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Found 39 results

  1. The week that was in Thailand news: Thai and British rhetoric – same-same but different. We are all painfully aware of the rhetoric of politicians and “the authorities” in the west following bombing outrages. And the reaction to what happened in Manchester this week was no different.The public are exhorted to “never let them win”. The perpetrators are “cowards”. Everything will be done to find those responsible who always seem to have been known to the security services beforehand but somehow slipped through the tight net.Why do I get this feeling that they ARE winning and that the rhetoric is just a smokescreen for the authorities’ ineffectual security measures? And why do I feel that blowing yourself up is not really cowardly….though misguided, it seems quite brave to me.Meanwhile, the public – both online and in the UK itself – almost follow their leaders’ rhetorical suit with “messages of solidarity”, “calls for unity” and prayers at this “difficult time”.The prayers didn’t work last time and isn’t it people who pray who are getting us in this mess anyway?Call that a “Rooster Rhetorical” question…I was almost thankful to be far away from England and in Thailand where the government rhetoric – albeit similarly formulaic – is actually fundamentally different in nature.Monday’s nail bomb in a military hospital – an event every bit as despicable as Manchester despite no one dying on this occasion and few outside Thailand caring about it – had the government denying that they were behind it!Somehow I cannot quite imagine Mrs May having to go down that route.In recent weeks with other bombs we have even seen the habit of denial with one police chief even remarking inexplicably that a bomb “was not an explosive device”.Again this would hardly wash with the British public but seems to wash over the great majority of the great Thai unwashed.Then came the jewel in the crown of public comments that highlights the difference between a place like the UK and my beloved Siam – “Election may be postponed” screamed the headline quoting our general leader.Bless! The UK politicians just decided to have a day or two off campaigning before hurling insults at each other again while the whole electoral process in Thailand could be off again due to some nutter with nails and nitrate.As legendary columnist and Thai observer Bernard Trink used to say – “any comment would be superfluous!”Though in the current climate where clicking on like might get you in trouble, making no comment can probably be construed as illegal.The rhetoric was also cranked up a predictable notch with the reaction of Khun Kobkarn at tourism and sports. No sooner had the dust settled at Phra Mongkhut Klao hospital than here was the elegant minister saying that, thankfully, tourism would not be affected.Many who remembered her recent pronouncements about promoting medical tourism were tittering uncontrollably into their morning coffee.Still, the week ended with both the Thais and the Brits in agreement – Prayut said Friday echoing rumblings from England that the Thais would need to give up many of their accepted freedoms to enjoy security.While the final image in my mind is of soldiers on the streets of Manchester – maybe Mrs May had taken a leaf out of Thailand’s book to cover her party’s cuts in police spending.Fortunately there were still laughs connected to much less serious issues this week though the British were never far from the news.Thaivisa published Foreign Office data that seemed to indicate that Blighty tourists – or what is left of them - were behaving worse than ever in the Kingdom with drugs and sex offences up. Though it was not completely clear whether the Brits were doing or victims of the latter.Either way it made a good story with the three main factions on the forum enjoying themselves. These three are Brits who hate the Britain they left behind, Brits who hate Thailand they have left behind and the rest of the world that just hates Brits.I just think they are all bonkers and try and keep my beak clean while still maintaining a sporting soft spot for the Premier League, Wimbledon and The Derby.As if to confirm the rather “oorf” behavior of its errant nationals the story of drink driver and cop killer Anna Reese made for an entertaining ruse. Anna – a poor actress if her sobs at Huay Kwang nick are anything to go by – was at it again throwing a wobbly at a pub then driving drunk into a car and fleeing the scene.Despite killing a policeman in 2015 she was bailed, an eventuality that was roundly condemned by a Thai anti drink driving group as hardly a deterrent to non-actresses.This time she really needs jail rather than being allowed a quick trip to the nunnery and an “undisclosed” payment to the victim.As this week’s Midweek Rant pointed out, the victims of people like Ms Reese are really all of us.We won’t see her cash but I’d like to see her ugly mug behind bars and have a good old British snigger over my Earl Grey and M and S toasted crumpets.Not that I’m British – after such a week who in their right mind would admit to that!A variety of Thai “drama” stories filled the news pages this week. The word drama from English is used in the Thai press stories and while many forum posters want to see an end to Thaivisa’s obsession with such tabloid- tittle-tattle, Rooster is not one of them.I love the insights into Thai culture and daily life that they reveal even though I have mostly seen it all before. All the offerings in the last seven days revolved around Thai beauty stereotyping.The week began and ended with the tale of the “suay” nurse in Isaan who felt the need to quit tending to bed baths when her sexy images appeared alongside a claim that she wouldn’t let a soldier get anywhere near her.I wasn’t entirely convinced that she wasn’t responsible for the furor which seemed to be confirmed later in the week when the modeling offers had started flooding in.Another was followed by millions as a Thai bride bared her soul after a wedding outfitters gave her the kind of make-up usually associated