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Found 47 results

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. The week that was in Thailand news: We demand the right to kill ourselves Every nation on earth has something you shouldn’t mess with.Growing up in England they once had a sit-com that had a storyline of a government minister’s outrage on behalf of what he perceived as an angry public when the dastardly Europeans tried to rule on what should go into a British sausage.Such outrage ultimately led to Brexit!In the States you would mess with the flag at your peril. Burning one may get you lynched while incinerating the Union Jack would only lead the British public to think you were vaguely quirky.Germans have their law. It binds them together and makes them who they are. They obey it to the letter - so not to do would make them as un-German as disliking lederhosen. Jeremy Clarkson asked one recently on his new motoring show what they would do if they had their driving license taken away.Mindful that residents of some nations would simply find some way around the inconvenience he knew what response was likely and got it: “Herr Clarkson, I vud not drive”.“But WHY not?”“I vud be unable to”.In Thailand while the tourist manuals talk about not pointing your feet or ruffling an adult Thai’s hair, the thing they really care most about is their freedom. The freedom to do as they bloody well please.Someone might have told their esteemed leader this salient fact as dear old Uncle Big Too became a social pariah with a swift stroke of his legislative pen stopping the Thais travelling in the back of pick-ups.No matter that it has been law since before the year, “we have got used to not obeying the law” screamed not just the poor but the car owning middle classes who wanted to attack their leader vicariously by siding with the downtrodden.No matter that here, at last, was a concrete measure sure to save lives as Songkran approaches.No…the Thais are effectively demanding the right to continue killing themselves.So bugger off and leave us and our freedom alone! How I admire them (and how I will stay away from them at Songkran…)It is slowly dawning on the general in the last three years that the people, strangely enough, don’t behave like the recruits he was used to bossing around prior to his emergence into the post-coup world.But rather than burst more blood vessels he backtracked and said the “new” law would be implemented only after the holidays.Basically saying, go off and have a good time and if you live we’ll start fining you after the “seven deadly days” are over.Of course what will happen is that more compromise will come. You only have to be in Thailand five minutes to know that changes to the Thai law only come after absurd decisions, backtracking, the setting up of committees…..then compromise.The final stage is ignoring it.The furor <deleted> dominated the news this week but many on Thaivisa forum didn’t quite get it. Of course, they might have been Germans, but one who did understand was the poster of my forum comment of the week, “naboo”, who spoke of farangs laughing at Thais for being stupid as rather rich:“They struggle for years, get the smart (cab) option. Then with the stroke of a pen Uncle Too makes their investment worthless and they become easy pickings for the police, day in day out”.Meanwhile, mindful of the fact that he had put his big Thai clod-hopper in it, said uncle tied to ingratiate himself with the public by seemingly defending taxi drivers’ rights to ignore us when we need a cab to get home in the rain.“The public must understand drivers who refuse fares” he pontificated. Yes, sir, funny but after 35 years of grappling with Thai I do just about understand “mai pai, rot tit”.Maybe, you could tell me why you “not go” yet….that I’m struggling with.Not too far away from government house a pipe bomb went off. We were told that it wasn’t terrorism and the only “injuries” were a couple of cleaners who had “ringing in their ears”.Someone should have checked that it was indeed the device left in a Ratchadamnoen trash can and not the haranguing of the leaders that caused the ringing.Bombs in Bangkok are thankfully few and down the years the authorities have had some luck in saving the capital from would be terror plots. Several decades ago a wrong ‘un with a large truck packed with enough explosive to reduce not just the Israeli embassy but half the Lumpini Park area to rubble, got stopped in nearby Chitlom.Stopped not by the counter terrorism bods but by a motorcycle taxi driver furious that the truck had caused 50 baht’s worth of damage in a minor scrape. Fuzz came and the would-be bomber fled leaving the mystified cops with an unclaimed truck.They parked in at Lumpini nick and it was several days before someone thought to look in the back.One who was certainly not demanding the right to die was the army conscript in detention in Surat who was brutally beaten to death by at least ten others for getting up late.Disgusting of course, but equally unpleasant was the sight of seven of the assailants as they showed their butts rather than their faces while “graap-ing” the grieving mum in an effort at apology.How I remember the time when my Loei lovely did that to me on our village wedding day, though in her case it was not apology but thanks as the in-laws scooped up the dowry!Happy days, though those are on hold slightly as – like 35 million others – the missus has gone home for the Songkran hols. Posters on Thaivisa enjoyed the increasingly influential “midweek rant” that called the authorities efforts to end the carnage a “Songkran scapegoat” ranting that a year round coordinated approach is what is needed to save lives.Good luck with that – most Thais of my acquaintance wouldn’t dream of planning for anything more than the next meal.News from London was that Red Bull “Boss” was in town, probably buying a couple of Premiership clubs for the weekend before jetting off to mow down a copper or two before tea. AP reported that he would not say whether he would appear in Bangkok on April 27th to answer charges. Hey – why should he care when the prosecutors certainly couldn’t give a monkeys.Khaosod used the lovely word “scofflaw” which had me thinking that could be worth 257 points between two triples in a game of Scrabble. It crossed my mind after seeing that two Thais and their English friend had qualified to represent the kingdom in a world ranking event in Kenya later this year.Great to see that the Thais are not only embracing their foreign friends but taking English to darkest Africa as well!Further good news continued to flow from the lips of the constabulary this week as it was announced that Khao San Road – a place I always referred to as “the jungle” in my early days – is now a Happy Zone.Like Walking Street in Pattaya, crime is now a thing of the past. I wonder where is next.I know, how about “Wat Dhammakaya Happy Zone” that should sort out any trouble there. Except for the fact that those ensconced within are probably quite alright Jack as it is.Everyone seems to have gone home as the public wonder where the next saber rattling will emerge, the pick-up debacle notwithstanding.Still, the police had a nice little junket in Khao San though I do wish Thaivisa translators would not refer to them as “top brass”. I have no quibble with “top” but “brass” is a British term meaning money and I really feel that associating the force with acquiring money must be defamatory.Though, down in Ao Nang the local chief was quick to act when a police volunteer stepped out of line and was caught taking bribes on CCTV. The chief amusingly said that the cop was not in fact one of their own while the keyboard curmudgeons of the forum suggested, as a quick investigation was mounted, that too many toes had obviously been stepped on.The thing is chief, a rozzer is a rozzer and no matter how you dress him up he will always be a rozzer.Now I have got that off my self-righteous chest it’s time for this week’s Rooster awards.And what better place to start than the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard herself where my award for “Services to Tourism” goes to the Pattaya council. The bright sparks at the town hall have recommended that not only will beach umbrellas be removed on Wednesdays and Thursdays but that people running services on the beach will no longer be able to serve any food at all.This is fantastic. In absolutely no time there will not be any beer swilling, BBQ prawn massacring tourists in singlets left at all and the likes of Cheap Charlie Rooster can return to Pattaya in glory, put down our threadbare beach towels and pretend we are in a cut-price Bali.The place will be deliciously empty and, when the authorities have come up with a similar strategy to warn off Mr and Mrs Woo, it will be paradise on earth again as it probably was during the Jurassic, the very same period from which the local authority appear to hail.While the “Please Ring Me First If You Ever Think of Popping Over” award goes to the wannabe hoodlum in Samui who thought it was his Buddha-given right to demand that a Vietnamese girl drop everything including her draws for him.She refused and the alleged man, son of some local “person of influence” got a bit of a kicking before being arrested. Jail time please – we could all do without him popping over from his island haven for a while.Finally, it looked earlier in the week, before Prayut and his pick-ups, that the annual military draft was going to completely dominate the news. Not that the Thai press are remotely interested in the full blooded Thai males who might get selected.No…once again they are obsessed with the lady boys who turn up in droves and dresses to tell reporters they have come over all queer with the excitement of it all.Before they are rejected, despite usually still having a smallish portion of meat and two veg.Forget draft dodgers – this is a decidedly dodgy draft. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-09
  17. 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
  18. The week that was in Thailand news: No excuses are better than a bad one! The more I read and comment on the Thai news the more I have come to appreciate that this is truly the land of excuses. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were remotely plausible or had a semblance of sense. Mostly they are just absurd!Officials, especially those with ties on, white coats or brown uniforms, come out with some gems that have the titter-o-meter at full tilt; humor is the only merit we ever glean when these glib authorities open their brazen bouches.Surely George Washington had it spot on when he admonished an errant niece with the phrase: “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one…”Well, I suppose that while that would be something that a man who couldn’t lie might say it is very unlikely that such honorable qualities reside with any certainty in the average politico or policeman in LOST (Land of Som Tam).But excuses are not just the domain of officialdom. Every crime story in Thailand lists them alongside the more certain evidence. No matter how nonsensical the excuse the press seems to deem them as an intrinsic part of the story.Now Rooster is not saying that the Thais have a monopoly on excuses – it is just that they seem to have made a national sport out of them every bit as part of society as Muay Thai. Excuses for accidents, excuses for crime, excuses for failure, excuses for….well read on….Carrying the can as the main culprit in the excuse of the week in the last seven days had to be the reason for the appalling mess at Wong Amat beach in Pattaya. Now, no one in their right mind expects Pattaya to be clean (except the tourism minister where right mind, anyhow, smacks of oxymoron-ism).But….the excuse for the filthy sewage spewing out all over the beach was none other than a squirrel. Sadly the creature could not even speak up for itself and offer another Thai favorite, the denial, as it had been fried in a junction box controlling the pooh-flow to the ocean.It made the excuses of the metropolitan police chief in the Thai Bev payment scandal – where the chief was alleged to have squirreled away 50,000 baht a month – look positively tame in comparison.Following on and perhaps not needed, was a rather fawning article from Thaivisa’s Nation partners that seemed to take chief Sanit’s excuses at face value rather than drill down and question him further.Sure, the ombudsman has given the him an airy wrap on the knuckles but the Thaivisa forum was rife with adverse comment on what many saw as a white-wash article, a synonym for excuse as we all know!Sanit has, however, dodged a bullet here – something all decent policemen are advised to practice. But the message is clear and is an indication of the way Thai society works – no direct sanction but a clear inference that something was amiss.All delivered with a Thai smile, the one that says “so watch your step in the future, laddie” as my commanding officer in the CCF at school used to sayOne man who has bucked the trend of giving excuses is the general PM. He did give one nearly three years ago when he muttered something about usurping an elected government being for the good of the people – such was the lawlessness on the streets of Bangkok at the time that Rooster bought that one… least for a while.Now, enjoying more power even than my missus, he eschews excuses and complains when others use them. We were never even going to hear that the purchase of Chinese submarines was necessary for national security.We were just treated to the throw-away line that if the government bought two the politburo would toss in the third one for free. Unlike the subs themselves the plan is unlikely to sink without a trace.You had to laugh – that is a deal even Subway might baulk at!As if to show up the Thais for merely offering excuses came the apologies from UK and Australian media who had defamed the Hmong kids calling them thieves last year after the infamous watch robbery incident of a tourist at Doi Suthep.I make no excuses for referring to this in the column not that I see it as news in any way but I was intrigued that the British Consulate was involved in simultaneously getting apologies from several British and down under tabloids. Not an easy thing to do.What are they up to? Smoothing the way for flogging off more British owned real estate to line the pockets of Whitehall – or trying to gain some more credibility ahead of plans to fleece their countrymen further with continued online visa shenanigans?Their attempt to hoodwink the long suffering British residents of Thailand with a bargain basement visa online service – 50K for five and 10K per person thereafter – was every bit an excuse for poor service as the Australian announcement that they were selling their Sathorn site off to developers.I thought there was nothing more moan-worthy than a British resident abroad until I read the comments on the Thaivisa forum from the Aussies about their own embassy.I’m meeting the UK ambassador this week – I hope he doesn’t offer up any excuses why we have now dropped to number two in the whinging stakes.Offering excuses aplenty this week was a story that had it occurred in the West might have been called “Filler-gate.”This Thai drama was an excuse-a-minute-fest as a belligerent and official looking woman was caught on tape tearing strips off pump attendants for being unable to open the cap on her Honda Airblade.Unable to do it herself she then called the police and later compounded her idiocy by seeking a defamation charge against the poster of the clip!It really is such a shame that Thai law seems to side so heavily with the allegedly defamed in the face of all certainty provided by the actual evidence of their unpleasantness! Thais online lapped it up – here was a “Lady Kai” style poser claiming she knew someone in the police and riding a bike rather than a Benz!If one of the attendants had been a lady boy you would have had a Thai soap right there.Sure she was made to look stupid – she brought it all on herself. The attendants – as Thais often do to smooth things over – apologized at thye local nick for having