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Found 34 results

  1. The week that was in Thailand news: Describing Thailand to a T My Thai students who had a problem with upper case letters were always asked in culture classes what the capital of Thailand was.Bangkok they would proudly announce. “No, it’s T” I would say. They proved they had got the minor ruse when answering correctly the next question about the capital of Bangkok being a B.But in a week of Thai news where the left hand seemed to be having a great deal of difficulty with what the right was up to I was left thinking it was a pity I never got the chance to teach many in the current government.For they certainly came up with their own version of the spelling trick though in this case it seemed to describe Thailand to a T.The main issue at hand this week was what can only be described as the Street Food Fiasco.As the BMA were scurrying to assure anyone who would listen that sidewalk nosh in Bangkok would be off the menu by year’s end, the TAT were announcing that a festival celebrating the excellence of roadside fodder would be held in June.Then the own goals kept flowing as the Commerce Ministry chipped in with plans to make Thailand a “Paradise of Street Food”.A bit like the Garden of Eden without temptation.Of course it was all CNN’s fault in the first place for naming the nation as the best on earth but if this was an example of coordinated planning then I suggest that those who might claim to govern us do not try to organize a drinks party in a distillery.What the PM must have made of all of it was not reported – I imagine he must have thought it to be the kind of unhealthy “joke” that is a world away from its homonym street-side snack.While those at Commerce were trumpeting words like “quality, clean and delicious” the bods at the BMA were spouting “unhygienic and clutter”.It all left those on the Thaivisa forum who want to see the pavements returned to pedestrians more confused than ever. Of course, this kind of mess is nothing new to Thailand – coordination of departments is a distant dream but one thing they ultimately do well is find a compromise.Street food – as much like riding in the back of pick-ups - is not going to disappear any time soon for the people will just not allow it.And despite all the nonsense that is written by those who say the Thais are a kowtowing breed I prefer to believe that their penchant for a two, or even one finger salute to their leaders is alive and kicking, especially kicking…The spirit of compromise and adjustment was similarly to the fore in several cases that entered the later stages of resolution this week.“Praewa” the hi-so strumpet who drove a minivan, not her own more’s the pity, off the tollway a few years back had her compensation responsibilities lowered by eleven million.Barely enough for a second hand Porsche but I am sure she was happy and had a good inner smirk at the memory of her nine innocent victims.While the family of the woman tragically electrocuted at the “foam party” were not fobbed off by some local bigwig who sat and bargained for the life of the lady with her parents while the corpse lay in the next room.This unseemly bargaining may well keep matters out of the courts and indeed resolve cases more quickly but I tend to believe that justice for the downtrodden is rarely served. In a society where the word feudal continues to knock how could we ever be surprised by that.Compromise was of little succor to the defendants in the Nataree “soapy massage” human trafficking case. They may have had their hefty sentences reduced by half on admission of guilt but it will be the 2030s before they have a soapy bath that is not behind bars.The thirteen year terms were handed down to two managers of the Huay Kwang establishment.They will rue the day they employed a Burmese teen as well as contemplate that their bosses, the owners of Nataree, remain at large and seemingly out of reach of the tentacles of both plod and the military.This case reminded me of a student in a Year 9 class I once taught. The children had to come up with an item beginning with each letter of the alphabet that was “iconic” for Thailand then compile a written project. The boy in question announced a tad cheekily that he was writing on “P for Poseidon”.I confirmed that he meant the rather large “Ap Ob Nuat” facility on Ratchada Pisek Road and questioned whether that was appropriate for a school project.To which he replied that of course it was, “my dad is the owner”.There was not a lot I could say to that, except remark that I didn’t expect an invite, until I had retired from teaching that is….My old pal Buddha was never far from the news this week as two stories made a change from the standard booze and drugs parties we have become accustomed to for His saffron clad disciples.First it was discovered that there was a genuine Buddha footprint on a limestone rock in Surat. Only one, he appeared to have been hopping.However, I was left to doubt the veracity of this claim as they announced it was a paltry 10-12 inches long. Aren’t the real one’s about four feet long like the one near Lopburi?Then it was announced that a monk had been stolen – a purloined Phra no less.He was dead, you see, and was being held in a refrigerated glass case for some upcoming ceremony. Apart from the absurdity of feeling the need to steal a stiff member of the clergy I was again left pooh-poohing the idea of theft.Surely it was much more likely that the dead monk had simply come back to life and let himself out.Sometimes the Thais miss the most obvious solution though why anyone would want to escape from air-conditioning in this heat was a little beyond Rooster’s normally exceptional powers of deduction.Meanwhile “mystery surrounds”,as journalists like to often relate in a tongue-in-cheek manner, the disappearance of a plaque celebrating democracy that was embedded in the road at Bangkok’s Royal Plaza.It seems terrifically unlucky that all eleven CCTV cameras had been removed just at the time the dinner plate size object was removed by “persons unknown”. I mean what are the odds of that!Just to make sure nothing comes to light the press and public were asked not to make a song and dance about it.Anyway, I’m sure it must be for everyone’s benefit that the inscription on the new plaque that has now “mysteriously” replaced the old rebellious 1932 one, has been updated with a groveling motto more applicable to the times.Helpful, literally to the last, this week were the dear chaps at the British Embassy who have issued an advisory for anyone contemplating dying in Thailand.“While a simple “don’t” could have saved on paper they went into some laborious detail about what to do if death does us part. Of course, the forum posters had the proverbial British field day at the expense of the hapless embassy staff who rarely seem to be of any use in a crisis.Apropos, I had attended a media briefing in the as yet unsold “Lion’s Den” on Wireless Road last month after which I had emailed the embassy press officer to confirm the name of a visa officer who had spoken at the gathering.“We would rather you didn’t quote us” came the reply. A case of “you couldn’t make it up” and one which made me think that the Thais may have learnt some of their PR skills from Her Majesty’s decidedly uncivil servants.Which brings me on to this week’s Rooster awards and the “Picture of the Week” that was none other than a trussed up Brit in Pattaya. Apparently said Blighty chap had been doing a spot of rampaging at the resort clambering over some roofs semi-naked and was now pictured entangled in rope.That behavior is probably just Normal in Northampton but it did make me think that the time has come to provide items such as rope on every street corner like fire extinguishers as they could come in very handy for the public to do fuzz’s dirty work for them when tourists, Brits or otherwise, let the good old image of Pattaya down as they are invariably wont to do.Meanwhile the “Survival Award” goes to the over 50s living in Thailand, many of them British or American, who are still with us after Songrkran as they wisely stayed home or left the country during the midsummer mayhem.It emerged in a Thaivisa survey that about 80% of the aging expat community said “bah humbug” to water splashing. Many forum posters yelled “boring old farts” but we’re still alive so put that in your shisha and smoke it, if you dare.While the “What’s the Point of Spinning the Figures” award went to the Thai authorities for hardly making any serious effort to claim that the slight lessening in the road carnage toll was anything less than that – slight.Sadly you could almost hear the proposals and policies for ending the appalling death on the roads being shuffled to the back of the draw from which they will doubtless reemerge come December 31st for a few more “deadly days”.Finally, the biggest laugh of the week had to be the hapless Thai boxer fighting under international rules who made it to YouTube after being banned in Japan for “incompetence and wasting spectators’ money”.Aekkhachai came out of his corner with his arms flailing like someone drowning in sake and he was soon spark out on the canvas.It had all happened on April 1st and you really had to take a second look just to make sure it was not some cunning Japanese ruse.Aekkhachai would be well advised not to try Muay Thai next. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-23
  2. The week that was in Thailand news: Why I love Songkran – live from Australia! Songkran? Absolutely adore it. All that splashing, all that culture, out with the old in with the new and a mountain of respect. Can’t get enough of it. Such a shame that for about the twentieth year in a row fate would have it that I had to fly out of the kingdom on some spurious business connected to playing an English board game. Still, I feel sure that most of the kingdom will still be in one piece when Wednesday comes and it might be safe to return. For now I shall just have to make do with bone dry, 26 degree Perth and the tedium of the Australian National Scrabble Championships. The sacrifices one makes! Yes, I have to admit that as far as Songkran and one or two other things in Thailand are concerned I subscribe to the view that if you can’t beat ‘em, beat it. Fortunately in these days of instant access and internet I have been able to keep close tabs on all the latest accidents and Thais and foreigners behaving badly stories while enjoying my breakfast of yams and witchetty grubs. And what a week of success it has been. With every passing day we were told there were no fatalities in Phuket with serious injury in such and such a province down 0.8% and pick-up fatalities on country roads between 3 and 3.05am showing only a minor increase. Sorry, they can spin it any way they like there’s no fooling wily old Wooster unless you happen to be my long suffering wife. With all this success I was particularly aghast that the chief in Udon Thani was not out saving lives on his roads and instead had made tracks for the computer crime police to shout “defamation” about someone who said he was a rotten rozzer and other scurrilous chaps who compared him and his force using words “associated with a man’s genitalia”. I have lived a bit of a sheltered life but I guess that must be like Rooster being called a cock – something I had to stomach myself last week, chief, when some TV poster suggested that I only had one friend and was a childish, Thai basher who clearly had never bothered to learn Thai. Thanks Philthyphil, but do you know me? You really ought to know the difference between what I write and what the TV posters put in their comments. And as far as bashing, you might have spotted “admire” and “Thais” in what us journalists call the same sentence. And thanks for posting the public information accident videos – I didn’t actually need the English subtitles – you see I paid attention in Thai class. Indeed, defamation is no laughing matter especially when you are on the receiving end, though it is unlikely that the general PM will face a suit to add to his military fatigues after he called the Thais “gullible” for thinking that they could get a cut price Songkran trip to Japan by buying some food supplements. Some 2,000 of his countrymen and women were left stranded as tourism minister Khun Kobkarn raced to Swampy to sort out the mess. She was probably secretly happy that the lack of departures meant less immigration bottlenecks. When the lead fraudster, unbelievably called “Shogun”, said she was not guilty, I came over all gullible myself…just for a nanosecond you understand. “Yes”, Prayut screamed “Thais believe too easily”. Funny but several of my acquaintances – yes I do have more than one Phil – don’t believe a single thing he says. And I always thought that one of Big Too’s redeeming features was that he actually gets irony. Clearly I was wrong. Continuing to do the rounds of Thai social media was the story of the Pattaya woman who thought it quite alright to keep someone’s phone that she found on the counter at 7/11. She had tried to extort 5,000 baht from the rightful owner and when that failed she hung on to the iPhone 7. Now she intends to fight the matter in court but methinks that unless she has access to OJ Simpson’s legal team she may be on a hiding to nothing. The case says a lot about certain attitudes but only from certain people – the great majority of Thais online are convinced that she is either a complete tool or is one tool short of a shedful. Either way I hope the judge hammers her. Songkran week had got off to a very happy start with news of a gay marriage between a Brit and a Thai man, though to read some of the forum posters you’d think they guzzle bottled misery rather than beer. Here we had an obviously wealthy but deliriously happy foreign man marrying an intelligent restaurant manager he’d known for ages. Of course the dowry was mentioned – the Thais always do mention it, that’s what makes them Thai – but some of the posters expressed genuine outrage at the fact he parted with a million baht. Why the hell shouldn’t he? If it was a lot of money to him or wasn’t, whether he expected anything back or not, who’s business is that but his. If nothing else, it reveals how poor the average TV misery-guts actually is. I’ve seen a dowry the mum couldn’t pick up because it was so heavy; seen dowries handed back; seen some where they really were needed for the family to settle debts. And having been married at least twice that I can think of in very different circumstances I would attest that the whole dowry issue is different strokes for different folks. Some dismiss the dowry concept as somehow immoral – twaddle – get out there, open your eyes and smell the Thai roses. There are many fragrant varieties. Unfortunately, a man who will be pushing them up rather than smelling them, was a 31 year old British man who fell naked from a guest house room above a go-go bar in Walking Street on Friday. Police expressed surprise that a naked man should fall to his death in Pattaya which made me think they must have either been rookie officers or perhaps those volunteers one sees from New Zealand or some such backwater. But one sincerely hopes that the family got the news before stumbling on the pictures, news and conspiracy theory comments on Thaivisa, though it would be hard to dress up such a demise with anything approaching respectability. And so back to Songkran for despite all of us having our strategies to either enjoy or avoid the festivities you can’t be anywhere online without being swamped by it. Still, it does have its funny side and I had to chuckle at the Bangkok force mobilizing 400 officers to monitor traffic. Bless! They are not as dumb as I thought as it must have been a lovely week – if there is one thing you can set your Thai watch by it’s that the roads in Bangkok at Songkran are blissfully empty! Everyone has left for Buriram leaving it all to us! Of course a few of the cops may have nabbed a drunk driver or three which brings me on to the story about the man on the MRT who was denied boarding a train because he’d been drinking. Indignantly, he informed the jobsworth guards who were arguing with him that he was taking the train precisely BECAUSE he had been drinking not wishing to endanger others by getting behind the wheel. Maybe the MRT people need to take a trip to Tokyo to see the state of some “salarymen” on the city’s networks and reassess why we have public transport. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. “Poster of the Week” award goes to reliable forum wag “ratcatcher” who appealed to my punny-bone with his comment on the story that topless women in Krung Thep could face a 5,000 baht fine at Songkran if they behaved lewdly. “Only in Bangkok?” he asked, “Would that make it a capital offense?” OK, I like puns, but I also have a soft spot for idiocy and what better prize can I give than the “Darwin Award For Services to the Gene Pool” to the driver who didn’t bother to wait for the train to pass at a crossing. The Bangkok to Hat Yai express had already passed up to its tenth carriage when he decided belligerently to force his way across with inevitable consequences. He lived, which I am happy about, but I do beg him to have a vasectomy just in case he thinks of celebrating his survival by making some children. Of course, he may have just nodded off like the ambulance driver who came round with a start and crashed as the nurse next to him gave him a timely pinch. The sight of an ambulance on its side as Songkran approached really gave me a sense of foreboding and a warm fuzzy feeling that I had that all important air-ticket to Perth Finally I would like to mention a Thai man who passed away suddenly this week who did not make the news pages. Khun Amnuay Ploysangngam was the president of the Thailand Crossword Game club who for the last 31 years has tirelessly promoted English Scrabble, Thai Scrabble, Sudoku and many other board games and competitions that have inspired tens of thousands of Thai school children to enjoy and better themselves in weekend events up and down the kingdom in shopping centers. Under his auspices Thailand became an icon for crossword gaming worldwide and two of his proteges even became World Scrabble Champions, the first non-native speakers to do so. He was known and respected by thousands of non-Thais from Australia to Africa to Europe to North America. I also count him as my closest personal friend, an honorable Thai who kindly and unreservedly opened the door to his country for me to go in. I did and I have never looked back.Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-16
  3. The week that was in Thailand news: We demand the right to kill ourselves Every nation on earth has something you shouldn’t mess with.Growing up in England they once had a sit-com that had a storyline of a government minister’s outrage on behalf of what he perceived as an angry public when the dastardly Europeans tried to rule on what should go into a British sausage.Such outrage ultimately led to Brexit!In the States you would mess with the flag at your peril. Burning one may get you lynched while incinerating the Union Jack would only lead the British public to think you were vaguely quirky.Germans have their law. It binds them together and makes them who they are. They obey it to the letter - so not to do would make them as un-German as disliking lederhosen. Jeremy Clarkson asked one recently on his new motoring show what they would do if they had their driving license taken away.Mindful that residents of some nations would simply find some way around the inconvenience he knew what response was likely and got it: “Herr Clarkson, I vud not drive”.“But WHY not?”“I vud be unable to”.In Thailand while the tourist manuals talk about not pointing your feet or ruffling an adult Thai’s hair, the thing they really care most about is their freedom. The freedom to do as they bloody well please.Someone might have told their esteemed leader this salient fact as dear old Uncle Big Too became a social pariah with a swift stroke of his legislative pen stopping the Thais travelling in the back of pick-ups.No matter that it has been law since before the year, “we have got used to not obeying the law” screamed not just the poor but the car owning middle classes who wanted to attack their leader vicariously by siding with the downtrodden.No matter that here, at last, was a concrete measure sure to save lives as Songkran approaches.No…the Thais are effectively demanding the right to continue killing themselves.So bugger off and leave us and our freedom alone! How I admire them (and how I will stay away from them at Songkran…)It is slowly dawning on the general in the last three years that the people, strangely enough, don’t behave like the recruits he was used to bossing around prior to his emergence into the post-coup world.But rather than burst more blood vessels he backtracked and said the “new” law would be implemented only after the holidays.Basically saying, go off and have a good time and if you live we’ll start fining you after the “seven deadly days” are over.Of course what will happen is that more compromise will come. You only have to be in Thailand five minutes to know that changes to the Thai law only come after absurd decisions, backtracking, the setting up of committees…..then compromise.The final stage is ignoring it.The furor <deleted> dominated the news this week but many on Thaivisa forum didn’t quite get it. Of course, they might have been Germans, but one who did understand was the poster of my forum comment of the week, “naboo”, who spoke of farangs laughing at Thais for being stupid as rather rich:“They struggle for years, get the smart (cab) option. Then with the stroke of a pen Uncle Too makes their investment worthless and they become easy pickings for the police, day in day out”.Meanwhile, mindful of the fact that he had put his big Thai clod-hopper in it, said uncle tied to ingratiate himself with the public by seemingly defending taxi drivers’ rights to ignore us when we need a cab to get home in the rain.“The public must understand drivers who refuse fares” he pontificated. Yes, sir, funny but after 35 years of grappling with Thai I do just about understand “mai pai, rot tit”.Maybe, you could tell me why you “not go” yet….that I’m struggling with.Not too far away from government house a pipe bomb went off. We were told that it wasn’t terrorism and the only “injuries” were a couple of cleaners who had “ringing in their ears”.Someone should have checked that it was indeed the device left in a Ratchadamnoen trash can and not the haranguing of the leaders that caused the ringing.Bombs in Bangkok are thankfully few and down the years the authorities have had some luck in saving the capital from would be terror plots. Several decades ago a wrong ‘un with a large truck packed with enough explosive to reduce not just the Israeli embassy but half the Lumpini Park area to rubble, got stopped in nearby Chitlom.Stopped not by the counter terrorism bods but by a motorcycle taxi driver furious that the truck had caused 50 baht’s worth of damage in a minor scrape. Fuzz came and the would-be bomber fled leaving the mystified cops with an unclaimed truck.They parked in at Lumpini nick and it was several days before someone thought to look in the back.One who was certainly not demanding the right to die was the army conscript in detention in Surat who was brutally beaten to death by at least ten others for getting up late.Disgusting of course, but equally unpleasant was the sight of seven of the assailants as they showed their butts rather than their faces while “graap-ing” the grieving mum in an effort at apology.How I remember the time when my Loei lovely did that to me on our village wedding day, though in her case it was not apology but thanks as the in-laws scooped up the dowry!Happy days, though those are on hold slightly as – like 35 million others – the missus has gone home for the Songkran hols. Posters on Thaivisa enjoyed the increasingly influential “midweek rant” that called the authorities efforts to end the carnage a “Songkran scapegoat” ranting that a year round coordinated approach is what is needed to save lives.Good luck with that – most Thais of my acquaintance wouldn’t dream of planning for anything more than the next meal.News from London was that Red Bull “Boss” was in town, probably buying a couple of Premiership clubs for the weekend before jetting off to mow down a copper or two before tea. AP reported that he would not say whether he would appear in Bangkok on April 27th to answer charges. Hey – why should he care when the prosecutors certainly couldn’t give a monkeys.Khaosod used the lovely word “scofflaw” which had me thinking that could be worth 257 points between two triples in a game of Scrabble. It crossed my mind after seeing that two Thais and their English friend had qualified to represent the kingdom in a world ranking event in Kenya later this year.Great to see that the Thais are not only embracing their foreign friends but taking English to darkest Africa as well!Further good news continued to flow from the lips of the constabulary this week as it was announced that Khao San Road – a place I always referred to as “the jungle” in my early days – is now a Happy Zone.Like Walking Street in Pattaya, crime is now a thing of the past. I wonder where is next.I know, how about “Wat Dhammakaya Happy Zone” that should sort out any trouble there. Except for the fact that those ensconced within are probably quite alright Jack as it is.Everyone seems to have gone home as the public wonder where the next saber rattling will emerge, the pick-up debacle notwithstanding.Still, the police had a nice little junket in Khao San though I do wish Thaivisa translators would not refer to them as “top brass”. I have no quibble with “top” but “brass” is a British term meaning money and I really feel that associating the force with acquiring money must be defamatory.Though, down in Ao Nang the local chief was quick to act when a police volunteer stepped out of line and was caught taking bribes on CCTV. The chief amusingly said that the cop was not in fact one of their own while the keyboard curmudgeons of the forum suggested, as a quick investigation was mounted, that too many toes had obviously been stepped on.The thing is chief, a rozzer is a rozzer and no matter how you dress him up he will always be a rozzer.Now I have got that off my self-righteous chest it’s time for this week’s Rooster awards.And what better place to start than the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard herself where my award for “Services to Tourism” goes to the Pattaya council. The bright sparks at the town hall have recommended that not only will beach umbrellas be removed on Wednesdays and Thursdays but that people running services on the beach will no longer be able to serve any food at all.This is fantastic. In absolutely no time there will not be any beer swilling, BBQ prawn massacring tourists in singlets left at all and the likes of Cheap Charlie Rooster can return to Pattaya in glory, put down our threadbare beach towels and pretend we are in a cut-price Bali.The place will be deliciously empty and, when the authorities have come up with a similar strategy to warn off Mr and Mrs Woo, it will be paradise on earth again as it probably was during the Jurassic, the very same period from which the local authority appear to hail.While the “Please Ring Me First If You Ever Think of Popping Over” award goes to the wannabe hoodlum in Samui who thought it was his Buddha-given right to demand that a Vietnamese girl drop everything including her draws for him.She refused and the alleged man, son of some local “person of influence” got a bit of a kicking before being arrested. Jail time please – we could all do without him popping over from his island haven for a while.Finally, it looked earlier in the week, before Prayut and his pick-ups, that the annual military draft was going to completely dominate the news. Not that the Thai press are remotely interested in the full blooded Thai males who might get selected.No…once again they are obsessed with the lady boys who turn up in droves and dresses to tell reporters they have come over all queer with the excitement of it all.Before they are rejected, despite usually still having a smallish portion of meat and two veg.Forget draft dodgers – this is a decidedly dodgy draft. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-09