with “Likae” (a kind of classical country soap) for her big day.Facebook came to her salvation with a wave of sympathy and an eagerly accepted offer of a “re-wedding” set of more professional make-up and photos.Not needing to use the internet to get her way was the other example of Thai “stereotypicality” (my new word for the week).This was the cute girlie wowing the lads after she took over her dad’s car repair shop. (You might detect that Thailand is rubbing off on Rooster – either that or he has spent too long reading the compiled works of the Duke of Edinburgh).Like the other teenager recently pictured in a Korat motorcycle shop, “Khao Fang” who had a “small chassis” was quite happy up to her ears in grease.Such comments reminded me of a conversation I had with a Thai years ago bemoaning local stereotypes. Yes, she said, you needed to buy abroad to get a decent hi-fi.Such “old school” behavior was something a retired teacher in Ratchaburi was accused of this week. Though I prefer the words assault or violence.This relic of an ajarn was exonerated after beating a little girl blue with a stick because she couldn’t keep up with her classmates’ reading.Rather than excuse his behavior as the education department did can we not bring back a bit of “old school” punishment along the lines of tying him to a post and having the locals throw rotten Thai fruit at him for a few weeks.There is plenty in my local supermarket – which I won’t name – to choose from.Meanwhile, motorcycles and their riders – so often a divisive topic on Thaivisa – were also well to the fore in the Thai news this week.An interesting story from Bangkok suggests that the BMA are actually considering a scheme where members of the public can “dob-in” bikers traversing the sidewalks of the capital to get a share of the fines.It made me wonder if foreigners reporting the bikes would need a work permit.The potential snitchers would have had a field day in Krung Thep this week as the flooding was so severe that the footpaths were about all that was left as pedestrians headed for the safety of the road with its stationary traffic.The governor held his hand up to say he was doing his best while the rest of us just drowned.The fact of the matter is the train projects that have already made traffic intolerable in Bangkok now combined with the rains and inadequate drains will mean sheer hell for months if not years to come.I think I shall just observe it all with my Schadenfreude brand binoculars from the 12th floor of my condo and look forward to venturing out again in about 2030.Out in a boat, that is.Better news for bikers of a certain ilk was the announcement that Harley Davidson plan to start making their lawnmower sounding wares in Thailand.They could well have a word with their R and D department to come up with some new models as “Low Rider” and “Fatboy” are unlikely to be of much use in a steadily sinking and clogged Bangkok.It reminded me of my favorite Thai song, the immortal “Made in Thailand” by Carabao that was top of the charts when I first came here in the 1980s.I learnt its lyrics long before I could sing the National Anthem yet I always felt that both songs gave an equal sized window into the thinking of the locals.Finally, my favorite story of the week was the one about the driver who went online to appeal for help after a monk mistakenly used a permanent marker to scribble some auspicious omens on the hood of his pristine new, white Toyota Vios.He’d tried everything to erase the markings including thinner. While Thais online naturally suggested whitening cream.Rooster had a good old surreptitious farang giggle thinking “som nam naa” (serves you right), but you could hardly blame the guy.In the matter of Thai roads we probably all need some Divine help. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-28
  2. The week that was in Thailand news: Why Thais couldn’t possibly lose Face! Rooster grew up in a school where us naughty boys used to have fun hurling insults at the “abnormal geeks” going home after attending the school’s fledgling Computer Club.How dare they be so square, we thought.Of course, many club members went on to untold riches in IT while the rest of us who pooh-poohed the idea of computers remain abjectly poor to this day, still trying to understand the vagaries of the modern era we so foolishly ignored.I was similarly quite late in getting a Facebook account – around 2010 – and then after a scant perusal of its usages promptly ignored it for about five more years.Now I seem to be on it several hours a day and am seriously worried that it has replaced my more traditional ‘hand held’ addictions of the past!Certainly in a week of news dominated by the Thai government’s threat to somehow withdraw access to Facebook– that the locals refer to simply as “Face” – it got me thinking about all the time many of us seem to spend on Mr Zuckerberg’s contribution to humanity.What seemed to me at first as a silly place to post banal pictures of your dinner and humdrum activities has now become a giant that is nothing short of a kind of parallel universe for many people.We get our news and information on Facebook – in fact about 60% of stories on a site like Thaivisa originate there through videos or posts of one kind or another.And when you consider the huge amount of Thai people doing business to save money through Facebook rather than on conventional websites it is hardly surprising that the government backed down from any action.If indeed they meant to in the first place. The Thais couldn’t possibly be made to lose Face!No, it was just saber rattling from the men in uniform as they accepted that Facebook – and its relationship with the Thai people - is essentially far more powerful than them!So now they are just content with getting some mischievous links taken down that, inevitably, refer to persons of higher rank than the military.Happy that Face was now under little threat, the world of Thai news settled back into its usual haphazard and amusing stride though the darker forces were once more to the fore.It emerged at a school that the discredited