the temerity to breath.Naturally, the keyboard warriors of Thaivisa forum were out in force to condemn this latest outburst of overt Thai rudeness but the prevalence of cameras are to blame for making it look like an epidemic of bad manners.Maybe my rose tinted specs need adjusting but I still see more calm Thais than angry ones in the course of my daily and nightly rounds – frankly, it is the almost total absence of the “are you looking at my pint” brigade that makes me feel good in my adoptive homeland.But as if to prove me both right – and perhaps wrong – in those assessments, came a double header of violence exacted against the clergy. Rather than meting it out here were our orange clad friends on the receiving end of a drunk copper’s slap and an angry dad who used his foot on an abbot’s head.The drunken “daap” thought the monk was an imposter and got him in a headlock while the father of three placed his size sevens on the 77 year old abbot for giving him fish curry rather than Jaffa cakes, or whatever it is that the Thais consider a delicacy.I got the feeling that the Thai press were going in search of these stories to provide a bit of balance after a year absolutely filled with monks behaving badly stories. Well, that’s probably the reporters’ excuse.Offering absolutely no excuses – not yet at least – was the policeman’s son arrested on the eastern seaboard for dispatching an annoying mortal with a cue in a snooker hall. Hopefully, the CCTV and the public exposure will mean that nasty piece of work having his brown potted by the pink for a good few years in clink.While no one would have expected an excuse from the wife in Pattaya out drinking with her husband who thought it was a jolly good jape to mention his need for a “gik” in front of friends. Had I been drunk or stupid enough to say such a thing in front of my own better three quarters, I would probably just go meekly outside and pull the trigger as the Brits used to do in the days when they were still honorable.And so to this week’s Rooster awards. Firstly for “Services to Happiness” I would like to commend the junta for getting Thailand up to 32nd on the UN world happiness index. Ok, it was only up one place from 33rd last year but at least at this rate we should be number one by the time democracy is restored.Norway was top and Switzerland was fourth so it was with some Schadenfreude that we saw a national of the former robbed of a wallet by a “gay recidivist” in Pattaya and one of the latter relieved of 500,000 baht in a Nong Khai house burglary.Maybe they should have stayed in Europe where their happiness might have been guaranteed and where it surely would have been cooler, something that was now too late for the Swiss “cowman” who sadly passed away from the heat in Tak.Finally as we gear up for the annual carnage that is Songkran it was interesting to see a tragic accident with a vague difference in Kalasin. A man had loaded up his old car with a pile of vegetation for his cattle. So high was the bundle that he could see nothing from the rear window as he reversed at speed along the hard shoulder.In no time he had flattened and killed a woman who had got off a bus thinking, incidentally, that he had gone over a rock. Not for him to blame the cuddly toys or cushions many Thais have obliterating their rear view.Grass was his ready-made excuse. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-03-26
  19. The week that was in Thailand news: Pigeon, pigeon….like your English! Like many Brits of a similar age Rooster grew up laughing at the antics of one Basil Fawlty. The comic creation of Connie Booth and John Cleese who played the Torquay hotel owner had no redeeming features. He was rude to everybody but especially Germans and Americans. He was an ingratiating snob who tried to do things on the cheap and was constantly fighting a losing battle with his dragon of a wife. Only twelve episodes of “Fawlty Towers” were made, but I have spent more time in the subsequent years since the 1970s quoting lines from the two series than an English literature teacher would quoting Shakespeare. And certainly in the last seven days the ultimate “role model” for Brits behaving badly came frequently to mind as many of his modern day countrymen did their darnedest to bring the name of the motherland down to new lows in Thailand this week! But my theme today was rather more inspired by a Thai; not one behaving badly per se but a disgruntled customer, many of whom featured in the classic BBC series. This was a Ford driver from Chiang Mai called Attaphon who was effing furious with his Fiesta for “fawlty” brakes. So he took a spade to the bonnet in view of the assembled media outside the Ford showroom in Bangkok. Bless! How reminiscent it was of Basil who had found a willowy tree branch to give his car that wouldn’t start a thoroughly good thrashing! Attaphon gave his bonnet a few ineffectual taps when he might have got some better news coverage if he had had a sledgehammer or had driven into the showroom window. Maybe like Fawlty’s car it wouldn’t start or perhaps it was just the Thai way – protesting but not going too far. Anyway, Rooster had a good old British smirk as he wouldn’t be seen dead – hopefully – in any motor vehicle that wasn’t made in Japan. I trust the Japanese and always have since Mrs Ishikawa made me take rests and brought me tea when I was her gardener in the UK. Top of the Brits behaving badly parade this week was the “phoo dee angrit” woman who took a massage then had a slap up dinner. She claimed rape in the first then refused to pay the bill in the latter though she later relented at the Bang Rak cop shop parting with the “payoff to buggeroff” money from the massage parlor. They called her a con artist and stuck up a warning poster outside after giving her 5,000 baht so no wonder she and her boyfriend could afford the bill for the lobster and a fine for assaulting hotel staff. Apparently she went on complaining on a Bangkok forum later but Rooster subscribes to the English proverb about being once bitten. Also hardly likely to get an OBE for services to Blighty was another compatriot running naked over the Pin Klao bridge with seemingly half the local plod in hot pursuit. She was apprehended near the Democracy Monument and given a towel – thank goodness – because her face made me think I’d rather not be privy to any more British flesh, thank you very much. No charges were laid and unsurprisingly neither was she as we all moved on and waited for the next episode in the soap opera that is “The British in Thailand”. At least the stories gave me cause to have some laughs as big as those watching Basil and his hapless waiter Manuel in action. The post of the week on the Thaivisa forum had to be a video rather than a comment and it was provided by “Sphere” who showed us around 20 Keystone Kops chasing a dog rather in the manner of the event in Bangkok. Dozens liked that one as did Rooster but I must also commend “Alex8912” for his quip about the errant Brits: “If Spain had good winter weather, maybe Thais would be spared”. Surely it is time that the Thais based visas not on some nebulous idea of a country’s economic or political standing but on the hard facts of how their nationals behave when visiting the country. This would mean an end to visa on arrival for the British! I am just glad I already have my permanent residence, garnered in the day when Thais still romanticized the Brits for their plummy accents, Savile Row suits and that wonderful Mrs Windsor. ER indoors remains but the Brits of today are more likely to speak a foreign language than be plummy….and no one mentions Savile any more after Jimmy let the side down. Still it would be churlish not to mention that the British still have some good things going for them. They still have the pound, just, and some of the best excuses for delays on the railways found anywhere in the vaguely civilized world. Another British comedy legend – Reggie Perrin played by the late Leonard Rossiter, who was altogether more likeable than Mr Fawlty – used to always arrive late in his office with a railway