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Found 55 results

  1. The week that was in Thailand news: Why Thais don’t need to find their inner child. Arriving in Thailand it very quickly dawned on me that Thais are like children. Though they appear to grow old like the rest of us they never quite manage to grow up. But the realization also came to me before I was wet behind the ears from my first monsoon that the fact that they remain in a permanent state of infancy is one of the factors that makes them so pleasant to be around. The humor seemed puerile. The cajolery of the streets, especially in the mild farang baiting that most white honkies are subject to, barely seemed out of slapstick dungarees. The knowledge of the world – and their understanding of it – seemed about the level of Year 3 at primary school. On a good day. While I consider myself as more of an outsider looking in than someone who has embraced Thai culture to the point of abandoning my upbringing, I have nevertheless retained the humor of a seven year old. Like most Britons I will always find the passing of wind uproariously amusing. The missus seems a little serious when interacting with our very young children – I often tell her she needs to lighten up as, after all, the rain won’t kill them, Paracetamol cannot cure the common cold and who cares if we are a bit rude behind people’s backs. For such pronouncements and similar behavior I am castigated as a 56 year old man who knows nothing, has little responsibility and has never grown up. As a Thai resident I take it as a compliment. This week in the Thai news we were treated to ample evidence that the Thais may have grown out of Pampers but have replaced incontinence with inconsistency. They may be sixty or even seventy something but their hearts – and dare I say minds – have remained in the limbo of the little people. They carry on with the oblivion of the young aforethought, expecting grown-ups of other nationalities to take them at face value and their own “phee-nongs” to obey, follow suit and understand their actions without question. Such are the pleasures of living in Thailand though I could just as easily appreciate that there are many who never come to terms with it and remain bewildered and befuddled by the sheer childishness of it all. Once again Pattaya or QUOTES (The Queen of the Eastern Seaboard) led the way in the puerility stakes. A TAT rep asked us to believe that the resort was wallowing in a glut of tourists as thick as the sludge on a bad day at Bali Hai. Her maths was off but hey, children – remember in Thailand that the teacher is always right! How much more refreshing it was to hear the man from the hoteliers association give us a frank assessment and treat us like adults – I had to do a double take that he was Thai especially as he appeared without a tie and the metaphorical white coat that the locals believe lends credibility to those speaking in public. Our lady at the TAT had clearly been taking lessons from Khun Kobkarn at tourism and sports. The minister, incidentally, was chairman of the board of governors at a well-known school that I helped to set up and always gave the impression she was addressing Year 1, who let’s face it will believe anything. Her related underling had come up with the idea to promote the resort to “hi-end” women to keep the tourist dollars flooding in. The translator used the words “cunning plan” for the childlike notion that women standing up playing golf could save the day rather than the more familiar Pattaya ones lying down offering the 19th Hole after a round of drinks in Walking Street. That cunning plan line was lifted straight out of TV’s Blackadder – a comic figure as childish as could be led by his hapless underling Baldrick who always put the J in juvenile. Meanwhile General P, our father that art in khaki hallowed be his name, must have been upset that the prosecutors had decided to drop the case against Yingluck for causing the flooding of 2011. Ok, it was dereliction of duty in the aftermath that she got away with, but methinks they have got more than enough on her and her relatives without resorting to charges of causing natural disasters. But the same could be said of presenter Sorrayuth who had barely got a taste for rice gruel before he was bailed while appealing his 136 million baht embezzling conviction. So what did he tell the massed reporters as emerged from clink to smell the relative sweet air of a Bangkok morning? “I miss my mum”. Another Thai who has no need to search for his inner child. Also behaving like children – but who hopefully will face a spot of detention if not deportation - were the bikers in Surin who went to intimidate a UK ex-policeman who runs the appropriately named “Monkey House”. The forum foamed at the mouth with one camp calling the bikers pussies and posting pictures of the Village People in drag, and the other, perhaps looking up from their Yakusa comics, saying they were hard nuts who would make Kim Jong Un nervous. Former fuzz Lee told me he was more concerned for his wife than his 18 stitches. We’ll see just fines in the coming days but the uniforms in town will smile a lot and be firm beneath their ingratiating veneer that should the bikers step out of line again they will find out who are the real mahouts in elephant town. Once again it was a bad week for going on balconies. A Russian in Pattaya was the latest tourist to say “do svidaniya” to her sixth floor apartment and hello to the car park while a former top cop tumbled from a parking lot to his fate ten floors below in Bangkok. Rooster is the antithesis of conspiracy theorist tiring of posters who see mystery in people falling off buildings. Personally, I see drunkenness, illness, stupidity and low railings being the lethal cocktail that ends so many lives. As an inspector of accommodation on school trips I was aghast at some of the low balcony walls at hotels. These were just teens not fully grown adults, and were very unlikely to be able to get a drink with beady eyed Rooster on the prowl. Yet I saw danger everywhere. Such situations reminded me of the guy who fitted a ceiling fan at a condo I was staying in. I’m only about 5 foot ten but he had installed the blades to cut through the air – and our necks – at about five foot six. He seemed genuinely quite put out when told to raise it another foot by those finicky too tall farang! Continuing the theme of children and their games was the Buddhist organization that took umbrage at a Taiwanese company’s video game that featured “Jesus vs Buddha”. Being a devout atheist I usually keep religion out of the column but, as some posters pointed out, with one protagonist who must show the other cheek and the other believing in non-violence the denouement should have been as wussy as those Surin bikers. Still at least the titter-worthy tagline for the game gave us the best comment of the week: “The son of God is back…..and he’s cross”. Ending the life of a child – a baby in actual fact – was the driver in Suphanburi who police said they will charge with murder after he went the wrong way round a bend straight into another pick-up. The sickening road carnage is all the more disgusting when completely innocent people come up against these nutters. For it was clear that after an argument with relatives the miscreant got drunk and continued behind the wheel in a Thai tizzy. Let’s hope they can make the homicide charge stick not just for the memory of the six month old life he took, but all our sakes. And so to this week’s Rooster awards continuing my juvenile theme. Firstly the “Kindergarten Awareness Prize” goes to the UK’s Alex, 21, a round the bend, sorry, world cyclist who said that she’ll survive the Thai roads as she is keeping to the edge. No one will be surprised if next week we are reading how another barmy bicyclist failed to beat the odds and get home after trying to traverse the tricky “thanons” of Thailand. The “Best Project in Year One” award goes to all those government spokesmen and excise folks for their excellent work in making everything clear on the cigarette and booze tax hikes that came in at the weekend. Talk about the blind leading the blind drunk. While my “Year Three Compromise in Public Office” award goes to those at Pattaya City Hall who first told the complaining proletariat to shut up and thereafter kowtowed in the mother of all U-turns that saw salvation for the Dolphin Roundabout, latest wonder of the modern world. Quite some flip for flipper. Finally the “Back to School” award clearly must go to the more than 300 Bangkok cops – or 10 % of entrants - who failed their law exams on what constitutes a basic traffic violation in the capital. Having lived and driven a motorcycle in Krung Thep for the best part of four decades there was clearly some skullduggery in the tests. Surely 90% would fail. Rooster. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-09-17
  2. The week that was in Thailand news: Something smells fishy in Siam! No one in their right mind would take Thailand at face value. The Thais certainly don’t. Anyone who believes the “mai pen rai”, grengjai , lovey-dovey land of smiles” rhetoric need only be in the kingdom a few days to realize that rose tinted specs require rebar reinforcement in Rattanakosin. Thais, in my experience, are almost honor bound to expound the virtues of their race and culture especially to outsiders. They don’t really believe this unless they are simple – and I have never thought the people in Thailand are simple. Many thousands of defeats to Thais at English language Scrabble have seen to that. Many foreigners haven’t grasped that the Thais are constantly analyzing themselves. And plenty really hate their own country with a passion. The xenophobes – and there are plenty on a site like Thaivisa – imagine that the Thais believe everything is hunky dory and foreigners are to blame for their woes. Twaddle. The great majority of Thais – albeit lawless and often highly irresponsible – are no fools. They distrust their politicians and their police with a fanatical zeal, and for very good reason. In their heart of hearts they shake their heads at the injustice, lawlessness and mayhem that abounds. Then tell the tourists and anyone gullible enough who will listen about all the good things from yummy food to mountains, golden beaches to kindness. You name it, it’s all good…. The trick to understanding Thailand a little better is to sort the wheat from the chaff. There really is so much good here but denying the dark underbelly does not help with that realization. On the contrary, it is the comparing of the bad with the good that makes life in the kingdom worthwhile and gives one a proper perspective on which to base a life. Thailand may be a house of cards but such a structure has attractive bits that are still standing when the wind from an open door has knocked down some of its parts. This week the Thai news was full to bursting with outrageous acts, crazy behavior both heinous and hilarious – so why do I feel at its end that I could never live anywhere else? Yes, I may be barking – at the least, infatuated; but I do know I am not alone in loving Thailand. Neighborly love was the last thing on the mind of a family in Bangkok caught on CCTV murdering their “pheuan baan” on Friday. The violence was shocking as mum, dad, son and daughter-in-law held Somchai down and beat him to death with a baseball bat and knives. It was over the smell of the Mama noodles that, as my wife pointed out, don’t smell. The week had begun with something smelling far more fishy. The reek of “pla ra” emanating from a factory that even the locals couldn’t stomach. The fermented fish factory was ordered to solve the problem – I would suggest not cleaning the drains or not pressing the flush for a few weeks, that could tone it down a bit. Pla Ra is one of a small number of foods that I have never tried and never will. While I admonish my four year old daughter for saying she doesn’t like something she has never tried I don’t mind being decidedly two faced about the issue myself. I fit in well in Thailand. Rooster prefers Indian food over Thai. One of the reasons for this was that I taught Thai cooking at international school and on some days I was obliged to sample up to 80 Green Curries or Tom Yam Kung that the Year 8 children had made for their homework and brought in for me to taste and grade. Try it if you want to go off something. At home Mrs Rooster eats Loei and me and the kids feast on Branston and Shreddies. Even on the same plate that would be better than some of the things she puts in her elegant bouche. Top Road Rage of the week – yes, contrary to the tourist manuals they do get angry occasionally – was the taxi driver emerging with a sword to threaten TV presenter Pa Ngem just around the corner from my Ratchayothin home. While appreciating why the traffic in my area would make anyone lose it, it still beggared belief that my local cops could only fine the driver 100 baht for the knife. Pa Ngem deserved at least that for being dressed as a Flower Pot Man. I passed Pahonyothin police station on my bike doing a cheeky shortcut as the news media and TV crews were all there for a briefing. You had to laugh – the cops had set up a police memorabilia stand to sell knick-knacks to reporters. Hardly a crime – but certainly opportunistic! Another road rage incident from February has resulted in Suthep the engineer being charged with murder in the death of a menacing teen. Like taking Thailand at face value, to do the same with Suthep, as many posters did believing him to be defending his family, is wide of the mark. It reminds me of Tony Martin the farmer in the UK who shot an intruder and received much public sympathy when he was convicted. Until it emerged that tooled up Tony had laid in wait at the top of the stairs for the opportunity to blast away a young, though admittedly thieving, life. The parallels with Suthep – armed in his car as all too many are in Thailand – are too obvious to ignore. Fortunately Yingluck took a back seat in whatever vehicle she is escaping in this week leaving her charming son to do his compulsory ror-dor military service back in Bangkok. The irony was missed on no one, least of all, I suspect, intelligent Pike. I once asked him in class how many provinces there were in Thailand – a question his mum had got wrong after Bung Karn was added. He demurred – clearly a future politician in the making there! To wit if not twits, Prayuth and his sidekick Prawit both told us in recent days to “get over” their various Shin adversaries. His Generalness was tetchy that the press were more interested in Taksin than his dodgy diplomacy. Big Too was having tea and muffins with Hun Sen, that paragon of Cambodian neighborly virtue, while His Blandness Prawit was enraged when the press started asking those tiresome and highly irregular things called searching questions about younger sis. As Catherine Tate would say “How very Dare you!” - insubordination in the reporting ranks. Secretly, Prayuth was irked that Taksin had a higher in-office approval rating while no one really cared about Prawit who bravely suffers the highest ugliness rating since recently acquitted PM Chavalit. Veritable clamor competed for top “drama” of the week. Among the spirited contenders were Porn who married fourteen Thai men and scarpered with the dowries, the man in the pick-up that had a barnie with his missus then went the wrong way round a bend killing a baby and the taxi driver who was convinced that his passenger was a witch causing him to drive badly. No, mate, that is not the occult – it is called lack of training. All had their merits but I preferred the story of the Lao guy visited American called Zachary multiple times – while he was out – to pinch his electrical appliances, guzzle his beer and grab a further 40 baht’s worth of winks in the Yank’s bed. The Lao was call Pek Penguin, not Goldilocks, and his disguise of puce green t-shirt and jolly roger multicolored pants had the forum in stitches. So much so that the keyboard warriors almost completely forgot to demand that another man, worthy of the term Septic, who had been caught with a load of indecent images of children on his computer, be hanged immediately from the nearest Bo tree. Despite an admittedly flimsy sounding denial, the Chiang Mai yank was deemed guilty and condemned to enjoy the attentions of the sex starved Thai men who the hang ‘em high brigade believe are always waiting inside for what the Americans might call “fresh farang fanny”. However, winner of the best story of the week had to be the Khon Kaen monk who decided to drop charges against two cops who were clearly in league with a woman who gave him drugged orange juice in Maha Sarakham some months earlier. It emerged that many people didn’t want said monk to become the next abbot so he was taken to a short time hotel for a bit of impromptu defrocking and photography with the naked woman to use for blackmail purposes. Of course, not a soul asked any awkward questions about the morality of all these shenanigans and no one will be in the least surprised that the chapel at the temple will soon have a new roof. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. My “Comment of the Week” prize goes to LotusBoy who was remarking on the story about the locals in the tiny village in Pangnga who expressed surprise that tourists no longer wanted to visit after around half the male population were accused of raping a 14 year old: “That’s like Susan Boyle coming out of Gregg’s and the next customer saying – who ate all the pies?” While my “Entrepreneur Without a Business Plan” is awarded jointly. Firstly, to the myriad forum posters who thought it would be a great idea to dob their neighbors into the authorities to claim half the 10,000 baht fine for illegally placing objects on the road to reserve parking spots. You’d more likely get away with poisoning their dogs – something that some public spirited soul has been doing to dozens of mutts outside an institute in Chumporn since term began. Secondly, the entrepreneur that would make the Dragons delirious, was the teen who gratefully received his mater’s generous handouts via her foreign husband. He invested mum’s cash in the drugs trade having a girl sell the Ya Ba because “no one would suspect a woman”. They were all swiftly arrested. Finally, my thanks to several posters who tried to convince detractors that my “Midweek Rant”, which on the face of it seemed not to be a rant, was in fact just that. Of course, my intention was to rant between the lines at all those posters who seem to find nothing but fault with everything they see, hear and do in this land many of us call home. Those detractors need to remember one thing. All is not what it might seem in the Land of Smiles. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-09-10