  4. The week that was in Thailand news: Feeling foolish all year round April Fools’ Day is always a puzzling time for me on Thaivisa forum. While I pride myself on not being the greatest idiot on the planet – but only just according to the wife – where do you start to sift the fake from the real in a country like Thailand?Countless days over the last year I thought I was being “done up like a kipper” only to have it confirmed that what I thought was abject nonsense was in fact the truth.Now the statement so often seen on Thai forums – “you couldn’t make it up” - is indelibly etched on what is left of my brain after too many decades of abuse in what might have been better called the kingdom of make believe.I believe I spotted two stories that seemed to be a wind up on Saturday – but the more I read them the more I thought – there really is a lot of truth here!Though, naturally, those who would like to believe they are never hoodwinked in Thailand had a field day smirking behind their keyboards at those who really think Songkran is on the chopping block or that booze might be even harder to come by in the middle of the day.Both are eminently feasible notions – Songkran only now appeals to people who would have followed the Bay City Rollers in another era. While changes to booze availability and taxation are regularly in the news.Still – I appeal to Thaivisa to please get a special “non-fake news notification alert” sorted out for us old codgers so that we don’t cancel out plans to spend Songkran in Outer Mongolia or move to Saudi where drink might be more readily available, even cheaper.Top billing in a week that marked the build up to the annual water madness was the “midweek rant” of the general PM who was sounding off against his own populace about their driving habits.Perhaps wisely toning down his usual comments about nubile teens in wet t-shirts letting the Thai side down, our dear leader vented his vitriol in what can only be described as an example of pure Road Rage.Echoing a “let ‘em eat cake” philosophy from a bygone era, here he was saying that it was apparently alright by him if everyone carked it for disobeying what passes for the nation’s traffic laws.Obviously referencing his frustration from the previous day with the recalcitrant minivan drivers he started moaning that Article 44 was not even enough.It’s what you get when you replace democracy with demagoguery.“Soldiers don’t want to shoot anybody!” he screamed, though if he thought that was meant to reassure someone who has experienced more coups than hot diners, it didn’t quite measure up.I fondly recall my naivety in the mid-eighties when I rushed to my local Thai paper shop to get a copy of Thai Rath as a keepsake after a violent coup. I was too late as they had sold out already but the kindly lady said: “Mai pen rai kha – not to worry, there will be another coup next week”.Ranting, but maybe in the relative privacy of their barred rooms, were the former tourism minister Juthamas &nbsp;and her daughter who were handed down 50 and 44 year terms for bribery relating to the Bangkok Film Festival.That is more porridge than Ronnie Barker could handle though it remains to be seen whether bail will eventually be given and the pair can scarper to the US where they have stashed their 50 million baht loot.Of course we all know that the judiciary are independent of people in uniform but it certainly seemed a result for the junta who also got their own back on Voice TV for daring to spread that commodity they so loathe – not muck but the truth!A seven day ban was imposed.And it’s probably no coincidence that the people behind the station have a not altogether distant family relationship from a previous prime minister with connections in Montenegro.Taksin’s daughter, incidentally, once arrived in the school where I worked and I hoped to enjoy her presence in my Thai language class – however she left before the day was out lasting only marginally longer than a stint she did in MacDonald’s for the assembled press’s cameras.Long running story of the week was the saga of the Thai woman who has ditched her South African husband and six year old son and run off with a rapist. What began as a missing Thai woman story on Facebook now has the Thai and US authorities hunting for the spoor of a man wanted in Alabama for the rape of a five year old boy.Rather than focus on the peril of the father the forum posters seem to be obsessed with the idea that a rapist could come into Thailand and get a job teaching English.When you have worked for an establishment that harbored not one but two wanted pedophiles over the years you kind of come to expect it.Sure, the authorities have done some tightening up in Thailand over the years but they still have a way to go before those that might prey on our children are not given the red carpet treatment on arrival in Thailand.Hopefully the foreign teacher pictured delivering an English course to the cops in Pattaya is all above board though it is doubtful that the students would notice if he wasn’t.Either way, we look forward to much politer extortion and well-formed excuses for inactivity in the coming months as the officers get to grips with their phrasal verbs.Stretching incredulity well in advance of April Fools’ Day was the public prosecutor who saw nothing wrong in giving more time and consideration to Red Bull “Boss”. Hopefully he’ll pop in if he has a moment and if not, never mind……we’ll just throw the book at the guy in Lamphun who dragged the girl called ‘Nong Amway’ under HIS car for a kilometer.Wouldn’t it be nice to see Boss doing 50 years – maybe next April 1st. Unfortunately, last weekend’s launch of the Happy Zone project in Walking Street, Pattaya, seems to have been a bit of a damp squib. The Schadenfreude side of me wanted a spate of bag snatchings and bouncer beatings in the subsequent week but it all appeared Quiet on the Eastern Front with barely a lady boy in sight though a few cops got off their behinds to mount a clear-up of Beach Road that netted the usual insignificant drug dealers.And so to this week’s Rooster awards. Lady Kai now has a challenger for “The Scariest Woman in Thailand” after the story of the “taxi driver from hell” did the rounds of the forum. Indeed the driver was female, of sorts.Pussadee was “no pussy” as the translator observed after racking up seemingly dozens of fines for ripping off the public then shouting at them for daring to complain. She even pulled a knife on one but the land transport department just continued with their attempt at a funny movie: Carry on Regardless.“Best Headline” award goes to the cheeky “There’s a rat at government house” after a greedy rodent was seen clambering over the curry. The vermin soon went viral as the “nitizens” of Thai social media enjoyed themselves and for once no one was threatened with defamation.Also being where he shouldn’t was a hungry python who feasted on a couple of fighting cocks in what must have been the most expensive chicken dinner of the week.The fervently Buddhist Thais make an exception when it comes to animal cruelty in the sport of “Kai Chon” (Cock Fighting) that may just have something to do with the amount of gambling that goes on at the arenas dotted throughout the countryside..Finally, well done to the Thai police for arresting an American with a “gun necklace”. Ok, so we didn’t find out if it was a real gun but he was an American so could hardly be considered completely innocent.Besides, he was reported by the sales girl after being caught licking the window of her 7/11.I repeat, you couldn’t make it up. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-02
  5. The week that was in Thailand news: No excuses are better than a bad one! The more I read and comment on the Thai news the more I have come to appreciate that this is truly the land of excuses. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were remotely plausible or had a semblance of sense. Mostly they are just absurd!Officials, especially those with ties on, white coats or brown uniforms, come out with some gems that have the titter-o-meter at full tilt; humor is the only merit we ever glean when these glib authorities open their brazen bouches.Surely George Washington had it spot on when he admonished an errant niece with the phrase: “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one…”Well, I suppose that while that would be something that a man who couldn’t lie might say it is very unlikely that such honorable qualities reside with any certainty in the average politico or policeman in LOST (Land of Som Tam).But excuses are not just the domain of officialdom. Every crime story in Thailand lists them alongside the more certain evidence. No matter how nonsensical the excuse the press seems to deem them as an intrinsic part of the story.Now Rooster is not saying that the Thais have a monopoly on excuses – it is just that they seem to have made a national sport out of them every bit as part of society as Muay Thai. Excuses for accidents, excuses for crime, excuses for failure, excuses for….well read on….Carrying the can as the main culprit in the excuse of the week in the last seven days had to be the reason for the appalling mess at Wong Amat beach in Pattaya. Now, no one in their right mind expects Pattaya to be clean (except the tourism minister where right mind, anyhow, smacks of oxymoron-ism).But….the excuse for the filthy sewage spewing out all over the beach was none other than a squirrel. Sadly the creature could not even speak up for itself and offer another Thai favorite, the denial, as it had been fried in a junction box controlling the pooh-flow to the ocean.It made the excuses of the metropolitan police chief in the Thai Bev payment scandal – where the chief was alleged to have squirreled away 50,000 baht a month – look positively tame in comparison.Following on and perhaps not needed, was a rather fawning article from Thaivisa’s Nation partners that seemed to take chief Sanit’s excuses at face value rather than drill down and question him further.Sure, the ombudsman has given the him an airy wrap on the knuckles but the Thaivisa forum was rife with adverse comment on what many saw as a white-wash article, a synonym for excuse as we all know!Sanit has, however, dodged a bullet here – something all decent policemen are advised to practice. But the message is clear and is an indication of the way Thai society works – no direct sanction but a clear inference that something was amiss.All delivered with a Thai smile, the one that says “so watch your step in the future, laddie” as my commanding officer in the CCF at school used to sayOne man who has bucked the trend of giving excuses is the general PM. He did give one nearly three years ago when he muttered something about usurping an elected government being for the good of the people – such was the lawlessness on the streets of Bangkok at the time that Rooster bought that one… least for a while.Now, enjoying more power even than my missus, he eschews excuses and complains when others use them. We were never even going to hear that the purchase of Chinese submarines was necessary for national security.We were just treated to the throw-away line that if the government bought two the politburo would toss in the third one for free. Unlike the subs themselves the plan is unlikely to sink without a trace.You had to laugh – that is a deal even Subway might baulk at!As if to show up the Thais for merely offering excuses came the apologies from UK and Australian media who had defamed the Hmong kids calling them thieves last year after the infamous watch robbery incident of a tourist at Doi Suthep.I make no excuses for referring to this in the column not that I see it as news in any way but I was intrigued that the British Consulate was involved in simultaneously getting apologies from several British and down under tabloids. Not an easy thing to do.What are they up to? Smoothing the way for flogging off more British owned real estate to line the pockets of Whitehall – or trying to gain some more credibility ahead of plans to fleece their countrymen further with continued online visa shenanigans?Their attempt to hoodwink the long suffering British residents of Thailand with a bargain basement visa online service – 50K for five and 10K per person thereafter – was every bit an excuse for poor service as the Australian announcement that they were selling their Sathorn site off to developers.I thought there was nothing more moan-worthy than a British resident abroad until I read the comments on the Thaivisa forum from the Aussies about their own embassy.I’m meeting the UK ambassador this week – I hope he doesn’t offer up any excuses why we have now dropped to number two in the whinging stakes.Offering excuses aplenty this week was a story that had it occurred in the West might have been called “Filler-gate.”This Thai drama was an excuse-a-minute-fest as a belligerent and official looking woman was caught on tape tearing strips off pump attendants for being unable to open the cap on her Honda Airblade.Unable to do it herself she then called the police and later compounded her idiocy by seeking a defamation charge against the poster of the clip!It really is such a shame that Thai law seems to side so heavily with the allegedly defamed in the face of all certainty provided by the actual evidence of their unpleasantness! Thais online lapped it up – here was a “Lady Kai” style poser claiming she knew someone in the police and riding a bike rather than a Benz!If one of the attendants had been a lady boy you would have had a Thai soap right there.Sure she was made to look stupid – she brought it all on herself. The attendants – as Thais often do to smooth things over – apologized at thye local nick for having the temerity to breath.Naturally, the keyboard warriors of Thaivisa forum were out in force to condemn this latest outburst of overt Thai rudeness but the prevalence of cameras are to blame for making it look like an epidemic of bad manners.Maybe my rose tinted specs need adjusting but I still see more calm Thais than angry ones in the course of my daily and nightly rounds – frankly, it is the almost total absence of the “are you looking at my pint” brigade that makes me feel good in my adoptive homeland.But as if to prove me both right – and perhaps wrong – in those assessments, came a double header of violence exacted against the clergy. Rather than meting it out here were our orange clad friends on the receiving end of a drunk copper’s slap and an angry dad who used his foot on an abbot’s head.The drunken “daap” thought the monk was an imposter and got him in a headlock while the father of three placed his size sevens on the 77 year old abbot for giving him fish curry rather than Jaffa cakes, or whatever it is that the Thais consider a delicacy.I got the feeling that the Thai press were going in search of these stories to provide a bit of balance after a year absolutely filled with monks behaving badly stories. Well, that’s probably the reporters’ excuse.Offering absolutely no excuses – not yet at least – was the policeman’s son arrested on the eastern seaboard for dispatching an annoying mortal with a cue in a snooker hall. Hopefully, the CCTV and the public exposure will mean that nasty piece of work having his brown potted by the pink for a good few years in clink.While no one would have expected an excuse from the wife in Pattaya out drinking with her husband who thought it was a jolly good jape to mention his need for a “gik” in front of friends. Had I been drunk or stupid enough to say such a thing in front of my own better three quarters, I would probably just go meekly outside and pull the trigger as the Brits used to do in the days when they were still honorable.And so to this week’s Rooster awards. Firstly for “Services to Happiness” I would like to commend the junta for getting Thailand up to 32nd on the UN world happiness index. Ok, it was only up one place from 33rd last year but at least at this rate we should be number one by the time democracy is restored.Norway was top and Switzerland was fourth so it was with some Schadenfreude that we saw a national of the former robbed of a wallet by a “gay recidivist” in Pattaya and one of the latter relieved of 500,000 baht in a Nong Khai house burglary.Maybe they should have stayed in Europe where their happiness might have been guaranteed and where it surely would have been cooler, something that was now too late for the Swiss “cowman” who sadly passed away from the heat in Tak.Finally as we gear up for the annual carnage that is Songkran it was interesting to see a tragic accident with a vague difference in Kalasin. A man had loaded up his old car with a pile of vegetation for his cattle. So high was the bundle that he could see nothing from the rear window as he reversed at speed along the hard shoulder.In no time he had flattened and killed a woman who had got off a bus thinking, incidentally, that he had gone over a rock. Not for him to blame the cuddly toys or cushions many Thais have obliterating their rear view.Grass was his ready-made excuse. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-03-26
  6. The week that was in Thailand news: Pigeon, pigeon….like your English! Like many Brits of a similar age Rooster grew up laughing at the antics of one Basil Fawlty. The comic creation of Connie Booth and John Cleese who played the Torquay hotel owner had no redeeming features. He was rude to everybody but especially Germans and Americans. He was an ingratiating snob who tried to do things on the cheap and was constantly fighting a losing battle with his dragon of a wife. Only twelve episodes of “Fawlty Towers” were made, but I have spent more time in the subsequent years since the 1970s quoting lines from the two series than an English literature teacher would quoting Shakespeare. And certainly in the last seven days the ultimate “role model” for Brits behaving badly came frequently to mind as many of his modern day countrymen did their darnedest to bring the name of the motherland down to new lows in Thailand this week! But my theme today was rather more inspired by a Thai; not one behaving badly per se but a disgruntled customer, many of whom featured in the classic BBC series. This was a Ford driver from Chiang Mai called Attaphon who was effing furious with his Fiesta for “fawlty” brakes. So he took a spade to the bonnet in view of the assembled media outside the Ford showroom in Bangkok. Bless! How reminiscent it was of Basil who had found a willowy tree branch to give his car that wouldn’t start a thoroughly good thrashing! Attaphon gave his bonnet a few ineffectual taps when he might have got some better news coverage if he had had a sledgehammer or had driven into the showroom window. Maybe like Fawlty’s car it wouldn’t start or perhaps it was just the Thai way – protesting but not going too far. Anyway, Rooster had a good old British smirk as he wouldn’t be seen dead – hopefully – in any motor vehicle that wasn’t made in Japan. I trust the Japanese and always have since Mrs Ishikawa made me take rests and brought me tea when I was her gardener in the UK. Top of the Brits behaving badly parade this week was the “phoo dee angrit” woman who took a massage then had a slap up dinner. She claimed rape in the first then refused to pay the bill in the latter though she later relented at the Bang Rak cop shop parting with the “payoff to buggeroff” money from the massage parlor. They called her a con artist and stuck up a warning poster outside after giving her 5,000 baht so no wonder she and her boyfriend could afford the bill for the lobster and a fine for assaulting hotel staff. Apparently she went on complaining on a Bangkok forum later but Rooster subscribes to the English proverb about being once bitten. Also hardly likely to get an OBE for services to Blighty was another compatriot running naked over the Pin Klao bridge with seemingly half the local plod in hot pursuit. She was apprehended near the Democracy Monument and given a towel – thank goodness – because her face made me think I’d rather not be privy to any more British flesh, thank you very much. No charges were laid and unsurprisingly neither was she as we all moved on and waited for the next episode in the soap opera that is “The British in Thailand”. At least the stories gave me cause to have some laughs as big as those watching Basil and his hapless waiter Manuel in action. The post of the week on the Thaivisa forum had to be a video rather than a comment and it was provided by “Sphere” who showed us around 20 Keystone Kops chasing a dog rather in the manner of the event in Bangkok. Dozens liked that one as did Rooster but I must also commend “Alex8912” for his quip about the errant Brits: “If Spain had good winter weather, maybe Thais would be spared”. Surely it is time that the Thais based visas not on some nebulous idea of a country’s economic or political standing but on the hard facts of how their nationals behave when visiting the country. This would mean an end to visa on arrival for the British! I am just glad I already have my permanent residence, garnered in the day when Thais still romanticized the Brits for their plummy accents, Savile Row suits and that wonderful Mrs Windsor. ER indoors remains but the Brits of today are more likely to speak a foreign language than be plummy….and no one mentions Savile any more after Jimmy let the side down. Still it would be churlish not to mention that the British still have some good things going for them. They still have the pound, just, and some of the best excuses for delays on the railways found anywhere in the vaguely civilized world. Another British comedy legend – Reggie Perrin played by the late Leonard Rossiter, who was altogether more likeable than Mr Fawlty – used to always arrive late in his office with a railway excuse like “defective bogey at Earlsfield”. But this week in Bangkok it was a bird that had flown into a motor that cause a short and a very long and sticky delay to the airport link service. The naughty bird that got the Thai passengers hot under the collar – causing some to break open a door as they fried in the summer heat apparently – was none other than a pigeon. I am sure their language was fruity and rather unlike Spanish waiter Manuel who laughed uncontrollably when he thought Basil said pigs had gotten into the hotel’s water tank. “Oh, not pigs – pigeon, pigeon – like your English” screamed his boss – a put down that Rooster has borrowed on many an occasion in Thailand with invariably oblivious looks as a reward. It really was hard to find anything but comedic relief on Thaivisa this week and it is to be hoped that getting into bed with The Nation only enhances the ever improving quality of the site without detracting from the reasons we love to click on its news content and forum comment. Commenting on The Nation collaboration I especially liked “elgordo38” for mentioning Rooster in the same illustrious company as visa guru “Ubon Joe”. I just hope my boss reads the bit about the need for a raise….. Working with one of Thailand’s leading dailies is hopefully good news for all and may bring a bit more seriousness for “Comedy was still King” this week especially with the setting up of the “Happy Zone” in Walking Street, Pattaya. Ahead of inauguration day next Saturday we have been promised eternal safety from lady boy attack though it still might be worth donning protective eyewear to guard against flying ping-pong balls in some bars, just in case that avenue of eroticism has not been eradicated by the tourism minister before next weekend. Still, despite the humor, it would be remiss of me as a chronicler of Thai events not to mention a few more serious items. After scanning high and low I did find some what with the murder of a female government official in her car and the gunning down of a father-in-law over an injury to a pet Golden Retriever. Both shootings were no laughing matter and occurred in Pathum Thani within hours of each other. The first looked like the work of the estranged husband and the second was nothing more than the result of having a strange son-in-law. And so to this week’s Rooster awards, and after seven days like that I just feel like giving and giving…the “Lottery Lunacy” award goes to the entire and lovely Thai race for believing that a stillborn eight-legged cat is a source of good fortune and further that the female spirit of a lump of old wood dredged up from a bomb-hole in Chonburi could mean driving a Benz into the village by the end of the week. In both cases the lottery hopeful were naturally warned that you had to be a good person to benefit from the numbers and while that disqualified myself I passed on the 502 number to the missus who showed a keen interest in Thaivisa for the first time in ages. She was quickly on the blower to upcountry mum who phoned back some hours later with the incredible news that they hadn’t in fact won 12 million baht. I overheard the Loei language lilt that I can just about follow and understood that number 92 had prevailed. Disappointed, the wife then told me that 502 had not come up, but what were the other two numbers you had mentioned earlier?, she asked. “Ninety-two” I said quickly, and once again felt like Fawlty who famously remarked in relation to a horse racing bet that for the first time in his life “he was ahead” after putting one over on his wife! But like what ultimately happened to Basil, the scorn was still reserved for the man of the house when the truth came out and my ribald ruse was rumbled. Finally Rooster almost felt the need for medication for a whole host of reasons when it emerged on CCTV that a man in Chonburi was stalking motorcycles. Not to steal them which is relatively normal if anti-social behavior but, wait for it…… to have his way with them. Our Fino fiddler was putting slits in the cushioned seats, getting out what the Thais in print refer to as his “Jao Loke” (or Ruler of the World) and poking it in with something approaching gay abandon, if gays will forgive me. But rather than the antics of the man besmirching the two wheelers that Rooster has learnt to love platonically, it was the giggling of the girls in the office who were reviewing the footage that made me chuckle uncontrollably. Gossiping in Thai and reminding the others that this was the morsai maniac’s second visit to the parking lot in the last few days, she commented as he rejected one familiar Honda in favor of another: “Khan gao – mia gao” intimating: “No, no… he had that “missus” last week”. Mr Fawlty, eat your heart out. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-03-19