excuse like “defective bogey at Earlsfield”. But this week in Bangkok it was a bird that had flown into a motor that cause a short and a very long and sticky delay to the airport link service. The naughty bird that got the Thai passengers hot under the collar – causing some to break open a door as they fried in the summer heat apparently – was none other than a pigeon. I am sure their language was fruity and rather unlike Spanish waiter Manuel who laughed uncontrollably when he thought Basil said pigs had gotten into the hotel’s water tank. “Oh, not pigs – pigeon, pigeon – like your English” screamed his boss – a put down that Rooster has borrowed on many an occasion in Thailand with invariably oblivious looks as a reward. It really was hard to find anything but comedic relief on Thaivisa this week and it is to be hoped that getting into bed with The Nation only enhances the ever improving quality of the site without detracting from the reasons we love to click on its news content and forum comment. Commenting on The Nation collaboration I especially liked “elgordo38” for mentioning Rooster in the same illustrious company as visa guru “Ubon Joe”. I just hope my boss reads the bit about the need for a raise….. Working with one of Thailand’s leading dailies is hopefully good news for all and may bring a bit more seriousness for “Comedy was still King” this week especially with the setting up of the “Happy Zone” in Walking Street, Pattaya. Ahead of inauguration day next Saturday we have been promised eternal safety from lady boy attack though it still might be worth donning protective eyewear to guard against flying ping-pong balls in some bars, just in case that avenue of eroticism has not been eradicated by the tourism minister before next weekend. Still, despite the humor, it would be remiss of me as a chronicler of Thai events not to mention a few more serious items. After scanning high and low I did find some what with the murder of a female government official in her car and the gunning down of a father-in-law over an injury to a pet Golden Retriever. Both shootings were no laughing matter and occurred in Pathum Thani within hours of each other. The first looked like the work of the estranged husband and the second was nothing more than the result of having a strange son-in-law. And so to this week’s Rooster awards, and after seven days like that I just feel like giving and giving…the “Lottery Lunacy” award goes to the entire and lovely Thai race for believing that a stillborn eight-legged cat is a source of good fortune and further that the female spirit of a lump of old wood dredged up from a bomb-hole in Chonburi could mean driving a Benz into the village by the end of the week. In both cases the lottery hopeful were naturally warned that you had to be a good person to benefit from the numbers and while that disqualified myself I passed on the 502 number to the missus who showed a keen interest in Thaivisa for the first time in ages. She was quickly on the blower to upcountry mum who phoned back some hours later with the incredible news that they hadn’t in fact won 12 million baht. I overheard the Loei language lilt that I can just about follow and understood that number 92 had prevailed. Disappointed, the wife then told me that 502 had not come up, but what were the other two numbers you had mentioned earlier?, she asked. “Ninety-two” I said quickly, and once again felt like Fawlty who famously remarked in relation to a horse racing bet that for the first time in his life “he was ahead” after putting one over on his wife! But like what ultimately happened to Basil, the scorn was still reserved for the man of the house when the truth came out and my ribald ruse was rumbled. Finally Rooster almost felt the need for medication for a whole host of reasons when it emerged on CCTV that a man in Chonburi was stalking motorcycles. Not to steal them which is relatively normal if anti-social behavior but, wait for it…… to have his way with them. Our Fino fiddler was putting slits in the cushioned seats, getting out what the Thais in print refer to as his “Jao Loke” (or Ruler of the World) and poking it in with something approaching gay abandon, if gays will forgive me. But rather than the antics of the man besmirching the two wheelers that Rooster has learnt to love platonically, it was the giggling of the girls in the office who were reviewing the footage that made me chuckle uncontrollably. Gossiping in Thai and reminding the others that this was the morsai maniac’s second visit to the parking lot in the last few days, she commented as he rejected one familiar Honda in favor of another: “Khan gao – mia gao” intimating: “No, no… he had that “missus” last week”. Mr Fawlty, eat your heart out. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-03-19
  20. The week that was in Thailand news: Howzat! Rooster still at the crease on 50 not out Today the column celebrates a minor landmark – this is the fiftieth edition of The Week That Was in Thailand news. And to mark the occasion I would like to thank all those wonderful Thai, and sometimes foreign figures, who have made it all possible. From the fatherly general for all his sterling efforts to bring us happiness amid dictatorship to his starry eyed minions like Khun Kobkarn at Tourism and Sports who is well on her way to ending sex as we know it while winning back Mr Woo’s missing yuan. To Khun Veera who made puritans of pretties at the motor show ordering them to cover up their bodywork. You all deserve a medal, not least of all for making us laugh. As do the police chiefs and their underlings up and down the country for all the rib tickling new initiatives. I have lost count of the times I have spat out my slightly loose Thai dentures into my Amazon roast chortling uncontrolably at your latest endeavors. And thanks to all the people who have given up their valuable time spending their lives on Facebook for our vicarious viewing pleasure posting about road rage and accident and recording Thais, tourists and taxis behaving badly in videos too numerous to mention. You have all paid your part – however, I fear that if I hear one more “spoiling the image of Thailand” quote I shall go to the most public building, climb to the flat roof and jump. There will be no sign of a struggle and I won’t care if my actions spoil the image of the country. I’ll be as happy as Larry….just so long as I am right about there not being a next life. Talking of which, it was great to read in another bumper week of risible revelations on Thaivisa that the realm has once again been given the accolade of the world’s least miserable country. The aforementioned have all played their part. From Prayut down – which isn’t easy – they have ensured that the Bloomberg award is once more safely in Thai hands. Happiness has truly been returned to the people as the military foresaw in 2014. Though the people in the picture that accompanied the story looked like grinning Hong Kong Chinese doing Tai-chi to me. Surely happy Thais would have been staring at social media on the sky train. Never mind it was the thought that counts and it’s spiffing to see the foreign media once again taking time to praise our idyllic Thai way of life, even though they forgot to mention the early death a fair few of the populace are obliged to endure due to slip ups on highways and balconies. And it was not just Bloomberg bring good news – last month CNN said Isaan was the best thing since sliced buffalo. Admittedly, some scurrilous Aussie news media starting letting the side down banging on this week about Thailand being known as the Land of Scams. How very dare you, mate. Anyone who has seen the price of a loaf of bread in Sydney and all those podgy Ockers on Bondi Beach getting skin cancer will know that the predictable gems and jet-ski rant was just more of the pot belly calling the kettle black….. On Monday Rooster had barely turned on his computer before the face of tourism minister Kobkarn leered out with the breaking news that from now on foreigners would have to pay 400 baht to go for a walk in the woods. Of course