  3. The week that was in Thailand news: Thailand – nice to see you, to see you nice. While Yingluck was, perhaps regretfully, going one way, Rooster was thankfully going the other. Since as long as I can remember it is always with a sense of relief that I return to Thailand after visiting the land of my birth for my annual summer sojourn. Ms Shinawatra, it appears, is set to seek asylum in the United Kingdom. I have always loved that term – for while the land where the old queen still rules could hardly be free of the term “nut-house”, there are certainly times when one’s sanity in living permanently in the East is tested to the limit. Just that for me there has never been any doubt about where is home; my heart has been ensnared by Krung Thep since I was barely out of teen diapers. Yingluck may well be watching the “nights drawing in” as my Thai born son says about London. May well be donning dark glasses to do a little food shopping at Fortnum’s, for all I know. While I snigger from afar thankful of my relative anonymity if not my relative poverty. A holiday in Blighty always has its moments. Those balmy bank holiday afternoons when temperatures in places you have never heard of top 30 degrees. Followed by the next morning when the clouds roll in and Londoners exchange shirtsleeves for heavy coats in August. To the joy of seeing one’s beloved team humiliated at Wembley not once but twice. To the price of a slab of mature Cheddar in Lidl’s not requiring a second mortgage. But cheese notwithstanding, Yingluck is welcome to the United Kingdom and rather like her exiled brother I am sure she will grow to envy yours truly as I get caught in the monsoon rain on my motorbike as the Ratchayothin traffic remains at a standstill for several more years amid the mythical promise of the Green Line. Such is the nest that I have feathered and such is the certainty of our mutual and respective fates in very different social strata in very different parts of the world. Bashing this out as Etihad whisks me back to Thailand, I am left to muse on another week completely dominated by the flight of the former PM and the abject absurdity of all the Thai officials falling over themselves in a desperate attempt to appear the most idiotic. His Generalness and his minging minions who would love nothing better than to gag us are invariably the butt of the gags. In fact they put the “n” in gagsters. I am sure that the much missed UK comic and entertainer Bruce Forsythe who died in August would have had an appropriate one liner for this sideshow in Siam. Ms S appears to have fled in everything from a private jet to a Toyota Vios. Maybe the head honchos spirited her out in the cunningly marked police car. Or the local som tam seller who has an uncle at the border. Did I mention the cuddly toy? Frankly, who gives a mouse dropping chili for how she left or where she is. Amid all the titter-fest that is Thailand I thought there was only one sane voice – a Nation comment piece, would you believe - that sensibly reminded us that the Thais need to prosecute people for what they do not who they are. One who has had to take that mantra on his well-known chin is presenter Sorrayuth who this week had his 13 year embezzling conviction upheld. While in other crime news – and perhaps shifting some of the heat from what those masters of the Siamese straight face refer to as their judicial system – it was the UK police blamed this time for their meddling in the case of the Koh Tao murders. Scotland Yard, you will recall, had sent over two of their finest for a couple of weeks at the Oriental but now the UK’s National Crime Agency has said they acted unlawfully as their actions helped secure the Burmese accused a death sentence. Talk about plod putting their foot in it – it really takes some going to upstage the Thai police at that but the Bobbies were more than a match for the BiBs in this grand national fiasco that rivals Aintree in 1993. All this buffoonery liberally exercised on either side of the globe was best summed up by deputy PM Tanasak who told reporters in the shadow of the Sydney Opera House after a Thai “khon” masked drama show that the Thai “government practices the rule of law”. While the dancers must have been grateful of the masks to hide their grins, Rooster had a sly smirk at the double entendre use of the word “practice”. Except in giving us a laugh, they never seem to make it perfect. On the lighter side of life it was no surprise to see the story emanating from QUOTES or the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard, where a hotel employee, who in most countries would have been praised for doing the right thing, handed in money he found spewing out of an ATM. Not to be sneezed at, it was 69,000 baht to be precise. Rooster wasn’t sure whether to hail his honesty or his idiocy as he handed over the wads of cash to the dubious safe keeping of the local constabulary. Let’s just hope he got a receipt and the bank – whoever they are – sees him right. Similarly stretching the bounds of incredulity were two foreigners who seemed to have forgotten that CCTV has in fact made its way, albeit belatedly, into the arsenal – read pop-gun – of what passes for Thai police procedures. Some on Thaivisa forum would say the cameras, when they are working, are the only means by which the constabulary have any chance of making an arrest, a matter clearly overlooked by the American ex-serviceman who robbed a downtown gold shop of some rings earlier in the week. Described first as a “khaek khao”, with the translator going for “Arab”, it was later revealed that the man in the cap was just a whitey up to mischief. The cops followed him from shop to bike to house with the only surprise being that it was a full 24 hours before he was in custardy. I use that word advisedly as rather him than me coming to such a sticky end in a Thai jail, a fate that awaits the other Darwinian Dodo foreigner in Pattaya who thought it necessary to use pepper spray during The Heist of the Wine Coolers. I get how it can be upsetting if you need a drink when the afternoon shutters come down at 7-11 but this seemed a tad like overkill. It begged the question as to what we might see next – armed robbery for a bag of locusts, perhaps. Also from the resort where the news never sleeps comes what I expect to be the first of many stories centering on the latest wonder of the modern world, namely Her Hole-i-ness the Pattaya Tunnel. Some tanked up Thais whizzing through this dolphin encrusted marvel of futuristic engineering claimed that ratatat noises emanating from their car was gunfire rather than a dodgy exhaust. Such has been the prevalence of shootings on the roads this year that we should all be surprised if it was indeed just the clatter of the latter. Not tooled up but nevertheless as mad as Thai hell was the north eastern woman in a car at the center of my favorite story of the week. This was the Thai nurse and wife, unusually eschewing armory, who had found out that her two timing hospital hubby was seeing his “gik” on the other side of Surin. Described as “just another day in Thailand” the disgruntled missus laid in wait then rammed the cavorting duo with her car before a passing reporter happened to drop by and offer his assistance. The woman was now content though some forum newbies to Thailand- baffling us old timers - suggested a crime had actually been committed! Attempted vehicular homicide? Nah….this was just Thai wife with right on her side folks! The ‘mia luang’ had made her point and importantly got it out of her system, while the husband and his bit on the side had fled the scene without the former even losing his manhood to a duck’s dinner. The only damage done was to the cars – and given the nature of the roads they’d be smashed up by teatime anyway. And so to this week’s joint Rooster award. The “Pie in the Sky” (PITS) prize goes to the dreamers who announced a budget of just 28 billion baht to connect Rayong to Don Muang via Pattaya and Swampy with a high speed train. Multiply that by four and I may believe. The PITS also goes to chief Sanit and his merry band of met men who are apparently making it their mission to clean up the Nana area of Bangkok. While it was clear that the story about the “illegals of color” referred to the Soi 3 side of Sukhumvit it can hardly be said that Soi 4 opposite is all that far behind in the shady characters’ stakes. Especially when you consider many of those characters hail from Lumpini nick. Finally, on a personal note it is spiffing if not spliffing to be back in Thailand despite some success in England. Finishing 21st in the World Scrabble Championship in Nottingham was not too bad; not arguing excessively with my grown up children a plus; and keeping the column going as the mercury plummeted a fair achievement. In fact…..didn’t he do well! Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-09-03
  4. The week that was in Thailand news: Yingluck may be one lucky ying! After the country had held its collective breath for several weeks the exhalation of air on Friday was felt palpably by all people both in the country and around the world who follow the affairs of Thailand. Former PM Yingluck’s apparent flight from what passes for justice in the kingdom completely dominated the news this week. One felt that road ragers, ladyboy necklace snatchers, abusive teachers, potential murderers and biting soi-dogs – you name it – all stayed home glued to TV and the internet. Yingluck had become – in one comedic or tragic Shakespearean fell swoop depending on your point of view – the biggest soap story of the year giving those who revel in political drama Thai style enough to speculate on for many a moon. Some people asked, clearly in the naivety of the newb, how the most watched woman in Thailand could slip away. There are two simple but varying answers to this. Connivance or cunning. Though Rooster is perfectly prepared to believe it is a combination of both. Connivance in the sense that His Generalness may, just may, have been delighted to see the back of her despite his amateur dramatic rhetoric. However, it would be idiotic to say that not too much was done to stop her or the relevant immigration officers were told to go to Don Meuang because of staff shortages. Yingluck does not need to pass through immigration and have her picture snapped at the booth. The news that she may have been aided and abetted in flying out via helicopter in Trat seems plausible and adds weight to the connivance and cunning theory. Cunning in the sense that the Shinawatra family have a network of security personnel to rival, or even surpass that of the government. And it would surprise no one that those employed by the family are highly likely to be smarter and even better connected. To wit, I would like to mention a rather telling little anecdote. Years ago in a previous life Rooster was in charge of a school trip to Kanchanaburi attended by Yingluck’s son. As the teacher in charge of a residential visit for around 100 children I had asked the family through a mediator to be informed of security arrangements for the son that might impact on the other children. This was promised then, surpris surpris, as the French say, nothing whatsoever was forthcoming from the Shins. During the school trip we became aware of a very shady and filthy tramp like figure crouching beggar-like on a station platform uncomfortably close to our Year 5 children who were about to board a train at Nam Tok to the River Kwae bridge. Concerned, one of the teachers approached the tramp but before he got very close he noticed something interesting. The tramp had a wire leading from his ear and was undoubtedly fitted with a throat mike. This grubby specimen was clearly one of several people monitoring our every move in case of a kidnap attempt. Yingluck’s son, a charming and well-mannered young man was as oblivious as we teachers were to what was going on around us. Sounds a bit like me and Thailand, at times. Yes, you would hardly expect anything else from one of the richest, and for some, most hated families in Asia. I personally know Yingluck only as a good mother having taught that son so I am not here to comment on her character, guilt or otherwise. Just to say that her family are masterful manipulators and decamping abroad, and biding their time until, shall we say, more favorable judges are in place, must be their best strategy. For as Her Yingluckiness was enjoying freedom of sorts her former commerce minister Boonsong and a veritable host of others were beginning what at this stage looks like many decades in jail. And with every mouth of “joke” they may contemplate the innocent white substance that has helped to put them there. It is vaguely Shadenfreudian to muse that in years gone by that white substance that has led to so much trouble may well have been heroin – now it is just plain old rice. The whole affair had us shaking our heads in wonder as I don’t subscribe to the view that it was obvious she would flee. At least not so soon. But I did enjoy the almost tongue in cheek excuse given by the lawyers that Ms Y was suffering from vertigo. Surely they really knew that she had far to go. Meanwhile in more court news things at BBC Thailand came to a head – to be precise Jonathan Head. The journalist was facing a defamation charge brought by a Phuket lawyer who seems to be the kind of person that would give the standard disreputable brief a good name. Mr Head went back to Bangkok a free man after the charges over a property purchase story were dropped. But I must commend him for one of my favorite quips of the week after our man at the Beeb said he “Always had faith in the Thai justice system”. As another Bangkok journo legend Bernard Trink used to say, any comment would be superfluous. Rooster is vaguely fortunate to have only been in Thai court once though I have lived in Thailand since the early 80s. I was giving evidence on behalf of an American tour operator who had been gazumped by an unscrupulous hotel in Ao Nang causing the loss of a considerable amount of money. My friend had booked dozens of rooms for a party of 100 plus school children only to be told on the day of arrival that the teenagers were to be moved to what I deemed as unacceptable and unsafe accommodation nearby. Once it was ascertained that my Thai was up to the job, the presiding judge in the Krabi court asked my religion. Worrying that saying Tottenham Hotspur Football Club might constitute contempt and, being a devout atheist, I plumped for “none”. This was a mistake as I should have said Buddhist and could have then have read the oath on the card without more ado. As it was they never seemed to have had an atheist in court before so it was decided to come up with a new oath just for me which I repeated word for word in Thai after the clerk of the court. Should I lie, I vowed, may my wife and two children be forever boiled in a vat of bubbling oil in the depths of hell. Gulp! Wisely I kept a straight face though I was glad I was telling the absolute truth, just in case. My friend the tour operator eventually won the case though, as if to prove Jonathan Head may have had sarcasm aforethought in his comments about the Thai justice system, he still lost all the money anyway in unrecoverable legal costs. Frankly, those who complain that the police in Thailand act as judge and jury should try the courts! All manner of legal reform needs to be one of the top priorities if and when Thailand gets an elected government that is actually able to function. If my grandchildren live to see it I shall go to my grave a happier man. Happy, at least at the start of the week was the jovial jefe Prayuth who was pictured in Yingluck country with a bewildered Isaan grannie telling a fairy tale dream to a frog, as you do. Prayuth is a dear chap though at times it stretches even my own personal knowledge of Thai culture to take him as seriously as he would like. After a wisecrack about “side-chicks” he complained to the press that when he is ‘avin’ a laff they take him seriously and when he is serious they think he is being funny. A pertinent reminder that tricky concepts like ‘democracy’ and ‘accountability’ are not in vocabulary enrichment classes at the country’s prestigious military academies. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. My “Pub(l)ic Service Award” goes to the barber in Betong featured in the news for offering free condoms with his shaves. Having grown up tittering to the classic Blighty euphemism of “Anything for the weekend, sir?” my fellow Brits will know where I am coming from. While my “Word of the Week” award goes to a charming young man called Abdullah Abbasi who was one of my notable opponents at this week’s World Scrabble Championships that were conducted in Nottingham, England. Abdullah, from Pakistan, managed to steal some of my promised thunder and play the word ‘JUNTA’ for 28 points. A reminder that it is not just Thailand that has enjoyed military rule….. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-08-27