habit of “hazing” had now moved from universities into the kindergarten – not actually such a vast jump when, like Rooster, you have met so many graduates.A six year old boy was dropped on his head by older pupils as part of a “welcome back to class” ritual.The poor boy had a bump on the head “the size of a kaffir lime” referring to the essential ingredient of many a Thai dish and, incidentally, one that men often urinate on in their occasionally aromatic urinals.Thai news was desperate to get any topical stories about the start of the new term even dragging up the old hot chestnut from a UNESCO report of years ago that Thai children spend longer than any others in the world in class.The “quality vs quantity” question that Thai Rath posed was about the most rhetorical question of the year especially for the ever present critics of what many see as an oxymoron, Thai education.It has become almost de rigueur to knock it but I was glad – on Facebook – to find myself posting a favorable comment about my daughter’s excellent Thai school with its dedicated Thai and expatriate staff.As a teacher and administrator with decades of experience I know what to look for and besides, a child who bounds home smiling saying she loves her school kind of seals the deal.The start of term was less pleasant for a teacher in Chainat on her way home from her P6 class. Lying in wait under some coconut trees was a man from her past who shot her twice in the back of the head.Thankfully she survived and equally thankfully when the man who shot her turned the gun on himself, he didn’t.Shocking footage – well I guess it would be shocking if we were not getting so inured to it - emerged from Chantaburi where another jilted lover marched into a leasing office and emptied his magazine into a young woman at her desk.He was soon in the jailhouse for the jealous after quick police work solved the crime.These incidents had many forum posters commenting on “crime wave Thailand” as though it was some new epidemic.It’s nothing new – it’s just more, how can I put it, in your Face.Rooster learnt the written Thai language in the early 1980s by poring over the grisly crime-ridden pages of magazines such as “191” and “Atchayagam”. The stories of a smiling, gun happy people mowing down their bosses, lovers and neighbors didn’t put me off Thailand but I thought it best to take care.It’s now my home but the self-preservation instinct remains. And the awareness that very little has changed regarding crime in Thailand except that with an increasingly pervasive news media one would have to be a hermit in a jungle temple retreat to avoid it.Either that or just not a Facebook user.Later in the week the altogether more mundane aspects of life in Thailand took center stage. One of these was the subject of television and the inexorable return to True being a true monopoly once again.Following the collapse of CTH last year we saw the arrests of two Brits and a Thai who were responsible for bringing 365 Sport and Thai Expat TV to our screens. Seemingly behind the arrests was the all-powerful reach of the English Premier League.Being an addict of the greatest football show on earth I am afraid to say I am now back in the fold of being a lackey to True Corporation and what passes for what they amusingly refer to as “customer service”.Also TV related, top Thai presented Woody found himself in hot water for promoting something called Korea King. Convinced here was a tale of some long lost Monarch of Seoul I clicked on the story to discover it was about frying pans.Apparently people believed they were getting a great deal when Woody said the pans were reduced from 18,000 baht to a snip at just 15,000!The Consumer Protection Board – surely one of the most underworked agencies in Thailand as few would believe they could really exist let alone do anything – swung into action to say Korea Kings were worth just 500 baht.Woody won’t mind the fire after the frying pan though it did make me think about the Thai proverb equivalent – running away from a tiger into a crocodile – and surmising whether the aforesaid CPB would actually have any teeth.This week’s Midweek Rant on the forum spoke about the conflict of compromise and accountability and though the sentiments were valid little is likely to change in Thailand. I was left looking abroad at the UK following the death of moors’ murderer Ian Brady.Was justice really served in that case with 500 million baht being spent on his 51 year stint inside various mental institutions and still no resolution forthcoming for the anguished parents of the boy victim still buried somewhere on the moors.It really sets the lie to people on Thaivisa who post continually about the injustice of Thailand while pointing at the paragons of justice and fair play that, in their eyes at least, exist back from whence they came.One area where Thailand has made great strides is in the care for people with HIV. It was interesting to read that new cases of the virus had now fallen to less than 10,000 a year with hopes that this still larger than acceptable figure could be reduced to 1,000 by 2030.Minister Mechai Viravaidya – whose first name became synonymous with condoms in the 1980s – began the good work and many Thai agencies have worked hard to reduce stigma and promote the anti-retroviral drugs that now give many of those with HIV close to normal lifespans.It is a far cry from the doom and gloom of little more than 20 years again but we could have done without the absurd picture that went with the story of some drug addict covered in tattoos writhing desperately on the floor.With likely between one and two per cent of the adult Thai population having the virus the real person with HIV may well be the man standing next to you in the bus queue or the female clerk in the bank.Such people leading ordinary but extraordinary lives could do without news organizations reinforcing old stereotypical prejudices.So to this week’s Rooster awards. The “They Should Really Have Seem That Coming” award goes to the fortune teller run over while sleeping on the sidewalk in Phrae.Sad indeed and it also