avoid you, but if I do have to go out, you know do a bit of shopping or take the dog for a walk could I just ask for a bit of bloody consideration. If I am on a motorbike could I ask that you don’t throw a bucket of water in my face or hit me with a high powered water gun. You see, it could cause me to die and render my children fatherless. I know it is inconvenient for you, especially when an easy prey foreigner comes along the street but please give it a try. I don’t mind a bit of powder and a few sprinkles. How about let me stop first rather than dash out on the skiddy wet road causing me to slide to an early death? If you at least do that, I promise to smile, even if through gritted teeth. If I am dressed up, perhaps have a phone in my hand and obviously going somewhere important would it be possible to let me pass. I know this might be culturally odd but again, sometimes people have things to do even at Songkran. It shouldn’t spoil your day too much – you might even make mine with your consideration. And might even help restore some faith and belief that the festival still is a traditional celebration of everything that is good in Thai culture. Like good manners and thought for others. You see, I don’t dislike Thai culture. In fact I love many aspects of it, just like you do. But wouldn’t we all agree that Songkran has gone a bit far on occasion? Would you not accept that the timeless tenets of “grengjai” and consideration for others are just as important a part of Songkran as at other times of the year? To drivers would it be asking too much when transporting people around in your pick-ups to stay sober for the good of your passengers? You see it is not just about you. It’s also about the children in the back who have no say in the matter. We know Thais love kids so that shouldn’t be too tough an assignment, would it? Some more of you might even get to celebrate and do it all again next year. To police can I ask that you don’t let obviously drunk drivers back in their vehicles. You see, they are not just a danger to themselves – incredible as it may sound, innocent people can get caught up in the accidents they cause. You may be spoiling their fun by making them and their passengers find another way home but isn’t that better than a trip to the morgue. And do make guilty drivers visit the morgue like you did last year – just keep them there for a week rather than a few minutes to make sure they have got the message. To parents please teach your children how to behave well at Songkran. If you are not sure about that, ask an older person, they might remember what it was once like in Thailand in April. Amazingly parents, children tend to copy their folks so if you behave well who knows they might even follow suit in the future and you can be proud of what you did. To especially young foreign visitors – try to learn a little about the traditions of Songkran. I understand that at times it looks like war and you want to pretend to be Rambo with a water gun but you really would cover yourself in more glory if you didn’t add fuel to the fire. Some locals are bad enough as it is without you making it worse because you think you can do exactly as you like holiday. And to everybody, if people who clearly don’t want to play ball are sitting inside somewhere please don’t bring Songkran off the street. Just stay out there in your own mayhem and leave us to our depressing little lives. And when the fat lady has sung in Bangkok can you pack up on time and put the water guns away for another year. If you still haven’t had enough you could just go to Pattaya. They will welcome you and you can continue being a total idiot down there for another week. Khop khun khrap (Thank you) -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-12
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  25. Thinning Arctic sea ice lets in light, prompts algae bloom - study By Alister Doyle REUTERS A polar bear sow and two cubs are seen on the Beaufort Sea coast within the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Image Library on December 21, 2005. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Handout via REUTERS/Files OSLO (Reuters) - Climate change is stirring life in the Arctic Ocean as thinning sea ice lets in more sunlight, allowing microscopic algae to bloom in the inhospitable region around the North Pole, scientists said on Wednesday. The micro-algae may now be able to grow under the ice across almost 30 percent of the Arctic Ocean at the peak of the brief summer in July, up from about five percent 30 years ago, they wrote. Blooms may become even more widespread. "Recent climate change may have markedly altered the ecology of the Arctic Ocean," wrote scientists in the United States and Britain led by Christopher Horvat of Harvard University. The first massive under-ice bloom of algae was seen in 2011 in the Chukchi Sea north of the Bering Strait separating Alaska and Russia, a region until then thought too dark for photosynthesis. The scientists, writing in the open-access journal Science Advances, based their estimates on mathematical models of the thinning ice and ponds of melt water on the ice surface that help ever more sunlight penetrate into the frigid waters below. The average thickness of Arctic sea ice fell to 1.89 metres (6.2 ft) in 2008 from 3.64 meters in 1980, according to another study. Sub-ice algae seem to become dormant in winter, when the sun disappears for months, and are revived in spring. Horvat told Reuters it was unclear how the growth might have knock-on effects on the Arctic food chain, perhaps drawing more fish northwards. "Very few of these blooms have been observed," he wrote in an e-mail. The new light adds to uncertainties about the economic future of the region that is warming at about double the average rate for the Earth as a whole. Almost all governments blame this trend mainly on a build-up of man-made greenhouse gases. U.S. President Donald Trump, however, has sometimes called man-made warming a hoax and signed an order on Tuesday to undo climate change regulations issued by former President Barack Obama. Governments of nations around the Arctic Ocean, including the United States, have been working on rules for managing potential future fish stocks in the central Arctic Ocean as the ice shrinks and thins. They last met in mid-March in Iceland. (Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Tom Heneghan) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-03-30