  5. The week that was in Thailand news: Yingluck’s thunder stolen by a tunnel. My mother collected newspapers. Not just any old newspapers though that was a habit of many of her frugal generation who saw such deprivation during the Second World War. No, she collected mementos of those famous days in her life as seen through newsprint and stored the Express, the Evening News and suchlike in a battered old case in the loft. There was the death of Churchill, Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and the simultaneous scaling of Everest for the first time. England’s only victory in an international football tournament. What fun it was to rummage through the history of a nation and the history of a life. My mother died when I was still a relative child and as the fortieth anniversary of her death came to my mind it was I who was looking through my own maternally inspired collection garnered over 35 years of life in Bangkok. Funny how so many of my papers had tanks on their front pages. Sure there is 9/11 and 7/7 – momentous days in many people’s lives – but most of the Posts and Nations are stories of coups and violence and political turmoil. There are some classic accidents like the driverless train at Hualampong and the overturned gas Tanker in Petchaburi Road. Joyous moments like gold medal success for Thai boxers. And last year a death inspired me to save more than one local newspaper. But usually they feature those tanks and soldiers with guns – even if for some of the coups little children were clambering over the hardware or pretty girls were putting flowers in the rifles as smiling and relaxed military men looked on. One of the first coups I experienced does not have its own newspaper. I was late down the shop in Soi Ngam Duplee and they had sold out. “Never mind,” said the lady vendor. “They’ll be another one along next week”. It is now more than three years since his generalness took over, a bloodless version that I must admit to welcoming at the time, so lawless had Bangkok, in particular, become. This week on Thaivisa it seemed as though there was a lull before the storm as both the authorities and the public gear up for the momentous moment of the decision in Yingluck’s trial over the rice pledging scheme due Friday. I sense that it will be worth keeping the newspaper for August 25 not least of all because I knew her in a past life and taught her son some of the rudiments of Thai culture. Rooster, like many, will be fascinated as to what the nine law lords – that includes one woman – decide. Yes, the country seemed to be holding its collective breath this week though as ever there were the usual talking points and humor that makes following the Thai news such a varied and interesting experience. Apropos the decision next week, the army were conducting manoeuvers in Lamphun saying it was all routine. Few Thais – more world weary and savvy than many forum posters give them credit for - gave that explanation much credence. The pictures told the story just as the video did when another one of the khaki crew decided to mete out some military might to a drug suspect on Koh Larn. He was caught kicking and thrashing the druggy with a stick. Initially Pattaya station chief Apichai spoke round the issue using language we might call “Tamruatese” but when the military hierarchy realized there was no escaping the hounds of social media they jailed the soldier for 15 days. Interesting that the military have the power to jail while the police just seem to have the power to prosecute when it suits……or when someone complains on Facebook perhaps. Increasingly we see incidents come to light that would have only seen the underside of a carpet in another era and now with a new confirmed initiative we are set to see even more filming in public. I refer to the plan to pay members of the public 50% of fines accrued for what the authorities call “public cleanliness and order violations”. This includes dobbing in motorcyclists for using the sidewalks. Putting aside my upbringing that said there is nothing worse than a grass, I can’t see this working in the long term. In a system where corruption is a bedrock, most initiatives – especially half-baked ones like this - are doomed to come crumbling down before they are consigned to the bin of Thai history. But the “thetsakit” – that I feel should be translated as “jobsworth” or traffic warden – claimed that ten people had already been paid out so maybe I should beware when I am taking the shortcut back from Tops on my Honda 250. Indeed, little happened this week to warrant inclusion in my newspaper collection though naturally we were entertained with lead actor cum met chief Sanit bounding to the fore. The Thai press featured him in a file photo doing a three fingered salute to make it clear to the readers what they thought of the plan to go after the poster of the story who said that a Ploenjit building under construction was the “Leaning Tower of Bangkok”. Sanit would have gone down a storm in Pisa. Though I suspect like the ever hungry missus he thought it was the “Leaning tower of Pizza”. Rice gruel for defamation awaits the poster though the same is unlikely to be the case for the man with the English name who ranted against Air Asia for the treatment of his Kenyan relatives at Don Meuang. The “traveling while black” quote was delicious and reminded me of Rowan Atkinson’s delightful satire in the UK’s Not The Nine O’Clock News talking about police arrests of black people for the possession of “thick lips” and “fuzzy hair” while “loitering with intent to use a zebra crossing”. The man’s open letter to CEO Tony Fernandes was met with predictable tumbleweed proving that now “everyone can get a reply” – except you. Meanwhile, Thailand was announced as the new hub of convenience this week when it was announced that the country had opened its 10,000th 7/11. Interesting to note that the two most common new words in the Thai language in recent years are the alternative universe of “Face” and the ubiquitous “Sewen”. In visa news, it was finally announced this week that the “much awaited” ten year stamps were now a reality though the response from the forum was a few degrees shy of lukewarm. It led to my favorite comment of the week from “MisterWhisper who observed drily: “Much awaited – by whom?” Indeed the visas seem to offer little real advantage to anyone and are in reality two lots of five with a lot of inconvenience thrown in for good measure. Rooster – who took the trouble to apply for and get Permanent Residence before Yingluck’s brother multiplied the fees by five – always follows the forum’s visa shenanigans with a side dish of smug. With the amount of tax I paid over the years I think I deserved it, but to temper any feelings of superiority, the wife still owns the house and I have to pay to leave….. Biggest shock of the week had to be the horrific video of the 15 year old reversing over a man and a woman upcountry. They survived but that was hardly the point. The police really need to go after people who let their children borrow or use their vehicles in this manner. The same also holds true for the so called parent, and the operator, who seemed to force a screaming toddler into a parasailing harness in Phuket. Regulation of these shysters please – by which I mean parents as much as parasail operators. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. My “Lifetime Achievement Award” goes to the British for apparently dying in the kingdom in ever increasing numbers. Frankly I thought the story, like me, is a bit out of date but I am sure there are many nationalities who might even welcome the news. Rooster remains ensconced in the UK where next week I shall be representing Thailand in the World Scrabble Championships in Nottingham. I wonder if I can get the word “junta” on a triple word score. I know it’s allowable. This week in London I met a friend of a relative who said he was about to go to Thailand for the first time. He said he was heading straight to a place called Pattaya and asked me had I heard of it and if so what was it like. For once I was speechless though images of lambs and slaughterhouses came to mind. Finally, that leads me to the “Is it Really Better Late Than Never” award that goes to all those responsible down at QUOTES (the Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard) after it was announced that the latest wonder of the modern world – the Pattaya Tunnel – will open its holes on August 25th. Observant readers will note that this is the very same day and time that Ms Shinawatr discovers her fate in court in Bangkok. What a momentous day to keep a newspaper. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-08-20
  6. The week that was in Thailand news: Drivers stopping at zebra crossings? – Where am I?? The blinding sun made me look up from my afternoon rummage through the newspaper. Yet another bus crash – did the driver nod off at the wheel or was it a heart attack. Enough. I went walking and was attracted by the bright colors of an unusual shop window. An e-cigarette shop with aromatic vaping fluids named red melon and lemon tart? How do these vendors get away with breaking those strict junta laws? But as I stumbled on I realized something was seriously wrong. Cars were stopping at a zebra crossing, urging me to move to the other side. This was plain weird. Had I just slipped through a wormhole into some alternative Thai universe far in some more reasonable future? No. It had just totally slipped my mind that I had stepped on a plane and crossed the world swapping the suburbs of Bangkok for London for my annual sojourn in Blighty. I put my confusion down not so much to an absence of mind having entered my dotage but to a determined willingness to try to forget the horrors of my departure from Thailand. Not the terror of missing it for three weeks but the horror of those queues at Suvarnabhumi airport. Had it really taken that long? The journey from Ratchayothin to the airport was predictable. A friendly taxi driver, meter on and a great price. He even apologized for driving a bit fast! But inside the terminal it was what Londoners of a certain age are apt to call Clapham Junction. Or perhaps Shanghai junction with all those shoving tourists. The immigration officers present were doing their best but their bosses had overlooked that half of China needed to go home and had not got their colleagues out of bed. Or had sent them to paper over the cracks at Don Muang perhaps…. The debacle of the “urination on the concourse” at Bangkok’s second airport last week was followed up with more chaos this week as those arriving and departing the kingdom were met with delays. Journalists tweeted, Joe Soap moaned as Thailand’s dirty washing was hung out for the world to see on social media. Chief Of police (COP) Chakthip suggested heads would roll. Pity none of his underlings had reminded him that in Thailand the police are in charge of immigration. But at least Tourism minister Khun Kobkarn was in the wings keeping the flag flying as it emerged she intended to try to add to the chaos by bringing Bangalore to Bangkok with her plan to use Bollywood stars to promote Thailand to the Indians. Seeing as many of my best friends are Indian I thought this was a great idea. Only to see the racist attitudes so prevalent online shoot the notion down in flames. Yes, not every Indian beggar can afford three weeks in Phuket but the days of seeing India as a place in need of Oxfam are over. Thaivisa told us that soon Air Asia were planning to bring 20,000 more Indians to Thailand per week. Khun Kobkarn will be rolling in rupees – but I just hope she gets together with Chakthip to put another person or two on the welcoming committee. Air Asia were also in the news this week as they confirmed their plans to connect Hua Hin and Kuala Lumpur. What with the resort now connected by sea to Pattaya it will soon be unnecessary for anyone to need to add to the traffic woes in my beloved Bangkok. Bliss! Though Rooster has never been a great fan of Tony Fernandez’s once called “budget airline”. It may have something to do with naively replying to an add for a “One Baht” trip to Malaysia only to realize that if you wanted a seat and fuselage to go with that it would be 9,900, plus local taxes of course. So here I type in peaceful England on a sunny Saturday. Far removed from the rigors of Ratchayothin and, as tourists are wont to do, comparing everything from whence I came. Though critical of many aspects of the country of my birth I feel less inclined to bash it than have a go at my adopted homeland. A case of familiarity breeding contempt perhaps but it did strike me as irksome that one forum poster described me as having “gone native” for finding the teacher who put the shoes on the boys head last week repulsive. No mate, my comments in the Midweek Rant came from the heart of someone who has paid attention to the Thai’s aversion to feet. Feet that were using the new walkway at Siam Square in their droves as the authorities asked us to name the new “Artistic Marvel”. It’s tricky….what DO you call a state-of-the- art 300 million baht lump of concrete covered in mushrooms and green things. I shall have to go with “overhead walkway” until I can be bothered to think of a better name… Airports were also in the news this week as a so called “top online lawyer” took massive umbrage at being asked to follow the rules concerning liquids on planes. Our brief at Don Muang was not being brief in his rant at security for prohibiting his gels on a flight to Chiang Rai even suggesting that the officers look after his face cream until he came back to Krung Thep. Was this – and the well-known fact that confiscated items in Bangkok find their way onto the embarrassment of eBay – behind the airports authority reminding the public not to smuggle “naam” in their carry on? Perhaps, though it must be noted that the inspectors for the International Civil Aviation Authority have been in Thailand in recent weeks. Though I am sure the ICAO teams, having got though immigration successfully, needed to come up with a few “recommendations” to justify their junket. Here in the UK it was nice to see the British had learnt from the Thais regarding how to conduct a fiasco at a football draw. Following last month’s balls up in bangkers when they got the draw for the English League Cup first round the wrong way the Londoners repeated the dose with a similar farce for round two. The only difference was that the Thais blamed technology and the British said there had been “confusion”. There are certainly times when I think there is hardly any difference between the world I left behind and the one that envelopes me for around forty nine weeks of the year. Of course the Thai world increasingly turns to its nutty netizens for news as online video reminded us of the nasty side to life. The perennial problem of street gang violence was highlighted in Phuttamonthon as warring teens got out their swords on the way to school for the umpteenth year in succession. No change there. But then along came a video of a ranting and mad Thai woman. Having twice tied the knot in Thailand I was tempted to say no change there too, but I must confess to being shocked to the core at what this one offered. Irked by a husband who had committed the cardinal sin of not picking up his phone when demanded by her who must be obeyed, she proceeded to take out her frustrations on a little boy by hanging him by a rope in a grotesque selfie video before hurling the screaming child to the floor after nearly strangling him to death. Thankfully the Lat Krabang cops were soon on the scene and carted her off. However, can I go on record that I may not be responsible for my actions is she is dealt with a purple note fine and not a year or two of thick bars and rice gruel for breakfast. Recognizing mental health issues, as some on the forum did, is one thing. Premeditated and essentially public attempted murder against a little child, quite another. Thank goodness we can always rely on the light hearted stories emanating from Thai life to help us through the week. And once again we could all have a Schadenfreudian snigger at the antics of Pattaya. While a campaign was started to save their dolphins a “tunnel” spokesman had now been gagged. The first story confused me as not unreasonably I doubted that any dolphin in its right mind would go anywhere near Pattaya. No, it referred to an iconic roundabout that the nasty local authority are trying to do away with in the name of progress. In fact it all sounded very British, people who have a national obsession with roundabouts that they even install in places where people drive straight over them. The Pattaya authority say it will help improve the traffic though the spokesman hardly did much to improve their image by saying he was refusing to listen to the public who were going online to sign a petition to save flipper. The gagging order referred to another spokesman who had been told to keep mum about the much anticipated event of the year down at QUOTES (the Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard) namely the opening of the Central Pattaya Tunnel, ninth wonder of the modern world. Don’t forget the walkway at Siam Square folks that came in ahead at number eight. To absolutely no one’s surprise it seems like there may be a further delay – maybe the authorities should announce an online competition to name it too – at least that would act as a smokescreen and give us yet more laughs. I shall leave those unfortunate enough to reside in QUOTES to come up with the name as most of us struggling with the perpetual digging up of Bangkok have our own concerns. Finally, as the kingdom celebrated Mother’s Day with the auspicious birthday celebrations of Her Majesty it was lovely to see the story of the institute award given to “Top Mum” Phongsri Changkhit. Phongsri, from Lopburi, was not overwhelmed by the death of her husband from cancer many years ago as she was left with two young sons to bring up. Determinedly, she thought about the future of her boys and unusually for a woman took to wheel of a Bankgok cab day and night to pay for their school and college fees. A reminder of all that is good in the fairer sex no matter on which continent one may reside. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-08-13