it was just a rehash of a billion stories about fleecing at national parks but two things struck me. Firstly I thought back to a previous life where I was in charge of school trips at a famous Bangkok establishment where Khun Kobkarn was Chairman of the Board of Governors. Yours truly fought tooth and nail to ensure that none of our expat staff or children ever paid more than a Thai, writing into our trips policy that we would never support places that tried to rip us off. Has the minister forgotten those days and why does the iconic British movie “I’m Alright Jack” come into my mind at times like this? Secondly I was buoyed by a story that appeared by the side of the one on parks that seemed to be related. “New regulations to ensure free emergency treatment” it said and I thought, great, at least if my Zimmer frame topples at a waterfall I can claim some of the 400 baht back. Sadly you needed to be in the 30 baht health scheme and the story had no relation to the parks. It could be of no assistance to me though it might help the insurance saleswoman in Chonburi who was stabbed by an irate client later in the week. The non-news about the park fees and the false alarm about getting something for my taxes made me think what headlines we might enjoy next week: “Thais to start putting Chilli in Som Tam” or “Dog found Without Owner in Bangkok Soi”, perhaps. Tragically it was dogs with owners that were more prevalent in the news this week. The first was the man in Bung Karn – Thailand’s 77th and newest province – that bought his way out of civil responsibility in the death of a neighbor mauled by his three Rottweiler dogs. He coughed up 140K (knocked down from 150 incidentally) and took his vicious beasts back to their cages, laughing all the way home I shouldn’t wonder. Still, at least he paid up – another guy whose minging mongrel mangled a three year old claimed the little girl did the biting first. Someone needs to promulgate a new law for him – “Extracting the Frickin’ Michael in the Hours of Daylight”; Penalty 30 years and 5,000 baht fine…or both. Much of the news this week was dominated by the search for Valentina the 23 year old Russian missing since mid-February on Koh Tao. Though it appears that the latest bits found in the sea are animal not human, what with the history of the island over the last few years, every Thaivisa keyboard sleuth was slathering salaciously at the prospect of more unsubstantiated intrigue. They cited missing CCTV as relevant – get a grip lads, it’s always missing! Then a flip-flop couldn’t be tested for DNA. Suspicious how it might have been cleaned somehow by being in the swirling ocean for two weeks. Plod, however, had been getting desperate earlier in the week and had announced that they were concentrating on the sea after three remarkable fortune tellers had miraculously pointed to the water as a possible place where the unfortunate lady could be found. Forum posters pooh-poohed the notion possibly having never heard of the many cases where the FBI or UK police turned to clairvoyants for help. The “mor duu” are probably as right as anyone. Sadly, the unfortunate lady will more likely wash up rather than turn up Incidentally, Rooster went to Koh Tao about eight years ago to set up a sixth form diving trip. If paradise is judged by the number of 7/11s on a single stretch of filthy road weaving through unplanned havoc then this was indeed the Garden of Eden. It made Pattaya look clean and organized. And so to this week’s Rooster awards and I would like to name two sets of “neighbors” for their help in trying to clean up the country. The “For Services to the Kingdom of Thailand” award goes firstly to the Cambodians in Pattaya feasting on soi dogs. They clearly have a much better epicurean solution to the problem than all those do-gooder soi dog foundation nutters who think rabies and scabies are a jolly good jape. Secondly the aforementioned award goes to a Burmese man who said he is the descendant of the last king of his country. Soe Win has called for the Thai Soap “Plerng Pranang” to be taken off Channel 7, where it seems to air 25/7, because the allegedly historical drama is in fact disrespectful to the Burmese Royal family. I mentioned that he may have a point to the missus, who had had an apoplectic fit when True’s excuse for a TV service went down again denying her access to the series earlier in the week. “How dare they!” she intoned, as several well-chosen but un-neighborly expletives emanated from her hitherto sweet lips (all during the lull of an advertising break of course). She even had time amid the washing powder commercials to remind me, in case I had forgotten, about the Burmese sacking of Ayuthaya in 1767, an incident she recalls like it was yesterday. Anyway, I decided I was obviously losing this one, so thought better of making some churlish comparison to the Thai’s banning of Yul Brynner’s “The King and I”. Besides, the commercial break ended and we were both in separate worlds again. Thank goodness for headphones. My final award is for “Entrepreneurial Endeavor” and goes to the Indians rounded up for loan sharking in Nakorn Pathom. The cops said the nasty “khaek” (that Thais will often point out means guest…) had gravitated from being nut sellers and finally cracked the big time charging the hapless locals 10 per cent interest per day. It reminded me of an old riddle about the Indians who plied their pistachio trade walking about the capital with a table full of nuts on their heads. “What has six legs and walks around Bangkok?” Finally the forum was treated to the best feel-good story of many a Thai moon when it was reported that a 74 year “samlor” rider called Bunphot had returned a wallet containing 100,000 baht to a South African policeman on holiday in Surat Thani. And feel good it was on every front. The honesty of the poor and seemingly malnourished old man was tremendous and touching. While the gratitude of the man from Table Mountain led him to kindly promise that he would send a continuing monthly allowance to repay humble Bunphot. A tear of regret came to Rooster’s eye as I ashamedly recalled once reveling in the lyrics of the UK’s Spitting Image song: “I’ve Never Met A Nice South African”. Now it looks like we have….even if he is a rozzer. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-03-12
  21. The week that was in Thailand news: Nothing as dangerous as a Thai green light When Rooster first came to Thailand – a young man in search of little chicks – he was under no misapprehensions about the dangers lurking in the kingdom. I had decided to not just learn to speak Thai but to study the written language as a matter of urgency and priority. I thought this might help me survive by giving me an edge. Unlike like-minded friends my reading practice was never Thai children’s cartoons – I gravitated immediately to the speech bubbles of gory picture books with evil ghosts, retribution and murder. As a relief from the imaginary gore and violence I pored over and over the true variety of ‘Crime magazine” and “191” with their salacious stories and horrendous depictions of the results of grisly violence. I was once walking outside the offices of the Por Teck Tung foundation (one of the organisations that race around picking up the dead and injured) and seeing the grotesque results of accidents posted on their windows asked an official there in my fledgling Thai, why all the gore? “It ensures we get more donations to carry on our work” came the matter-of-fact reply. With this background and a daily and nightlife that was “full” to say the least, I was under no illusions about the prevalent dangers and resolved to endeavor to take care and play to my strengths. Like run if it looked like fisticuffs, like look left and right and left again when going through a green light….and yes, with that language learning background, try to talk my way out of the scrapes and problems that anyone is likely to encounter even on a short sojourn in the kingdom. It has held me in good stead, for thirty five years have passed and I am still almost standing. But reading