  7. The week that was in Thailand news: Howzat! Rooster still at the crease on 50 not out Today the column celebrates a minor landmark – this is the fiftieth edition of The Week That Was in Thailand news. And to mark the occasion I would like to thank all those wonderful Thai, and sometimes foreign figures, who have made it all possible. From the fatherly general for all his sterling efforts to bring us happiness amid dictatorship to his starry eyed minions like Khun Kobkarn at Tourism and Sports who is well on her way to ending sex as we know it while winning back Mr Woo’s missing yuan. To Khun Veera who made puritans of pretties at the motor show ordering them to cover up their bodywork. You all deserve a medal, not least of all for making us laugh. As do the police chiefs and their underlings up and down the country for all the rib tickling new initiatives. I have lost count of the times I have spat out my slightly loose Thai dentures into my Amazon roast chortling uncontrolably at your latest endeavors. And thanks to all the people who have given up their valuable time spending their lives on Facebook for our vicarious viewing pleasure posting about road rage and accident and recording Thais, tourists and taxis behaving badly in videos too numerous to mention. You have all paid your part – however, I fear that if I hear one more “spoiling the image of Thailand” quote I shall go to the most public building, climb to the flat roof and jump. There will be no sign of a struggle and I won’t care if my actions spoil the image of the country. I’ll be as happy as Larry….just so long as I am right about there not being a next life. Talking of which, it was great to read in another bumper week of risible revelations on Thaivisa that the realm has once again been given the accolade of the world’s least miserable country. The aforementioned have all played their part. From Prayut down – which isn’t easy – they have ensured that the Bloomberg award is once more safely in Thai hands. Happiness has truly been returned to the people as the military foresaw in 2014. Though the people in the picture that accompanied the story looked like grinning Hong Kong Chinese doing Tai-chi to me. Surely happy Thais would have been staring at social media on the sky train. Never mind it was the thought that counts and it’s spiffing to see the foreign media once again taking time to praise our idyllic Thai way of life, even though they forgot to mention the early death a fair few of the populace are obliged to endure due to slip ups on highways and balconies. And it was not just Bloomberg bring good news – last month CNN said Isaan was the best thing since sliced buffalo. Admittedly, some scurrilous Aussie news media starting letting the side down banging on this week about Thailand being known as the Land of Scams. How very dare you, mate. Anyone who has seen the price of a loaf of bread in Sydney and all those podgy Ockers on Bondi Beach getting skin cancer will know that the predictable gems and jet-ski rant was just more of the pot belly calling the kettle black….. On Monday Rooster had barely turned on his computer before the face of tourism minister Kobkarn leered out with the breaking news that from now on foreigners would have to pay 400 baht to go for a walk in the woods. Of course it was just a rehash of a billion stories about fleecing at national parks but two things struck me. Firstly I thought back to a previous life where I was in charge of school trips at a famous Bangkok establishment where Khun Kobkarn was Chairman of the Board of Governors. Yours truly fought tooth and nail to ensure that none of our expat staff or children ever paid more than a Thai, writing into our trips policy that we would never support places that tried to rip us off. Has the minister forgotten those days and why does the iconic British movie “I’m Alright Jack” come into my mind at times like this? Secondly I was buoyed by a story that appeared by the side of the one on parks that seemed to be related. “New regulations to ensure free emergency treatment” it said and I thought, great, at least if my Zimmer frame topples at a waterfall I can claim some of the 400 baht back. Sadly you needed to be in the 30 baht health scheme and the story had no relation to the parks. It could be of no assistance to me though it might help the insurance saleswoman in Chonburi who was stabbed by an irate client later in the week. The non-news about the park fees and the false alarm about getting something for my taxes made me think what headlines we might enjoy next week: “Thais to start putting Chilli in Som Tam” or “Dog found Without Owner in Bangkok Soi”, perhaps. Tragically it was dogs with owners that were more prevalent in the news this week. The first was the man in Bung Karn – Thailand’s 77th and newest province – that bought his way out of civil responsibility in the death of a neighbor mauled by his three Rottweiler dogs. He coughed up 140K (knocked down from 150 incidentally) and took his vicious beasts back to their cages, laughing all the way home I shouldn’t wonder. Still, at least he paid up – another guy whose minging mongrel mangled a three year old claimed the little girl did the biting first. Someone needs to promulgate a new law for him – “Extracting the Frickin’ Michael in the Hours of Daylight”; Penalty 30 years and 5,000 baht fine…or both. Much of the news this week was dominated by the search for Valentina the 23 year old Russian missing since mid-February on Koh Tao. Though it appears that the latest bits found in the sea are animal not human, what with the history of the island over the last few years, every Thaivisa keyboard sleuth was slathering salaciously at the prospect of more unsubstantiated intrigue. They cited missing CCTV as relevant – get a grip lads, it’s always missing! Then a flip-flop couldn’t be tested for DNA. Suspicious how it might have been cleaned somehow by being in the swirling ocean for two weeks. Plod, however, had been getting desperate earlier in the week and had announced that they were concentrating on the sea after three remarkable fortune tellers had miraculously pointed to the water as a possible place where the unfortunate lady could be found. Forum posters pooh-poohed the notion possibly having never heard of the many cases where the FBI or UK police turned to clairvoyants for help. The “mor duu” are probably as right as anyone. Sadly, the unfortunate lady will more likely wash up rather than turn up Incidentally, Rooster went to Koh Tao about eight years ago to set up a sixth form diving trip. If paradise is judged by the number of 7/11s on a single stretch of filthy road weaving through unplanned havoc then this was indeed the Garden of Eden. It made Pattaya look clean and organized. And so to this week’s Rooster awards and I would like to name two sets of “neighbors” for their help in trying to clean up the country. The “For Services to the Kingdom of Thailand” award goes firstly to the Cambodians in Pattaya feasting on soi dogs. They clearly have a much better epicurean solution to the problem than all those do-gooder soi dog foundation nutters who think rabies and scabies are a jolly good jape. Secondly the aforementioned award goes to a Burmese man who said he is the descendant of the last king of his country. Soe Win has called for the Thai Soap “Plerng Pranang” to be taken off Channel 7, where it seems to air 25/7, because the allegedly historical drama is in fact disrespectful to the Burmese Royal family. I mentioned that he may have a point to the missus, who had had an apoplectic fit when True’s excuse for a TV service went down again denying her access to the series earlier in the week. “How dare they!” she intoned, as several well-chosen but un-neighborly expletives emanated from her hitherto sweet lips (all during the lull of an advertising break of course). She even had time amid the washing powder commercials to remind me, in case I had forgotten, about the Burmese sacking of Ayuthaya in 1767, an incident she recalls like it was yesterday. Anyway, I decided I was obviously losing this one, so thought better of making some churlish comparison to the Thai’s banning of Yul Brynner’s “The King and I”. Besides, the commercial break ended and we were both in separate worlds again. Thank goodness for headphones. My final award is for “Entrepreneurial Endeavor” and goes to the Indians rounded up for loan sharking in Nakorn Pathom. The cops said the nasty “khaek” (that Thais will often point out means guest…) had gravitated from being nut sellers and finally cracked the big time charging the hapless locals 10 per cent interest per day. It reminded me of an old riddle about the Indians who plied their pistachio trade walking about the capital with a table full of nuts on their heads. “What has six legs and walks around Bangkok?” Finally the forum was treated to the best feel-good story of many a Thai moon when it was reported that a 74 year “samlor” rider called Bunphot had returned a wallet containing 100,000 baht to a South African policeman on holiday in Surat Thani. And feel good it was on every front. The honesty of the poor and seemingly malnourished old man was tremendous and touching. While the gratitude of the man from Table Mountain led him to kindly promise that he would send a continuing monthly allowance to repay humble Bunphot. A tear of regret came to Rooster’s eye as I ashamedly recalled once reveling in the lyrics of the UK’s Spitting Image song: “I’ve Never Met A Nice South African”. Now it looks like we have….even if he is a rozzer. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-03-12
  8. The week that was in Thailand news: Nothing as dangerous as a Thai green light When Rooster first came to Thailand – a young man in search of little chicks – he was under no misapprehensions about the dangers lurking in the kingdom. I had decided to not just learn to speak Thai but to study the written language as a matter of urgency and priority. I thought this might help me survive by giving me an edge. Unlike like-minded friends my reading practice was never Thai children’s cartoons – I gravitated immediately to the speech bubbles of gory picture books with evil ghosts, retribution and murder. As a relief from the imaginary gore and violence I pored over and over the true variety of ‘Crime magazine” and “191” with their salacious stories and horrendous depictions of the results of grisly violence. I was once walking outside the offices of the Por Teck Tung foundation (one of the organisations that race around picking up the dead and injured) and seeing the grotesque results of accidents posted on their windows asked an official there in my fledgling Thai, why all the gore? “It ensures we get more donations to carry on our work” came the matter-of-fact reply. With this background and a daily and nightlife that was “full” to say the least, I was under no illusions about the prevalent dangers and resolved to endeavor to take care and play to my strengths. Like run if it looked like fisticuffs, like look left and right and left again when going through a green light….and yes, with that language learning background, try to talk my way out of the scrapes and problems that anyone is likely to encounter even on a short sojourn in the kingdom. It has held me in good stead, for thirty five years have passed and I am still almost standing. But reading the news week in and week out, yours truly is forced to concede that in order to survive life in Thailand good sense and guile is one thing – what you also need is a healthy dose of luck. This week some got lucky and some certainly didn’t. Top of the “chook dee” variety went to the two Japanese tourists who were thrown from their female elephant after a randy pachyderm called Doraemon, of all things, attempted an urgent coupling. They lived to tell the tale though what story they will tell their Okasans remains to be seen. After all it’s not every day you come to Thailand and Doraemon tries to roger you. Less lucky by far was the Thai man enjoying a quiet Sunday at home who was killed instantly when a bullet fired in the air during a marriage procession outside dispatched him to “chart naa” (the next life) without asking if he was ready. Good luck to the police solving that one – with the exception of the groom it appears half the males of the wedding party were armed to the teeth. They were all bailed – hopefully none of them will get hitched before they have their day in court or the body count could really mount up. Also seemingly unlucky was the big bike westerner caught on video clipping the edge of a bridge and then being unceremoniously hurled out of sight to his death below. The chilling scream of the woman in the following car only added to the horror. Even Rooster with all that gruesome experience behind him winced at that one. It was one of several “videos and photos posted to Facebook” – a phrase that is now as much a staple of the Thai news as “fled the scene” or “transferred to an inactive post”. Fleeing and videoed on Facebook was a motorcyclist who caused a car to end up in the central reservation in Khon Kaen while transferred to a desk job was the policeman ringleader of an extortion gang in Koh Pangan who was banished to the mainland. As soon as he got some leave he was back on the island with his old mates kidnapping and robbing a Russian couple. Fair play to the Ruskies – they were not daunted by the danger of going to Koh Pangan in the first place then perhaps were not aware of the possible added peril of reporting a rogue cop to the cops. Whether brave or foolhardy it is to be hoped that their actions help to clean up what the local tourism operators are calling the “wild west”. At the very least it brought the head of Surat police to Had Rin. Meanwhile, I am indebted to several posters who pointed out my “keep ‘em peeled” error in last week’s column. Of course it was not Dixon of Dock Green but Shaw Taylor who coined that memorable catchphrase. I must be getting old as mistakes start creeping in though thankfully I have got a ways to go before I am Warren Beatty and I’d need one of those operations famous in Thailand to be remotely like Faye Dunaway. To stay reasonably safe in Thailand it is best not to rock the boat too much and to learn when to say “Khrap” and when to keep “crap” to yourself. Consequently the only thing I will say to the metropolitan police chief Lt Gen Sanit Mahathavorn over the booze firm salary scandal when his signature miraculously appeared on an assets’ declaration is: I believe you sir…though as my dear departed English mother used to say, thousands wouldn’t. Reading through posts on the forum regarding the upholding of the death sentences against the Burmese in the Koh Tao murders it seems that thousands are convinced of their innocence and only the odd one has any certainty about their conviction. And most of the latter seem to be victim David Miller’s family. Who knows what grief, or as some say threats or money, can do to one’s opinions, but the fact remains that the case is a ‘cause celebre’ likely to run until democracy returns to these fair shores. In what was a rather serious week in many ways, it was just as well that we still had Pattaya. And not just the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard. For when you threw in the erstwhile reigning rani of the Tourism and Sports Ministry – Khun Kobkarn – you got a combination that would turn more heads than the sauciest seaside strumpet. This week Her Kobkarnliness was trumpeting the resort’s prowess in sporting endeavor and chose as her example of excellence none other than jet-skis. Strike one. It amused me to read the translation of the Thai Rath story from the vernacular into English; despite the translator clearly thinking the whole idea was preposterous no attempt was made at ridicule. Like in so many Thai stories and comments from Thai officialdom – the facts are ridiculous enough to speak for themselves! I admire Khun Kobkarn who knows what good sport is – she was handing out prizes at the King’s Cup Scrabble event in Bangkok in July after all. Which got me thinking…… Maybe next she will start promoting Bridge in Pattaya and the pensioners can come out of hiding. Naturally the forum posters had a field day at Khun Kobkarn’s expense as well as much merriment concerning the African female “tourists” who claimed they were out for a stroll on Beach Road. With their backs to the media cameras they showed more cheek than even the police in denying the bleeding obvious. The “ooh, er missus” innuendo of the Thaivisa posters reminded us that life in the resort is not to be taken too seriously. Maybe the minister should remember that when she makes her promised visit later this month. Also keeping Rooster’s ribs tickled “chompuu” was the farang guy in the north east who seemed to have got a free bowl of noodles or two after claiming to be Tom Cruise. He was pictured smiling with the owner on the shop’s wall. Maybe they talked about Mission Impossible, and by that I mean the movie…..not the latest attempts by the authorities to oust the embezzler at Wat Dhammakaya, a story that makes Thai TV soaps look interesting. Still the story of “scientology’s savior” gave Rooster a few ideas. Over the years, several Thais have stopped me in the streets and on escalators, of course, to say I look like Robert de Niro. I never deny it and the encounters always end in happy smiles even if no one is yet to get my “it’s nice to Meet the Fockers” joke. Maybe I shall actively promote my dazzling good looks in the eateries of Ratchayothin this week. And so to this week’s Rooster Awards – now, where did I put that envelope? Ah, here it is – and the winner of the best “’Avin’ a laugh” award of the year so far is the National Park official who suggested that the charging (sic) of foreign tourists must be “transparent and modernized”. Thailand may have done a fair job with the modernizing bit over the last few decades but transparency remains as obscure and irrational a concept as ever. So much so, that I have met Thais who think trans-parent is a lady boy who wants to adopt an orphan. While the “That Just Has to be Better Than the Real Thing” award goes to the Bangkok police for plans to install hundreds of fake cops or “jaa cheuy” with cameras to catch those arch criminals who don’t even wear the 199 baht helmets available in Lotus. The idea is to rake in millions in fines…oh and er….stop crime, clean up the tourism image, end the drugs trade….er, no, serve, yes, yes that’s it, serve and protect the public. I was a little taken aback that the concrete models were A) upstanding and not smiling much, as my experience with the cuntstabulary is that they reserve their broadest grin when they are about to relieve motorcyclists of the content of their wallets. Finally I loved the story about the road in Nakorn Somewhere where the power poles were left in the middle of the thoroughfare when it was widened. Thaivisa forum posters chimed in with dozens of other examples in their own streets, towns and villages up and down the kingdom. It made me think about the similarities between the Thais and the British I left behind all those years ago. For wasn’t it complaints about the number of Poles in the streets that led to Brexit? Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-03-05
  9. The week that was in Thailand news: The Queen of the Eastern Seaboard strikes back! It was quite a week for Pattaya. She – like ships that seems to be the appropriate pronoun – began the week as little more than a common whore. By the end of it she was a paragon of virtue referred to as the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard! Of course the truth is that nothing had changed – and nothing will – from the authorities’ lip service assault on foreign media to their equally nonsensical moves to try and paint a picture of the resort as whiter than the driven snow that has never fallen there. Like what the tourists pay for in Walking Street it was just one big seedy sideshow! And Pattaya was not to blame for any of it! Leading the way was the police chief who as the Thais say caused “huaroh fan ruang” - so much mirth that teeth will fall out. Rooster needed dentures after his assertion that Pattaya was all about nature. Only an application to have ‘her’ submitted to the list of seven wonders of the natural world was missing. District chief Naris followed up his Valentine’s Day shaming of the Brit tourist in Walking Street by ordering a raid on a single bar catching one prossie who was overage anyway. While a whopping 20 arrests of street walkers on Friday massively dented the 20,000 plus prostitute population! Bless – the only thing whopping about that was the size of the mostly African women who were carted off to jankers. I don’t know why but it reminded me of the question master on a popular UK game show years ago who posed the question before anyone had heard of the country: “What is the capital of ‘Thigh-land?”. Maybe he had been to Pattaya and got confused with his pronunciation. As if to confound their own confusion the cops and their minions held a “crisis meeting” to set up no less than 36 “Happy Zones” in the resort. All I could fathom about this plan was that the police had finally announced that they were placing all responsibility for policing on the shoulders of the public. They wanted the shops and bars to be the eyes and ears rather in the manner of legendary TV cop “Dixon of Dock Green” who used to exhort the British public to “keep ‘em peeled”. At least Sergeant Dixon used to round up the villains at the end of each show – this crew in Pattaya just puts the K in Keystone every week. Not to be outdone it was a mixed week for the folks at the TAT. Mixed in the sense that some of their ideas were idiotic and some were just plain ridiculous. Firstly they announced that a sure way to woo Mr Woo was to take him to see military bases. I can’t wait to see all those Chinese clambering over the tanks and firing weapons though I think that the government in Beijing might have a word in Prayut’s shell-like for giving the proletariat ideas. Then came the bombshell that tourists were the ones to blame for all the Adidas and Nike so cheaply available on the streets. Apparently if they didn’t buy all the pirated goods they would all just disappear and Thailand could be respected by Rolex once again. It really did appear that the TAT couldn’t make up its mind if tourists were really such a good thing after all. This was confirmed when Olga the hapless Russian was bailed on a mere 100,000 baht for feeding a few angel fish. And seemingly reiterated when the national parks rejected moves to reduce tourist fleecing by 50% in Krabi resulting in the local chief saying enough was enough. He had presided over the collection of 500 million baht in fees last year and now he was so stressed out with all that success he wanted a transfer. But he should be careful what he wishes for – he could end up in Pattaya as a reward! Meanwhile I am thinking of contacting the TAT with a brilliant idea I had to protect tourists on their stay in the Kingdom. It came to me following news that a bus passenger queuing for a ticket at Mor Chit had been shot. The bullet came from a man in charge of the rank who said the gun went off by accident as he was sorting out a minor problem with his friend, as they do. Admittedly the passenger was shot in the head but would it not be a top idea to rent bullet proof vests to tourists at Swampy on arrival. Thai chili mace could also be provided to women or Asians wearing chunky gold necklaces. This could be added to a list of useful numbers for new arrivals like who to contact for funeral services. And of course the true quality tourists with all the wedge would be encouraged to buy the equipment creating a burgeoning cottage industry in protection. Win – win. It all seemed so much simpler back in the 80s when tourism was relatively new and no one was in denial – Thailand was what it was and no one needed to make any excuses. I recall vividly the newspaper comments of an interior minister who, asked where a visiting counterpart from Japan would be taken on his state tour, responded: “We’ll take him for a massage”. The Thai official smiled and winked and no one batted an eyelid. Despite some crime committed by foreigners this week mostly it was perpetrated by Thai on Thai with some very nasty examples. Top of an unsavory bunch had to be the 39 year old woman who forced her 12 year old daughter to sleep with her new husband because she was worried that otherwise he would leave her. Forum comment was understandably aghast as it was in the story that emerged from the murder capital of Thailand, namely Nakorn Sri Thammarat. There a teacher had ordered a hit on her husband for 150,000 baht. The gunmen had fired a volley then reloaded to make sure as hubby rode home after taking his missus to school. I wonder if she kissed him goodbye? I read the story while tucking in to some “Meu Peun” (hired gun) brand popcorn – the packaging features a smiling assassin shooting some corn….Thailand how I love thee! But that teacher was not the only “Khun Khru” in the news this week with one on the receiving end of a proverbial hail of bullets and some others torturing instead of teaching. The teacher who was shot was sent on her way by her policeman husband in Korat who found out she was having an affair. Rather than do something as old fashioned and undramatic as divorce her he went to a gas station and shot the adulterous couple 14 times reloading half way through. He was on his way home to commit suicide when stopped by colleagues from the station. They really should have let him “glap baan” before contemplating an arrest. Sickening was the story of two kindergarten teachers who were seemingly inspired by Donald Drumph’s promotion of waterboarding. They thought it was jolly good pedagogy to tape up two five year olds’ hands and eyes to teach them concentration in class. Rooster had just been to collect his four year old from the kindergarten – a very good one I might add with dedicated Thai teachers – and was left, like many forum posters, to ponder what he would do if it was his child subjected to such scandalous treatment. The reaction may be no less irrational than that jealous policeman in Korat. A foreign teacher in the news was the Canadian “professor” in Chiang Mai who hit a three year old in a buggy while riding his “big bike”. The stupidity of the Western parents in crossing a busy road with a pram combined with the Canadian fleeing the scene ensured that in the idiocy stakes the Thais did not have it all their own way this week. Meanwhile, in Bangkok the British Embassy has now decided to sell another bit of its Wireless Road real estate for 20 billion baht which should be enough to wipe out the UK national debt at the current exchange rate. Apparently it came to 2.2 million baht a square yard! The move was met with an appropriately British volley of sarcastic approval with the top forum comment of the week from “daveAustin” who observed: “I mean how many rai does one need for one person to man a phone and say ‘sorry we don’t have that service, cannot help ‘ ”. Which seamlessly leads me into this week’s other Rooster awards. The “Chump of the Week Award” goes to the apologist extraordinaire who suggested that others were being racist when they complained about the attitude of drivers on the Thai roads. The comment referred to the story about the man filmed as he got his “just desserts for driving that took the biscuit” and was: “There are no more stupid drivers in Thailand than any other country”. If you believe it, sir, there is a good Thai doctor I can recommend at Sri Thanya Hospital, if not, please take your comments elsewhere, Khun Troll. While my “Well Done for all those Years of Effort” award is also traffic related. It goes to the entire country for successfully rising to the top of the pile for the world’s most congested nation. Maybe that should be top of the pile-up, nevertheless it was a Stirling Moss of an effort achieved after years of dedication even if it was sullied by the news that Bangkok only ranked 12th in the list of congested cities. Finally, we went a whole week before a smiling Thai pensioner appeared right as rain beside his totally demolished pick-up to assert that it was the amulets and a statue that had saved him from what should have been certain death. Of course it was; but it was the translator’s tongue in cheek that really saved the day mentioning the magical qualities of the “Luang Pu Thuat” statue that is, quote, “well known for saving countless lives”. Methinks someone who knows Thailand a little too well! Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-02-26