  7. The week that was in Thailand news: Crossing the line in Thailand. Whenever I am out and about in Thailand, like all my fellow road users, I shall witness the line crossing phenomenon. The barriers are down, the train is due and the crossing chief is furiously waving his little red flag. And yet still they come – in Bangkok bikes mostly but upcountry at less protected crossings, cars and even buses – vehicles all playing chicken with the oncoming iron horse. Sometimes to get home a few seconds earlier – sometimes to regret for all eternity. The game at Thai level crossings has, for me, become somewhat of a metaphor for life in Thailand. Whenever I see it, it makes me think of what you can get away with in Thailand; from how far one might be able to steer clear of sanction from the authorities for mild wrong-doing to how much your missus might tolerate your naughtiness. There is often a reckoning and for newbies to Thailand or those with little practical experience, where the line is drawn can be a daunting and frustrating experience to master. For the train sometimes stops just yards from the crossing and at other times it piles through dragging the stalled granddad on his Scoopy-i to the next province. In the Thai news this week we saw many lines crossed and many that were deemed not to have been traversed. The courts decided – much to the chagrin of the PAD who I was surprised still existed – that two former PMs and two very high ranking cops had not crossed the line from reasonable force into illegality. Some protestors in 2008 with limbs having gone AWOL were left to rely on karma for ultimate justice, but Somchai and Chavalit walked free. A pity really, for if they had been charged with being related to Taksin or just being plain, pig ugly, both men, respectively if not respectfully, would surely have been convicted. What with Yingluck’s impending fate, it is not a great time to be a former PM. His generalness may well mull on that fact as his spirited tenure nears its expected conclusion. Most leave office discredited in some way – which is more British than America. While the Brits find reason to hate their past leader as much as they did when they were living, don’t those Yankees just drool over their Presidents once they are out of harm’s way! So who did cross the line this week? There were many. One crossed MY line – a Rooster line that has a sign on it that says “You What Mate?! For this I blame the police in Chonburi for fining the man who was armed with a sword and who attacked a fellow motorist in his car, the princely sum of 500 baht. To say I was “Outraged of Ratchayothin” would be an understatement. Especially as it gives grist to the mill for all those annoying and misinformed posters on the forum who insist that a purple note is the standard fine for all serious misdemeanors. Of course it is not, but the Vios driver on this occasion must have been counting his lucky daos after walking away from this well publicized violence, with a quick “wai” and a ”solly to society” Also crossing the line when it came to doing their job were the “Beer Pretties” in Saraburi hauled in by the cops for suggesting online – in skimpy outfits too, shock horror – that people might like to turn up at their pub and have a beverage. These honeys has crossed the line of making things just that bit too public as we were rewarded with seeing once again the two-faced attitude towards such things as drinking and smoking. The Thais manage to be two-faced very expertly – it comes with perpetually saving face meaning they always have an extra one in reserve that may come in handy when needed. Or as I say to the missus, if you could save money as much as face I would have retired by now. Meanwhile, the Thai authorities decided back in May that Facebook and YouTube had crossed their lines when it came to naughty URLs appearing on both platforms. While YouTube seem to have censored most of the court orders, the NTBC chief this week issued a scathing attack on Mr Zuckerberg’s alternative universe for only obeying the Thai requests to the paltry tune of 40%. Of course no one mentions the URLs that lie at the center of this spat with the giants of the internet, except to insouciantly claim that they are mostly pornographic. One who very few Thais would say had not crossed the line – even those students at Chula who would rather not “graap” on the grass –was the woman who featured in the second of two stories about child abuse in schools This person – one can’t call her a teacher as that would infer some sense of professionalism – thought it fitting to place a student’s shoes on his head and make him kowtow repeatedly in apology while everyone watched. Rooster, who taught Thai children about local customs and manners for the best part of twenty years, found this horrendous. By all means fine her 500 baht but please, please keep her away from children in this life and any subsequent ones. The same must also be said of the fiend who beat 21 students over the head with a stick sending three to hospital for not wearing that day’s uniform correctly. He crossed the line not just of the Thai law but of humanity. Please send out a message with jail time to these vicious brutes – if not for the sake of the children then their own sakes because it won’t be too long before an angry parent goes into a school and shoots one for hurting their child. There are, after all, more than enough guns about as was proved once again in Amnat Charoen where an airman got out his 9mm – that’s a gun – and pointed it at famous singer “Poo” because the performer would not shake hands with him while holding a microphone and strumming on his guitar…. Some forum posters still express surprise at the amount of weapons produced in public. They shouldn’t be – as far back as I can remember there was a campaign to put signs over every pub and café door that guns were forbidden. They remain to this day but then the great majority of foreigners cannot read Thai, and the great majority of locals choose to ignore signage whenever it suits them. My final line crosser had to be the drunkard called Fon who decided to have a bit of head slapping fun with a black bear about ten times his size at a monastery. Fon – whose auspicious tattoos didn’t save him from a bear hug that went on for 15 minutes – had gone into the enclosure to get a free wild boar for dinner, as you do. He lived to tell the tale but it was also terrifically sad to see “Jao Kaew” carted off to some government sanctuary where, not surprisingly, a few scraps of rice were all that the voracious carnivore got for tea. The follow-up story told us how miserable the bear was now. I think we’d all be happy if the so called Buddhists who incarcerate these wild animals in the first place get a taste of their own medicine with some rice gruel and a few bars for company. And so to this week’s bumper Rooster awards. There are no less than four recipients of the “Darwin Award” for services to the gene pool. Mentioned in dispatches was the construction worker who thought he was doing his mate a real favor. He thought his friend had suffered an electric shock so he did the most obvious thing imaginable – he buried his pal up to his neck in sand. It was an “ancient belief” that even had Rooster’s decidedly old fashioned better half confused. The medics arrived, dug him out of the sand, administered a hopeless western tradition called CPR then gave up, it all being too late. Also giving genes a bad name was the rag and bone man who bashed an old NGV canister on its nozzle and saw it spew gas, take off through his yard, injure his grannie and plough through a neighbor’s sitting room wall into a sofa some 100 meters away. Let’s hope they never give him a job in bomb disposal – or on second thoughts, let’s hope they do. The third recipient of Darwin’s Diploma goes to the council in Trat for building a road without lighting and not moving the power pole in the middle of it. Despite their contractual excuses, do these people seriously expect not to be made fun of in the age of social media? Defamation or no defamation these dodo dunderheads defy description. The final recipient will also be my parting shot for this week. It was the condo security guard in Pak Kret who, despite everyone telling him not to, opted to fry up some toxic toad in a tasty dish of “phat phet” for his dinner. Not surprisingly, he croaked. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-08-06
  8. The week that was in Thailand news: Bringing Thai humor to the great unwashed. One of the last bastions of knowing a language and culture is to appreciate the humor of a country and its people. In this regard Rooster is unashamedly proud to admit almost total and overwhelming defeat in Thailand.I get the Australian humor – all those dunnies and tucker. And I am pleased to say I titter along with Americans rather than the usual habit of laughing AT them. But this is in a language by and large that my Cockney mother and even my French born pater passed onto me.Being able to get to grips with Thai humor has the decidedly extra problem of being in a completely foreign language. This is one I excel at but I am invariably left cold especially when the punch-line comes; which is of course the main point of any joke!In the 1980s I had already gained a fair fluency in the basics of the Thai vernacular when I found myself at the front of the audience by the stage at Villa Café when legendary comic “Note Chernyim” began his routine.His first sharp remark was directed at me – the only farang in the audience - and with what Thai I had I was able to counter and get a good ripple from the crowd.However, that was the end of my career as a Thai funny man – every subsequent witticism went completely over my head despite nearly all of them being at my expense. I should have got a refund on my drinks for giving Note such an easy night!The crowd loved it and I grinned pretending to understand. Certainly, I had understood most of the lead-up to the cracks but when it came to the punch-line I was colder than yesterday’s som tam put mistakenly in the fridge.I have always thought of it as a poignant metaphor for most of my confusion about Thailand! Not always appreciating the intricacies of Thai news, that is. I know very well about not putting som tam in the fridge.Fortunately, the whistles and funny noises usually remind me when to crack a grimace if not paying full attention to the missus’s intellectual fare on Channel 7.I worry not about my humor deficiencies. There is so much more to laugh at in Thailand that can be garnered through the English language what with the Thaivisa site playing an increasing role in bringing hilarious Thai news to the great unwashed – as the Thais so often believe us foreigners to be.And this week was no different with everyone from the rich and famous to the down and out – and all the Chinese in between - giving us a barrel of belly laughs.Champion of chortle – though some thought it deadly serious – was the story of a 20 year old Chinese tourist in Pattaya who tried to kill himself by running into traffic after his mum denied him a Big Mac.Police in QUOTES (the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard) were obliged to take the “Luuk Thaweda”, or Angel Child as the Thais refer to their most obnoxious offspring, into the station to calm down.Some forum posters said it was autism. I’ll go with the term my mum taught me – spoilt brat.Humor was also rife on the forum as posters had a field day responding to the headline of the week noting that Eastenders’ star Paul Nicholls who fell down a waterfall in Samui feared he would be “brown bread”.The term, familiar to most English people as Cockney rhyming slang meaning “dead”, confused many posters who clearly hail from across distant ponds.Some wicked posters on the less regulated platform of Thaivisa’s Facebook page referred to these poor Trump-land souls as “septics” deliberately creating further confusion.The septics (Septic Tank-Yank if you didn’t know) said we were all wrong. Mr Nicholls was simply “toast”, well almost.Of course, amid the semantic sniggering, everyone had forgotten about Mr Nicholls and his busted knee though the Thais turned up with the obligatory baskets of fruit just in case the god of tourism had been offended.Hardly funny at least at first was the woman who had the last laugh after finding one million baht on a bus that she dutifully returned to its owner. The stingy rotter rewarded her not with a fair percentage but a couple of bags of cheap candy.Forum curmudgeons forget their current campaign to dismiss all cases of Thai human decency as a tourism ministry inspired plot in league with Thaivisa to hoodwink the masses, as they sided with the downtrodden poor against the much hated rich.Finally, a retired Chula professor stepped up to the plate to give the conductress a big check for 15,000 baht and even 5K to the driver of the bus.Rooster came out of the affair smelling of roses too after telling the misses who showed interest in the story that “she was my eye candy and worth a million to me”.She raised an eyebrow that it was just a million but appreciated the compliment all the same.The laughs continued unabated at what a Thaivisa colleague referred to as “the gift that keeps on giving with regard to news” – he was, of course, referring to every journalist’s best pal, Pattaya.Whether it was Shadenfreude sniggers or head shaking “hua-roh” QUOTES was on hand to keep our spare ribs tickled and covered in sauce.Perhaps we shouldn’t have smiled at the Chinese man relieved of his 150,000 baht platinum necklace by lady boys but who would not “have their teeth fall out laughing” (as the Thais say) by the police suggestion that they would do something about it.The chuckle-a-thon continued when those same upholders of all that is fair and just rumbled an E-fag seller and took in all his merchandise as evidence promising him a five year stretch.Doubtless for the shocking crime of helping people give up regular cancer sticks – that are properly taxed by our noble government of course.Confirming that it was a terrible week for the Chinese was the arrest of a Shanghai skinny dipper who the Thais on the late night beach thought was a ghost. The “Creature from the Black Lagoon” headline may have been unkind on the woman but there was no doubting its accuracy when referring to the sludge previously known as sea.Related to which, Sophon stepped up their campaign to name and shame producing a video – in stark black and white no less – that might have the bods at tourism and sports tearing up their plans for the resort in frustration!Or just jailing the Sophon execs for defaming a beach, of course.Officialdom also gave us a guffaw-fest with PM Prayut and Chief of Police (COP) Chakthip headlining the hoots.Prayut told protesters to stay away from Yingluck’s “sentencing” when he might have used the word “judgment” in the rice scandal.While COP topped the titter-o-meter with his latest explanation as to why Red Bull Boss is still a free man swanning at Silverstone and Sepang.Essentially no one could be found in Thailand to translate the word “extradition”, a statement so feeble that it inspired my favorite forum comment of the week from exasperated “Prbkk” who said, and I paraphrase: “Oh please…..the public is not so gullible to buy these excuses”.Indeed Prbkk, but at least the whole sordid saga keeps us amused – that’s the main thing as justice is soooo boring……My two baht’s worth is that having Boss back will lead to the police increasingly facing those nasty questions about what exactly happened in the days following officer Wichien’s death in 2012.If Boss does ever return, it will be more to do with the shaming potential of Mark Zuckerberg’s hobby than the real wishes of the RTP.Related and never far from the news – as a national joke and a national tragedy – was the carnage on the roads. Not that any more, or less, died on the Thai racetracks this week just that Bloomberg is apparently helping the authorities in Bangkok to cut victims in half by 2019.Funny, I thought that was the job of those Americans arrested in Sukhumvit last year with a mate chopped up in the freezer.No, Bloomberg said they had pinpointed what was wrong – in a nut shell (“nutcase more like” as Basil Fawlty once observed) the problem is one of speed, drinking, seatbelts and helmets.Cheers Einstein – and thanks for leaving out the embarrassing bit – namely law enforcement. We can clearly work with you Bloomberg to turn 600 deaths into 300 and we’ll all be as happy as larry.Just one Rooster award this week. The simple “Brilliant Kid” award goes to Thai/German boy Stefan Quint. This inspirational secondary school pupil suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma was invited on TV after winning a gold medal at a maths Olympiad in Singapore.Apart from the well-spoken young man himself, seeing his brilliant and caring parents and teacher on a well-produced, poignant yet unsensational TV show reminded me of all the good things in Thailand. And bless you Stef for doing it all with a cheeky teenage smile on your face.Finally, I noted with personal interest that July 29th was Thai Language Day; I was surprised such a commemoration existed despite the fact the language is on track to become the world’s most spoken tongue before even police corruption is ended.One of Thai’s greatest proponents, the dear five star PM, was at the center of one of the newest slang additions this year popular with teens. Apparently “lamyai” – the name of the twerking dancer that his generalness was so peeved with – has lent her name to a new word meaning to be furious.Perhaps showing what little I know of Thai humor, wouldn’t the verb “to prayut” have been more appropriate for blowing a blood vessel.Now that would have been funny. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-07-30