the news week in and week out, yours truly is forced to concede that in order to survive life in Thailand good sense and guile is one thing – what you also need is a healthy dose of luck. This week some got lucky and some certainly didn’t. Top of the “chook dee” variety went to the two Japanese tourists who were thrown from their female elephant after a randy pachyderm called Doraemon, of all things, attempted an urgent coupling. They lived to tell the tale though what story they will tell their Okasans remains to be seen. After all it’s not every day you come to Thailand and Doraemon tries to roger you. Less lucky by far was the Thai man enjoying a quiet Sunday at home who was killed instantly when a bullet fired in the air during a marriage procession outside dispatched him to “chart naa” (the next life) without asking if he was ready. Good luck to the police solving that one – with the exception of the groom it appears half the males of the wedding party were armed to the teeth. They were all bailed – hopefully none of them will get hitched before they have their day in court or the body count could really mount up. Also seemingly unlucky was the big bike westerner caught on video clipping the edge of a bridge and then being unceremoniously hurled out of sight to his death below. The chilling scream of the woman in the following car only added to the horror. Even Rooster with all that gruesome experience behind him winced at that one. It was one of several “videos and photos posted to Facebook” – a phrase that is now as much a staple of the Thai news as “fled the scene” or “transferred to an inactive post”. Fleeing and videoed on Facebook was a motorcyclist who caused a car to end up in the central reservation in Khon Kaen while transferred to a desk job was the policeman ringleader of an extortion gang in Koh Pangan who was banished to the mainland. As soon as he got some leave he was back on the island with his old mates kidnapping and robbing a Russian couple. Fair play to the Ruskies – they were not daunted by the danger of going to Koh Pangan in the first place then perhaps were not aware of the possible added peril of reporting a rogue cop to the cops. Whether brave or foolhardy it is to be hoped that their actions help to clean up what the local tourism operators are calling the “wild west”. At the very least it brought the head of Surat police to Had Rin. Meanwhile, I am indebted to several posters who pointed out my “keep ‘em peeled” error in last week’s column. Of course it was not Dixon of Dock Green but Shaw Taylor who coined that memorable catchphrase. I must be getting old as mistakes start creeping in though thankfully I have got a ways to go before I am Warren Beatty and I’d need one of those operations famous in Thailand to be remotely like Faye Dunaway. To stay reasonably safe in Thailand it is best not to rock the boat too much and to learn when to say “Khrap” and when to keep “crap” to yourself. Consequently the only thing I will say to the metropolitan police chief Lt Gen Sanit Mahathavorn over the booze firm salary scandal when his signature miraculously appeared on an assets’ declaration is: I believe you sir…though as my dear departed English mother used to say, thousands wouldn’t. Reading through posts on the forum regarding the upholding of the death sentences against the Burmese in the Koh Tao murders it seems that thousands are convinced of their innocence and only the odd one has any certainty about their conviction. And most of the latter seem to be victim David Miller’s family. Who knows what grief, or as some say threats or money, can do to one’s opinions, but the fact remains that the case is a ‘cause celebre’ likely to run until democracy returns to these fair shores. In what was a rather serious week in many ways, it was just as well that we still had Pattaya. And not just the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard. For when you threw in the erstwhile reigning rani of the Tourism and Sports Ministry – Khun Kobkarn – you got a combination that would turn more heads than the sauciest seaside strumpet. This week Her Kobkarnliness was trumpeting the resort’s prowess in sporting endeavor and chose as her example of excellence none other than jet-skis. Strike one. It amused me to read the translation of the Thai Rath story from the vernacular into English; despite the translator clearly thinking the whole idea was preposterous no attempt was made at ridicule. Like in so many Thai stories and comments from Thai officialdom – the facts are ridiculous enough to speak for themselves! I admire Khun Kobkarn who knows what good sport is – she was handing out prizes at the King’s Cup Scrabble event in Bangkok in July after all. Which got me thinking…… Maybe next she will start promoting Bridge in Pattaya and the pensioners can come out of hiding. Naturally the forum posters had a field day at Khun Kobkarn’s expense as well as much merriment concerning the African female “tourists” who claimed they were out for a stroll on Beach Road. With their backs to the media cameras they showed more cheek than even the police in denying the bleeding obvious. The “ooh, er missus” innuendo of the Thaivisa posters reminded us that life in the resort is not to be taken too seriously. Maybe the minister should remember that when she makes her promised visit later this month. Also keeping Rooster’s ribs tickled “chompuu” was the farang guy in the north east who seemed to have got a free bowl of noodles or two after claiming to be Tom Cruise. He was pictured smiling with the owner on the shop’s wall. Maybe they talked about Mission Impossible, and by that I mean the movie…..not the latest attempts by the authorities to oust the embezzler at Wat Dhammakaya, a story that makes Thai TV soaps look interesting. Still the story of “scientology’s savior” gave Rooster a few ideas. Over the years, several Thais have stopped me in the streets and on escalators, of course, to say I look like Robert de Niro. I never deny it and the encounters always end in happy smiles even if no one is yet to get my “it’s nice to Meet the Fockers” joke. Maybe I shall actively promote my dazzling good looks in the eateries of Ratchayothin this week. And so to this week’s Rooster Awards – now, where did I put that envelope? Ah, here it is – and the winner of the best “’Avin’ a laugh” award of the year so far is the National Park official who suggested that the charging (sic) of foreign tourists must be “transparent and modernized”. Thailand may have done a fair job with the modernizing bit over the last few decades but transparency remains as obscure and irrational a concept as ever. So much so, that I have met Thais who think trans-parent is a lady boy who wants to adopt an orphan. While the “That Just Has to be Better Than the Real Thing” award goes to the Bangkok police for plans to install hundreds of fake cops or “jaa cheuy” with cameras to catch those arch criminals who don’t even wear the 199 baht helmets available in Lotus. The idea is to rake in millions in fines…oh and er….stop crime, clean up the tourism image, end the drugs trade….er, no, serve, yes, yes that’s it, serve and protect the public. I was a little taken aback that the concrete models were A) upstanding and not smiling much, as my experience with the cuntstabulary is that they reserve their broadest grin when they are about to relieve motorcyclists of the content of their wallets. Finally I loved the story about the road in Nakorn Somewhere where the power poles were left in the middle of the thoroughfare when it was widened. Thaivisa forum posters chimed in with dozens of other examples in their own streets, towns and villages up and down the kingdom. It made me think about the similarities between the Thais and the British I left behind all those years ago. For wasn’t it complaints about the number of Poles in the streets that led to Brexit? Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-03-05