  10. The week that was in Thailand news: Nonsense, glorious nonsense. Teaching colleagues at my former school used to gather in the staff room at lunchtimes for what we called “The Nonsense Committee” – there was always plenty to talk about at a big international school in Bangkok especially as the management were British. It was usually the decisions of heads and deputies that garnered most of our incredulous attention and sarcasm before we went back to the classroom and the relative sanctity and good sense of the students. Now Rooster is no longer cooped up in education and it is the nonsense of the leaders in Thailand and their deputies that pique my attention. And this week the Thaivisa site did not disappoint. Perhaps a backlash was in order after my “snowball in hell” column last week when I decried the lack of interesting news for this week we were literally snowed under with nothing but nonsense glorious nonsense. Top of the pile once again was Khun Kobkarn over at tourism and sports who has come up with the brilliant idea of taking up President Drumph’s slack and is actually trying to attract Muslims tourists. The initiative came after the country’s first halal hotel opened in Bangkok. Now I’ve never knowingly eaten halal, I prefer pie and chips, but I know that the elegant minister is desperate to save her job by attracting some tourists after the Chinese billion dollar zero dollar debacle. Now I wouldn’t be surprised if she is thinking of suggesting that Korat be renamed as Koran. That should add 20%, or possibly 70%, more tourist revenue. Though her figures are usually plucked from cotton candy clouds, the former CEO of troubled Toshiba does understand, like most Thais, that it’s all about the money. Or perhaps in the minister’s current thinking…. a profit, Mohammad. Khun Kobkarn had a busy week in other ways too. She was on hand – the right hand incidentally – when General Prayut met Thailand’s Miss Universe contestant who is from Isaan. The beauty said that Big Too was cute and no, she hadn’t just lost her contact lenses. Rooster’s missus, who hails from the north east too, didn’t feel too threatened because she could see that the beauty queen’s skin color was darker than her own…”She should ask Nivea for a contract” was all she said before returning to her ghost magazine reverie. Thereafter, Khun Kobkarn moved onto high level ministerial negotiations with Nestle about introducing durian flavored Kit Kats into the kingdom. Apparently Japan makes millions from wasabi flavor, so why not. Rooster who went troppo in Thailand decades ago naturally loves everything made with durian but I do have to question the minister’s assertion that it will add 10% to GDP. And worryingly it could lead to a “smelly ban” on Durian Kit Kat on Thai Airways that could mean more tourism embarrassment. Monday it was announced that pistol packin’ plod were going to get new, no nonsense guns. The new 15 shooters will make massacres easier and be great for photo-ops if those nasty military chaps insist on continuing to ban innocent suspects from having their guilty looking mugs plastered over the papers. Rooster is not a friend of guns – the nearest I have got to one in Bangkok was the Long Gun bar in Soi Cowboy a few years ago – and that got me in more than enough trouble thank you very much even if I was shooting blanks . On the subject of which, though he didn’t even get a chance to fire off anything, was the man who was shot in the stomach after his karaoke partner fled from the upstairs short time room in terror claiming Somchai was packing a “pink pistol” of prodigious proportions. “Oohooo, yai maak maak” she screamed as she raced back to the bar. But what should have been a source of pride turned into a source of argument as the irked owner of the venue produced a sizeable weapon of his own and started firing. And these were not blanks. Still, the well-endowed guy lived to fight another day which is more than can be said of the soldier found attached to his charging phone, the German couple who U-turned straight into a Cha-Am truck, the Austrian who made the journey to the next world rather than do a visa run to Laos and the ex US serviceman who pegged out all alone in his room in Prajuab. The last of these died with a stack of money on the table and no apparent relatives though I am sure some wife or three will soon appear. Now if you are starting to believe that all of these stories are nonsense you are quite right and you are in good company. The dear General (god is often capitalized by the way) cautioned this week that we should not believe all the nonsense that we see on social media and the internet. Unless it is in praise of the junta of course. Miss Thailand Universe was right – isn’t he cute! Many forum posters were screaming “nonsense!” when the inside story of Phra Whatchamacallhim at the UFO temple broke. One of his disciples said he could not only walk on water and make himself invisible but had the miraculous ability to make himself heavy and thus impossible to lift. I am good at the invisible bit when the missus is on the warpath over household chores and McDonalds have aided and abetted in the heavy bit, but my hat is off to the arch embezzeler for the walking on water skill. That one is just in my mind. Still, the forum posters pooh-poohed it all and now look silly as he has confirmed his magical abilities by defying the 3,500 wolves baying at his door and disappearing into thin air. On a slightly less whimsical note, anyone who takes the activities of Wat Dhammakaya lightly is bonkers. Some posters suggested a surprise raid as if the temple doesn’t have half a million informants on the outside. Believe me when I say that this temple and its shenanigans makes the Church of Scientology look like child’s play it is not nonsense. They really don’t need Tom Cruise while PM Prayut is stymied as he can’t turn to his Top Guns. Top nonsense of a bumper week was however reserved for the 63 year old Brit and his bargirl adversary that brought further great advertising to Pattaya. The Brit got a shiner with a shoe for allegedly comparing bar prices to 7/11 while the lady of the night spent the next night in the cells. It was all rather tame when compared to the Owen’s Battle of Binthabat at Songkran but the forum posters had a field day allying themselves in the poor old tourist camp and the got what he deserved department. The adversaries should just kiss and makeup and perhaps contact the TAT for one of those decorative baskets for services in promoting the resort. For how else would such glorious stories and the like get reported in the Daily Mirror but for the work of such people on the ground. Good guys will continue to go to heaven and the bad to Pattaya no matter what for there really is no bad publicity when it comes to the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard. One could almost imagine the extra flight bookings within seconds of the UK rag’s announcement of the 27,000 hookers that they assessed as one in five of the female population! Yet more hilarious nonsense spouted forth from a Dusit poll that said 85% of the public thought Thai youth were out of control though no one singled out Suthep the 50 plus engineer who gunned one of them down in the road rage incident that inspired the survey. Kids will be kids, try having some or teaching some is my recommendation. But “halloween” said it best with my favorite forum comment of the week that will have to be my only award for the last seven days as nonsense has hogged too many column inches. On the poll findings halloween quipped: “Historians point out that this result is two percentage points higher than a similar poll taken in Athens in 498BC”. Exactly! But as if to defy logic that you can tell the young exactly what to do it was the Chiang Mai rozzers who led the nonsensical way on Valentine’s Day by setting up condom checkpoints to stop area youngsters from doing what comes naturally on the “day of love”. But even the northern cops were upstaged by the Valentine’s Vindictiveness of the district chief in – OMG not again – Pattaya, who thought it was a spiffing ruse to bang on the door of a Brit having his 62 year old end away in a short time room. But his primordially pathetic photo stunt at least was advertising of sorts reminding us how utterly inept the authorities in the resort invariably are. The last Valentine’s story involves more cocks fighting. No, thankfully not Pattaya again but this time the hitching of two valuable chickens in Chantaburi. All the local dignitaries somehow found time off from doing their jobs to attend the nuptials that had all the trappings and in this case undoubtedly all the crappings of a Thai wedding. Though not sponsored by KFC, you had to read to near the end of the report to find its hidden “chicken nugget of nonsense” when the reporter referred to the proud man who adeptly carried the million baht rooster in the parade. Apparently the man’s dad had taught him everything he knew about handling a cock. Way to go Pops! Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-02-19
  11. The week that was in Thailand news: A Thai snowball’s chance in Hell. Very little surprised me this week. In fact I was constantly muttering to myself – come on Thaivisa, tell me something I don’t know. Some chance. There was litter in the ocean. Yawn. Wannabe celebs complaining with crocodile tears that their precious images were in places they’d rather not be seen. Double yawn. Raids on soapy massage with a hundred cops finding one under 18 Burmese girl. Triple yawn. Hanging wires on a dangerous footbridge – zzzzz. All the week needed was an honest cabbie to rear his north eastern head and Rooster could have been the latest suicide statistic jumping from his 12th floor balcony. “UK expat ends it all after suffering terminal boredom”. But I decided not to leap – after all, it would have only meant just another inconsiderately caused yawn for forum readers over their Sunday morning coffee. However, a working life with teenagers in classrooms has taught me nothing if not perseverance. And so it was with some relief when a couple of vaguely juicy stories came along that managed to pique my interest like a five bird pooh chili Som Tam. Top of an admittedly small list was the story of complaints about the double pricing at the national parks in Krabi. More winging foreigners I initially thought until it was revealed that it was the Thais themselves wanting change. The long tail boat owners had got together and found someone who could read to take them to the parks office in town to tell the chief that charging 400 baht for tourists was a bit rum. Even Rooster’s poor maths had me thinking this seemed a bit more than double the 40 baht charged to locals. The boat owners said their business was down 60% and could the fees be halved so that the rip off was just a medium one, and thus acceptable. Rooster, who has paid a baht or two in tax over the years, hates these charges with a vengeance. Maybe tourists should pay a bit more but for people living permanently in the kingdom, I draw the line. I remember once being told in my car at a national park gate that it was several times more for me than the Thai wife and kids. They wouldn’t budge so rather than waste my breath I reversed out and disappeared round the corner. I got out of the driver’s seat and told the wife to drive while I began to clamber in the boot and hide. Surely Thais had never heard of the Trojan Horse! It was only when a gleam came in the missus’s eye at the thought of me in the boot that I decided it may not be such a good ruse after all… Anyway, good luck to the boatmen of Krabi. At least they made a point and what with the state of the Thai education system no one could expect them to know the melting point of snowballs in the underworld and thus their relative chance of success. After the moves by Khun Kobkarn at tourism and sports to waive visa fees it is to be hoped that she might sniff out the story with her elegant nose. Though Rooster holds out little hope – both the lady minister and the TAT clearly subscribe to the view that once you’re in Thailand we can do what we like with you! Another story that suppressed the yawns for a nanosecond – but gripped the Thai nation for considerably longer – concerned the engineer called Suthep who shot a teen in a road rage incident. Many thought he was within his rights to protect himself after he was “menaced” by the teens who had made him wait earlier by double parking. But Suthep was hardly being seriously threatened and he had a loaded gun in a car. And might he not have shot in the air than directly at the chest of a 17 year old. The case mirrors to a certain degree that of Tony Martin the farmer in the UK who shot and killed a 16 year old intruder at his dilapidated farmhouse. The public championed his right to protect himself from constant burglary – until it emerged that Mr Martin had laid in wait and was itching for blood. I am afraid that Suthep falls into just the same category and while he will doubtless get a lesser sentence because of the aggravated circumstances he still deserves many years of rice porridge. And the teens could do with some boot camp too. Falling into the category of the purely yawn-worthy, however, had to be airhead Zomy, who caused the nine car pile-up on Rachada a few months back, doing a new written driving test. It must have been a photo opportunity is all I can think of for this stunt for it would be inconceivable that she could read let alone make meaning of something as complex as writing. Keeping Rooster from his siestas this week was also the ongoing saga of the murder of Pattaya hood Tony Kenway. According to all the stories he was a programmer, a web designer, a boiler room boss….you name it he seemed to have done it. But ripping off people and flaunting his wealth were clearly his downfall. Though the fact that he didn’t target the Thais at least kept him alive until he was 39. When his wife turned up at the nick hoping to see the man who had allegedly ordered his murder the farang soap opera became almost funny as she called for justice. Dear Mrs Kenway – you should be the first to know that is exactly what he already got. Several forum posters asked why the stories always mention the “Red Porsche Cayenne” he was shot in. All I can say to people who are surprised at that is you can’t have been in Thailand very long. You’re probably equally perplexed when a person’s skin color is mentioned as relevant or that a girl in a crime story is pretty… The aforementioned bridge covered in wires and cables story that made me yawn did also make me smile for two reasons. Firstly for the “Stairway to Heaven” headline but also for the fact that I use this bridge almost every week wheeling my daughter in her buggy on trips to the pond at Kasetsart university and I’d never noticed the wires. A sure sign that you have been in Thailand for too long when you are oblivious to the fact that you and your loved ones are about to be fried to a cinder on an afternoon stroll. The story also led to my favorite forum comment of the week that once again went to wag PatOngo who went one better than the headline by suggesting that Stairway to Heaven should be “more like a Highway to Hell”. Adding to the yawns this week was the latest in the marihuana legalization debate. Drugs suppression police seem to be in favor which at a cursory glance seems like they are trying to do themselves out of a job. But seeing the amount of money a Ya Ba merchant’s wife had under the bed in Hat Yai – 56 million baht in cash – one was left to surmise that there is more than enough to go round with more serious substances. Regarding the legalization of ganja Rooster is neither holding his breath nor inhaling. The drug was an unwitting victim of fake news decades before today’s hot potato media topic was ever thought of and repairing that damage to the drug’s image in most of Asia will take more than my meager lifetime. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. The proud winners of the “ ‘Allo ‘Allo ‘Allo do you think we were born yesterday” award goes collectively to the entire police force and individually to the head of metro plod. All the rogue rozzers get it for the suggestion that they will be able to improve their public face and make inroads into corruption by the end of February. Though I’ll grant you that it was probably a typo in the “smarten up your act” story as February 2117 was surely intended. While photogenic Sanit Mahathavorn gets the individual honor after expecting us to believe that he will soon come up with a plausible excuse to justify his 50K tea money from the beer company. Surely such a tiny amount is the ultimate in small biccies for the chief – you’d think he’d just abandon it to take the heat off. Or is he trying to set an example to his subordinates? While the “Keep Trying to be Number One” award goes to all those people who love to make the ocean more interesting by floating plastic bottles in it. An academic this week called the Thais only the fifth worst polluters of the sea in the world. But as an outsider looking in, and with a bit more effort, I know the nation can make it to the top. Suu suu na khrap! The story of the ten kilometer slick of floating trash in the Gulf of Thailand also brought out the best and the most predictable thing about my dear Siamese friends. The best was the response by the Chumporn governor and his coordination with the navy and the private sector to get the rubbish quickly cleared up. The most predictable was the inevitable finding of a scapegoat rather than calling the litter tossing public to task. The authorities conveniently blamed the floods. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-02-12
  12. The week that was in Thailand news: Thai children and the end of English dominance. I have always subscribed to the view that Thais are like children. It has held me in good stead over the years especially on those occasions when it was necessary to ditch my staid northern hemisphere upbringing and have a good giggle with the supposed adults of the kingdom. And so it was yesterday as the whole country – young and old alike – turned out for Children’s Day. Twenty dinosaurs were brought in to wow the kids at Government House – no they were not past prime ministers or even present ones but, we were told, creatures who roamed the earth before even Thais began. I could barely believe there was such a time. However, after a lovely day with the children – my own real, wide-eyed little ones that is – I was left to reflect that Thais really did take the role of playing the juvenile a tad too seriously this week. Top billing went to the general PM himself for a story that topped the charts on the Thaivisa forum as he suggested that Thai language may well be the “lingua franca” of the world in the future usurping that tired old imperial English. He didn’t give a timeframe for this new world dominance but I assumed it must be twenty years – along the lines of the eradication of corruption that is also proceeding so well, according to his advisers. Giving as his reasons were some top quality and refreshing childlike reasoning – there are only 44 consonants, lots more vowels than English and Thai words can mean so many things. Oh you mean like Rooster means “cock” too. Understood, sir. I get it now! Still, like my three year old, he means well and at least we didn’t have a toddler’s tantrum this week – that was not until he threw the toys out of the pram regarding who said what after his audience with His Majesty over some constitutional amendments. Apoplectic Prayut couldn’t believe the temerity of reporters in quoting his exact words. Perhaps he was ascribing to the oft spouted view that you should never take a Thai at face value – there is always a hidden truth. Forum comment had already been rife earlier in the week as apart from the hoo-ha over the Thai language came the story about the Thai flag and the two Italian ‘children’ caught ripping several of them down in Krabi. Foreigners seemed as indignant as the Thais and it will be interesting to see what penalty the tourists will have to pay or serve. My guess is it will be pay but let’s hope, like children, they learn their lesson and perhaps appreciate later that it was just as well the flags were red white and blue and not yellow. And just as well, too, it was flags and not a picture they had vandalized. Some have enjoyed rice porridge for a considerable time for that. Behaving worse children were officials in the South who denied that a five meter long crocodile had escaped in downtown Nakorn Sri Thammarat. Just like a five year old who cannot imagine the consequences, here we had grown men finally admitting that “Nadia” was on the loose. They didn’t want to spook the public, they said, but, hey, never mind if the odd child was eaten. And I loved the name Nadia – if anything does go wrong they can always blame the Russians! Talking of which, we also had the horror of two farangs bathing butt naked in the river in Pai – ok they might not have been Russians but who gives a monkeys especially as all foreigners look alike and speak that olde worlde English language thing. But my goodness, the indignation from the locals! Reminded me of those many occasions with when I’ve been with Thais at beach resorts and they see westerners sunbathing in their birthday suits – strange how they just can’t keep their eyes from looking! Especially Thai women. To wit forum poster ‘LomSak27’ gets my award for the pertinent observation of the week after mentioning how much the locals love to feel outrage: “Thai culture gets too much mileage on finding disrespect to put the brakes on it’. Indeed, yet another occasion when Thais would rather stare than flee the scene and when the brakes just seemed to fail again. Also in the realms of the childlike was the absurdity of the story that capital punishment might be used for public officials caught fiddling for – er, let’s pluck a figure from the sky – one billion baht. Lawmakers themselves suggesting such a thing! It was a bit like a father telling his child that the punishment for lying was no more supper, ever again. Anyway, there will only be a conviction if it is the abject poor who do the embezzling and that, as the Thai language promoting PM might put it, is “Catch Yee-sip song”. Calls for the ultimate penalty are also being made for the Bangkok robbers who murdered a man last week for his iPhone. We were told this week that the case is being expedited but the fact remains that no one has been executed here since 2009 and even Amnesty International says when ten years has passed without its use then for all intents and purposes it doesn’t exist anymore. Expect to see the phrase ‘commuted to life imprisonment on admission’ once again. Two massive stories dominated the Thai press this week and received their share of attention on Thaivisa. These – unsurprisingly – both had juicy connections with the constabulary. The first was the continuing scandal of the entrance exams for top positions in the metropolitan police. Plod is desperately trying to blame everyone except their own and pathetically paraded a Pathumwan official who conveniently admitted to charging 400,000 baht a head to cheating candidates. Of course, he acted alone. Perhaps this was the only time someone actually acted as an adult this week by doing the right thing and not dobbing in his mates. But, like the words of a child, no one is likely to give them much credence in the circumstances. Cheating is so engrained in Thai exams of all kinds that it is a wonder they bother with the pretense of tests. Surely it would be better and less time consuming to just hold an auction for the police, school places or even driving licenses. The second rozzer-related story was the alleged abduction of the Bangkok “tom” found buried in a deserted resort in Kanchanaburi. A superintendent from Ratchaburi told met chief Sanit that he had asked some mates to “teach her a lesson”. Sanit first indicated he ‘bought’ that story by which I mean he believed it, not got paid for accepting it. But then he seemed to take a toddle down an evidential pathway for it now looks as though the super is in some serious “nam rorn” along with perhaps half a dozen others as more suspects spill the beans. The errant cop is probably thinking, despite the exams, you just can’t get the staff these days. My final word this week on the guardians of law and order concerns the incident where a traffic cop was helping some children over the road when a car hit him and revved off. It is a national disgrace not that the matter happened at a zebra crossing or that the impatient driver was a policeman. The disgrace is that no one was in the least surprised. Also not surprising was the shenanigans ” going on in Koh Samet. Several forum posters were taken in by the “crackdown” praising everyone from the new set of “upright” park officials to the junta for their “decisive action”. The reality is most operators are just being asked to pull down a bungalow or two that has encroached too near the sand. It is typical Thai face saving and only a Thai newbie, or dare I say a child, will be taken in by it. Most Thais themselves, having grown up to a point with such nonsense, certainly won’t be. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. The “Choice of Words” award goes to UK Prime Minister Theresa Thatcher, I think it is. She gave out a “Point of Light” commendation to the honorary consul of Chiang Mai. Shouldn’t that be “Beacon of Light?” I got the impression that the poor gentleman was so far away from helping anyone in distress that he was just a faint glimmer in some dark corner of the cosmos. Not the case, said forum regular and former top poster winner ‘NancyL’ who spoke of the consul’s good deeds. Makes a change from most British embassy personnel who usually manage just a few rubbers of tennis and some slurps of Pimms to justify their fat salaries. The “Making the Most of Your Assets” award goes to the acumen laden and busty hairdresser in Klaeng who cried foul after pictures of cleavage rather than clippers adorned the internet. “I’m not a slapper. It was after work. That was my nephew”, she wailed. But hey, the indignation soon gave way as the “all round” publicity was boosting business! Finally, FIFA’s decision to expand the 2026 soccer World Cup from 32 to 48 teams had the Thai sports authorities optimistic that the national team would now qualify for the quadrennial showpiece. Some chance. Sweet FA. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-01-14