  9. The week that was in Thailand news: A certain lack of political correctness I came to Thailand before the term political correctness had ever been coined. Or if it had I certainly had never heard of it.As phraseology such as intellectually or even horizontally challenged started to plague the west that I had ditched, it was always far more refreshing to be in a country where a spade was actually referred to as a spade.Imagine calling someone a spade in the UK these days.It was always possible - and still is - to poke fun at the Royals; I shall never forget my news editor calling Prince Charles “wing nut”. But increasingly the public had to watch what they said as not just social approbation awaited – they could wind up in court.Terms like “ageism” became mainstream; you were a social pariah for suggesting that your female work colleague looked nice today.In the early eighties, as first Ariana Afghan Air then later a boat across the Indian Ocean brought Rooster to south east Asia, I had time to contemplate what I had l left behind and what possibly awaited me in my Brave New World.That world was Thailand and it was immediately obvious that here was both a place where you could say exactly what you thought as well as where buttoning your lip could save you lying on a floor with rice gruel for breakfast for years and only Somchai to hear your moans.The trick was in knowing what you could and couldn’t or shouldn’t say of course – and it was made all the more difficult with the “could” category being so vast!The fact that Rooster was now pigeonholed according to color and race was the first in your face indication of change. But I tried to use it to my advantage: my first attempts at humor went down well such as when asked if I would like some raw guava….Indignantly I refused “Farang gin farang day yang ngai? (How on earth can a Caucasian be expected to eat a guava?).Ok, you need to have been there…Reading on the front of a local newspaper that a visiting foreign head of state might be taken to a soapy Thai massage parlor as part of their local cultural tour quickly confirmed that political correctness would take some decades before it was washed up on these shores.Things have changed like everywhere, though I always feel that Thais becoming more politically correct is something usually done to appease the “God of Tourism” – it is done grudgingly and usually with a wily wink that we are only saying that to please you – when push comes to shove we’ll ignore it, just like the laws we don’t like, seems to be the message.Every week on Thaivisa you can see the gulf of political correctness between the west and here as wide as the Gulf of Thailand. And I think I prefer it that way.I have been doing some advisory work at a large recruitment firm in Krung Thep and I had suggested to a Thai I met there that in the UK it was now illegal to demand a candidate photo on a job application.“But how would you know what they looked like and whether they were suitable to be hired?” came back the reply.In a similar vein my first reference to Thai news this week is the story about the pretty lady cop acting as a drill sergeant keeping the men in line in Kamphaeng Phet. Yes, the translator went to town in English but it was all there in Thai after all and why should PC be necessary when referring to Thai cops anyway!The female cop was young, curvaceous in her well cut uniform, yes, never mind if she was good at her job; she was a right bit of alright leading to my favorite forum comment of the week.It was from “NCC1701A” in Hua Hin who usually regales us with his ideas for sentencing but lightened up a bit this week with: “Could you imagine the sh*t storm this would cause if you did a story like this in the USA”.Political correctness was never something that the UK tabloid press wanted and neither do they bother to let facts get in the way of a good story. The Sun – who famously said “Elton Takes David Up the Aisle” when the singer married his same sex partner – were at it again when 90,000 baht became 90,000 quid.The story was the former Eastenders star that no one has heard of who fell down at a Samui waterfall, bust his knee and now expects the Thais to pay for his stupidity.Jeremy Clarkson would probably call them “slopes” – the Thais not their inclines - but I am glad that the Samui hospital director said it like it is and had a go at the nasty foreign press. Because they are very nasty.The Sun of course feels they can say anything they like about Thailand as they feel so shackled by their hacks no longer being able to say things at home like “Zip me up before you Go Go” when George Michael was caught in some Piccadilly toilets.Bash the Asians, keep ‘em in their place – they deserve it. Why do we need to be politically correct when it comes to them?A twenty something who could hardly be called politically correct is Nathan Bartling, the American Youtuber who dominated the news this week at least until some Russian beg-packers came along to take off some of the heat.My Mate Nate is about the most hated person in Thailand at the moment though I have to say a lot of that is jealousy about the money he is making.According to some sources he may have creamed off a million bucks in clicks from his YouTube antics making his 5,000 baht fine for railway trespass a trifling bagatelle.The righteous are calling for him to be deported and many want to see his work permit but when all is said and done, is he not today’s version of Candid Camera or Jeremy Beadle’s “You’ve Been Framed”.The Thai authorities would be better off utilizing his large following for a touch of “promotional payback” and rather than sending him and his like packing they should look at ways of taxing him to the tune of 40%.Work permits and tax were the last thing on the mind of the Russian beggars armed with little Olga firstly in Bangkok then latterly in Chiang Mai. Prior to the days of social media the antics of these beggars would have just been seen as quirky with perhaps the odd shout to “go back to where you belong”.These days everyone has an opinion and the wave of outrage seems to be out of all proportion to the act even indeed if they have done anything wrong.Except of course committing the heinous crime of offending the court of social media with all those holier than thou types who have never done anything wrong. Yeah, right.Some idiotic posters claim to believe that the antics of people like Nate and the beg-packers tar every visitor to Thailand with the same brush. This is pure ignorant Thai bashing showing the posters up as worse than those they attempt to criticize.Rooster has always felt that the Thais are smarter than most nationalities– an attitude that has helped me not just be happy in the kingdom but, on occasion, given me the edge in not underestimating my adversary!Not that living in Thailand is a battle – but it can seem like a challenge at times. Certainly reading – and translating – much of the crime this week was not a walk in Suan Lum.In Nong Khai there was the horrendous rape of a nursing assistant by a convicted murder let out to strike again. He had somehow walked into a public hospital with a knife tucked into his trousers prompting the director to say “security is fine”.Maybe he should take notice of the 7/11 staff at the hospital who immediately contacted the police when the man started spreading camphor on his privates in the store saying he was randy.A small clue that he might be up to no good.Unfortunately the cops were too late to save the assistant who should sue the hospital in my view.The nutter remains at large but the cops in Surat Thani did better with a 48 hour arrest in the “Dressed to Kill” slaying of a woman who the murderer claimed swindled him.Rules of Engagement in Thai business conflict have always contained the sub-sections “employ a hired gun” and “massacre the entire family just in case” but in Surat the murderer – again released following murder – just satisfied himself with dressing up as a woman, tying up the victim with cloth and duct tape…oh, and kicking the corpse on his way out.It was a much better week for the airline industry and the city of Chiang Mai.The Thai media managed to scour the internet to find an organization that was prepared to say that Bangkok Airways was one of the best airlines in the world and their airport on Samui equally superb – despite the fact that it makes Mor Chit bus station look organized.Chiang Mai was somehow named the third best city in the world and it was amusing to see many of the forum posters who love the place come out and rubbish that.Rooster has never been a fan and thinks that if you are going to live in a polluted and traffic infested metropolis you may as well live in a nice one like Bangkok.And so to a couple of Rooster awards. My “Fair Play But It Was About Time” award goes jointly to the cops who have brought back the jet set monk to face trial on money laundering, drugs and molestation charges and the judge who sentenced highway killer and “Boss lookalike” Jenphop to five years for driving into two graduates at 250kmh.In the case of the monk it remains to be seen if the law can convict him while nobody will be surprised if Jenphop is really out on bail and using his millions to escape porridge.I wonder if Boss is reading the stories for tips?Finally, well done to the bods at the labor ministry who at last are reviewing that infamous list of 39 occupations that only Thais can do. They have grasped that nearly all of the jobs no Thai actually wants to do.The general PM weighed in with his helpful advice to keep the profession of tour guide for his countrymen only.But then we could hardly expect political correctness in every quarter, could we.Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-07-23
  10. The week that was in Thailand news: Thailand - First World or Third World it still rocks my world. Rooster has never used the term “third world” when referring to Thailand. It’s not that my specs have a strong tint of rose, just that I long since accepted its shortcomings and preferred to celebrate its improvements rather than dwell on what is wrong all the time.As I observed the term in relation to Thailand for the umpteenth time on Thaivisa forum this week I thought a little research was in order as while most people accept the connotation the term ‘third world’ implies it is not immediately obvious where it originated.I mean where is the second world? And is there even a fourth one, I wondered.I was amused to discover that on a world map from 1975 on Wikipedia Thailand is listed as “First World” – this was really a political designation as the kingdom was a supporter of the US during their failed attempts to give the Vietcong an ass-whupping and bomb Laos out of existence.So Thailand joined the UK, France, Japan and Australia – among others - in the First World bracket while the communist bloc in the Cold War were the second, and everywhere else was third class citizenry.Since the wall came down the terms have changed with third world becoming the handy put down for Thai and other bashers the world over.But there is always someone worse off than you – some online refer to my beloved India as the fourth world…Bless!No, when it comes to Thailand I prefer the term “Rocks My World” despite all its foibles, follies and frequent feeble fallacies.Enough effing; this was a week that saw both the lack of safety and professionalism associated with emerging nations and the slick emergency responses normally more akin to developed countries.An example of the former was the horrific accident that befell an Australian tourist in Phuket who was caught on his wife’s holiday video falling from a parasail. The operators have been charged and have blamed the tourist, as is their wont.Those involved in such activities can do unpredictable things and they should not be able to harm themselves due to their lack of knowledge. Rooster – who organized hundreds of adventurous residential school trips in Thailand and produced a safety policy copied by many well-known schools – is only two well aware of cowboys.But it was my view that engaging Thais, who wanted to raise standards in conjunction with foreign experts and assessors, was the way forward. I always told the hi-so Thai parents at safety briefings before we took their little ones on zip-wires that I had checked everything personally.This was true – but I also said that the biggest chance of injury on a school trip was on the road to the resort or in the hotel swimming pool, two matters that I painstakingly addressed out of fear of what could easily go wrong.On the plus side this week was the case of the Thai authorities who managed to save the life of a British tourist who had been living on stream water in Samui for three days after breaking his leg at an isolated waterfall.Hopefully, he won’t develop dysentery.The police were professional in finding him and the rescue services did a great job in getting him to hospital – very First World if I may…..Bucking the police professionalism trend were those paragons of idiocy down at Koh Tao who thought that mentioning the fact that the Belgian tourist, who allegedly hanged herself, had bought a ticket off the island would take the heat off.It merely served to turn up the gas as it hardly takes Sherlock to determine that someone who buys a ticket to ride doesn’t usually intend to remain exactly where they are.Also shambolic in the extreme was the continuing investigation into the murder of a Thai woman found in Phuket allegedly done in by her German boyfriend who took a box cutter to his own throat when the cops came calling.Incredibly, the forensics team “overlooked” a bloodstain the size of a small bus on the underside of a mattress. The offending stain was found by relatives looking for valuables resulting in the fumbling forensics making a third visit.This was ample grist for the mill for those who claim that Thai investigative procedures are based on those chemistry kits one used to get as a ten year old in England when the “advanced” experiment was to make copper sulfate turn white by heating then blue again by adding water.It is to be hoped that the investigation into the mass shooting of the kamnan’s family in Krabi is handled better. Eight are dead but miraculously three family members survived in a shooting supposedly done with the main victim’s own gun.However, press speculation that this was somehow contrived to make the crime look like a murder suicide was not even worthy of the term third world.Out of this world perhaps.Much of this week’s news was going on at a resort you may have heard of east of Rooster’s Bangkok sanctuary.Forum comment of the week thus went to keyboard wag “klauskunkel” who remarked on the story about the misspelling of road signs in Pattaya with: “The Pattaya sign proofreader was unavailable, since he was competing in a Scrabble tournament”.Indeed my good friend Graham Buckingham who plays Scrabble tournaments internationally and lives at the resort ought to be hired to bring some respectability to QUOTES (the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard). Then they wouldn’t need to blame the contractor!Both Graham and Rooster were scrabbling alongside the Thais at the Brands International in Bangkok last week an event won by Bangkok computer programmer Komol Panyasophonlert who beat a Canadian world champion in the final.Komol managed to spell XYLONITE to beat the best player in the world.Of course, spelling of English generally in Thailand leaves something to be desired. Much of the problem is that no one ever came up with a standard transliteration system. And not surprisingly no one spoke up when an important person more than 100 years ago initiated a lot of spellings for names based on his idea of how words sounded including letters not actually pronounced.No wonder foreigners who don’t know the Thai script can be left a little befuddled!Rooster – a Thai teacher of 20 years’ experience – has the best Thai transliteration system in the world, he says modestly, but even that, if strictly adhered to, would mean having to spell Pattaya as Phatthayaa, never mind the tone marks.Of course it is not just spelling but pronunciation that can baffle, though mistakes can be revealing.I particularly enjoyed a UK quizmaster’s attempt at knowledge, in the days before the Brits invaded the kingdom en masse, when he asked a contestant: “What is the capital of Thigh-land?Maybe he knew something I didn’t about Thai anatomy, but there was no doubting the intention of The Sun newspaper who, commented on the infamous scandal involving Prince Andrew’s missus Sarah Ferguson having her feet licked by her toy-boy on a boat.The tabloid, once famous for the headline “Gotcha!” as hundreds of “Argies” died in the sinking of the General Belgrano, said the licking incident occurred “off the Thai island of Phuket (pronounced Fuk-It)”.Pattaya was also in the news for all the wrong reasons again after various news outlets and private individuals shared pictures of a black object offshore that some call “the sea”.Tourism minister Khun Kobkarn might have spent her week more productively by making a visit east rather than doing ministerial back slapping at the latest “medical hub” and “long stay visa conference”.She really needs to start getting some priorities straight and using her obvious influence to enact some positive change. Pattaya has more hubs now than an 18 wheel truck but what could be a massive draw for families, that sea thing, is just a filthy cesspit that epitomizes the corruption of QUOTES.More lighthearted this week was the latest “survey” that noted Thailand was 31st on a list of the laziest countries on earth. I’m not sure where this placed the kingdom in the perennial first world/ third world debate.But the survey was billed as a major one concentrating on the number of steps that mobile users take on their death-wish walks around the streets.In this regard Rooster demands a recount – I am old school often leaving my phone at home suspicious of my more tech savvy better half’s ability to track my movements; those few thousand steps I still occasionally take staggering between Soi 23 and Soi 4 on Sukhumvit were clearly not recorded making a mockery of the survey.Now, before I reveal too much, onto this week’s Rooster awards. The “Begpacking Achievement Award” goes to the group of foreign tourists who managed to get a whopping 70% discount from the resort owners for clearing up their filthy bit of beach.This could become a trend that Khun Kobkarn may like to follow up on. Perhaps we could have a “Begpacking Visa” so that all tourists could stay free. Just so long as they go down the drains and do the work that the convicts or Cambodians used to do.This would have the added benefit of being safer for the general public, so long as the tourists were not tanked up Brits of course.The beach cleaners were termed “naa rak” or “loveable” by the groveling and two faced Thai press but there was no doubting the “Most Loveable Girl” of the week that went to little 8 year old Ploy who melted my heart.She was the conscientious trainee foundation medic carrying on the family tradition by helping members of the public in trips to accidents with her proud dad.A case of why one loves Thailand so much, a comment that also refers to my closing statement of the week.Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali turned 60 on Thursday. Not one of the most well-known of the Royal Family, HRH has worked irelessly to promote good causes and has been especially to the fore in the work done in Thailand to help the hundreds of thousands who have HIV with all its related stigma.The proudest moment of my humble life was receiving an award from the princess in 2006 and the picture that proves it has pride of place in my home.To mark the princess’s birthday the Red Cross this week handed out free drugs to those who might be at risk of HIV infection. Princess Diana famously hugging AIDS victims came to mind.Happy Birthday and thank you Princess Soamsawali for all you do for Thailand.Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-07-16