  22. The week that was in Thailand news: The Queen of the Eastern Seaboard strikes back! It was quite a week for Pattaya. She – like ships that seems to be the appropriate pronoun – began the week as little more than a common whore. By the end of it she was a paragon of virtue referred to as the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard! Of course the truth is that nothing had changed – and nothing will – from the authorities’ lip service assault on foreign media to their equally nonsensical moves to try and paint a picture of the resort as whiter than the driven snow that has never fallen there. Like what the tourists pay for in Walking Street it was just one big seedy sideshow! And Pattaya was not to blame for any of it! Leading the way was the police chief who as the Thais say caused “huaroh fan ruang” - so much mirth that teeth will fall out. Rooster needed dentures after his assertion that Pattaya was all about nature. Only an application to have ‘her’ submitted to the list of seven wonders of the natural world was missing. District chief Naris followed up his Valentine’s Day shaming of the Brit tourist in Walking Street by ordering a raid on a single bar catching one prossie who was overage anyway. While a whopping 20 arrests of street walkers on Friday massively dented the 20,000 plus prostitute population! Bless – the only thing whopping about that was the size of the mostly African women who were carted off to jankers. I don’t know why but it reminded me of the question master on a popular UK game show years ago who posed the question before anyone had heard of the country: “What is the capital of ‘Thigh-land?”. Maybe he had been to Pattaya and got confused with his pronunciation. As if to confound their own confusion the cops and their minions held a “crisis meeting” to set up no less than 36 “Happy Zones” in the resort. All I could fathom about this plan was that the police had finally announced that they were placing all responsibility for policing on the shoulders of the public. They wanted the shops and bars to be the eyes and ears rather in the manner of legendary TV cop “Dixon of Dock Green” who used to exhort the British public to “keep ‘em peeled”. At least Sergeant Dixon used to round up the villains at the end of each show – this crew in Pattaya just puts the K in Keystone every week. Not to be outdone it was a mixed week for the folks at the TAT. Mixed in the sense that some of their ideas were idiotic and some were just plain ridiculous. Firstly they announced that a sure way to woo Mr Woo was to take him to see military bases. I can’t wait to see all those Chinese clambering over the tanks and firing weapons though I think that the government in Beijing might have a word in Prayut’s shell-like for giving the proletariat ideas. Then came the bombshell that tourists were the ones to blame for all the Adidas and Nike so cheaply available on the streets. Apparently if they didn’t buy all the pirated goods they would all just disappear and Thailand could be respected by Rolex once again. It really did appear that the TAT couldn’t make up its mind if tourists were really such a good thing after all. This was confirmed when Olga the hapless Russian was bailed on a mere 100,000 baht for feeding a few angel fish. And seemingly reiterated when the national parks rejected moves to reduce tourist fleecing by 50% in Krabi resulting in the local chief saying enough was enough. He had presided over the collection of 500 million baht in fees last year and now he was so stressed out with all that success he wanted a transfer. But he should be careful what he wishes for – he could end up in Pattaya as a reward! Meanwhile I am thinking of contacting the TAT with a brilliant idea I had to protect tourists on their stay in the Kingdom. It came to me following news that a bus passenger queuing for a ticket at Mor Chit had been shot. The bullet came from a man in charge of the rank who said the gun went off by accident as he was sorting out a minor problem with his friend, as they do. Admittedly the passenger was shot in the head but would it not be a top idea to rent bullet proof vests to tourists at Swampy on arrival. Thai chili mace could also be provided to women or Asians wearing chunky gold necklaces. This could be added to a list of useful numbers for new arrivals like who to contact for funeral services. And of course the true quality tourists with all the wedge would be encouraged to buy the equipment creating a burgeoning cottage industry in protection. Win – win. It all seemed so much simpler back in the 80s when tourism was relatively new and no one was in denial – Thailand was what it was and no one needed to make any excuses. I recall vividly the newspaper comments of an interior minister who, asked where a visiting counterpart from Japan would be taken on his state tour, responded: “We’ll take him for a massage”. The Thai official smiled and winked and no one batted an eyelid. Despite some crime committed by foreigners this week mostly it was perpetrated by Thai on Thai with some very nasty examples. Top of an unsavory bunch had to be the 39 year old woman who forced her 12 year old daughter to sleep with her new husband because she was worried that otherwise he would leave her. Forum comment was understandably aghast as it was in the story that emerged from the murder capital of Thailand, namely Nakorn Sri Thammarat. There a teacher had ordered a hit on her husband for 150,000 baht. The gunmen had fired a volley then reloaded to make sure as hubby rode home after taking his missus to school. I wonder if she kissed him goodbye? I read the story while tucking in to some “Meu Peun” (hired gun) brand popcorn – the packaging features a smiling assassin shooting some corn….Thailand how I love thee! But that teacher was not the only “Khun Khru” in the news this week with one on the receiving end of a proverbial hail of bullets and some others torturing instead of teaching. The teacher who was shot was sent on her way by her policeman husband in Korat who found out she was having an affair. Rather than do something as old fashioned and undramatic as divorce her he went to a gas station and shot the adulterous couple 14 times reloading half way through. He was on his way home to commit suicide when stopped by colleagues from the station. They really should have let him “glap baan” before contemplating an arrest. Sickening was the story of two kindergarten teachers who were seemingly inspired by Donald Drumph’s promotion of waterboarding. They thought it was jolly good pedagogy to tape up two five year olds’ hands and eyes to teach them concentration in class. Rooster had just been to collect his four year old from the kindergarten – a very good one I might add with dedicated Thai teachers – and was left, like many forum posters, to ponder what he would do if it was his child subjected to such scandalous treatment. The reaction may be no less irrational than that jealous policeman in Korat. A foreign teacher in the news was the Canadian “professor” in Chiang Mai who hit a three year old in a buggy while riding his “big bike”. The stupidity of the Western parents in crossing a busy road with a pram combined with the Canadian fleeing the scene ensured that in the idiocy stakes the Thais did not have it all their own way this week. Meanwhile, in Bangkok the British Embassy has now decided to sell another bit of its Wireless Road real estate for 20 billion baht which should be enough to wipe out the UK national debt at the current exchange rate. Apparently it came to 2.2 million baht a square yard! The move was met with an appropriately British volley of sarcastic approval with the top forum comment of the week from “daveAustin” who observed: “I mean how many rai does one need for one person to man a phone and say ‘sorry we don’t have that service, cannot help ‘ ”. Which seamlessly leads me into this week’s other Rooster awards. The “Chump of the Week Award” goes to the apologist extraordinaire who suggested that others were being racist when they complained about the attitude of drivers on the Thai roads. The comment referred to the story about the man filmed as he got his “just desserts for driving that took the biscuit” and was: “There are no more stupid drivers in Thailand than any other country”. If you believe it, sir, there is a good Thai doctor I can recommend at Sri Thanya Hospital, if not, please take your comments elsewhere, Khun Troll. While my “Well Done for all those Years of Effort” award is also traffic related. It goes to the entire country for successfully rising to the top of the pile for the world’s most congested nation. Maybe that should be top of the pile-up, nevertheless it was a Stirling Moss of an effort achieved after years of dedication even if it was sullied by the news that Bangkok only ranked 12th in the list of congested cities. Finally, we went a whole week before a smiling Thai pensioner appeared right as rain beside his totally demolished pick-up to assert that it was the amulets and a statue that had saved him from what should have been certain death. Of course it was; but it was the translator’s tongue in cheek that really saved the day mentioning the magical qualities of the “Luang Pu Thuat” statue that is, quote, “well known for saving countless lives”. Methinks someone who knows Thailand a little too well! Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-02-26