  13. The week that was in Thailand news: Loving Thailand – Snatches and all! Welcome to the Year of the Rooster! It is gratifying to know that after all these years of selfless devotion in trying to improve Thailand, my time has finally come. It is great to be recognized for one’s contribution to society, rather than just be seen as some cock in a white skin wandering the streets looking for a bar stool. But in a week of the usual madness of Thaivisa news, it certainly seemed that the mischievous outweighed the good Samaritans among us by about ten to one. Even if some of the stories had my eyes welling with tears reminding me why my soft spot for Thailand is not just a case of being soft in the head. Firstly, I would like to refer to a former fishing village you may have heard of called Pattaya. I am actually thinking of going to work there – this business of snatching necklaces from the tourists seems like a very lucrative trade with virtually no prospect of either being nicked. Everybody from Chinese to Russians with even a few nice nationalities in between seems to be slathered in available gold when they go out for their street noodles. Admittedly I would probably need a work permit; surely it can’t be a profession reserved only for Thais? Barely an hour goes by without some entrepreneurial lad on a motorbike raking in all the money. One victim in the last seven days was a Korean doctor who said he knew what was coming but still went out with a virtual sign in Thai saying I am a walking gold shop, please come in. On second thoughts Rooster doesn’t do crime, unless you count occasionally feigning an interest in the missus’s nightly soap opera that is. And besides, telling ‘er indoors that I was going to Pattaya to “do a bit of snatch” may be counterproductive to my physical well-being. While plod was going through the usual motions checking CCTV and filing reports from the necklace-less tourists the military were busy cracking down on the baht buses for parking in the wrong place. Junta bashing Thais were up in arms for depriving the poor souls of their livelihoods while the vehicles were impounded for three days. Expect an increase in snatches while the drivers attempt to make ends meet. Rage also featured all over this week. First was the Russian who got all hot under the collarov before he even arrived in the Kingdom. He was on a flight coming into Bangkok. Admittedly there were extenuating circumstance for his rage – it was British Airways – but it was still shocking that the pilot didn’t deem it necessary to get the Thai police on board when they landed. Apparently the Ruskie was irked that someone was using the loo to evacuate their vodka ahead of him so he started punching everyone. Yes, the cops should have snatched him all right for what is worse for nervous flyers, of which Rooster is one, than commotion in the enclosed space of an aircraft cabin. Clearly, another reason to fly Aeroflot, where booze is banned, for obvious reasons….. Further rage – this time the more tradition road variety - was exhibited on the Thai highway when a videoed altercation between a biker and a pick-up had an unlikely denouement. The biker turned the tables when he grabbed the pole he was attacked with and sent his three assailants on their way with a few hefty whacks to the windscreen. A case of biting off more Somchai than they could chew. While the final rage was reserved for yours truly when it emerged that True Craperation (no spelling mistake) announced they were cutting another 11 channels and it was quite alright, by their own admission, for them to do so. True – in all its many reincarnations over the years – are the ultimate in monopolistic muppets and the trading standards authorities, or what passes for them, just let them ride roughshod over the consumer. If they didn’t have me over a barrel with their English football coverage I think I might take their set top box and shove it in a place where even the Thai sun don’t shine. Also probably a bit cross was the Aussie DJ convicted of having Ecstasy who has now been transferred to the capital’s notorious “Bangkok Hilton” where room service has to be shared with about 50 others sprawled on the floor. He is serving TWO life sentences which in the normal run of human existence wouldn’t matter too much. However, given the Thais’ insistence on reincarnation, it does seem a bit over the top. A snitch led to the snatch of an American up to some mischief in Udon. The Thai press described him as Korean which led me to think, by the same token, they could probably refer to Donald Drumph as Polish next week and get him deported from Washington. This particular US patriot was arrested for “sex with a minor” which conjured up unpleasant images of Maggie Thatcher and Arthur Scargill before I came back to the reality of Thailand and checked my spelling. In Udon a neighbor had dobbed in the foreigner and the cops found something called “Weeagra” that Rooster had never heard of, naturally. Some forum comment was indignant that the girl concerned was already seventeen and went there willingly. Methinks, some people might need to check on the Thai law and be careful what they post. Meanwhile, the guys at the Lat Prao rank had put up a sign saying the horizontally challenged would have to pay five or ten baht more for the right to be porky passengers. Many posters saw nothing wrong with this though the rank soon removed the sign perhaps mindful of a fat cat mafia backlash. Rooster was left to remember an ex-teaching colleague who, being rather rotund, always bought two seats when travelling from Bangkok to the UK in the holidays. Respect, Catherine, and see you soon for a donut or three. It was then revealed the new minibuses slated to replace public enemy number one (minivans not the junta) turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. The land department said that the one in the picture spread on social media was a 20-seater – theirs was a 22-seater. Rooster was no different to many on the forum who pointed out that this could only mean one thing for the future of inter provincial travel – a couple more deaths per accident. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. “The Job Well Done on Two Counts” award goes to the Pattaya lady boy who after doubtless giving one of the blow variety then snatched his British customer’s 170,000 baht he just had lying about the room and went to Bangkok to spend it on a nose job. Plod did well, however, to keep their noses to the ground and the “type two Thai” was banged, this time to rights. While the “Next Time Try Anger Management” award goes to the three security guards in Bangkok facing murder charges after getting upset over twenty baht. Even allowing for the fact that a Thai was kept from his lunch – whatever you do in Thailand don’t do that! - it did seem a sad waste of an existence. Finally, though a video shared this week from YouTuber My Mate Nate, which involved torturing a fish had made me cringe, it was two others that really reminded me of why despite all the ups and downs we might experience in Thailand it is still a great place to live. The first clip was viewed by millions as a kind hearted taxi driver got out of his cab to spiritedly cradle a soi dog in distress that was shuffling pathetically along the road on just its front paws. As soon as the cabbie got close it just walked off nonchalantly and normally without a care in the world. I’m still chuckling at that one especially as the dog may have just been engaging in a canine version of what the Thais universally refer to as “pulling the strings of a kite”. The second video featured a 12 year old P6 student called Lisa in the back of her dad’s van, used as a mobile gunsmiths that visits police stations in the city. Bless you, capable little Lisa and to paraphrase another Magnum owner: “You made my day!” Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-02-05
  14. The week that was in Thailand news: Mr Prayut – put up that wall! While Donald Trump was busy over in the States trying to keep the Mexicans out I was beginning to think that the Thai prime minister was maybe thinking on the same lines. For there really were a lot of mischief makers in the kingdom this week and not for the first time the foreigners were causing most of the headaches rather than the locals. Although the Thais were out in force suited and booted in their best non-red garb welcoming the long lost Chinese for New Year, one got the feeling they could have done without some of the other less savory visitors who deigned to darken their borders. Top of the list were the two men – one British and one South African – who hired a van and went to Pattaya with murder in mind. Now it would be easy to point to the idiocy of some of their mistakes in giving the Thai police a leg up in discovering who they were virtually before Tony Kenway was even cold. But the fact remains they did what they came to do and escaped back across the border to Cambodia where they remain. According to reports they rented their getaway vehicle – a scooter – in their own names and got caught on CCTV in broad daylight. Only then did the driver of the getaway vehicle think it prudent to shave off his beard. But gone they are, and now the Thai cops will be hoping that Phnom Penh plod will be able to come up with an arrest. Fair play to the Thai police on this one for though they were given those healthy hints they wasted no time. And they are not spilling the beans for what they obviously know regarding the background of Mr Kenway who, despite having four children and a once smiling Thai wife, looks decidedly dodgy. Boiler rooms have been mentioned and we are not talking Chinese laundry here. Money laundry more like. Also putting the “D” in dodgy was the Aussie pensioner down in Surat Thani who decided to celebrate Australia Day with a traditional ‘barbie’. Well not that traditional as it happens – he set fire to his marital bed in an apparent though futile attempt to burn his house down after his missus and her kids left him. He really should have invited his mates round for a celebration of her departure but instead he grabbed a kitchen cleaver and was wielding it menacingly when the firefighters arrived. The blaze was soon extinguished though if the wife returns he will need to visit Home Pro. A slanging match ensued and watching the video Rooster was somewhat perturbed to realize that he could understand southern Thai dialect much better than Australian, whatever it is they try to speak. He seemed to be burbling on about losing his shirt to his nearest and darnedest. I am sure even if the fire fighters and neighbors knew what he was rabbiting they might have just said: “Hey buddy…get with the program!” But not all foreigners were guilty as charged this week. One who may be thinking if only I hadn’t come to Thailand was the Italian who went out for a stroll with his wife on Jomtien beach only to be killed by a falling branch. I know he was 91 and it’s tempting to say in British parlance that he had had a good innings but anyone who has missed out on a cricket century will know how much it hurts to get so close. I got 24 once and that was painful enough. Anyway, Giacomo, we are very sorry about all that and hope it didn’t spoil your visit to the country too much. If it is any consolation at least you will be spared the enormous time your relatives will waste trying to get a single baht in compensation from the local authority. Another person who won’t be getting a bean in insurance is the Koh Pangan hotel owner who lost half her jewelry in checked in luggage. Although the company was not named of course, Eborneezer Airlines were quick to point out that Mrs Cratchit would get nothing – even though it was very quickly established that it was the said airline’s handler in Samui who Cockneys might say had “half inched her tom”. Though on second thoughts half inching a tom sounds a bit like a Thai girl having a less than satisfying bedroom experience, even if that was the case for the hotel owner when she realized her diamonds were gone. But what would possess someone to put 300,000 baht worth of valuables in a checked-in bag? Maybe like many of Chinese ancestry at this auspicious time, she has money to burn. Out in force at airports throughout the country were the Tourism Authority of Thailand bods in their fancy oriental costumes welcoming the Chinese tourists back to the fold who they had scared off following the zero-dollar tour debacle. A case of TATs resembling twats. In Bangkok they were handing out orange soap to the “trut jeen” tourists and as far as I could see they had barely sniffed the new arrivals before doing so. Still we all know that no one takes as many showers as the Thais who, as countless corruption cases prove, always seem to come up smelling of roses. But it was gratifying to see the dancers and smiling Thai welcome even if the name “Year of the Cock” threatens to take the edge off the glee. Rooster draws solace that finally his time might have come….I’m going out right now to get a lottery ticket. Giving the naughty foreigners a run for their money in the last seven days were that staple of thaivisa news, the taxi drivers. It always amuses me that in every Thai headline that refers to this sub-species of humanity they are always called “chauffeurs”. Is it a case of Thais getting me on a double whammy of irony or do they just not get the nuance of the word! The latter I suspect as the Thai ironist is a rare beast. When I hear chauffeur it always conjures up Parker the butler from Thunderbirds taking Lady Penelope on high speed rides in her Pink Roller, rather than the nasty piece of work using a shopping trolley to ram some innocent members of the public in a Bangkok parking lot. Our hapless driver was apparently upset with not having any customers – maybe he should try a little civility or failing that why not one of those peaked chauffeur’s caps; that should do the trick. Our second taxi story kicks off this week’s Rooster awards. “Rooster of the Week”, for want of a better title, goes to the chauffeur (I’m getting the hang of this now) who picked up some drugs cops after a radio call. They secretly videoed him taking a selfie and I thought for a moment they were going to book him for dangerous driving. Not a bit of it – it was all a sting and when they reached suppression HQ our hero was promptly arrested because he was wanted on a Korat drug warrant. “Straight Face” of the week award goes to metropolitan police chief Sanit and his paymasters who continued to assert there was no conflict of interest in a top cop getting 50,000 baht a month to promote the interests of a Thai booze company. Clearly the force are squeaky clean when it comes to beverages though you could tell that to the chief of Pak Thong Chai nick who was relieved of command for admitting that he was too hung over to make a meeting of top brass. The Thai press screamed indignantly “Mao mai teun” (drunk and won’t get up) in their headlines but Rooster thought if more police stayed in bed it could go some way to solving problems in the country. Just missing out on the straight face award was True Corporation. Instead their execs were pictured gleefully telling us how wonderful they are while taking our favorite channels off the air and cutting the internet we have already paid for. I’ll give them the Catherine Tate sponsored award entitled “How Very Dare You”. The “Animal Lover” award goes jointly to British PM Teresa Chamberlain, I think it is, in Washington sucking up to a chap in the White House for the sake of “peace in our time” and a trade deal, and the driver in the north of Thailand who braked sharply in his pick up to avoid flattening a snake. As much as the British people should be wary of their leader’s motives so were the drivers following the pick-up equally aghast – the animal lover’s actions caused a five vehicle collision or as the wag of a headline writer observed: “Python pedestrian precipitates pick up pile up”. Finally my funny bone was tweaked early in the week to see that the Thai authorities have come up with a National Morals Promotion Master-plan. Intrigued, I read that no less than three sub-committees had been formed and the scheme was going to be trialed at schools in Roi-Et and Buriram. I feel sorry for the kids but additionally NMPM is hardly a memorable or even pronounceable acronym – how much better if they had called it the Planned Internal Morals Promotion. P.I.M.P. would have been so much easier to remember. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-01-29
  15. The week that was in Thailand news: Who cares about Somchai Saboo? The surprising, successful candidate stepped up proudly to take the oath of office. He had pledged to do his utmost to uphold the principles of the state. He said he would stop the carnage – the carnage on the roads, that is, and promised to end corruption in Thailand. He raised his hand on the steps of government house. Then I woke up. Turns out I had nodded off during some live broadcast from Washington, DC, missing all the action. Never mind, I thought, only a decade or three to wait in Thailand. While those in the United States may actually believe the rhetoric that promises to bring back greatness, end this or that, we are still waiting in Thailand for even a semblance of democracy to return. Let alone get the chance to pick someone who might actually do something to address the woes of the kingdom – if indeed such a Thai has yet been born. The ‘best’ we have now are those who set up committees, those who trot out excuses, those who give us failed initiatives dressed up as new, those who think only of their face and standing rather than the common good. Oh well, it wasn’t all bad news this week. At least the leader of the free world is now every bit as comical as the leaders of the military dictatorship and their underlings and bidders who pass for what rather oxymoronically is called the ‘civil’ service! Lip Service more like, for first up this week was plod who announced that battle lines had been drawn in their fight against the public. For so it seems. Rather than being the defenders of the law and servants of the public they seem to see Joe Soap – or Somchai Saboo as we might call him– as the sworn enemy. In Bangkok they announced less checkpoints for traffic offences – these have become far too problematical what with all those pesky phones recording the slightest mischief in uniform. No, now comes the innovation of hand held “quality cameras” to record our misdemeanors. Each of the nicks will get a Nikon or two. Expect to see some fancy holiday snaps from the upper echelons of the force in a few months as the campaign, like so many others, dies a death. Then came news of what ‘get tough on minivans’ really meant – lo and behold a committee had decided to come up with a 20 point checklist for the vehicles that included – wait for it - doors and brakes. Not a word on the drivers. Clearly the transport department subscribe to an ass about face view akin to: “People don’t kill anyone, guns do”. Finally I realized what minivans look like – Daleks from the BBC’s long running Dr Who! It’s something about the grille and how they lurk behind me on the road ready to pounce should I veer my bike into their path. If only these lookalikes for the time lord’s adversaries could actually speak: “Exterminate! Exterminate!” they seem to say. I thought the land department was going to exterminate or at least terminate them. I guess someone must have realized there was no money in that; more in fitting them with pointless GPS. Meanwhile, following the devastating rains inconveniently coming in the rainy season in the south, we were all treated to the latest innovative approach to encourage more tourists – smile. Yes, just smile and they will come flooding back as all is forgiven. And as if to prove the point, the sun had come out in Samui and the beaches were full again. Well, I smiled, though it was Rooster’s special smile Number 35 that no Thai can understand. The smile that says I may look convinced but I’ve been here 35 years and this is the 35th time I’ve heard this nonsense! I followed up with smile Number 36 – on hearing that the met office had said: no, there would be no more storms. That’s the smile when one thinks back to weatherman Michael Fish who famously said on UK TV in 1987 that there would be no hurricane, before one knocked down virtually every tree in southern England! Also falling into the devious smile category was the bank in Lampang that grinned the grin that said thanks for your custom but don’t expect us to help you, when a local woman had her finger sliced off by the branch’s front door. The manager’s first question – rather than the outdated “Are you alright?” - was about insurance. Discovering that she had none, they directed her to the long queue at the government hospital where she waited until the digit was decidedly dead. Still, there was a silver lining – at least she still has the middle finger on the other hand for the next time she is passing the bank. But I do wish they would tell me the name of the bank. How I would love to go into my branch and tell the minions why I’m withdrawing my millions. Top story of the week had to be the news that 20% of victims die in ambulances stuck in the traffic. And as if to herald the news we all knew, we were treated to a swathe of stories of Thais blocking ambulances with people either dying in the back or waiting at home in vain. It should have been the limit when one pick-up driver in Bangkok stopped a siren wailing wagon to check on a bit of white paint deposited on his precious truck. But no, the limit was when the constabulary, for want of a better word, totally missed the point and said that the woman was dead anyway. So their actions in fining everyone for the accident were all that mattered. Somchai Saboo proved to have no importance again. While following the story that Barnum and Bailey circus was closing came news that circuses are alive and kicking in Thailand. My favorite of the week was the “legless” farang burger seller who – after doubtless being glad of Facebook publicity – seemed aghast that so many people showed an interest. This former boxer, athlete and pilot cum tough guy cried his eyes out as forum posters, predictably, got on his case for perhaps not having a work permit! I would have expected a tougher skin for someone who had survived then thrived after losing both legs when a train hit him in the UK. More Brits contributing to the Thai circus were blogger Richard Barrow, Dicky to his mates, and the BBC’s Jonathan Head who I’ll just call Dick anyway. Dicky Barrow and Dick Head tweeted (or was it twitted?) about Thai kids handling guns and rocket launchers at Children’s Day army shows. With so much ammunition to bash the military, they chose this one – really showing their inexperience in Thailand for the nation’s nippers have done this since time immoral whether a junta or what passes for a democratic government has been in power. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. “Forum Quip of the Week” went to the poster commenting on the story about a hundred items of ladies’ underwear mysteriously adorning a roadside tree in Ayuthaya. I thought it was just my first wife who lives in the area hanging out her smalls until I saw the size of the garments but “static” made me laugh saying investigators will need to be “undercover officers”. While the “Is This the Beginning or is This the End” award went jointly to the headline on the Finn who survived a suicide plunge in Pattaya – “He was Finnish but it was not the end” – and the 6 million baht Thai lottery winner who didn’t know whether to laugh or cry after revealing that her German husband was on his deathbed. Borrowing a Trink-ism I shall only say that any comment on either story would be superfluous. The “Compassion Award” goes to the Thai authorities who let a man out of jail who promptly went to extort 50 baht from a monk and when it was not forthcoming knifed him to death. Let’s hope they meet again in a dark alley in the next life when the roles might be reversed. Finally the winner of two prizes went to the folks at the Drugs Suppression Division who got the “Overkill” award and, a Rooster rarity, the “Job Well Done Award”. Both were given in the case of the arrest of the drug lord at Swampy for while it took an incredible 100 men in the departure lounge to bring down the skinny Laotian they at least appear to have got someone of a decent size at last in the war against Ya Ba. For we have read dozens of stories over the last year of some hapless mule taking the rap for a thousand tabs in a backpack while here was clearly a serious player whose arrest may put a dent in the death toll that this insidious drug seems to inspire. Lastly, Rooster enjoyed the story of “Phra Julian” who has been a dedicated monk in Mae Hong Sorn for nearly two decades and has only once gone home to the ‘rat race’ of his native Canada. It got me thinking; of course, here was the perfect answer for all those moaning forum posters harping on about the requirements of 90 day reporting at the immigration department. All they need do is take up robes; who knows, they might even improve the image of the monkhood. A case when might is right. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-01-22
  16. The week that was in Thailand news: Thailand's new swearword – Minivans! There was a few weeks last year when every time you looked at anything online it was connected to Pokemon Go. I wanted to wring the neck of the inventors – but the feeling passed as more serious news kicked the little critters into touch. Thank goodness. But this week no matter where you looked came another word every bit as prevalent – Minivans! I wouldn’t be surprised if Thailand’s fruitiest cuss word about water monitors was now going to be usurped with something like “ay rot tuu” on the coarse lips of the swearing public. But hardly surprising that they came in for such vitriol after a week in the Thai news when the vans and their drivers were front and central as the appalling carnage on the roads took center stage once again on the “seven deadly days” of New Year. This safety campaign at New Year and Songkran and the reporting of the accidents stats at such times is actually one almighty big smokescreen. When the deaths were tallied up they came to just under seventy a day. Exactly what you’d expect for any day on the Thai roads, campaign or no campaign. But those minivans emerged almost as a kind of scapegoat to hide behind. Sure the inferno that incinerated 25 lives in Chonburi was horrendous. The letting off of a driver for those bald tires appalling. But the government response was equally disgraceful. During the seven days the interior ministry commented, then the tourism ministry – finally the transport department thought they better say something. I was all ready for the general PM to set up a Ministry of Carnage to look into the problems but instead in his Friday address to the nation he went on record to say that the laws would be tightened but it needed the public to obey them. But then he doesn’t mention the police. For foreigners or Thais can bang on about the issue as much as they like with their calls for tachometers, stringency and increased regulation but nothing, and I mean nothing, will change while a corrupt (albeit under resourced, underpaid and under trained) police force, that does not adequately enforce the law, remains in place. And frankly not just that – the public must take the blame too for their attitude in conniving with their police force just because it often suits them. Sure, Prayut is right that the public must obey the law but they must stop enabling the corruption too with their laissez-faire attitude. Perhaps it is time for the people themselves – and I include myself in that - to see they are at the root of the problem and are the only hope for an answer. For as sure as there will be another 70 dead every day next week there will be a million Thais dead in the next forty years if we don’t mend our ways as well as demand action from those that might lead us. Perhaps everyone needs to take a long hard look at the eerie CCTV footage of the young and hopeful people boarding the minivan in Chanthaburi that would take them to their fiery end. Almost like hapless, unwitting souls entering a crematorium for a shower from another era, another continent. Try some empathy then do something about it. My final words on the matter were muttered to myself on reading the story that the government had decided to replace minivans with 20 seat “micro-buses” within six months. Those words were something to do with water monitors. After all the shocking accidents we really were in need of some light relief and though two handlers and a tourist might disagree, that came in the form of some snappy work from the nation’s crocodiles. In two separate shows the “trainers” were filmed having an impromptu handshake with the giant beasts while a tourist in Khao Yai thought taking a selfie with one would be a hoot. Commenting on one of the crocodile farm bites “canuckamuck” gets my award for best quip of the week with: “The next show was delayed for 15 minutes as they had to train a new handler”. Also adding to the fun was the story that the PM had requested all government departments to ensure that the Thai people were ready for 4.0. What the hell is 4.0, Rooster thought. An attempt to improve Thai IQ? The score in the latest soccer match versus the team from Laos? A target for limiting the number of hourly road deaths at Songkran? I had no idea so I read on. Sorry to say that I still have no idea though apparently the project involves innovation, knowledge and technology. And the story included my favorite oxymoron alert of the week – something called “smart farmers”. Jeez – they’ll be talking about smart politicians next. There were some great New Year stories for the Thaivisa forum warriors to get their gnarly gnashers into this week. I enjoyed the story of the student who let off a gun in celebration out of a condo window. She was soon sitting in dark glasses in the background as ever present Sanit of the metropolitan force fingered the gun with his latex gloves at the press conference. Khun Sanit always seems to be on hand for the highest profile social media cases – I get the impression that a mobile unit follows him around so they can apply make-up for all these photo ops. In this case the star of the show sure was cute – if a tad stupid. By that I mean the girl, not the head of police, of course…. Sanit, meanwhile, had gone on record as saying there had been “no violent incidents at New Year”. I wonder if he got a sheepish phone call later: “Er…chief, PR department from HQ here. Sorry we didn’t tell you about this earlier but we had a bit of trouble with some shootings at a pub in Bangkok, nothing to write home about, oh and a double, well triple, homicide by a prawn farmer in Prajuab. Storm in a teacup, but might be best to keep quiet about the violent incidents thingy. Cheers, chief, bye now”. The murders in Prajuab were a heady mix of face saving, revenge, status and blatant disregard for the law – all stemming from the noise at a party and a minor assault on the murderer’s grandson. While the Bangkok shootings were more drug or alcohol fueled mayhem as the young made a desperate attempt not to let their rivals get any older. Top billing this week went to the story of the heiress to a pharmaceutical firm who arrived home late after a New Year binge at RCA. But the hi-so family weren’t having that. The police swiftly arrested a man for rape in a short time hotel then had to change tack when it was discovered she hadn’t been touched. It remains to be seen if she was even drugged. But with the cops threatening to prosecute the hotel for allowing a man to stay there with a drunken woman the case began to spiral into a farcical face saving fiasco for the pharma filly. That’s the last of my ‘effing’ on the subject. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. The “For Gould’s Sake Do You Dingbats Have To Film Everything” award goes to the taxi passenger who videoed the driver talking about the time when he had a woman in his cab; “cor she was a bit of alright, then guess what….blah blah blah”. Sure, we know that some of these guys are hardly angels but please stop thinking it is your Buddha given right to catch everyone saying anything then post it on Facebook. Stop playing Big Brother and start behaving more like a “phee chai”, if that makes any sense. While the “Did He Really Say That” award went to the scumbag “Ay Tom” who blamed his stabbing victim for fighting back when he ended his life for an iPhone, then called for justice as people had been horrible to him on social media. Rooster will never be an advocate of the death penalty but I am in favor of mislaying the key to certain people’s cells. Finally the “Man’s Best Friend” award goes to the guy who deliberate ran over a mangy soi dog who had bitten him and his mum. Of course the Thais were rabidly foaming at the mouth because it happened in a temple and the western dog lovers on the forum were up in paws in disgust, but Rooster loathes these mangy mutts and would sooner they were all rounded up and given to the Vietnamese for a hearty dinner. All in the spirit of friendly ASEAN relations, you understand. Lastly, rounding up a tumultuous week of Thai news was the on again, off again story of the much trumpeted Pattaya to Hua Hin ferry. When the waves had subsided enough, off she sailed with just a little help from a Thai Navy escort on her maiden voyage. It was back slapping all round as even the prime minister got in on the act to hail this wonderfully successful service that would bring in four billion baht in new revenue for the eastern and western ports. Skeptical Rooster felt patriotically converted. Especially as it was the only transport that didn’t have an accident this week. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-01-07