  11. The week that was in Thailand news: Thailand – it’s as safe as houses! In their inestimable and undeniable wisdom a succession of headmasters delegated Rooster as their choice to deliver the keynote address at the orientation of new teaching staff to Thailand at my prestigious international school every August.Maybe they felt that I could give some guidance about what awaited the usual two dozen expatriate hopefuls arrayed before me in my classroom. Or was it just that none of the other expats on the staff had a clue what to say about Thailand most living as they did in their British bubble of bliss in the kingdom.My talk had all the usual elements you might expect, from feet to the Royal Family and back, and was liberally sprinkled with vital local language tips for teachers – like how to pronounce Carlsberg in Thai or order a Coke in a bag with ice.My musings were invariable well received – I was after all the head of Thai so I should have been able to impart something! One could always tell those few who had been hired locally – they had that smirk of skepticism at a farang telling them about Thailand though it was easy to bring them round by giving face. It is not just the Thais that appreciate that after all…My talk was meant to be uplifting and positive at the start of a school year and so it was, but without laboring the point I wanted to mention a few matters where the new arrivals might want to take care.It was always my feeling that Thailand had dangers but I had felt since my earliest days in the kingdom that it was essentially a safe place. But I drew everyone’s attention to three things in particular.These boiled down to looking when crossing the road, only engaging the local population intimately when clad in latex and not going out of your way to make trouble, especially if you had enjoyed a glass or two of Teachers.Fail to observe these and you may go home in a box, was my refrain.So it has been with some wistful memories of that past existence that I have mused on several stories recently that have graced the Thaivisa news as the authorities try to downplay the dangers of a visit to Thailand and the forum Thai bashers rant on about it being the most dangerous place on earth.Unlike Rooster they probably had never been in the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough, Sheffield, for a cup semi-final…..For me Thailand remains a place of relative safety where natural disasters are few, coups and barricades are restricted to a few streets and the worst we have to worry about are soi dogs on four legs, soi dogs on four wheels and an angry missus.Probably doubting my assertions of safety this week was the tourist on Samui who uncovered, literally, the story of the week. He had noticed a bit of a smell on the beach, something that most of us would probably have put down to yesterday’s som tam re-fermenting.But he dug a little deeper and the grisly secret of Lamai was revealed – a Burmese lady called Rucie well known in the area as a friendly vagrant. Her mistake seems to have been possessing a gold chain.Soon the police were looking for more Burmese as the cops echoed the famous line from Casablanca – “round up the usual suspects!”Of course this brought the usual conspiracy theorists crawling from the Thaivisa woodwork as if it is only those from Myanmar who are picked on.Come on guys – don’t you realize that it was those nasty Burmese who were responsible for the sacking of Ayuthaya? And in the great run of things 1767 was just yesterday.Certainly The Samui Times were bucking the Burmese bashing trend with their claims that Koh Tao is deserving of the name “Death Island”. The editorial team there – or is it actually abroad – came out with a statement to say that no libel writ had been issued against them and besides, they were sticking to their guns about what they stated previously.The Surat Thani governor had said he intended to sue but methinks there is more than enough circumstantial evidence to point to a prima feces case against the southern islands.In reality it is the authorities themselves who should take a long hard look at what is going on in “paradise”.For things may not be as rosy as they believe.Providing some light relief as ever was the general purpose PM who has come up with the cunning plan to make sure Thailand is ready for the future by demanding that all his army chiefs learn and are tested in English. This seemed to fly in the face of his earlier claims that Thai was the lingua franca of planet earth.One would hope that some of the vocabulary taught might include tricky long words like “democracy”, “accountability” and the slightly shorter and easier to grasp concept of “elections”.Ever amusing Prayut had told reporters that learning English would be good for his minions so that they “won’t be dumb like me”.Naturally he said this in Thai.For Rooster it brought to mind a story some years ago connected to foreign languages when Suphanburi dynamo Banharn Silapa-Archa was prime minister.It had come to some reporters’ attention that said Banharn was not in possession of one of the prerequisites of the highest elected office in Thailand – namely having a degree.So one cheeky hack asked Banharn what was his qualification? Quick as a flash he said that he had a degree in French. A reporter followed up with a question to test this assertion asking the diminutive politico:“Comment allez-vous?”Banharn’s response is unlikely to go down in the annals of French literature:“Alai wa?”, was all he could muster.Yes, just as in these exalted times, politicians could pretty much do as they wished, all with that Thai smile on their collective faces that says “up yours Khun Jimmy”.But while politicians often seem to do as they please they are proving no match for the giants of the internet world in their half-hearted effort to rein in adverse comment online.The supposed crackdown on social media and sensationalism has predictably proved to be nothing more than saber-rattling as the Thai authorities realize they are no match for something they don’t truly understand and certainly cannot control.Perhaps they should ask some children about it or the millions of people with their collective noses buried in their phones that I see every day – that may give them a clue as to where the country is headed – and what not to mess with.No round up of the news could be complete without at least partial reference to my favorite seaside resort and I make no apology for referring once again to the 8th Wonder of the Modern World, namely the Pattaya road tunnel.This is “wonder” in the sense of ‘I wonder why they bothered building it in the first place’ because I see no sooner have they claimed to have finished it than they are starting to repair it.Apparently some “rogue water”, as the translator mischievously referred to it, has surfaced down by the sea.Whether this will put the date back, forward or sideways remains to be seen in what is becoming as big a soap opera as the woman and her pals bashing the sex-seeking architect she met online.Police chief Sanit put in his customary appearance for the cameras at Chok Chai nick on this vital case with perhaps the only surprise that he just had a few dabs of makeup forgoing the perm for the baying photogs.Meanwhile my thanks to the poster on the column last week who drew my attention to the spelling on The Nation’s header of “Thailland’s Independent newspaper”.“What the ‘el?” I hear you say.I doubt those responsible would do very well at the international Scrabble tournament that was held in Bangkok this week attended by none other than New Zealander Nigel Richards, the best player in the world.Maybe the guys at The Nation should join the army chiefs in a Spelling Bee.Tourism minister Khun Kobkarn was rumored to be handing out the prizes for the Scrabble event, doubtless referring to Thailand being a hub of spelling and quoting an increase in tourist revenues of 87% as a result.Due to cutbacks at Thaivisa there is only one Rooster award this week. The “Taking the Michelin Award” goes to the restaurant that gave its customers a whopping ten percent discount on top of providing them with some extra protein via a cockroach in the dim sum.I always wondered what that Chinese term referred to – at least now I know it means the same as English – a bill lacking in any intelligence.Finally a tip of the titfer to the Health Department who have been encouraging the population this week to give up booze for Buddhist Lent.It got me thinking – if everybody gave up alcohol for three months I wonder what the effect would be on the statistics of domestic violence, murder, road death and assault by tanked up parents on their little children?Let’s call that a rhetorical question.Rooster. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-07-09
  12. The week that was in Thailand news: Welcome to the quirkiest nonsense on the planet. Back in the day before the internet when we all lived in caves and were hunter gatherers, I was a cub reporter in South London getting my proverbial knackers chewed off every five minutes by a news editor with exacting standards.It was a good training ground in journalism and taught me some life lessons about management and relationships. Both how to do and how not to do.It was a poorly paid job though it has to be said that all earnings went on liquid refreshment guzzled before 2.30pm and between 5.30 and half ten. Which is probably why I never complain if there is an early closing crackdown in Krung Thep….With money being short reporters were constantly on the lookout for stories that we could flog to the national papers – something called linage – which we could charge for so long as our local newspaper coverage was not gazumped.Good payers were tabloids on the lookout for quirky stories – and I remember “getting a nice little earner” from a page five spread in The Sun about a resident’s pet python that was killed by a mouse that she fed to it.Unfortunately those days are gone as online information is invariably owned by no one leaving little opportunity to make a few sobs on the side.And more’s the pity – for with each passing week it seems like the stories that would have made me a fortune years ago are cropping up every single day on Thaivisa.Is it just me or does Thailand throw up some of the quirkiest nonsense on the planet?!When I first came to Thailand in the early eighties I realized that journalism didn’t pay so I turned to teaching carving myself a niche both in delivering English then later a lucrative nest egg garnered by teaching Thai.But a love of the news always stayed with me so I make no excuses this week for virtually ignoring the dull and dreary serious news in favor of the fun and frivolous that puts a smile on our collective faces day in and day out.Top billing – and certainly in the “couldn’t make it up category” – went to kindhearted gran Bang-orn who decided not to press charges against a stranger who had his way with her pet dog in a nearby deserted house.The reason, she said, was that “Jao Jut” went willingly, wagging his tail in anticipation as he trotted off to the rogering rendezvous.Talk about Thais finding a compromise everywhere.Next up was the lady who “issued an internet warning” about buying on the cheap. I imagined she meant her words for only the 65 million Thais out of 67 million who do just that, no matter what they say about the cost if asked.This lady’s beef was with some 50 baht cushions that she had been sleeping on for several years and had frayed. Inside as stuffing were sanitary towels and nappies.We didn’t need to be told they were used. For me it brought to mind all those occasions when I had hung the wrong smalls on the line, put my feet on a pillow or similarly committed one of the seven thousand Thai cardinal sins that most farangs fall foul of.Online reaction was of course indignant with the smug saying you get what you pay for while they secretly had a look inside their own 49 baht cushions.Best crack of the week came from forum wag Juan B Tong who commented on the story: “OTOP – one tampon one product”, a delightful play on tambon or sub-district, for the uninitiated.Continuing the quirky – though in this case it was criminal – were the two Indians passing off play money for a “song thaew” fare in Pattaya.The forum went into a tailspin as the Schadenfreudian curmudgeons of keyboard gave a massive “som nam naa” to the driver for thinking he was on a winner with two ten pound notes with Chinese writing on them.The appearance of Charles Darwin on the back further amused many, leading to the hapless driver being compared to one of Rooster’s evolutionary challenged ‘originals of the species’.In most countries the driver would have taken it on the chin but there he was, bemoaning his fate to the most unsympathetic and invariably uninterested creatures on the planet – the Pattaya police.Also coming a cropper in QUOTES – the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard – was the Iranian robbed by a lady on a motorcycle who turned out to be anything but.Hardly news but the translator was clearly enjoying himself with his assertion that the middle-easterner only realized his mistake when he was trying to find something to hold onto to avoid falling off the bike.Causing him to grab some extra tackle.Going viral on the forum was the story of the cheapskate groom who turned up at his wedding with only half the agreed dowry.What is it about dowries that seems to enrage westerners so much? I get the feeling that many have spent their money chasing what Bernard Trink used to call the “demimondaines” and are thus outraged at still paying for it when it comes to marriage.Bless and double bless! If anyone thinks that marriage is cheaper you must be as barking as the dog that went so willingly to his fate in Pattaya.Rooster, being a fair fowl, never thought twice about all that money laid out on the floor of the ramshackle hut in Loei that the soon to be Mrs R called home.But I must admit I did feel a tad peeved when all those twenty and fifty baht notes that had been thrust into my wai-ing hands by every single person in the village similarly went the way of she that must be obeyed #2, the mother-in-law.Also coming in twos were a pair of stories about trains that tickled Rooster’s ever-ready ribs.The first was the transport official who echoed Titanic-ally that the high speed service from Bangkok to Korat could never possibly fail.Those of us who remember when a cleaner left the brake off six locomotives coupled together in Bang Seu causing them to speed driver-less towards Hualampong Station in 1986 may beg to differ.The aforesaid accident – that killed six – was a Thai classic that everyone was talking about. I had missed the news but was freaked out later in the day when I heard the gabbing maid at home talking about “rot fai chon gan” – a phrase that literally means trains colliding but is used much more frequently to describe when one’s mistress inadvertently meets one’s wife.Fearing those knackers were once again at risk I prepared for the worst with ‘er indoors – how relieved was I when discovering it was actually trains that had ‘collided’, on this occasion with the station itself.Also causing merriment was the feasibility study for a train to run between Chumporn on the Gulf and Ranong on the Andaman. It was reminiscent of one of Thailand’s oldest plans known as the Kra Isthmus project to build a canal between the two seas.Plans that have been talked about as much as Britain’s Channel Tunnel. That eventually got built but one wonders about these train projects – especially when, or if, Thailand is returned to some form of democracy.You know, where you vote for someone.The military seem to be able to sign off on anything and with the Shinawatra’s either banished or soon to enjoy porridge will anyone elected have the clout or gonads to get things done. Whatever your views on Big Too’s crew some things have been achieved.It is not just a question of telling him to stick his junta up his jumper!And so to this week’s Rooster awards. The “Good Luck With That One” award goes to the anguished mum of the Belgian woman found hanging in Koh Tao who was on her way to Thailand to “get to the truth”.I have only been to Koh Tao once – and that was quite enough. Not that I felt unsafe as they weren’t murdering each other just yet. No, it was just that the island resembled a building site with 7/11s on every corner.So much for paradise – if I wanted that I could have just driven down to Tops.While the “Good Luck With That 2” award goes to the engineers in Pattaya who said that the tunnel would now be finished in August.Honestly, you’d think they were building the eighth and ninth wonders of the world combined there have been so many deadlines and delays. Now they need some “expert staff” to man it, something they seem to have only just thought of!While the “Good Luck With That 3” award goes to Phuket for vowing, if a province can vow, to become the first of its kind to be corruption free.I wonder if they are paying for that?Finally, it was interesting to see that almost 8,000 bikers have been nabbed for being on the footpath or going the wrong way in Bangkok in the last two months. Police should be watching the red lights – I have never seen so many bikers risking their lives as in recent weeks.Their antics remind me of an experience going back home at 2am one night. The motorcyclist next to me went forward on green and was creamed by a pick-up. Rooster was first on the scene some 50 meters down the road where the man was trying to get up having been relieved of one of his legs.When I got home and hugged the wife closely that night she wondered why I couldn’t sleep.And wasn’t feeling romantic.Rooster. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-07-02