led to my favorite forum comment from “phantomfiddler” who said: “My mum was a medium, it even said so at the back of her winter woolies”.Also causing much comment and some merriment was the story of the cop in a red plate Mercedes-Benz who drove off without paying his 920 baht petrol bill at a PTT station. He wins my award for being “Once a Cop, Always a Cop”.Finally, permit me to return to the reason why many Thais and expatriates in the kingdom will die a little death this evening, albeit temporarily - the final day of the English Premier League season is tonight.It is with some foreboding as I contemplate having to talk to the missus at weekends in the close season, however, it was a story on the BBC that caught my eye.It spoke of the possibility of retrospective “diving bans” being introduced for footballers who “simulate” fouls to con referees.It took a while to register as after decades in Bangkok thinking about the lack of action on the road carnage, my Thai-oriented brain failed to click into first gear.Were they really considering driving bans in the Premier League? Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-21
  3. The week that was in Thailand news: Taking coconuts to sell in the orchard Near a year after the tourism minister’s pronouncement that the days of sex in Thailand were coming to an end, we are now witnessing the rise of a new phenomenon.In fact it could be the biggest emerging trend in sex tourism to hit these shores since the GI’s started collaborating with the Thais and Mr Cowboy set up knocking shop in competition with Mr Patpong.It’s what the antipodeans refer to as BYO – bring your own no less. But while the Australians I believe were referring to a bottle of plonk in their restaurants the new tourists, not content with just “beg –packing”, are now bringing their own partners.And putting on the show for the Thai public who are falling all over themselves getting their phones out to record the latest PC incident – public copulation that is.First on a tuk-tuk in Phuket then in Samui – I expected to see some more at it like rabbits in the Bangkok streets when out for a trip to Tops with my four year old.I was certainly fore-arming myself with a birds and the bees spiel just in case and wondering if the new craze was going to put the Bonkers well and truly back in Bankers. If it ever left….It all reminded me of the Thai proverb of taking coconuts to sell in the orchard.And it took me back to the 1980s when tourism was really taking hold and westerners were testing the nation’s tolerant waters unveiling topless treats and peaches on the beaches.Those were the days – the indignation from the Thais you were with! Such shock horror that they would stand there for half an hour and shamelessly gawk and tattle with their neighbor. Oh, where were mobile phones then – if only we could have shared it in real time with our pals on Facebook live.Then our outrage would have been complete!On Tuesday in an eventful week of news on Thaivisa I really thought tourism minister Khun Kobkarn had got a bit frisky in straddling the sex bandwagon.Next to the latest public sex story – about a Spaniard - a headline screamed: “TAT eyes attracting Chinese couples”.Always with an eye out to make a tourist buck so long as it isn’t a zero-buck, was she really suggesting that the Chinese come here for a bit of “lumpty-tumpty” or a spot of “logering”?Alas not. The elegant minister has not done a U-turn on her sex trade tirade but was promoting Thailand as a great place for couplings of an altogether more sober kind – weddings.It was not mentioned if the authorities, after taking their money, would then allow the nuptials to be consummated…..even if it was done in the privacy of the five star hotels where I am sure these newlyweds will be encouraged to bed down.Anyway…enough of sex. It is making me “Google” eyed – not good when I fear we might have another interruption in internet service. This week 3BB were quick to say the outage of said ‘Googern’ and YouTube was none of their doing, even the juntas, but was all the fault of those silly foreigners doing something very few Thais have even heard of……namely maintenance.“Karn raksaa saphaap” exists in Thai language, I just think it might have been left out of the school textbooks. Perhaps it happened when they were putting in all those pronouns to remind the population of their exact place in society in case they ever forgot.Setting a better example in the last seven days was the new head of Chula students, freshman Netiwit. Though his name is vaguely reminiscent of the idiots one sees online there is nothing foolish about this young man unless standing up to the junta represents that.Here we have a rare beast – a man elected over the heads of his peers who is prepared to be both strong and sensible in his views. “The old and the young people must talk and stop dominating” he said while two men on a motorbike came looking for him.This scared him as well it might.One “I was in ‘nam” forum poster suggested he should “grow a pair” clearly not appreciating that men on bikes often bring death with them. Netiwit was the man responsible for bringing in the Hong Kong political activist earlier in the year to speak at Chula, a man who was turned away at Swampy.Netiwit’s gonads were of a sufficient diameter to subsequently have the activist deliver his speech via Skype.Also sporting some excellent two veg to go with his meat was a Pit bull dog in Nonthaburi that turned his dog loving owner into a pussy after attacking both him and his son while seemingly defending his daughter who had clearly raised the mutt.The father said no more dogs for him while the posters of Thaivisa, who fell into two camps, either advocated following the lead of some Asian cultures in putting all dogs on the dinner table or advised that all you have to do with dogs is tickle them under the chin and they will roll over and cuddle you.Rooster – who finds gerbils a bit scary – is not the canine crew’s number one supporter.Top Thai soap of the week was an absolute doozy – the story of the bank staff who came to repossess a