  17. The week that was in Thailand news: Out with the old, in with the old New Year is supposed to be a time for looking forward with optimism to the future. But after a week of news on Thaivisa that fell into the “same old same old” category it was hard to be anything but pessimistic. Fatal accidents aplenty, horrific murder, abuse and assault of children by parents and teachers and the shooting of a policeman all vied for our undivided attention as 2016 came to a close. Thank goodness that amid all the mayhem there was still plenty of the quirky and humorous to remind us why Thailand is still our home and why Rooster has always said he will go up in smoke in the kingdom. Just so long as it isn’t quite yet. To wit, I shall be staying off those roads, avoiding drunks where possible and saying yes ma’am, no ma’am three bags full ma’am to the missus for the foreseeable future. I know it makes sense. Two school assaults were big news this week. After a year in which many teachers seem to have forgotten that corporal punishment is meant to have been outlawed, a female teacher in Pathum Thani meted out a disgusting 99 whacks to a seven year old for leaving class unannounced. Credit to the mum who turned down 50K to keep quiet but no credit again to the authorities who dithered as per usual. Then in Krabi another “khun khru” seemingly auditioning for the part of Eva Braun in the school play mercilessly assaulted another primary child for the heinous crime of being unable to divide. Even more sickening in this case was the groveling of the parents in accepting that the teacher was somehow within her rights even if a bit OTT. These apologies for parents are part of the problem and the sooner they start saying enough is enough the better. Rooster, a 30 year veteran of the class who maintained order with a steely look and an occasional snarling beak, is appalled by what is still happening in Thai schools up and down the country and if I hear another forum poster who says a good whacking never did them any harm I shall go and crow outside their house at 4am for a month to see if you like it. But it was not just teachers – fathers and step-fathers were well to the fore too. One “phor liang” sickened the forum after pictures of his bites on the body of his new wife’s little kid were shown online while another so called dad took a knife to his actual daughter after he was angry that his wife had disappeared with their younger child. Not content with just murder the man lived up to his “oxygen thief” moniker by cleaning her up and redressing her for mum to find when she came visiting later in the day. Rooster was obliged to translate this story into English from the Thai press after putting his own daughter to bed…….. All I can say is that violence against children and women in Thai society is endemic. All people here need to take a long hard look as to why this is so, stop hiding behind a veneer of pleasantness and work to put an end to it. Parents need to set a better example, teachers need to be accountable and the police need to enforce the law. Just do it. At least one mother set an example in Pattalung – she dived across her son who was facing an assassin’s shotgun and took the bullet instead, dying in her son’s undoubtedly grateful arms. But what set of circumstances led to such appalling violence and the need for such maternal heroism? We were not privy to that. Another who set a good example was the truck driver who got down from his cab to get a drunk motorcyclist to stop riding and sleep off his boozy session. There was no “mai pen rai” in his controlled reasoning with the stupefied young rider. Some locals finally led him off and parked his bike after the truck driver had had his say. This was public spirited and eminently sensible and gives us hope for the future if Thais will only speak up in this way. In similar vein was the bus driver who protested to his passengers and his company that he was being asked to do too many trips despite being overtired. Trouble was, rather than refuse to leave Bangkok in the first place he just dumped his passengers by the side of the road and went off to snooze presumably. Still, as many forum posters pointed out, at least his actions may well have raised a smidgeon of awareness and maybe another appalling accident was avoided. Fortunately there were more than enough quirky stories to make up for the miserable ending to 2016. Top of the list and certainly in the category of “you can’t make this stuff up” was Constantin the Russian tourist who decided to blow up an ATM in Hua Hin. Armed with some gas canisters and some tubing the Ruskie chose a quiet spot to make his withdrawal before he was disturbed by a member of the public presumably there to take money out utilizing the more acceptable ‘punching numbers in’ method. Constantin fled but was rounded up by plod at Swampy virtually on the steps of his Aeroflot flight. He was taken back for a reenactment of sorts with more than a few officers struggling to keep a straight face. I wonder if the judge will be similarly amused. Hopefully we shall find out as I would like to see more reports of sentencing from the Thai press. We did, however, have word that the two young people who set fire to a love rival at a bus stop in 2014 got a death sentence commuted to life this week. That was a start. Wearing a bit thin this week was Harold. No, I’m not talking about his balding bonce but his Kardashian style caper with his ex-porn missus Nong Nat. Latest “news” was that US born Harold seems to have failed to consummate the marriage – in many countries this is grounds for divorce though the Thais see not pressing the ATM regularly as much worse. Harold could never be charged with that. Similarly soap opera in style was the Woody interview online with soapy massage tycoon turned politician turned ex con Chuwit. Members of the public were invited to ask questions and no one who has lived in Thailand five minutes would have been surprised that Chuwit was promptly asked, if you’ll excuse my French, if he had been pleasured by “Somchai” during his eleven month sojourn in stir. No, he said, he hadn’t had that particular pleasure though he had managed to “help himself” and “pull the strings of the kite” with “all five on his hand”. I wish I knew what the hell he was going on about…… And so to this week’s final awards of 2016 as we hopefully welcome a bumper year of Darwinian delights in 2017. My “Man of the Year Award” goes to metro police chief Sanit Mahathavorn who ended the year with yet another timely and brilliant initiative. This time Sanit – whose previous efforts this year included making jolly hand gestures to subdue hardened crims – was advocating giving away 300 grams of rice to every motorist in the capital who stayed within the white lines or every motorcyclist who stayed off the sidewalk with a helmet on. Methinks there will be as much unhanded out rice come the end of New Year as Yingluck managed to have stored up throughout the year. The story also led to the “Best Forum Comment” of the week that went to “patOngo” once again for: “An interesting twist….police bribing the public to obey the law. Is there no end to their ingenuity? I am curious as to how much rice it might take to extract the rogue monk from Wat Dhammakaya”. On the subject of whom His Embezzliness remains ensconced despite the continued saber-rattling of the rozzers who ended 2016 as toothless in the matter as one of those mangy tigers released from another temple earlier in the year. The “Awfully Sorry about That” award goes to Mark Zuckerberg who kindly got his Facebook pals to make sure we were all safe from a bomb in Bangkok that never happened. As if taking a leaf out of the Thai disaster prevention manual, all was denied. Fair enough – you have got to be barking if you think anything on Facebook has any veracity whatsoever. And the “Thanks but No Thanks” award goes to the kind folks down in Pattaya who are suggesting that we take advantage of a free trip to Hua Hin while they are “testing” the ‘Royal 1’ ferry across the gulf. Frankly, Rooster doesn’t mind being a guinea pig once in a while but he draws the line at being a bloody lemming. Finally two stories in the “mysterious goings on category” tweaked my Thai antennae this week reminding me again of the gulf – not a stretch of water this time but the wide expanse that separates many Westerners from the Thai mentaility when it comes to ghosts and spirits. In Isaan the locals are convinced that a spot near the railway tracks is some kind of “Buriram Triangle” after people keep getting knocked down by trains. The fact that the victims have Lao Khao on their breath is irrelevant of course. While following the death of a man in a short time hotel in Pak Kret a worker at the facility was convinced that the spirit of the deceased appeared to him in a dream and tapped him on the leg getting him to wake up and go to check on his corpse in Room 309. Maybe the police were more skeptical than usual about this kind of story. For rather than call the boy “A” or “B” they referred to him as “Dodo”. Happy New Year. Rooster. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-12-31
  18. The week that was in Thailand news: Gifts galore as Thailand celebrates Christmas One could be forgiven for thinking that the Thais have finally embraced Christmas this week, such was the large number of gifts of all sorts on display. And along with the presents came some milk of human kindness to impress even the most curmudgeon of Thaivisa posters this holiday season. Leading the way were the police and businesses in Prajuab who stood by the roadside doling out crash helmets to motorcyclists passing by. Not for them Eborneezer-ly miserable fines, here were concerned authorities doing their bit for the public good. The colossal carnage of New Year on the roads will surely now be merely catastrophic. Rooster takes his pith helmet off to you all! And, no, I don’t have a lisp. Ok, so the helmets looked about as safe as putting an eggshell on your bonce but as Westerners of any ilk know – it’s the thought that counts! And besides – as my favorite forum post of the week pointed out helpfully – filled with earth they could easily be utilized as decorating hanging baskets to brighten up any Hua Hin home. Meanwhile, the national police HQ stopped short of making any predictions or quotas for the end of year accident season preferring instead to tell everyone to have one less drink and perhaps look before pulling out into the path of a speeding 18 wheel dump truck. Continuing the theme of giving and kindness were the courts who compassionately let out the doctor wife of sharpshooter “X” though already convicted of the murder of her Olympian husband. She is merely facing the death penalty so it’s not as if she represents any risk of flight while the appeal goes on. They only shoot horses, don’t they? It was yet more evidence of just how “jai dee” the Thais can be – proof positive that it is not only kindly soldiers in power returning happiness and honest taxi drivers handing back everything from frankincense to myrrh to their passengers, that we have to be grateful for. Meanwhile those nasty Burmese across the border just don’t get Christmas. Here they were arresting another fugitive doctor who was sentenced to death in the slaying of two workers in 2011. It has taken five years, couldn’t they have waited until January? Incidentally I wonder if he said he wouldn’t flee as well? Just days later the Thais showed how it should be done by releasing the errant doctor’s third wife – involved in the comparatively minor indiscretion of stealing the murdered people’s car – as part of a bounteous amnesty. Thais know how to forgive as well as give – though there are some Burmese guys in clink down south who they’ll keep on workhouse gruel for a few more decades just in case they are guilty. And the spirit of giving continued as “Thai Netizens” – I believe these are in fact a new species of humanoid not too distantly related to the Neanderthals – gave us the laugh of the week courtesy of the most rhetorical question of the year. In relation to a picture posted online of a cop using a mobile phone while driving they asked: “Are police above the law?” Gagging Rooster was thinking of visiting the cops to try and find someone to sue for causing his dentures to come loose and wind up in his morning Shreddies. However, knowing that they are busy, festive season or not, I thought better of it, deciding to keep my ire to myself. Though I did contact the Thaivisa editor privately to ask if the new sub-species could be renamed “Thai Nitizens” in subsequent stories. Less giving – unless you consider dispatching your fellow man to a better world a release of sorts – were the two individuals in Bangkok and Lampang who seemed to have got irked by the noise emanating from those having a festive knees up in local restaurants. In the capital a fracas in a market resulted in the death of one man and serious injury of several others. The assailant – a former National Thai judo team representative – was the first attacker recently who did not just claim that he was blind drunk. This one was just blind. Then a “quiet” guy in the north– even Mr Christie at 10 Rillington Place never gave no trouble to his neighbours, guv – went over the road to help several people on their way to the next life with a gun and a few dozen bullets. Arrested later in the day he said nothing to police – perhaps what you’d expect from a quiet guy though maybe he ascribed to Bernard Trink’s erstwhile philosophy that “any comment would be superfluous”. A tad more respectful of the rights of others to enjoy themselves in the holiday season were the kind folks in Pathum Thani keeping vigil outside Wat Dhammakaya. Except, of course, that these are the authorities who continue to find it immensely challenging to put one foot in front of another, in the style of perambulation, and walk in and grab the orange clad chief. Now Rooster is the first to know that it is really not that simple, but I do hope that some progress towards returning all that land to farmers is made in 2017...and that Tom Cruise renounces Scientology. Was that a pig’s trotter I just saw whizzing past my condo window? Perhaps induced to dreamy sleep by Christmas lullabies were several drivers this week who thought that catching on a few of those forty winks was more important than thinking about anyone else in their vehicles. In one of several cases of bus drivers injuring 40 or more kids, one ‘chauffeur’ nodded off in Kamphaeng Phet while in Chonburi a British man got in on the act when he allegedly pulled out on another coach. Don’t forget to brake before exit, sir – think Brexit when driving at all times. Meanwhile, it was a father who joined his wife and kids in having a nap – just a shame he was at the wheel at the time. Still, he kept the theme of Christmas giving going by kindly leaving his wallet and iPhone in the wrecked car. Some people who came to the family’s rescue will now be able to afford a turkey though daddy the driver feels like one after getting just a pittance for his trashed motor and some serious bumps on the head for all the family. But – and as Rooster missus likes to observe, it is a big butt – they all lived, which is more than can be said for the perhaps 25,000 people on the highways and byways of Thailand who die annually. If Thailand could give me one present for Christmas or New Year it would be for everyone from Prayut to Somchai on the beat to pull together to pay attention rather than lip service to the carnage on the nation’s roads. And so to this week’s somewhat truncated Rooster awards – I have just given out too many gifts today already. The “Milk of Human Kindness” award goes to charming “look thung” star Sunaree who took pity on a Dutch guy twenty years her junior and confirmed their marriage. Aside from the fact that Wouter – is that really a Dutch name? – needed a gift of a razor, the couple looked blissfully happy in the Instagram photo. And Wouter also gets lucky with an Insta-fam as well – Sunaree has two growing kids from a previous marriage – so he won’t have to work too hard here or, indeed, need a work permit. My “Thank you for Blowing a Thai gasket” award goes to the Bang Saen municipality chief who had a go at tourists for littering his beach. Though in a previous and similar story about Chaweng in Samui the Thaivisa posters littered the site with claims that tourists meant foreigners, it was clear in both cases that those responsible are the locals. The chief rightfully ranted about his countrymen showing scant regard for his beach and set a good example by clearing up the mess. However, I dispute his assertion that educating the public in not littering is a pointless task. Woah – was that another trotter whizzing past my window? Finally, and truly kind at a time when the spirit of goodwill should be celebrated, was the teenage Thai girl in school uniform shown on CCTV walking out into a busy intersection to cradle a dying dog in her arms and bring his shattered remains to the roadside. Everyone else had ignored the poor creature. She is anonymous but her selfless act of kindness might give us all some home for the future. Merry Christmas! Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-12-25
  19. The week that was in Thailand news: Living in Thailand – it’s always best to see the funny side. Perhaps it was my good mood with the upcoming holiday season but I did feel that there were an awful lot of laughs to be had in the news this week. Rooster is always happy at Christmas – I only have to think of all that nonsense I am ‘missing’ in the UK to make me smile and appreciate my lot in Thailand. I can still enjoy a roast dinner and the wife’s screeching rendition of “Jinger Ben, Jinger Ben” never lasts long. So it was this week that many stories acted as a kind of surgical removal of Rooster’s scowls. Besides, I have always thought it is vital to treat the serious issues of the kingdom as much with a pinch of salt as with a whole pack of Saxa. Looking at some of the posters’ comments on the Thaivisa forum I imagine they must not only be old but additionally old before their time. For living happily in the kingdom you need not only a thick skin but a finely tuned sense of humor – and often it is better to take things at face value rather than pry pedantically. Think Thai comedy troupes with all the bells and whistles and you won’t go far wrong….delving into details is decidedly devilish as well as bad for your health. Top story of the week were the hilarious goings on at Laem Chabang port where Bangkok’s new NGV vehicles were either parked gathering sea salt or still on the ships in the Gulf. Reading between the lines it is clear that the 500 or so buses that were supposed to have been made in ASEAN neighbor Malaysia, and thus eligible for tax breaks, were really made in China – with the wing mirrors perhaps put on in KL so a billion baht for the Thai taxman could be avoided or evaded. Whether it is avoidance or evasion I never met a Thai who gave a Tossaporn for the difference. One could imagine PM Prayuth – due to appear in Bangkok to celebrate the buses eco-friendly arrival next week – seething as he sees his anti-corruption initiatives for the next twenty years start going back in time twenty years instead. The image is hilarious though of course culpability may well rest with the Malaysians who are not so different from the Thais when all is said and done. Down in Chantaburi it was smiles all round as more than a hundred exhausts were crushed with a steamroller while the youths who used them on souped-up racing bikes looked on aghast. Still not to worry, I am sure mumsy will get them a new one just to keep the offspring out of her hair while she is watching the latest soaps on YouTube. Thais were reported as being in the top ten users of that site in the world – this would have got an award for the most non-news story of the week were it not for the “revelations” of what 60% of the population were viewing each morning, noon and night – songs and soaps. Come on Thaivisa – tell me something I don’t know. Also falling into that genre was the rib-ticklingly, rollicking story that Thai university professors were behind cable TV English teaching that suggested “Do you like to play penis?” as a viable sentence. Maybe it is – old Rooster is a bit out of touch these days. Anyway, it was meant to be tennis but with all the mistaken slides used in the course it really was game, set and match to those who despair about the language standards in the kingdom. Rooster began as an English teacher in Thailand but seeing that as a dead end job soon switched to teaching Thai – mainly because it paid much better due to the loaded foreign customers! I also had to laugh at the British press who printed a story about the amazing recovery of a Thai girl who had had her face “ripped off”. The Daily Mirror was doing the ripping off if you ask me – the girl had a cut and a few bruises that any full blooded male in Thailand might get from his missus if he were to joke about having a “gik”. Comical rather than newsworthy once again. Also providing us with a barrel of laughs – as they have been wont to do all year – were the monkhood, specifically an abbot in Khon Kaen who was pictured with a young woman who lent him her arm for Lent. In an attempt at mitigation, he said he was “making merit”. So that is what you call it. To make matters worse he was in “lay” clothes though whether he took them off when “laying” his bit on the side was not mentioned. Still, he was taken for further clothes removal at a defrocking and now he can seek nirvana in the way most of us do without fear of approbation. He’ll probably appreciate the funny side even if he will have to work for a living from now on. Perhaps less funny and more schadenfreudian were the Japanese who were in the news this week handing out their own version of “Bad Guys Out” to the Thais. Rooster felt sorry for the Thai man who was being ejected from Edo because his Thai mum had worked there illegally when he was born but I had little sympathy for the crackdown announced on Thais who were abusing free tourist visas by going to the land of the rising sun to get a rise in their bank balances. Very misguided if you ask me – you only have to look at the number of public holidays in Thailand to see the benefits of working here. I counted 19 bank holidays for 2017 when I got my free bank diary this week. Perusing it at the counter I asked the girl if they were open at all next year – she smiled, but that didn’t necessarily mean she had seen the funny side. Continuing the titter-fest was news that Muay Thai had received provisional recognition as a potential Olympic sport. All well and good except that in the same story so had cheerleading. And to add insult to injury, the 400,000 registered kick boxers worldwide paled behind the other scantily clad leg kicking variety who number an impressive 4.5 million. Less amusing but still worth a shake of the head for utter disbelief was the Bangkok man who clearly wanted to see the back of his wife. Rather than the norm of leaving her with the kids and wandering off into the sunset with a bottle of Mekhong under his arm he produced another bottle – this one was thinner. Nothing to do with it being less fat and more to do with flammability. In a car of all places and in broad daylight in Sukhumvit Soi 22 he doused his better half in the passenger seat and set her on fire. Luckily she survived while the story did have an amusing side because the police didn’t seem to have a clue what to charge him with – using thinner on yer missus in the hours of daylight or attempted murder. They’ll probably set up a committee to decide. Other vehicular stories this week involved the road rage incident where a man started shooting in Bang Na because a fellow road user had the temerity to not let him push in and the taxi driver who got six months for attacking a Mini Cooper driver with some lead piping. What is it about Mini Coopers? Celebrity Nott of ‘graap my rot’ fame was in one the other week and now this. Rooster will just have to stick to the Ferrari and hope that scares them off. And so to this week’s Rooster awards and what a bumper week of abject absurdity it was. The “Khun Kobkarn award for services to Tourism” – kindly sponsored by the overflowing coffers at the TAT – went to the Thai hoteliers association for their business acumen and sensitivity in putting prices up 10% to relieve the burden of wealth from the ever increasing independent travelers now that tour groups are dying a ‘zero-dollar’ death. This also led to the award for the best headline of the week that dangled the “bait of click” with the announcement that “FIT tourists were arriving in droves”. Oooh, totty from yipun thought lascivious Rooster until he read on to see that F.I.T. means nothing more than fully independent travelers. I felt used…. Meanwhile the “About as Funny as Fois Gras” award goes to the breaking story from Koh Samui where several French people in the restaurant business have seemingly developed a taste for murder. Perhaps worthy of a grin though was the police assertion that the perps thought they could make gunshot wounds look like a tumble at the local waterfall. No plod, even the French are not that stupid. The “Awfully Sorry about Jimmy Savile but we won’t make another Mistake Again” award goes to the BBC whose Bangkok offices were visited after Lese Majeste charges were mentioned. The Beeb might have been advised to hire sycophantic royalist Nicholas “Twitchel” to present their documentary on the new monarch rather than their usual insensitive staff who have about as much savvy and sense about Thailand as a myopic mole. Another award goes to the taxi driver who spent an eon driving along and ranting into a camera about how Uber were denying him the opportunity to fleece and ignore the public, something he saw as his Buddha given right. Hopefully he didn’t have any passengers in the back but he still gets a mention in dispatches for completely ignoring the road for all of five minutes without crashing. Well done, no need to stop for me though. Forum poster of the week award was not given this week – the stories got all the laughs and the posters were just too serious. Finally, the forum is abuzz after it was announced that nominations for “Poster of the Year” should be submitted without delay. Reading the nano-print it appears that employees of Thaivisa do not qualify. What a pity – ageing Rooster will just have to content himself with the mia-noi’s tongue in cheek assessment of his meagre charms…Poster Boy of the Year. If only the wife saw the funny side. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-12-11