  13. The week that was in Thailand news: Accentuating the positives in the Land of Smiles. Rarely have I enjoyed such an amusing and enlightening week following the news on Thaivisa. While the great and the good stories inevitably still rubbed shoulders with the grisly and the grotesque there was much to both ponder and wonder in the land I am proud to call home.Here was a microcosm of media mayhem containing many of the reasons why I love to live here. Though those self-same reasons may be why critics of the kingdom prefer not to!To those who find Thailand a frustrating morass of problems, difficulties and bewilderment I would say lighten up and don’t take it so seriously.For the Thais don’t.Even when serious issues come to the fore they manage to either find the funny side or at the very worst file it away under R for Rubbish and perhaps deal with it later after mealtimes.Rooster has fallen in and out of love with many a local lady but one constant remains – an abiding respect for the nation and an appreciation of, and focus on, all the good things that have made life here such an interesting and fulfilling one.Of course, “khii” happens – but accentuating the positives has become my mantra, especially in the absence of any help from Buddhism, or even religion, that I always filed under my own secret R following the advice of my late father.One of the principal tenets of my private existence is not to compare Thailand to the “West”, wherever that is, but to enjoy the antics of the denizens of my adoptive homeland rather like a free sideshow. Only comparing a Thai with another Thai.In this way I compare like with like and invariable find something to like – and less to grumble about. Then it is easier to focus on the improvements that have been made in the country rather than be drawn into the nonsensical notion that it is going to the dogs.Call me naïve and I will listen to you with a smile – but that is a Thai smile and it doesn’t mean I agree with you…..For me the abiding memory of the week came early Monday as a Thai policeman talked a knife out of a man’s hand using Southern dialect, then threw the weapon away before giving the stressed out chap a bear hug.The cop had invited him to “kin khaaw duay gan” and offered to replace his stolen guitar. So what if the promises were not kept – the situation was calmed Thai style and I felt warm and fuzzy.Later in the week came the story about a cop in Hat Yai paying a student’s clamping fine because he didn’t have enough money.Don’t worry – Rooster hasn’t gone soft on the force, it’s just that I don’t agree with some on the forum that claim there is some conspiracy to present police – and taxi drivers even – in a good light following stories that present them as sinners.Thaivisa mirrors Thai news and it is to the credit of the local media that they are not stifled as much as many foreigners believe what with a military regime at the helm and the cops ruling many roosts.So why not accentuate the positives occasionally because they do plenty of the reverse.Show me a farang Thai basher and I’ll show you a local that does the same. The difference being they have another of those smiles….Foreign indignation came to the fore when locals in Samui blamed an American for insulting the spirits leading to him tumbling to his death at a waterfall. But do the negative posters really believe that most Thais accept this as truth?While some do, there is no denying, many do not. The Thai news media is kind of honor bound to report such views. So we see snakes and lottery numbers. Discover that people are lady boys or toms. Are told about skin color in a major headline…..The last of these caused a Facebook furor in the news of the Nigerian gang arrested for paying Thai women 5,000 baht to marry their compatriots for visas. The translator to English – for that is what Thaivisa use in many of their best stories – was just opening a window to Thailand.If you want to know more try learning Thai writing yourself. As mentioned later in the article, the “dark skinned gang” was actually referred to as the “nasty dark skinned gang” – many cry racism or xenophobia but Thais use such terms more to refer to themselves than to foreigners.In fact look no further than the story about the woman called Praiya, condemned online for her video about how to catch a rich farang husband after admitting to dating 5,000 foreigners.All the stereotypes came out from the Thais but very few were farang bashing – they were bashing their own.Rooster hated her video introduction that mocked one of my favorite Thai songs. Inevitably missed by most non-Thai speakers she was lip syncing the classic “Ngern mee mai” (Do you have money?) of the late, great Phumpuang Duangjan who tragically died so young.I wouldn’t give that “crumpet strumpet” the time of day just for that!Rib tickling this week was the story of the Cambodian at the ATM near the border with more than 100 cards and a bag full of 3 million baht in cash. It reminded me of something I will never do – join a queue at a Thai ATM.I have long since appreciated that it is better to have no money than to grow old in this way.Besides it always gives me an excuse to press the ATM when out at night which allays Mrs Rooster’s concerns when she “happens to stumble” on the withdrawal slip when de-griming my dungarees.The Cambodian was similarly armed with an excuse though it seemed far more flimsy than anything I would dare to proffer. But at least it kept him out of jail though the cops kindly relieved him of his millions…..for evidential purposes, you understand.Someone who didn’t have enough excuses was Johan the Dutchman who must still do 20 years for money laundering. Though many believe he was just spending legally earned guilders– illegal in Thai eyes because it was connected to ganja cafes – there is obviously more to the story than that.He clearly upset too many people – one thing to be avoided in Thailand – and will just have to be happy that his sentence has come down from 103 years and he may only have to do ten more.As was noted before, accentuate the positive.Smiling and enjoying the rice gruel is a prospect that awaits former PM Yingluck. While she may well have been naughty, off her own bat or that of her brother, Rooster will always have a smidgen of sympathy.In a previous life Rooster was a teacher of Thai culture and I had the pleasure of Yingluck’s son in my class – I always ascribed to the view that lovely children came from nice parents so, at the very least, that counts as a redeeming feature for Ms Shinawatra.Grisly this week were two revolting crimes against those very children that Rooster holds dear. Two parents had to endure the agony of seeing a trusted “friend” on CCTV spiriting their ten year old daughter away from school on a motorcycle. She was later found naked and murdered.While in Chonburi a teacher read evidence of rape in a primary child’s homework assignment. And worse – the callous so called mother had sold her to an old man on the council giving her daughter 500 baht sweet money from the proceeds.While in the first case the tragedy is that the mother will never see the child again, it is to be hoped that in the second she is never allowed to.Meanwhile, following last week’s refusal to believe an international survey when Suwannaphum was named one of the worst airports, Thais rushed to agree with one this week when THAI was praised for its economy class cabin service.Funny that.Mind you I have no beef with THAI and that is not because I don’t eat beef but due to an unforgettable experience years ago when travelling across the pacific with a well-respected Thai school director next to me in coach.One of his alumni – none other than the pilot - came out of the cockpit to kneel on the floor and give him the deepest wai I have even seen. We were then both invited to the flight-deck for a wonderful night view over Hawaii.What a pity that Mohammad Atta and his pals put an end to that particular avenue of pleasure when they sought to meet all those virgins in New York City.And so to this week’s Rooster awards. Post of the week goes once again to forum wag “canuckamuck” who commented on the US tourist who fell after insulting the spirits in Samui saying:“The spirit who was offended has now been identified as gravity”.While the “AC:DC” (arch cretin: district chief) award goes to Bang Lamung boss Naris who thought it would be a good idea to engage the bargirls of Walking Street in the political process by asking them Big Too’s four leading questions about the country’s future.I don’t mean to be disparaging about their education but I do recall asking one of their ilk when I first came to Thailand in 1982 if they knew the nationality of the first man on the moon.“Don’t be silly,” she laughed dismissing the very notion. “How could anybody get there?”Finally it was great to see Britney Spears arriving in Bangkok this week – hopefully the general PM will put his twerking crusade on hold as we could do without another embarrassing international gyratory incident.Her visit inspired the comely lovelies of Nok Air to put together their own “Toxic” music video that reminded nervous Rooster about my love for Thailand but also the dangers of flying.For I recalled the time when, travelling Nok Air to Chiang Mai with the missus, I was physically unable to keep my beady eyes off the passing trolley dollies, incurring the silent but wide-eyed wrath of said Mrs Rooster.Not a question of IF but WHEN looks could kill. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-25
  14. The week that was in Thailand news: Land of the cover up – in more ways than one! “Move along now, there’s nothing to see here”.So went the traditional line of the London police when in fact there was everything one could ever want to see. It was an accident in our road and at a tender age it was my first experience of a cover up, albeit a mild one.Later as a cub reporter still in my teens I was regaled by the gnarly and cynical hacks at my newspaper office of one council cover up after another.As my own age of cynicism took hold in my twenties I believed, somewhat naively it has to be said, that I knew what a cover up was.Then I came to Thailand.Here they did cover up with a smile on their collective faces – and not a soul in the streets, unless they happened to be just out of nappies or Sri Thanya hospital, believed a word of it.Life just went on with the people still putting between four and seventeen chilies in the Som Tam and complaining about the heat, the traffic and the mosquitos, in that order.When I experienced my first COUP I imagined that the word somehow came from COver UP. Again no one apologized and life continued pretty much as before. It was in 1985 – hardly anyone mentioned the overthrow of a government, it was all about Neil Davis the brave Australian news cameraman who contrived to film his own death in what was deemed “a bloodless coup”.This week in the Thai news there was more than the usual number of cover ups and it was no surprise that General Big Too – the keeper of the khaki cloth - led the way.Though his idea of a cover up was directed at curvaceous teen “luuk thung” singer Lamyai.Prayuth applied his PG (Pocket General) rating to the singer’s stage act sending his minions to count the number of gyrations she was doing to corrupt Thai youth.Ooh it was scandalous, Rooster was shocked to his very core – I think all those trips to sexy shows at King’s Castle and Pussy Galore in my twenties must have slipped my mind. As Basil Fawlty once said “that avenue of pleasure has been cut off” now that I am serving a 20 year stretch for the crime of marriage.Lamyai’s production manager told Prayut he was “ ‘avin’ a laugh” or words to that effect while the singer, hardly distraught at the extra publicity, put on a flak jacket and looked even sexier than before.However, as idiotic as it was, it all paled into insignificance behind the absurdity of the general’s observations that “rape results from such seductive behavior”.Where is the duct tape when you need it – someone might have done the nation a favor and applied a few strips to stop such nonsense emanating from the barmy brigadier’s bombastic bouche.Our dear leader is now doing his best to resemble my mother in law – it was great to see her and she lightened up the mood for a while; I just wish she wouldn’t stay quite so long…..Doing her best in a more traditional cover up role was Rooster’s perennial favorite Khun Kobkarn over at the vaguely Orwellian Ministry of Truth, hereafter referred to as tourism and sports.To her credit she kept it short and sweet and to the point this week saying there was absolutely no truth to the claim that Thailand was one of the most dangerous places on the planet – though she did kindly say that she would “monitor the situation on a regular basis”.Thank goodness, I was beginning to worry for a moment there.Clearly the stories I read for the rest of the week were just a pack of lies designed to denigrate Thailand.To wit, shame on the Japanese tourist and businessman who preposterously claimed that he was robbed of his 50,000 baht necklace before he had even checked into his Pattaya hotel.Double shame on the Saraburi bus driver who feigned a sword attack and even went so far as to admit himself to ICU with blood pouring from ten imaginary slices to his neck.Even though he had the sword in his hand and a motorcyclist who took it off him was filmed repeatedly trying to cut off his head, it was all clearly made up.It is so easy to use photo shop to doctor videos and images these days to make things look dangerous.Then triple shame, along came the news that a mum had murdered her ten year old daughter because she was “stubborn”.What poppycock – everybody knows that while such crimes happen all over the world it is inconceivable that they could happen in a land where everyone smiles and there are a blessed abundance of fish in the rivers and rice in the fields.I wonder if the tourism minister was monitoring any of that nonsense….Over in London will be interesting to see what degree of cover up comes out of the tragic fire in Kensington where a Thai family are missing. Reading between the lines dozens if not hundreds may be dead. The firm that refurbished the old building say they complied with all codes while the residents had been saying it was an accident waiting to happen.I was intrigued by the difference in the reactions from the British news media as well as the Thaivisa keyboard warriors.Were the fire to have happened in Thailand everyone would have been screaming for the heads of corrupt officials. In Blighty much of social media and the news organizations were just banging on about how the community were rallying round “at this difficult time”.Thaivisa curmudgeons were at a bit of a loss for words that this was happening in safe nanny state UK and not dangerous old Krung Thep.One Thai family in the block – that a Nation story said was in a working class district – had been told by the authorities to stay indoors. Being Thai they ignored this advice and consequently lived.In true British style – a la Hillsborough – the best way to cover things up will be to have public enquiries that drag on for years until everybody culpable is either dead or at the Sunshine Nursing Home for Bent Officials.Reeking of cover up once again in Thailand was the story of a step-father allegedly molesting a ten year old girl. Lo and behold the matter had been reported by mum to the cops but it had not been resolved.Rooster suspects, and I am really going out on a limb here, that it might have something to do with the fact that mum is a teacher and the alleged molester is the director of a school.Once again the very people that the police should help and cherish – the blessed Thai children - are ignored for the sake of face and sheer bone idleness.I’d like to cover up some of these adults who let down our children – in six feet of solid Isaan earth.No cover up was needed when news emerged that our beloved Suvarabhumi airport was named as the seventh worst airport in the world. Known as Suwannaphoom in the Rooster household, where we speak Thai, the news was met with incredulity.I admit when it first opened and a handle on a toilet door came off in my hand, I thought the airport had been put together with Blue Peter sticky tape and string, but since then I have warmed to the place.My feelings of skepticism about the validity of the report were confirmed when British Airways were named as one of the world’s best airlines.Meanwhile down by the sea in QUOTES (the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard) I was surprised to note that the police were not out in force arresting some very naughty and devious plankton that had brazenly decided to turn the normally black sea a bright shade of green.You had to titter. When the “plankton bloom” phenomenon hit Bang Saen there were about four comments on the forum. When it moved onto Pattaya everyone crawled out of the woodwork to have their say – I half expected the Midweek rant to come out and blame Pattaya’s pesky protozoa.The mayor of QUOTES was doing his own blaming two days later when he came out to lay the blame for pollution at the resort on the illegal operators in South Pattaya. Amusingly the authorities seem to have abandoned all hope of removing them in the near or even far future and are now appealing to their good Thai nature to pay for tidying up the 1,000 cubic meters of sludge they tip into the sea each day.A case of the mayor abandoning a cover-up for the sake of a clean-up.And so to this weeks truncated Rooster awards. The “Karma Comedian” award sponsored by Boy George goes to the Chinese tourist who was using a makeshift mini fishing rod with glue to hook money from a Chiang Mai temple donation box.He fell down the stairs carrying 50,000 baht in swag and will not be swaggering for a long time as he broke his leg and was thereafter arrested. Rooster doesn’t believe in karma but has an honors degree in Shadenfreudian Studies so I enjoyed that storyFinally, the award for “Restraint in the Face of Provocation” award goes to the old Thai man at a food court for not hitting a Burmese lady after she dared to go over his foot by accident with her plate collection trolley.Following his withering tirade of abusive language that left the polite lady in tears I would like to present the award in person on behalf of all the nice people in Thailand.And pass on the heartfelt message that you, sir, are a complete pain in the Parson's nose.Rooster. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-18