car two years behind on the payments only to be threatened with a gun brandishing policeman who drove off in the unpaid for Honda Jazz.The wife went on national TV with the most ludicrous – ‘jing jing ler kha’ – sob story about how it had all by some circuitous route somehow led to her mother’s untimely demise.One or two hardened forum posters were even taken in but Rooster felt like smashing the TV especially when she had the gall to claim the bank employees actually threatened her.They counter sued but what was it that the cops in Kannayao said that made everyone not “wai” but shake hands?OK, so the gun toting rozzer could still get his knuckles wrapped and do some inactive posting for a while but I really think the bank should have insisted on going after both the wife and her husband.Compromise is one thing but letting people get away virtually scot-free with threats against your employees is quite another matter. It was an own goal for Krung Thai – I shall think twice before opening an account with you because if that is how you treat your employees I am not sure I care to be a customer.Also vying for soap opera status was the story of the marital and child bearing shenanigans of David the US missionary who has left a trail of wives and offspring in his wake across Asia.Not surprisingly went off to work in Vietnam for a spell leaving his third wife and three children subject to that greatest constabulary oxymoron – a Pattaya police hunt.Thaivisa posters had the proverbial field day wringing every drop of innuendo from “missionary position” while Rooster was left to pontificate on those who would come to Thailand to proselytize.Those clean cut “Mormon” types who are seen from time to time in Bangkok always give me a wide berth. Perhaps they are trained in spotting militant atheists who are surreptitiously rolling a ball of phlegm in their mouths in case it should be needed.I once had the Jehovah’s Witnesses move in next door but fair play to them; without any bidding from me they insulated the adjoining townhouse so that only their god could hear their Sunday wailings and not the neighbors.Still, Friday put a lie to the oxymoron as the Pattaya cops found the three “luuk khreung” in Hua Hin and banged up the missionary’s latest ‘mama mia’.Decidedly inconsiderate of others, though perhaps not wholly in the wrong, were the perpetrators of two of Thailand grisliest murders this week.The first involved the pensioner father who took an axe to his good-for-nothing drunkard of a son who had threatened his gran with a carving knife for not giving him booze money. It did appear that the “thorapee” son was left to bleed to death at the foot of the stairs, just in case.Thorapee – always used in such Thai stories - refers to an ungrateful buffalo of Ramakien (Ramayana) legend who turned on his father – a folk story so engrained in the Thai psyche that dad may well be released without ever going to court.The other case seemed less cut and dried, if you’ll pardon the pun. In Phitsanulok a man came home to find his wife about to be raped by a man she had met on Facebook who she had invited round to look at her husband’s cocks, fighting cocks that is, while he just so happened to be out.She had asked him round not once but three times.Cock and bull came to mind but the husband – who shot the man dead in his living room without apparently asking any questions – is another who may escape jail due to what the Thais might see as fair play not foul.Just two Rooster awards this week and both are related closely to the bombing outrage at Big C in Pattani. The “Are you from the Planet Junta?” award goes to the dear general for asking that the press and public not share the blast footage “for fear they would affect people’s feelings”.What a kind soul he is to think about others – not least the fifty victims - and not even mention the economy and tourism at this sad timeThe explosion also led to my favorite forum comment of the week from “Dobredin Ghusputin” who suggested on Big Too’s behalf that “henceforth everybody please refer to bombings only as ‘sudden and loud dissipations of energy’”.Excellent! That should also help with people’s delicate feelings when it comes to ‘the problems in the South’.Finally, my favorite story of the week had to be the mistake in the online poster advertising the movie “Dunkirk”.The translator managed to turn one of my country’s “finest hours” into just another disaster when “700 civilian boats came for them” somehow came out as “only 700 of the 400,000 stranded soldiers returned”.Many Thais spotted the error though I guess those who didn’t must have been excited by the prospect of seeing a movie with all that gore and violence as 399,300 “Tommies” were cut down in a hail of Luftwaffe bullets.This could lead to a whole new rewriting of history.So long as no one suggests Geoff Hurst’s World Cup final goal didn’t really cross the line.That would be too much to bear.Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-14
  4. The week that was in Thailand news: When I think of Thailand I think of……home A survey carried out last month and announced this week said that Thais believe when foreigners think of Thailand they think of sex.It got me thinking – did I ever think like that or have my rose tinted specs blurred all distinctions and left me not only old but somewhat blinded and senile.I think the truth is that while in my earliest days in the kingdom I never really thought the day started till about 11pm and bedtime before four AM was vaguely square, there have been many intervening years in which Thailand has constantly reinvented itself in my mind.There is however one constant that I have felt ever since I was a wide eyed 20 year old crossing a bridge on foot at Sungei Kolok and entering Thailand for the first time – it has always felt like home.I count myself lucky in this regard as so many on a forum like Thaivisa seem, at the very least, to be miserable in Thailand and often quit its shores altogether for some place where the grass appears greener.Good luck with that – I once thought along those lines after a romantic