  20. The week that was in Thailand news: It’s all about face – saving it or smacking it. For those looking for a window into Thai culture and the relationship hierarchy there was the perfect story this week highlighting the subject in all its glory – though in the case of the incident at the Malin Sky bar that would more appropriately be vainglory. So much face was at stake it would have made Thotsakan – the ten faced demon antihero of the Thai Ramakien legend – look one dimensional. We had the major general’s son – who’s mum said he was a really nice boy who wouldn’t hurt a flea – bursting for a piss outside the loos doubtless after a skinful (for most Thais that is a couple of bottles of beer with ice and water over three hours). But the toilets – shock horror – seemed to be roped off because some celebs were relieving themselves. The son insisted on his rights to slash under the new army constitution but the celebrities seem to have counter-insisted that no one should rub shoulders with them when they are doing their business. Funny isn’t it when you consider Thai stars usually loved to be looked at! The guards – read jobsworths – insisted on protocol and the rest is history. The major general’s son winds up in hospital with a fractured jaw and some broken teeth – lost face on several counts. The story ends up on the desk of the national police chief and prime minister, of course, due to all those famous faces. The bar is shut and the retributions begin with witness tampering becoming a very real likelihood ahead of a trial in the New Year. I just wanted to say – for gould’s sake Thailand – Grow Up! Share the toilets – go into a cubicle if you’re shy about what you’re packing. Other celebs and high profile individuals continued to dominate the news this week though once again the news pages of the Thaivisa forum were liberally sprinkled with some genuinely white foreign faces amongst the artificially whitened variety. Jenphop – the nasty piece of work who crashed his Benz into a Ford incinerating two graduates – walk out of court in much the same way as he walked away from the accident; making no comment to anyone. He’s done the monk bit – that didn’t last, he probably got hungry on the first afternoon. Now he has done what you’d expect – deny everything and apologize to no one, except his mum. Likewise Nott of “graap my rot” fame was all Instagram smiles as he posed for the cameras at a Buddhist retreat in Chiang Rai. Mum and dad must have been so proud as he ordained – it’s not as if he did anything wrong in assaulting another human being is it. His car was scratched by an underling for goodness sake – it doesn’t get any worse than that. In next to no time the proletariat who dare to ride motorbikes will be revolting again and we’ll need another coup to keep them in their place. Still, with all the cases of monks behaving badly this year I expect, unlike Jenphop, Nott will actually raise the standard a notch or two. Top of the farang wannabes this week was My Mate Nate – an American teacher of English (oxymoron alert) who thought it was a great wheeze to ask Thai men if they were having their period and tell local gusset they looked terrible just to prove his point about poor English standards. The men said yes and the teenage girls smile inanely and agreed. Poor old Nate thought he had discovered the holy grail but it was just a holy fail. Rooster got the impression the Thais were just agreeing as they often do, and when they turned the corner out of camera-shot probable said: “Who was that twat?” or vernacular to that effect. Another jumping on the 30 seconds of fame bandwagon was a foreigner in a helmet speaking what sounded like some Isaan dialect complaining in a Facebook video about paying a 1000 baht fine. I thought the main reason for learning Thai or Lao was to avoid paying fines – or maybe he just forgot the most important thing about language in Thailand – smiling while you’re using it. Mind you even long term residents of the kingdom forget the bleeding obvious and Rooster does, he says smugly, have a Phd in “fine avoidance” honed after decades of practice at traffic stops. Sick to death of gratuitous fines were more than a hundred bikers who gathered to air their grievances on Rama IV after one of their number had an altercation with plod. On this occasion everyone was being asked, as per the police manual on fine extractions (otherwise known as the highway code), to shorten their lives further by keeping to the left hand side of the road. As a biker I can quite understand what they are on about – riding on the left gives us the heebeegeebees whereas driving on the right is much more like just Bee Gees. IE: Staying Alive Also scurrying around this week trying to avoid the disappearance of said face were the folks at the Ministry of Disinformation – otherwise referred to as tourism and sports. Lo and behold there seems to be a smidgeon of admission that the way the “zero tours” issue was handled might have actually been an almighty cock-up of the first water. Someone had noticed that billions of Chinese had stopped coming so the wagons were circled and suddenly visa fees were being waived for everyone except North Korean spies and ISIS terrorists. They have to pay 1,000 baht for visa on arrival – but even that is down from 2K. At least it’ll make the Bulgarian panhandlers look good. And before those PC posters who got on their high horses last week to have a go at Rooster about “bashing the Bulgars” I would just like to remind you, it’s called satire. What most Americans refer to as rudeness. One person I really would like to be rude to is the judge who, sentencing the man who stomped on his neighbor’s six year old kid, let him off with a suspended sentence. Yes, we understand it was his first offence but vaguely normal people do not usually go about kicking little children’s heads to a pulp. Five years for vaping or shisha, at least that for saying that the constabulary are corrupt and we see nothing done about men who think it is their Buddha given right to sleep with children committing statutory rape or beat up the young ones in their care. So to you judge on behalf of the nation’s children I would like to present you with the first Rooster commendation of the week: “The Thanks For Nothing” award. And so to this week’s other presentations. The “Thoughtfulness” award goes to none other than “Nong Nat” the ever sexy, ever faithful and loving and decidedly better half of greying Harold the US millionaire. Nong Nat showed her innate kindness this week by saying that she had virtually begged Harold for a divorce because she thought rogering him nightly might bring on a heart attack. His not hers. As several forum posters pointed out this seemed to defeat the object of what might be Nat’s longer term strategy in the relationship. Still, I’m sure she means well and if the dreaded day comes when “Harold the Ram” succumbs like a lamb to the slaughter I am sure there will be several forum posters more than willing to take up the slack. The “Dead Duck in the Water” award is jointly awarded to the company planning to ferry all and sundry across the gulf from Pattaya to Hua Hin and tourists in Koh Samui. The company came up with some fantastic promotional videos and swanky catamarans but nobody told Somchai to go and check the pier at Bali Hai to see if it could support more than a couple of people. After plans were announced to run the trial service on January 1st, Pattaya residents will undoubtedly now be able to just sleep off their New Year hangovers in the comfort of their own homes. The tourists on Samui thought it was jolly good jape to ignore the lifeguards on Chaweng as red flags flew and the sea created more froth than a beer poured by a Soi Cowboy bargirl. Ignoring a warning about safety, coming from laissez-faire Thais of all people, has to be the height of crass stupidity! Final prize this week goes to the DSI. They win the Rooster special commendation award for “Promoting less Reliance on Antibiotics and Sleeping Pills”. When they announced they were giving Phra Dhammachayo a midnight deadline to turn himself in I promptly fell asleep without the need of drugs. As I am sure the errant embezzler did too, safe in the knowledge that no one will do bugger all. Quirky picture of the week and best forum comment related to the same story as a Thai schoolteacher thought it would be a good idea to have the children bring in umbrellas to class to stop them cheating in the exams. With this kind of innovative thinking the nation’s youth is in fine hands though Celtic Bhoy, again, said it best when he commented that it was “bad luck to put up an umbrella indoors. They will all fail”. Finally it was reported that loyal subjects were coming from far and wide to the capital to stock up on framed pictures for businesses, homes and schools of the new monarch, His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn who was proclaimed Rama X. Long Live the King. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-12-03
  21. The week that was in Thailand news: Blimey! Bangkok braces for the Bulgarians. It is in every politician’s job description: Must be able to put favorable spin on even the worst disasters. Here in Thailand like elsewhere in the world we have become painfully accustomed to the economic data barely reflecting our personal experiences while when tourist businesses are suffering the latest airport arrivals are said to be up fifty percent! But you have to admit it; some of the Thai officials – whether politicians or police – have got some balls. Some of the things they come out with are more than spin – they would make Chubby Checker’s twist look like straight talking. Despite some forum posters who claim there is ample evidence to the contrary, the Thai people are no mugs. Perhaps they don’t kick up enough fuss ever wary of laws that could see them deprived of their liberty for upwards of fifty years for speaking their mind. That’s my only mild criticism. Leading the way in the spin stakes this week were the folks over at tourism and sports. Despite anecdotal reports that tourism is in a shaky spot – and despite obvious reasons Koh Samed showed that this week – we were treated to fabulous new initiatives to inspire tourists from no less than nineteen new countries who would have visa fees waived. However, those countries, undoubtedly with a close spin watch on quality tourism, included the likes of, wait for it….Bulgaria. Now Rooster means no disrespect to the Bulgars, some of my best friends are from Sofia. It’s just that when the UK opened its borders to all and sundry the first thing that happened was the London Underground was full of beggars from eastern Europe touting for 50p pieces. I was wondering if the same thing was going to happen in the tunnels of the MRT in Bangkok. Perhaps Khun Kobkarn would go down there to welcome the new arrivals in a photo opportunity. Free panhandles anyone? Her own particular spin along with the TAT somehow managed to conjure up a 350,000 increase in tourist arrivals due to the visa waiver. And this was going to generate 28 billion baht. At the risk of upsetting the elegant minister especially after her anti sex tirade, the tourist figures seem to be as up and down as the proverbial whore’s draws. Anyway, it all made perfect sense – we are saved. No need for an independent review – why would we lie to you! Meanwhile a survey caught my attention especially as it referred to that old chestnut of police reform. Apparently 30 per cent of the respondents thought it unnecessary at the moment. What! The Thai public are not 99% behind this? Intrigued I read on to discover that the survey was of police officers themselves. I was doubly incredulous – firstly with the spin of the story – then with the thought that one would have expected the figure to be 1% after all! As my favorite forum commenter of the week, Grumbleweed, put it: “In another survey 100% of foxes said they should not be forced to turn vegetarian”. Also “Spinning for Thailand” was deputy PM Prawit who said that national elections would be held next year…great….unless there is a “risk of damage” to the country. Oh, I get it, if we stand a chance of getting people you don’t like we won’t get an election. Genius! They should have tried that in America, could have saved a helluva lot of trouble. But it has to be said that this week it was not just the authorities being economical with the truth. Over in Samed itself the tourism operators attended an angry meeting at the Park HQ to claim that there was absolutely no mafia on the island. Coming from jetski operators and the like one had a smidgeon of belief that economic interest might have been behind that statement. The national park chief was asked to name names. Fortunately he didn’t try…..they might have been there all day. I was left to surmise that somehow the word mafia in Thailand has got corrupted into another meaning along the lines of truth and honesty. There can be no other explanation. Next we will be told that Pattaya is run according to the law of the land or that the taxis drivers in Phuket are to all get awards for being fair to their customers. No spin at all was put on the saddest event of the week – the bus crash in Uttaradit that needlessly claimed 18 lives. Rather like a rat leaving a sinking ship the driver managed to bail out leaving his passengers to plunge down the ravine. The carnage on the roads continues unabated – and I challenge any politician to put a good spin on that. The further tragedy is, they probably will. Continuing the spin factor was some government rep who announced that they were to introduce a new 10 year visa for the over 50s. Closer inspection revealed the odd caveat like having to put a hefty wedge into a time deposit and still having to report to immigration every 90 days. But on closer inspection it looked like the story, that was easily the most viewed of the week on the Thaivisa forum, was the usual brainwave (read aberration) of some clerk somewhere who hadn’t thought it through. “Hey Somchai! How could we get more money out of the expats, look good and have no work or plan whatsoever?” “Er, I know….” Not surprisingly the news was met with a cacophony of lukewarm-ness and the usual pooh-poohing that is the stock in trade of the Thaivisa members. And who could blame them – when is this government going to think things through before making an announcement. Maybe when the Thais stop eating chilies… Meanwhile, following Lady Kai’s reemergence from clink last week I was expecting to see her up on lese majeste charges this week. No matter, it was interesting to see her half-sister Kamonthat handed a 50 year sentence In Chiang Mai for selling fake royal favors. What with another woman in Bangkok pretending to be a princess facing a few decades in stir it really doesn’t bode well for Mrs Chicken when the irons next come off. Another survey caught my philandering fancy this week when it was announced that three quarters of young Thai men have up to three “gigs” each. Only three – come on lads, maybe you need a bit of training to get with the program! I am sure some of the older guys on the Thaivisa could give you a few tips. Anyway, it wasn’t mentioned how many toy-boys or “friends with benefits” Thai women have. That’s what Rooster really wants to know….oh, and where they hang out. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. The “Solly So Solly” award for most misplaced apology goes to the stepfather who stepped, or rather stamped on his child’s chest because he was having a bad hair day. The man, for the want of a better word, turned up at the Phitsanulok nick with some incense and a pile of candles to apologize to his mum, dad, grannies, aunties, society, the soi dogs…you name it he wai-ed it. Except his victims of course. They can just wait for their next beating. The “What took you so long?” prize goes to the hapless folks in charge of (oxymoron alert) …regulations in Pattaya. Their decisive action has now claimed back part of the ocean from those who would dare to build swimming pools in it. It only took 21 years for them to spot the illegal structure on the beachfront. Which makes me think of a great business opportunity…open an opticians in the resort. I’d make a killing. Lastly, the “Darwin award” for services to evolution goes to the armed ATM robber in Suphan who dropped his phone at the scene of the crime. Mind you, despite knowing absolutely everything about the miscreant Plod still took the best part of a week to find him. I imagined the phone battery was dead and no one at the station could find the right charger. Then lo and behold it got crazier – the denouement of the story surprised even Rooster; the gunman was none other than a cop and an award-winning one at that. You really can’t make this stuff up! Thailand’s weird and wacky wedding season provided some light relief in quite a serious week. First there was the really quite normal hitching of two twins barely out of Pampers. Apparently the little nippers had been an unrequited item in a previous life and needed to get hitched to save their souls in this one. All quite understandable and above board. As usual it was just a fine excuse for a good old Thai knees up though with predictable misery in mind some forum posters suggested it was child abuse. Then we had the tying of the knot in the north-east where we had the Rolls Royce of Roll Reversals, for the groom was a girl and the bride was a man. Who would wear the trousers in the relationship caused much tittering on the national news as the presenters could barely contain themselves with the possible permutations especially as the happy couple declared they wanted children. Anyway it brought a smile to Rooster’s craggy visage, one that quickly vanished when he thought back to his own wedding… Finally Pattaya residents were mostly pleased about two developments on the eastern seaboard. Firstly they will soon be able to pay “just” 1,200 baht to risk their life crossing the gulf on a catamaran so they can replace Walking Street with Soi Bintabaht. I’ll pass on that one. And secondly most were thrilled to discover that the traffic nightmare that is the Pattaya Klang underpass construction, will be finished early next year. And when they are driving their scooters through the technological marvel they will be able to admire a centerpiece sculpture that the authorities said was the most representative image they could think of for Pattaya – dolphins cavorting. Funny, but I could have come up with a different spin. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-11-27
  22. The week that was in Thailand news: Are these the winds of change? – maybe just a gentle breeze Despite loving the nation to bits I have never been under any serious misapprehensions about Thailand’s murky underbelly. Ok, so while Rooster occasionally struts out in his rose tinted bifocals, it is really just an antidote to getting overwhelmed by the nasty goings on one sees in the news, especially here on Thaivisa. Normally, I am a realist, hardened to crackdowns and promises of change for this and that and the other – even if “the other” could never be changed, despite tourism minister Khun Kobgarn’s no more sex promise back in July. No, from government ministers to police, to social commentators and my mother in law – the national sport of Thailand has always seemed to be to say one thing then do another. Maybe it’s simply human nature though I do feel that the Thais have honed it into a fine skill. In a bumper week of extraordinary Thai news we saw ample evidence of the ambiguity that at first goes over the head of most visitors, then either beguiles or frustrates depending on individual perceptions. Top story of the week for me was the raid on Koh Samet. Like most beach resorts it has been controlled by the mafia for decades despite it being a national park these days. Now a new set of park officials – clearly with the backing of top government – are talking tough and promising change. No, I don’t believe my rosy specs are coming out for this one. I honestly sense that saying one thing and doing the opposite might be held in abeyance in this case. For while we may not see a hurricane of change one would hope there is at least a little breeze in the air putting the wind up those influential figures who would rob the country, manipulate its population and connive with its corrupt authorities to destroy the environment for their own personal gain. Phi Phi, Koh Tao, Samui, Phuket…who knows where next could change if political will is backed up with some honest endeavor. They could even clean up Pattaya. Alright, I’ll put the specs back in their case. Another very interesting example of a change in the air happened at what many Thais would say is their true national sport. The governor of Surat Thani walked into a big Muay Thai festival and shut it down on Thursday night. Some 1,200 people were given their money back. Like in Samet soldiers were up front in this raid, the event was, after all, organized by police and politicians. Unsurprisingly, no permission had been granted and clearly the provincial boss felt confident enough to do something that never would have happened years ago. Thankfully we were spared a continued overdose of road rage this week though the fallout from the “Nott graap my mini” case continued with the smarmy celeb predictably saying he was going to do a spot of meditation, maybe with Jenphop. Khun Sasiwan over at rival Khaosod English said it best when she referred to this as Nott’s “Mission of Contrition”. You are a woman after Rooster’s own heart Khun Sasi! Meanwhile hardly helping with the ‘tantrums on the thanons’ was the news that Thailand now has 37 million registered motor vehicles. One of these days someone will come up with a plan to get the public to drive them with a smidgen of courtesy and awareness. But let’s not get into that or we could be here all day. On the subject of which I would just like to mention forum poster WhizBang who said Rooster was “too long, too rambling” – while the mia noi has never complained about the former I take exception to the latter. You sir, have the attention span of a gnat – I can be rude because he won’t get this far in my round up of the news; Twitter has taught these guys to turn off bewildered after 140 characters. “El Gordo” came to my rescue with my favorite forum comment of the week, obviously, when he said of yours truly: “Forgive the guy. He was old school when writing was an art and full of imagination”. I owe you a beverage senor , but do be careful of people who say one thing then do the opposite, they are not always Thai….. Talking a good game but offering very little were, as usual, the Thai banks. They made it look like Christmas had come early with the scrapping of interprovincial ATM charges until you read the small print. The nano-font revealed it didn’t refer to interbank charges and was only going to last until January 3rd. The banks were billed as “doing good for the father” but you can put me down as “Completely Unimpressed of Ratchayothin” if that is the best they can do in honor of His Majesty. And, no, you won’t be able to placate me with one of your colorful calendars at New Year. It’ll have to be an umbrella…. There were sensational goings on in Nonthaburi this week. I am not referring to Monday’s “supermoon” by the way. That really was a spectacular celestial body, not some overweight farang behaving badly baring his butt in Bangkok. No, I refer to the fallout from the cutting up murder of the Israeli ex-policeman by Shimon and the revelations of the disappearance of the latter’s Thai wife. The son pretended never to have heard of his mum who had raised him for ten years while a “gig” turned up to throw extra spice into an already hot mix of murderous intrigue. What with the sliced up body in the freezer down in Sukhumvit the other month it seems like the foreigners are really giving the Thais a run for their money in their culinary chopping skills. Then, talking of arch criminals, who popped back into the pages of Thaivisa but the pasty visage of none other than Lady Kai. The fraudster was released from her irons for a few minutes to burble some nonsense about being innocent of all charges. She is being done first for human trafficking but the “khee” really starts to engage with the “phatlom” this Monday when she will be asked to reply to allegations she pretended to be a princess. Can’t wait for that, especially as the Thai press has really gone to town on Mrs Chicken’s parson’s nose. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. The “Farang Behaving Badly in the Hours of Daylight” award was jointly awarded to the Swedish drunk yelling something in Finnish and smacking a cop in Samui and the guy in Chiang Mai stealing a 15,000 baht bicycle. Many forum users ignored the pedaling purloiner to question the reporter who called the bike expensive. Unlike Rooster these moneybag posters clearly don’t shop for their two wheelers with the Thais at Lotus. The “Thai Behaving Badly in the Hours of Semi Darkness” award goes to the woman who created an SMS (social media storm) by balancing sweetly on the boot of a car. She would be welcome to sit on my trunk anytime though like most people I think doing so going 90 kilometers an hour along Rama 9 might not be setting the best example to today’s impressionable youth. Even though I was pleased to see at least she wasn’t doing anything dangerous like being on the phone…. The story was originally billed as being a potential ghost but even the Thais are tiring of that angle. The 500 baht fine handed out later in the week will give succor to the forum posters who think everyone except foreigners get the same. No awards – they don’t deserve anything but Rooster’s revulsion - go to the two step fathers I’d personally like to step on this week. The first was caught on CCTV swiping then stamping on a five year old kid in a school car park because the poor little guy couldn’t count up to ten. While the second monster was lucky not to be lynched after admitting to beating a three year old in his care, drowning him in a toilet then dumping him by the road. Reading the story having just put my own three year old to bed kind of puts everything into perspective. The wind of change here that I would like to see is far less halving of sentences for admissions. Several people seemed to die more unnecessarily than usual this week. One man made the mistake of watching the Thai national football team take on Australia. While Rooster nearly succumbs to boredom each time the words Thai and football are combined, this guy actually got over excited as the score got to 2-2. He pegged out from a heart attack while his niece did the wise thing and saved herself by going to have a cold shower. While in Surat Thani three young people who broke into a farmer’s orchard to steal “krathom” leaves from his trees got a shock, literally – they were electrocuted on a fence he had set up to protect his illicit crop. The farmer faces manslaughter which seems lenient and often makes a mockery of people’s deaths. More like ‘man’s laughter’ than manslaughter. Finally, and while on the subject of wordplay, I noticed that the World Scrabble Championship for Seniors will be held here starting Wednesday. Apparently the over 55s are coming from far and wide to Bangkok, described intriguingly as “the home of Scrabble”. After the dobbing in of the bridge playing pensioners in Pattaya and the old fogies rounded up for dominoes in the capital, I really fear for the safety of the visiting wordsmiths if there are any police awake next week. I wonder if you can be arrested for shuffling tiles? Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-11-19