  15. The week that was in Thailand news: Thailand braces for the invasion of the young! My mum told me when I was a tender age that when she was young it was the time of the old but when she was older it was the time of the young. She said it was never her time.She had been born in the mid-1920s and up until the 1950s it was the old that were the most important in society and still respected. Thereafter the world changed though whether the heady times of the 1960s and beyond have continued is debatable.Rooster has never seen himself as young or old. Leaving England as a teenager to seek my way in the world it was Thailand that grabbed my attention. Yes, I have grown in years in the Kingdom but for me life has been defined much more by being different – and specifically having a different nationality.It always amuses, and slightly perplexes me, when I hear people moaning about being second class citizens or somehow disadvantaged in Thailand. I have always felt I had a distinct advantage – in fact at times I felt the need not to flaunt it, even apologize for it, albeit with an embedded tongue.This week both in Thailand and abroad it was the young that seemed to be to the fore. Over in the UK the young and their engagement with the political process were one of the reasons Mrs M was left scurrying and getting pally with Ian Paisley’s descendants.Where was ironfisted Mrs T when you needed her! The difference between TM and MT, patent.Here in Thailand the population – like everywhere - is ageing. But to me it has always felt like the place of the young despite the reverence to the elderly. Revering the elderly per se is rather silly but seeing as I am getting to the point when thirty some things see me as old, if not decrepit, I am starting to see its merits.Funny that – a bit like despising corruption until one is in a position of power, something we see all too often in Thailand, our land of the rising sum.This week it was revealing to see that Thaivisa was claiming that the site has seen a big rise in young members and posters making it the “go to site for the young to access news”.The notion was panned by the old fogies that the article criticized as its trolling past. To Rooster the article made sense and is probably indicative of more young people coming to live and work in Thailand as much as anything.And why not? There are more English teaching jobs than ever and the internet means that seeking work in a variety of sectors is now much easier than in my day……and seeking relationships online with mainstream Thai women and men is now easier than ever, or so my wife tells me…..Perhaps another reason to make the young come and stay.However, a young person who Thailand could do without is ex US moron Morman missionary Nate Bartling. “My Mate Nate” could find himself in hot water (preferably 100 degrees C) after cat lovers prepared to file an animal cruelty complaint following his latest YouTube stunt featuring a moggy and a scorpion.Nate should have realized that while last time it was only a fish that he doused in liquid nitrogen, a cat is cute and fluffy. And Thais by and large don’t eat them.The country’s animal cruelty laws – mostly introduced in 2015 – are already responsible for people being jailed and fined.This led to an animal protection group warning people this week about the absurd business of capturing birds only to release them to make religious merit.It is hardly surprising that such a practice took hold as it mirrors the habit of the authorities who capture rapists and murderers only to release them shortly after in quite a similar fashion.The TSPCA boss called it a sin – he might also use the same designation for a law that protects soi dogs. One attacked a four year old girl in Hua Hin later in the week.Ochi was left scarred by a mutt the locals are too scared to send to doggie “sawan” because of the new laws.Many forum posters bang on that Thais are Buddhists and won’t eradicate the dogs. No one batted an eyelid – my first wife included – when someone came and shot all the menacing dogs in her estate. But that was several years ago before the new laws.Now the do-gooders who may see the end of Nate’s antics also mean that little children like Ochi can’t play in peace outside their houses. It is a sad state of affairs that needs some common sense to prevail when it comes to stray dogs.Unfortunately common sense seems less prevalent when it comes to animal rights versus those of downtrodden homo saps.A young man driving a “song thaew” in Bangkok stood up to an older car driver who came menacingly at him early in the week in a road rage incident. When I say stood up, actually he produced a veritable sword Crocodile Dundee style from his underpants.Aforesaid oldie meekly got back in his car. Unsurprisingly, many Thais found the incident hilarious rather than concerning that a public driver might be armed in this way.This is a country where the last thing you want to do is get angry on the roads – they are dangerous enough as it is.The UK’s celebrated 1996 case where career criminal Kenneth Noye murdered Stephen Cameron in broad daylight with a knife is something that could be repeated every day of the week here in Thailand due to the proliferation of weapons kept in motor vehicles.Two teachers at a school where I worked were attacked by baseball bats kept in taxis while a friend was followed to his house to have a gun pulled on him after he gave a bad driver the finger at a nearby intersection.Muttering something under my breath is the absolute most Rooster will ever do. I was hardly surprised see Thailand named as one of the top twenty – or bottom twenty – dangerous countries in the world.I think it must be the thrill of mortal peril that keeps me feeling young.And in other non-news the article stated a reason for the danger was that Thailand does not have an effective police force.Bless! What with that and the staggering revelations that Surin cops were earning their daily bread by writing 100 baht on a fine and taking 200 in hand I was beginning to think that this was what the British call the silly season – the slack summer time for news between parliament sessions.More interesting – though equally well known to Thais and residents – was the story about the gangs touring around in old cars deliberately causing accidents to extort money. On this occasion the con artists – who Rooster could have called “gippos” in his younger days – wielded a golf club to threaten their wily victims who were filming.It was a mere putter – at least a driver would have made for a better headline!My missus keeps going on about when am I going to repair the dent in the back of the Civic put there thanks to Rooster’s excellent parking skills – I tell her I am waiting for someone with insurance to go into the back of me.She never laughs or even appreciates that I am actually being serious.Upbeat but bordering on the delusional this week were two of the usual suspects – the tourism minister and the head of Pattaya police. The former – the elegant if vaguely doolally Khun Kobkarn – was talking about six guidelines for attracting more tourist dosh.Unfortunately only four were mentioned in the story – sport, health, maritime and “food tourism” – leaving Rooster to daydream at what the other two might be.When the missus came in suddenly and saw me smiling I’m sure she thought I was viewing some internet pages that the Thai authorities often frown on.“No,” I said, “just fantasizing about Khun Kob….” If I had had my mouth sewn up on arrival in Thailand I would not only be slimmer but have far fewer scars…..Pattaya Potentate of Plod Apichai also seemed to be paranoidly losing the proverbial plot as he praised his upstanding men to the rafters. Apparently the public have absolute faith in his force.Well done sir – I admire a boss who stands up for his workforce. Though admittedly I have more faith in your farce.Which brings me rather neatly to this week’s awards that are all based on stories emanating from QUOTES (the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard). The “Raising the Tone” award goes to the Swedish serial rapist for taking up residence in the resort albeit temporarily until his arrest later in the week.The police did well to nab him so quickly, though I think they were helped a little by the tattoo on his forehead that said “I’m a serial rapist” or suchlike.The missus, learning some English recently, just smiled, perhaps perplexed as to why anyone would commit heinous crime because of cornflakes.The “Where’s Chief Apichai When You Need Him Award” went to the military newbie “General” Thatsanai who found all the lights off and everyone gone home in a sex and drugs raid.As befitting his soldiering tradition he stoically hid his blushes by paraphrasing General Douglas MacArthur by saying “I will return, again and again if necessary”.Full marks for trying but more like a one star general than a five star, methinks.While the “Road Rage Storm in a Teacup” award goes to all those involved in Pattaya in the latest handbags at dawn in the ongoing spat of spit that is the local taxi mafia versus Uber.This one was hardly good advertising for tourism or the non-existent local force but at least it kept the resort, as ever, at the very top of the news, or as the Germans there might like to say….Pattaya Uber Alles.Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-11
  16. The week that was in Thailand news: Thai murder most fowl Rooster likes a good murder.Since becoming a reporter at an early age and handling my first case I have always been fascinated by what drives people to commit this most terrible of crime. And I am equally obsessed by the investigations that take place to attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice.While many friends are out enjoying the nightlife of Bangkok, Rooster is much more likely to be tucked up in bed with a packet of Maltesers and a mug of Earl Grey enjoying the latest YouTube reruns of Forensic Files.When I first came to Thailand, though a little shocked in my naivety about the amount of murder that is committed here, I fit right in at once….All those gory magazines with their sensational stories became my way of learning the written Thai language. Perhaps even more these days Rooster likes to follow the latest crimes befalling the nation, all played out on Thaivisa.Though very interesting if I have one criticism they are often solved too quickly or not at all. Whether the former if due to the efficiency of the police or the idiocy of the perps I shall say, perhaps kindly, that it is true in equal measure.Rarely, however, do we get long running police investigations. Crimes that don’t end in speedy reenactments are often lost in the Thai ether, remembered only by those who are closely affected. Some of course are shuffled under the carpet for obvious reasons.This week we saw a fast moving case that encapsulated many salacious details and involved both a competent police investigation and one that may please students of crime for a while yet. The murder of Nong Em the karaoke girl cut in two is certainly captivating the Thai public.Unusually for a murder it even made the front page headlines of a national newspaper in English and many on Thaivisa are also following the latest lurid revelations.With sex and intrigue, red herrings and revelations, gruesome and vicious behavior the case is like something from the annals of the worst crimes of Victorian England. And all with a Thai twist – like the first reenactment this week with the man in a crash helmet at the scene of the burial of the young victim and of course the involvement of the tomboys and a decidedly pretty but evidently cruel woman on the run with friends in Burma.The case is now well into its second week which contrasts with a double homicide in Mukdahan that was all over within a day. There a stepfather – incongruously jealous about his wife receiving some term fees from her ex – decided to dispatch her and his mother-in-law…all in front of his 9 year old stepdaughter.He was caught later in the day having a last meal before giving himself up.I wish someone from my wife’s past would turn up to pay my kids’ fees! I can easily separate any jealousy from the need for cash.Call it a life skill.Two who have been convicted of taking a man’s life in Lat Prao were the recidivists responsible for murder while stealing an iPhone. The forum was rife with bloodthirsty yells of “yippee”. Maybe the gung-ho should wait to see if pardons are announced in a few years.Not that the miscreants will likely ever see the light of day without intervening bars, but they have about as much chance of being executed as the victim has of coming back to life. As a spokesman announced the next day Thailand has not executed anyone since 2009. Amnesty International considers a country not to actually have the ultimate sanction if it hasn’t used it for a decade…..Without wishing to remotely downplay the severity of the case or the callousness of the men who would kill for a few thousand baht Rooster is glad that the Thais have put their machine gun away.Why? Well that interest in murder also extends to all the wrongful executions and if only for the memory of Timothy Evans and Craig Bentley – two victims of the UK state from my hometown – I shall never be in favor of capital punishment.No need to face the judge this week was the woman who got out a sword and deprived her man of his manhood. Two good things happened – some surgeons seem to have been able to reattach the said organ while the wife gargled some pesticide and killed herself.I am afraid I find the double standards some display when a man gets wounded in this way distasteful in the extreme.So to paraphrase a Thai saying that every Thai I have ever met would know, I hope they feed the dead wife to the ducks.Airports are never far from the news and this week was no exception with the authorities at Swampy announcing that some foreigners will soon be able to use the Thai electronic immigration gates to allegedly save everyone time.Hopefully they will have a bit more savvy than the Thais I have seen trying to work out what to do – there is always a Thai official on hand by the machines. It strikes me that this is employment overkill before anyone has even got to the Thai roads outside the terminal.Rooster has permanent residence but I would still use the regular Thai exit gates if I hadn’t. I can’t believe anyone would seriously turn you back – especially if you have some rejoinder in Thai at the ready like such and such a movie star is waiting for you at the carousel.It is rather akin to the many years Rooster drove on the Thai roads without a license – whenever I was stopped and asked for my “bai khap khii” I would show a wallet picture of the Thai wife and kids. The cops invariably laughed and sent me on my way.There are two basic rules to successful living in Thailand. The first is smiling and the second is having a verbal rejoinder to make people laugh. No matter how silly it may be to a Western sensibility the trick is to remember the crasser the better.Meanwhile, my Schadenfreudometer hit maximum with the story of all those poor Brits unable to get to Thailand because BA forgot to plug in the computer in Calcutta or wherever it is their workers earn minimum wage.In all my years of flying to and from Albion I have never heard so many excuses as those you get for the poor service on the British carrier. I was obliged to use BA for yonks because my school insisted on it due to some corporate deal on end of contract flights.It was like being given detention at the end of the school year for being a naughty teacher.Apparently some hotels around Heathrow were charging 1,000 quid a night for the stranded. What with the 10,000 people who claimed free tickets for the Manchester benefit concert who never even went in the first place, I think it is time that those who go on Thaivisa to claim that fleecing and corruption are exclusively Thai traits should pipe down.The same also goes for the poster who accused Rooster of being an ISIS sympathizer for suggesting that the suicide bomber was not cowardly. Do people not understand that underestimating your enemy is likely to make them stronger?Moving forwards from cowards to awards here are this week’s Rooster top trumps…After the week of “Covfefe” I would like to present the “Donald Trump Award for Imaginative Use of the English Language” to the translator who wrote the headline about the accident motorcycle that was rent in two being “spliced”.It sounds so right but somehow I doubt the rider will be able to put it back together again – though with the Thai penchant for imaginative repairs, you never know!Best “Picture Exhibiting News Interest Story” (P.E.N.I.S. award) goes to the the whimsical wag from Coconuts who chose a humble cucumber being sliced for the penile detachment article.It was like something out of a “Viz’ comic: “Here is a sliced cucumber yesterday”.Though with the Honorable Member for Thailand being reattached maybe slice should have been replaced with splice, just for the sake of the happy ending.“Best Forum Comment” of the week went to “colinneil” who is invariably one of the first to comment on any news story on Thaivisa. Though I sometimes feel that he has ground his axe to nubbins he got a zillion likes for his comment on yet another story about the rebranding of Pattaya from “sex city” to tourism hub.The story claimed that the aforementioned “Whore of the Eastern Seaboard” was now a boomtown to which the poster said: “Possible misprint…….surely they meant Pattaya boom boom town”.The story went on to talk about Pattaya being declared a MICE town in the future, an apparent acronym for making it a hub of meetings and conventions not an infestation of rodents.All male delegates would undoubtedly be delighted to go to a curtain ring convention in Pattaya but the final word must go to the deputy mayor who is clearly taking a leaf out of tourism minister Khun Kobkarn’s book in trying to replace the sex trade with something more wholesome.The name of the deputy mayor?Khun Ban-tit no less.Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-04
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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 dot.com, “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
  25. 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