disappointment until I woke up one morning in Copacabana and thought what an idiot I had been. I dashed into a travel agent and bought a ticket straight back to Bangkok before I ran out of money.The day I got back – two days before Wimbledon beat Liverpool in the FA Cup Final in 1988 – I met the woman who became my wife. On the same night I also met the woman who became my girlfriend…but that is another story.Still, it was no surprise to me to see that Thais think foreigners associate the country with sex. If the truth be told, if Thais were able to shrug off the stock-responses that their culture often demands of them they would admit to the self-same thoughts.During the hoo-haa and banning of the Longman’s dictionary many years ago after they suggested Thailand was synonymous with prostitution, there was an outpouring of that national sport that the kingdom is so famous for – hypocrisy.Though I stop short of what some forum posters thought, namely that the Thais were somehow blaming foreigners for thinking below the belt when it came to Thailand. For they know in their heart of hearts that the country has attained certain images for good reason. Blaming is churlish.This week it was like stepping back in time with the goings on in Mae Hong Son with the underage sex scandal involving officials and police. The only difference with a bygone era like the 1980s is that it would have been one of many cases and it would very likely never have reached the ears of anyone outside a stone’s throw from where it happened.With the power of the internet the news now spreads fast – but one thing never changes; the real miscreants are always likely to get off scot-free while some low level scapegoats are hung out to dry.Ah…Thailand! Home sweet home!Talking of miscreants it was quite a week for Boss-hunters. Lo and behold the immigration department had to admit that said Red Bull-shitter had made an appearance in his old stomping ground.His visit caused outrage but I couldn’t see why. It was before he was charged. Boss and his advisors are very unlikely to be as stupid as some people envious of wealth are wont to believe about the rich. He knew exactly what he was doing and will continue to do so.Revoking his passport is futile – he will have several.The chance of him facing criminal justice is as close to zero as can be – those who are aghast at that prospect should draw a grain of comfort from the fact that he will not be able to lord it in Thailand again for at least ten years.He will just have to serve his time from Silverstone to Sepang with Monaco in between.Some forum posters suggested a boycott of Red Bull which reminded me of the Thai proverb of riding an elephant to catch a grasshopper.I have always loved “tonic drinks” and often turn to them at night instead of more beer especially now that plod is getting serious – for a few weeks of the year at least – about drink driving. I always favored Lipo in the early days as they had worthwhile prizes in the tops like motor bikes or even five baht off your next bottle.I always seemed to win the latter – just call me lucky.In more recent years I switched to M-150 because I thought I was getting more for my money than simply M-100 though I don’t really care which little brown bottle I have.However, I might just avoid “Krathing Daeng” in future.Is it just me or does it leave a nasty taste in the back of one’s throat?The past seven days was quite a week for incidents on the airlines.First off there was some severe turbulence on an Aeroflot flight to Bangkok that for the first time in living memory was not caused by an overindulgence of borscht and cheap vodka.An air pocket was to blame though I would have thought with the comments of politicians this week on subjects as far ranging as submarines to beer yoga, hot air rising to the heavens may have been the real culprit.At least 27 people were reported injured reminding us all that buckling up when not moving around the cabin may be a good idea as the captain always tells us.It took me back to 1982 when I flew Aeroflot from Bangkok to the World Cup in Spain. It was one of the cheapest options so I went for it despite being a nervous flyer.If I had known then what I know now I probably would have shouted “I’ve got a bomb” as the plane taxied as a Swedish man did at Swampy on a Bangkok Airways flight this week.Just as an excuse to get off you understand.If you have a spare moment look on Wikipedia for the number of accidents involving Aeroflot during the Soviet era. Thank goodness their record in the last twenty five years is so much better – frankly, it could not have been worse if they had asked the passengers to fly the aircraft themselves.The Swedish idiot – predictably called a turnip by some posters – is in custody as the airline demand money and his fellow passengers probably demanded blood.The aircraft stories led to my favorite forum comment of the week from “edwinchester” who batted ironically in defence of Aeroflot when he said: “Yes, it’s a known fact that clear air turbulence only affects Russian aircraft”.Closer to earth, though still a tad mysterious, was the news that the company running the Pattaya to Hua Hin ferry are to introduce two more (s)wanky boats. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that the original ferry is only 25% full on most crossings.Whoever owns the line seems to be shrouded in mystery and what with the “royal” moniker and the fact that a navy escort accompanied the trials, the service is beginning to replace the Koh Tao murder case for forum intrigue!Certainly I know from my Thaivisa pals that it has proved impossible to get a freebie to report on the service. Now why wouldn’t a company be glad of free publicity?I will leave the answer to that hanging rhetorically aloft.The aforementioned beer yoga saga caused Thai public health authorities to assert that exercising with a bottle of ale in your hand could be illegal if not dangerous for one’s health. I couldn’t quite understand why, thinking that someone somewhere was pulling Rooster’s leg rather like pulling pints.Anyway, the beer yoga craze apparently began in Berlin and seems a whole lot safer than eating Som Tam with fermented fish, named by another public health white coat as a major cause of “Big C” – cancer, not the store.I was left counting my blessings, for while I would put Som Tam up there with the very best foods in the world, if there is even a hint of “pla ra” flavor leftover in the mortar from the previous customer I will gag and throw it away.My soi angel “Pa Ruay” (otherwise known as Aunty Rich) would never dream of serving me that, even though she thinks in most regards I am more Thai than the Thais because I know how to count to ten in the vernacular and say “rorn maak maak”.And so to this week’s Rooster awards and the first is most definitely food related – street food to be precise.The “This Gentleman’s Not for Turning” award sponsored by the Margaret Thatcher Memorial Foundation goes to Bangkok governor Asawin for banning street food in the capital then going to Chinatown to celebrate it and say what a boon it is for tourism.Subsequently, to add insult to injury, there he was grimacing for the cameras next to what most western tourists would consider street food public enemy number one – a Shark’s Fin soup stall.Talk about own goals – then I remembered what Asawin meant by tourism.Chinese tourists. Silly me.This week’s “Darwin Award” for services to the gene pool goes to the Korat man who thought he would be quids-in looking for lottery numbers in a huge bees’ nest he had allowed to develop in his rafters. Eighty stings later and he was fighting for his life in hospital.Though maybe he is considerably smarter than the mother in Sattahip who said that her daughter had her life saved by a giant ogre that appeared on an estate road causing her to flip the family pick-up.Apparently had she made it to the main road destiny meant she would have carked it. As it was she only parked it – albeit on the roof.I have always appreciated this Thai logic – it rather reminds me of Voltaire.Finally I must admit to an extraordinary emotion this week – that of feeling sorry for a minivan driver.Yes, I know I must have lost my Thai marbles but I couldn’t help it when I read the story and saw the video about the driver and his conductress wife being fined 5,000 baht each after fighting with a monk.Maybe we were not apprised of the whole story but when you saw the monk start it off by punching the woman in the face one could hardly blame the driver for his reaction.Many Thais commenting online seemed to only have eyes for the bad behavior of the driver, a view clearly supported by the transport department.Thailand may well be my home but I’m unashamedly no Buddhist.And I still believe in romantic British notions of fair play.Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-06
  5. The week that was in Thailand news: When it’s hard to click on the news. Rooster is no chicken when it comes to the realities of the darker side of human existence but there are times when it takes a monumental effort to even click on a news story.A case in point this week was the Facebook live murder of an eleven month baby girl by, for the want of a better word, her father, who afterwards committed suicide.The very idea of watching such a thing on social media is abhorrent – even though thousands did before it was taken down. Though I felt I had to inform myself of the details of the story as a chronicler of the news it was not something I cared to do.Having an eleven month old daughter myself sleeping in the next room only served to intensify the feelings of revulsion and abject sadness.In the subsequent days it seemed to me that people were shifting their anger to Facebook, a kind of ghoulish version of shooting the messenger. It struck me that we may have to get used to what social media has done to us.Facebook has become like an omnipotent fourth dimension. It’s all very well for some to say they won’t use it but that’s a bit like ignoring one’s nasty neighbors and expected them to move away as a result.Facebook – and its like and likes – is here to stay and such is its tentacle like reach into so many aspects of our lives that I have a feeling of great foreboding as bad as any hellish musings on the unpleasant vagaries of human nature that many of its stories inspire.Like it or lump it references to Facebook make up at least a part of somewhere between a quarter to a half of all stories on a forum like Thaivisa. I am afraid it is here to stay, a kind of byproduct of what even Orwellian imaginations failed to predict.Not only is Big Brother watching us but seething humanity is falling over itself to return the compliment and watch him.The other truly horrible story of the week was not played out online but in a Suphanburi field where a Brazilian visitor was raped by a taxi driver after having been picked up at Don Muang airport. It reminded me of the rape murder of a Japanese couple in the 1980s.Then it was the issue of “black cabs”; now the airport authority was blaming the victim for not using the rank – so little seems to have changed in the last three decades especially when it comes down to accountability. There really is almost none.Sickeningly the cab firm were fined a paltry 3,000 for offences that effectively gave a double rapist more opportunity to attack female victims in taxis. Surely it is time for a whole swathe of insufficient fines and penalties to be reviewed.Some penalties need to come down but many, so many need to go up to stop this mockery of victims that is becoming nothing short of a national disgrace.Fortunately, the news this week once again threw up a wealth of quirky amusement and if only for my own sanity it may be best to concentrate on that before Rooster acts out his own Facebook live moment of fame.Forum hackles went up big time when it was announced that a Brit had gone to GoFundMe to pay to sit on Thailand’s beaches for half a year while the “emerging trend” of “Beg-packers”, those who come without money and beg or barter their way around the kingdom, was featured on VoiceTV.Many Thais and forum posters slammed the young people taking busking to a whole new level but