  23. The week that was in Thailand news: Big Brother is watching you – but is it so bad after all? For many of us in school in the seventies, the set text of George Orwell’s stark image of “1984” with its surveillance and central control of the people seemed a century away, not a decade. We were young and hopeful, but with the passing years we have seen every corner of our cities under the watchful eye of some camera or another. CCTV came first, now we do it ourselves with mobile phones. Britain has become one of the most watched nations on earth. And the prevalence of surveillance increases with every passing year in Thailand. Even in our own homes can we really believe our every move is not being followed with our actions on the internet? But Orwell’s iconic book made little of the benefits that the surveillance might bring and many people these days are willing to forego some freedoms when bad guys are trapped using the various devices now on offer. This was a week in Thailand when the prevalence of cameras all over the country meant that many miscreants had to face up quick sharp to what they had done. Though whether the police, or the justice system will act on the images to the satisfaction of the injured parties or the public is quite another matter, at least the crimes and misdemeanors are there for all to see, even gawk at! Funny to think that when I first came to Thailand the letters R and R meant “rest and recreation”, US troops using the kingdom as a party land away from the horrors of the Vietnam War. This week in Thailand one could be forgiven for thinking RR referred to nothing more than Road Rage! Every day there seemed nothing but fisticuffs on the nation’s roads and byways as Thais of all social strata as well as plenty of foreigners got themselves in the national news. Top billing was referred for Nott the Thai celebrity who became known as “Nott graap rot” for making a motorcyclist bow down to his “luxury” Mini Cooper. Delusions of grandeur and self- importance as he lorded it over Joe Soap. Even if Nott doesn’t lose his liberty at least he was stripped of his jobs after the battering he gave “Boy” was filmed. Now a top lawyer has got involved saying its best to circumvent the police – probably exactly why he is a top lawyer; he clearly knows going straight to the courts means a better chance of justice. Following the case – one of the biggest of the year on social media – everybody else jumped on the bashing bandwagon. Firstly “graap-gate” was replaced by “wai-gate” as an irate westerner swore at some Thai men for nearly causing an accident. He demanded a wai to his kid in apology. The nationality of the effing and blinding man was not sure but the reporter called him British. Few Britons would argue with that likelihood. Then we had the Belgian allegedly knocked down by the hi-so Benz driver in Rayong, a Thai married couple knocked off their bike in Bangkok for no apparent reason, and then a security man had his lights bashed out at an expressway tollbooth. By the time a pump attendant got his head kicked in for the crime of asking someone to turn their engine off I was beginning to apologize to people before I bumped into them at Tops, just in case I got attacked for “being in a built up area in the hours of daylight”. Thaivisa forum members thought the Belgian pensioner should have stayed in his car and they generally sided with the “wai-gate” man as a vitriolic wave of scorn was poured on bike riders for denting precious car fenders and driving off. Mmm, I’ll stop when you apologize for killing us by pulling out without looking, thought Rooster who prefers two wheels to four. Don’t you realize we take up less space? Besides, your wing mirrors do get in the way of our fleeing the scene. The final case was not road rage but equally terrifying as a minivan driver went through roadblocks on a drunken race to Bangkok with 13 passengers, one of whom, a soldier, had called cops to get him stopped. Sterling Moss said he was not drunk and was a relief driver! Yes mate, your admission that you had only had half a bottle of spirits before taking to the road is unlikely to result in undue leniency. Cameras were not needed in this case – the driver convicted himself with his own statements of idiocy. But at least amid all the raging on the roads we had a few laughs. My award for best comment of the week goes to CelticBhoy who posted: “Naughty Nott’s Not Nice. Lost his job, everyone hates him and he drives a mini. Karma Katastrophe”. With all the road rage incidents we almost didn’t spot that there was something going on in the United States. Brexit 2, as I like to think it was a protest vote rather than the choice of rational humans, put Trump in the White House and Thais like the rest of the planet began to think about the new world order. I suspect most in the kingdom were more worried about the effects on the exchange rate and stock market. I made the mistake of saying to the missus: “I wonder what it will mean for Syria?” She just assumed “Siriya” was another nutty pretty involved in a road rage incident, and went back to her entertainment news comic. Thais generally are not overly concerned with what happens outside the nation’s borders though it was amusing to read online comments comparing elected leaders and what Thailand has at the helm. Suffice to say I am sure PM Prayut or Big Too will get on quite well with Big Tou-pee. Concerning for Rooster, a former teacher of unblemished reputation, was the news that a convicted British pedophile had changed his name and come back to Thailand. He was pictured with young children – smiling, of course. Now I know the British require those on the pedo register to inform the authorities if they change their name but how about finding out who they changed it to, for goodness sake. Like the bloody pedo it’s time they were made to get their finger out. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. On Monday Andy Hall the investigative journalist at the center of defamation cases with a fruit canning firm, earned my “Get Out While The Going is Only Reasonably Bad” award by fleeing Thailand after a ruling in his favor. Andy clearly knows a thing or Too about Thailand – some don’t know when they are beaten and they certainly won’t forget it when they are. He can fight his subsequent battles from abroad while hoping that despite global warming the climate here becomes “less hot”. “Forum Hero” award went to Kriangkrai Thai-orn a social activist who is not the only one in the country who thinks “security checkpoint” should come with an oxymoron alert warning. The word “yut-truat” (stop-check) on the barriers might as well be changed to “triam grapow tang” or prepare your wallet. Kriangkrai was almost universally praised by forum members for getting two checkpoints to “go home with their tails between their legs” for essentially being illegal. But the words of warning of some experienced posters proved prophetic. The head of Korat police predictably responded in kind saying it was perfectly legal and fine to issue “fines”. And it was Kriengkrai who was somehow at fault for ‘confusing the public’. Take it from me, Khun Head of Police, the public, Thai or foreign, are not overly confused about what the role of the police can often be in Thailand. Some of their antics remind me of Arthur Daley in the UK TV show Minder. When questioned at a police function in a pub why he was eating from a packet instead of the excellent buffet, he replied: “You are what you eat officer”, before offering the snack to the “old Bill’ and quipping: “Pork Scratchings?” The “Thank You For Making Us Potentially Rich” award goes to the entire editorial staff of Thaivisa who are bound to have brought us the winning lottery numbers. These were on a government official’s car that had a rather large python slither into the engine compartment. Predictably few bystanders cared about the welfare of the snake, or even the python, as they scribbled down the auspicious numbers. Anyway thanks, I’m presuming the numbers came up yesterday and I’ll get you all a beverage at the next TV get together. Finally amid all the road rage and surveillance of the last week came a different kind of fight that was also thankfully filmed. This one featured two Thai grannies who had had some dispute in their village and were encouraged to fight it out on a horizontal pole (yes, contrary to the popular belief of some foreign residents, not all poles are vertical and used for dancing). The grannies were egged on to battle it out with the loser falling into the murky depths below. It was all brilliantly lighthearted with whoops of delight as the sarong clad pensioners settled their differences. To me a reminder of the sense of humor and fun that has always existed in Thailand and always will. And why I for one would never live anywhere else. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-11-12
  24. The week that was in Thailand news: Are we miserable? – sorry, that’s a rhetorical question. Was it just me or were there really such few laughs in the Thai news this week. Everywhere I seemed to look there just appeared to be more negativity and while several old cases promised a resolution of sorts it seemed painfully inadequate to give any cause for optimism. The latest Thaivisa survey of expatriates indicated that despite evidence to the contrary earlier in the year we appear to be eminently miserable after all. Those who pooh-poohed mid-year results that we were blissfully happy have now been vindicated. Expats are unhappy. It’s official. The news of the last seven days seemed to mirror this. Of course the country is still in the early throes of serious mourning for the death of His Majesty – but it seemed much worse than even that dark event though perhaps it acted as a catalyst. The kind of feeling Britons get in October when the clocks go back and there appears nothing but darkness and cold ahead. Leading the way in the misery stakes was the state of the roads with many stories based on the complete mess that are the country’s highways and the biggest oxymoron that exists in the kingdom – the rules of the road. Jenphop – the heir to a fortune who ended the lives of two students with his car – now claims he is mentally unfit. It is a depressingly standard ploy and one that will see the case drag on for years until it is all but forgotten because others will take its place and muddy the waters. Then along came another nutter – this time a “pretty” that most forum posters who recognize true Thai beauty, saw as being more of a plastic surgery “ugly”. ‘Namzom Zomy’ showed that her powers of transliteration were as poor as her concentration as she caused a nine vehicle carnage on Rachadapisek Road on Tuesday. Even reportedly trying to take her clothes off in the police station didn’t suggest to the cops that she might be worth a breath test. Or was it just the two tier justice system? That is a Rooster rhetorical question, in case you think I have swallowed my marbles with my Sunday Som Tam. The so called “internet idol” (‘idle’ more like) is another one who is depressed. Also shedding a tear or two this week was former PM Yingluck who said she may not be able to find the billion bucks to pay off the rice pledging fine. Rarely has a Thai figure so divided a nation as comments on the forum both feeling sorry for and condemning her appeared in equal measure. While the tears might be rather crocodilian in nature one could only imagine the incandescent rage of those in current power when a group of Isan farmers offered to help her pay the fine! Meanwhile several long running cases were in the news again and it was more depression. Compensation was announced in the case of the New Year’s Day fire at Santika pub some years back but the figure that the Bangkok authorities need to come up with was a pittance. And they will pass it onto the taxpayer anyway. When is someone who is not a janitor going to be held accountable? More than 60 people did not see January 2nd for goodness sake. A smidgen of good news seemed to be on the horizon for the Burmese pair languishing in jail for the Koh Tao murders. The prosecution have yet to issue their rebuttal in the appeal process that may mean the defense claims going unchallenged. That still has a week to change, however, and will doubtless go all the way to the Supreme Court and back again. My call, for what it’s worth, will be that the case will drag on for years and years. When enough time is deemed to have passed the two men will be released on some kind of compassionate inter neighbor mutual trade deal that will provide absolutely no resolution and no pardon. There will be no death penalty and equally no justice. For all intents and purposes the death penalty doesn’t really exist here anyway. It hasn’t been used for seven years and even Amnesty International considers ten years of nonuse of the ultimate sanction as tantamount to a country not having it. Which makes the rejection of a confession as grounds for not giving the death penalty to a Phitsanulok man guilty of raping and murdering a seven year old, rather a moot point. Unless someone comes along in Thailand – Duterte style – who stands to gain politically from actually implementing the death penalty, it will remain a toothless threat. Investigative journalist Andy Hall got a result of sorts when an appeal court threw out a defamation charge against a fruit firm but he is far from out of the mire with other cases pending. Depressingly the defamation laws seem to exist to stop free speech far more than they act as a deterrent to libel or slander. The disgraceful nature of driving on the nation’s roads was highlighted in several videos featured in the UK’s Mirror newspaper’s online editions this week. One wonders what the average person in Britain would think of the sight of the articulated lorry overtaking on the corner in the wet causing a family saloon to come screeching to a halt to avoid certain death. Posters on Thaivisa lamented it was just another day and who could really argue with that though that video gave me the heebie jeebies as did the one where an undertaking car clipped a packed minivan resulting in the death of passengers. The prevalence of dash cam footage shows us how such a seemingly minor nudge can be so catastrophic at speed. As a motorbike rider I used to watch accident footage from time to time to remind me to be careful on each and every journey – I feel looking at it too much these days could well just keep me off the roads altogether. Part three of the Mirror’s “Thai roads week” was thankfully a little more lighthearted especially for locals in the Kingdom. It featured a jetski doing 40mph on a flooded road as a line of trucks were at a standstill. The laughs of those behind the camera made me smile though I was still shaking my head… Very depressing and totally predictable this week was the case of the gambling raid in Bangkok on a group of men drinking and playing Hi-Lo. A 34 man died and the medics said he was covered in bruises. At first it appeared that the police were going to claim they were not even there – it was some rogue patrol – but the evidence meant they had to backtrack on that ‘rozzerly ruse’. Both the metropolitan police chief and his spokesman put their foot in it by saying that their policemen hadn’t put theirs in, as CCTV footage soon emerged. Why do these top cops continue to give their opinions even before their investigative committees have reported their findings? And why does it always take 30 days to get to what passes for the ‘truth’? The victim’s relatives want justice but when even the army can’t bring the police to book, is there really any hope for Joe Soap? Sorry, that’s three more rhetorical questions. I will just stop asking now in case anyone thinks such posers really have any worthwhile answers. Providing a bit of light relief from one of the most miserable weeks of the year was the continuing saga of ex-porn star Nat Ketsarin and her 70 year old tycoon hubby Harold. “Nong Nat” was depressed after foreign news media suggested that her idyllic life with balding but loaded Harold was as a result of her Buddhist prayers. No, no she said – I have been meditating and making merit since I was a kid, don’t mess with my religion, this is true love. I did like the translator’s comment that perhaps her curves may have had something to do with the union, however. Yes, media hungry Nat was furious at those naughty foreign press hounds spreading her and Harold all over the tattling tabloids – a clear case, considering her roly-poly husband, of the pot belly calling the kettle black. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. “Fecking Futile” award goes to the government for thinking there is any point to their blocking 200 URLs when as pointed out on the forum any ten year old could probably figure out a way to circumvent the ban. While the “Try Tasting Your Food Before Serving It” award goes to the cook at a funeral in Lampang who nearly dispatched a further seventeen mourners by adding caustic soda instead of salt to the lunch. And there was I thinking that MSG was all I needed to worry about in Thai food. Finally there was some light on the horizon as it was announced that November 14th would be the day when various entertainment bans would be lifted. That has to be a good thing for while the Thai soaps will return shortly thereafter it will no longer be necessary to try to make conversation with the missus come weekday evenings. And that same November 14th promises to be a night to remember. Loy Krathong day will feature the biggest full moon available until 2034 no less. The “Super-Moon” phenomenon will make it appear that the lunar landscape is 14% bigger and 30% brighter than normal. Not to be missed; I might even go out and float away some of my troubles. If I can find a Krathong big enough, that is. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-11-06
  25. The week that was in Thailand news: Tales of the expected and unexpected Whilst old hands in Thailand are wont to say “I told you so” and “of course that was going to happen” there are still many things that happen in the kingdom that beggar belief surprising long termers as much as newbies. And this week was no different to any other. Falling into the category of a tale of the expected was the story of the karaoke girl whisked off the street by a patrolman and two police volunteers. The brave girl went back to the cops after her extortion and rape ordeal was over to demand action. Action – if you can call it that – was the cops asking sweetly if the offending patrolman wouldn’t mind awfully popping in for a chat when he had a moment. He called to say he was regrettably busy but would drop in the next day if he had time. He did with a fistful of cash for his bail and a veritable helmet-full of predictable denials. The volunteers charged with rape remain at large and no one will be surprised if the poor victim gets no justice whatsoever. She will probably end up being blamed for singing karaoke too loudly. Less expected – though some North Eastern foreign residents may disagree – was the story of the youths who decided to dig up a pile of dog corpses because they were a tad peckish. The dogs were buried after animal welfare had come to the village following a rabies outbreak. Checks on the detached canine heads revealed the deadly disease as the replete youths were all carted off to hospital for jabs. Vaccinations that a disease specialist later in the week said were a rather good idea. The story featured my favorite comment of the week on the forum from “canuckamuck” who noted: “I remember when I was a teenager we were always digging up dead animals for party snacks, good times”. According to the expert eight people have died in Thailand this year from foaming at the mouth – easy to see why given some of the news this week. Top murder story of the last seven days had to be the dispatching of a school director in Krabi done in by a Mathematics teacher. The lack of a raise gave rise to the teacher producing a ten inch knife to send his erstwhile boss on his way. He left the director bleeding to death and went home though he did have the public spiritedness to turn himself in to Ao Nang cops when he heard the result of his angst later in the day. Meanwhile “mystery surrounds”, as it often does, the death of a farang man found floating in the sea off Koh Pangan on Friday. He had been in the water at least five days and one suspects that had there been a full moon party this month the Pangan plod might just have put it down to partying. But no – there were some spicy details for the armchair forum ‘tecs to get their keyboard clutches into when it emerged that there were five large rocks in the victim’s backpack still attached to his floating and bloating corpse. Thai Rath surmised that he may have been out harpoon fishing while completely ignoring the fact that a phone charger was also found with a change of clothes in the guy’s backpack. Maybe the newshound sleuths imagined he was going to charge his phone with a passing electric eel. Bringing a voice of reason to the week were the welcome – if somewhat expected comments – of Khun Kobkarn over at the sports and tourism ministry. The dear lady minister profoundly stated that “Life Goes On”. Much of this depth was, in reality, just back tracking and waffle after perhaps a few too many events were cancelled in the wake of His Majesty’s tragic death earlier in the month. Now Khun Kobkarn is busy saying that subject to less exuberance most events will still take place. Interestingly she mentioned that football was still being played while the Thai Premier League season was actually, effectively cancelled. Perhaps proving the point about women and the offside rule. Grumbling at the minister were many forum posters – especially those in the north where she had met expat “representatives” to talk about their lives in Thailand. Many felt that the soothing words emanating from her elegant lips seemed a little at odds with expatriate experiences on the ground. Frankly, no one will be expecting anything to come from her comments that she will be “raising the 90 day reporting” issue with immigration. Two government ministries talking to each other? Now that would be a tale of the unexpected. Continuing the theme of the expected this week was the dear general who asked his minions to examine extradition treaties so they might get their hands on people abroad who are defaming the monarchy. Interpol have also been contacted by the commissioner of police. One miscreant spouting her anti royal babble from the sanctity of Paris is likely to be high on their wanted list. But one wonders what the hacks at Charlie Hebdo – given their own stance on a certain Prophet – might make of the Thai requests to hand over people speaking their mind, however nonsensical. Meanwhile commissioner Jakthip – clearly irked and perhaps feeling a mite powerless about those abroad– told reporters that he would willingly pay the air ticket out for anti-Thailand Thais. He didn’t mention if he would lock them up for fifteen years first, or, indeed, if they would get seats on Thai Airways. Embarrassing and completely expected was the breakdown, then subsequent reaction, to immigration’s PIBICS recording system going awol on Sunday. While 10,000 or more might have sneaked in and out we were assured that not one of them was up to no good. Proof of this seemed to come from the fact they had all filled in a TM 6 card. Thank goodness for that - just so long as they used block capitals and the obligatory black ink all will be well. Most sickening story of the week came out of Phattalung where it emerged that a doctor delivering a baby had pulled too hard and separated the infant’s torso from its head. As if this was not bad enough he then allegedly told the mum that nothing was wrong and that she needed to go to another hospital where they perhaps had better equipment to finish the job. This she did where, horribly, the doctor found just a baby’s head in her womb. A decidedly unexpected discovery for him and the appalled relatives. Far more expected was the health authorities who clearly tried to buy off the relatives with a 400,000 baht “please don’t mention it” offer and the delivery doctor’s reaction – to flee the scene and go on ‘leave’. Expect follow ups on this ghastly affair. Two tales involving cannabis did the rounds this week. One wonders if a Dutch man expected to get 103 years inside a Thai jail for spending money in the kingdom that he earned running dope cafes in the Netherlands. He says he is legit while the Thais cite money laundering. It’s a strange old world isn’t it where what you say in one place might be considered funny while in another place deprive you of your liberty while what you inhale in one country might set you ‘free’ while resulting in precisely the opposite elsewhere. Second dope tale involved the brains trust backpackers ‘grassed’ up by the neighbors and raided by a ‘joint’ operation of police and soldiers in Bangkok. They clearly merit Rooster’s Darwin award of the week for their choice of guest house address. As if the smoke coming out from under the door was not enough of a giveaway did they really need to make life so easy for the cops by toking up in a place called “Overstay”? And so to some other awards. “You Should Have Stopped at Two” award goes not to the Prime Minister’s parents but the man himself for penning his third hit song to inspire his “Thai Phee Nong” to stop having a go at each other. Entitled “Hope and Faith” I humbly appeal to Big Too to show some “Charity” and call it a day there. Bashing corruption in a different ‘hit parade’ might be a better idea as that 20 years’ elimination target continues to fly by. Perhaps more idiotic than the backpackers was the tea-leaf who picked the wrong Fortuner to break into while its owner was having a roadside snack. The car belonged to the deputy head of the Chiang Rai police so two things were to be expected – one that it contained lots of cash and valuables and also that whoever pinched it was going to be mercilessly hunted down and removed from society. The hapless hood gets my “Choose your Victim More Wisely In Future” award. Last presentation is the “Ugh” award that goes to the Lampang woman who found a giant cockroach in her slab of compressed pork. While the “ugh” could go as much to the product as the insect found embedded within, the manufacturers also called “foul” when they contacted her to demand she take the picture off Facebook. Woe betide anyone in Thailand putting something as scurrilous as the truth on Mr Zuckerberg’s ubiquitous worry wall. Finally, Rooster can at last see a business opportunity literally flying in the air in these gloomy economic times. I really must go and have a word with my entrepreneurial north eastern mother-in-law after it was announced on Saturday that due to various restrictions being lifted, Thai bugs and grasshoppers could soon be imported to the protein starved masses of the Euro zone. Though culinary minded Brits will probably be glad they pulled out after all. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2016-10-30