Rooster, who pulled a few money saving stunts in his time, really sees little harm in it. If you are gullible enough to give, then fair play to them.Rooster has paid his taxes in Thailand but I’m thankfully not too old to remember the days when doing things on the cheap probably meant more fun and richer experiences than even money can buy.Thais have a mental block when it comes to travelling on the cheap like this though many would think nothing of borrowing on the never-never from all and sundry much closer to home.Still, I imagine the thought of such travel must have given tourism minister Khun Kobkarn a few palpitations with maybe an internal memo to do something to nip it in the bud before it blooms into another reason for a crackdown!Following last week’s shenanigans in the on-again off-again street food ban it was also amusing to see that the Michelin Guide is now gearing up to unleash its stars on the nation’s gourmet restaurants.According to the story two “street-hawker” establishments in Singapore have already been named in the guide so who knows what might happen.Certainly the Michelin men – do they wear puffy white ringed trousers I wonder – would do well to have dinner in some of the Bangkok restaurants that have cars double and triple parked outside. That’s always a good sign that something tasty is going on inside.Though I will be promoting “Pa Ruay” in my soi – Aunty Rich as I affectionately call her does the best four chili Som Tam Thai this side of the Chao Phraya.Returning to the misery for a moment – and more of that reluctance to click on Facebook videos – we had the sickening beating handed down to a security guard in Bang Saen who was left helpless following the crippling effects of polio.His own “crime” was to forbid some yobs the right to urinate outside where he was guarding. The number of attackers always reminds me of the starting price of leading contenders in the Grand National – usually at least 10-1.It was all grist to the mill for the “keyboard warriors” of Thaivisa forum criticized for displaying a pack mentality in the “Midweek Rant” when ganging up on the downtrodden, a post that was roundly condemned rather proving the point of the writer.Hopefully, the men in the seaside video will do some serious jail time, assuming as always that they are not genetically linked in a direct hereditary capacity to the rancid rozzers.One such relationship was all too obvious as a karaoke bar owner in Chonburi complained that she had been shut down by police for seven days for the trumped-up charge of “offering poor service”.You had to admire the lady’s pluck for using such a euphemism that left one or two forum posters – newbies to Thailand I guess – rather nonplussed.Let me spell it out for you – a policeman’s son went to the karaoke, didn’t get his end away with one of the girls, lost face in front of his mates and thought he shouldn’t have to pay a single baht for his drinks because pater pulls punches at plod HQ.The only saving grace for this story is that it ended in mere corruption rather than yet another needless shooting.If some found that story confusing, then they would have been similarly flummoxed by the top drugs cop on an inspection visit to a police station who “came over all queer” after passing the cells and insisted on conducting a water pouring merit making ceremony for the souls of those who had died in custody.The chief asked the reporters not to report this aspect of his visit because he might be seen as gullible then couldn’t resist going into every possible detail about all his creepy experiences at stations around the country.A deputy at the station in question stepped in to back up his boss’s claims as if that were needed – when telling a ghost story in Thailand it is never necessary to convince the listener of the veracity of your claims, that is a given.Far more temporal than having anything to do with the spiritual was the story that gave us the picture of the week – a saffron robed member of the monkhood who had taken out his mate’s sports car – an orange one no less – for a spin and drove it straight from his temple into a roadside tree.The look on the young man’s hapless face was priceless while the translator couldn’t resist a little mockery about the apparent lack of adequate amulets in the car!Which brings me rather nicely to this week’s Rooster Awards and I would like to present the prize for comment of the week to “onemorechang” who, when referring to the story about the Cheap Charlie “beg-packers” railed: “Kick them out now! They give the honest, sex tourists a bad name”.While the “Right on Cue” award – appropriate for a week when the World Snooker Championships have provided such a welcome distraction for many of us Brits – goes to the Thaivisa editors who attempted to balance the horror of the taxi driver rape on the Brazilian model with the standard “cabbie returns handbag with 70K inside to Indian tourist” story.Unlike some posters, I believe these feel good stories – I’d just be happier if I never read another story about a taxi driver again in my life – good or bad.While the picture prize already went to the monk in the motor I would also like to mention in dispatches the border guards down at Sadao for having the guts to appear with a serious haul of despicable contraband – no, not a ton of heroin this week – but ten cardboard boxes full of chocolaty and highly illicit…..Milo.I wonder what Nestle thought of the free advertising….Finally, some Thai wag in Chiang Mai came up with a lovely phony app called “UBAR” that purported to be useful in calling one of the city’s red “song thaews”.Having just got over the shock of a witty Thai effectively employing irony, I then saw an equally bewildering story on the BBC that suggested UBER were going to begin trials of a “flying car” service possibly as early as 2023.What an incredible boon that would be for Thailand.We might finally see an end to the carnage on the roads…..Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-30
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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