  23. The week that was in Thailand news: Nonsense, glorious nonsense. Teaching colleagues at my former school used to gather in the staff room at lunchtimes for what we called “The Nonsense Committee” – there was always plenty to talk about at a big international school in Bangkok especially as the management were British. It was usually the decisions of heads and deputies that garnered most of our incredulous attention and sarcasm before we went back to the classroom and the relative sanctity and good sense of the students. Now Rooster is no longer cooped up in education and it is the nonsense of the leaders in Thailand and their deputies that pique my attention. And this week the Thaivisa site did not disappoint. Perhaps a backlash was in order after my “snowball in hell” column last week when I decried the lack of interesting news for this week we were literally snowed under with nothing but nonsense glorious nonsense. Top of the pile once again was Khun Kobkarn over at tourism and sports who has come up with the brilliant idea of taking up President Drumph’s slack and is actually trying to attract Muslims tourists. The initiative came after the country’s first halal hotel opened in Bangkok. Now I’ve never knowingly eaten halal, I prefer pie and chips, but I know that the elegant minister is desperate to save her job by attracting some tourists after the Chinese billion dollar zero dollar debacle. Now I wouldn’t be surprised if she is thinking of suggesting that Korat be renamed as Koran. That should add 20%, or possibly 70%, more tourist revenue. Though her figures are usually plucked from cotton candy clouds, the former CEO of troubled Toshiba does understand, like most Thais, that it’s all about the money. Or perhaps in the minister’s current thinking…. a profit, Mohammad. Khun Kobkarn had a busy week in other ways too. She was on hand – the right hand incidentally – when General Prayut met Thailand’s Miss Universe contestant who is from Isaan. The beauty said that Big Too was cute and no, she hadn’t just lost her contact lenses. Rooster’s missus, who hails from the north east too, didn’t feel too threatened because she could see that the beauty queen’s skin color was darker than her own…”She should ask Nivea for a contract” was all she said before returning to her ghost magazine reverie. Thereafter, Khun Kobkarn moved onto high level ministerial negotiations with Nestle about introducing durian flavored Kit Kats into the kingdom. Apparently Japan makes millions from wasabi flavor, so why not. Rooster who went troppo in Thailand decades ago naturally loves everything made with durian but I do have to question the minister’s assertion that it will add 10% to GDP. And worryingly it could lead to a “smelly ban” on Durian Kit Kat on Thai Airways that could mean more tourism embarrassment. Monday it was announced that pistol packin’ plod were going to get new, no nonsense guns. The new 15 shooters will make massacres easier and be great for photo-ops if those nasty military chaps insist on continuing to ban innocent suspects from having their guilty looking mugs plastered over the papers. Rooster is not a friend of guns – the nearest I have got to one in Bangkok was the Long Gun bar in Soi Cowboy a few years ago – and that got me in more than enough trouble thank you very much even if I was shooting blanks . On the subject of which, though he didn’t even get a chance to fire off anything, was the man who was shot in the stomach after his karaoke partner fled from the upstairs short time room in terror claiming Somchai was packing a “pink pistol” of prodigious proportions. “Oohooo, yai maak maak” she screamed as she raced back to the bar. But what should have been a source of pride turned into a source of argument as the irked owner of the venue produced a sizeable weapon of his own and started firing. And these were not blanks. Still, the well-endowed guy lived to fight another day which is more than can be said of the soldier found attached to his charging phone, the German couple who U-turned straight into a Cha-Am truck, the Austrian who made the journey to the next world rather than do a visa run to Laos and the ex US serviceman who pegged out all alone in his room in Prajuab. The last of these died with a stack of money on the table and no apparent relatives though I am sure some wife or three will soon appear. Now if you are starting to believe that all of these stories are nonsense you are quite right and you are in good company. The dear General (god is often capitalized by the way) cautioned this week that we should not believe all the nonsense that we see on social media and the internet. Unless it is in praise of the junta of course. Miss Thailand Universe was right – isn’t he cute! Many forum posters were screaming “nonsense!” when the inside story of Phra Whatchamacallhim at the UFO temple broke. One of his disciples said he could not only walk on water and make himself invisible but had the miraculous ability to make himself heavy and thus impossible to lift. I am good at the invisible bit when the missus is on the warpath over household chores and McDonalds have aided and abetted in the heavy bit, but my hat is off to the arch embezzeler for the walking on water skill. That one is just in my mind. Still, the forum posters pooh-poohed it all and now look silly as he has confirmed his magical abilities by defying the 3,500 wolves baying at his door and disappearing into thin air. On a slightly less whimsical note, anyone who takes the activities of Wat Dhammakaya lightly is bonkers. Some posters suggested a surprise raid as if the temple doesn’t have half a million informants on the outside. Believe me when I say that this temple and its shenanigans makes the Church of Scientology look like child’s play it is not nonsense. They really don’t need Tom Cruise while PM Prayut is stymied as he can’t turn to his Top Guns. Top nonsense of a bumper week was however reserved for the 63 year old Brit and his bargirl adversary that brought further great advertising to Pattaya. The Brit got a shiner with a shoe for allegedly comparing bar prices to 7/11 while the lady of the night spent the next night in the cells. It was all rather tame when compared to the Owen’s Battle of Binthabat at Songkran but the forum posters had a field day allying themselves in the poor old tourist camp and the got what he deserved department. The adversaries should just kiss and makeup and perhaps contact the TAT for one of those decorative baskets for services in promoting the resort. For how else would such glorious stories and the like get reported in the Daily Mirror but for the work of such people on the ground. Good guys will continue to go to heaven and the bad to Pattaya no matter what for there really is no bad publicity when it comes to the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard. One could almost imagine the extra flight bookings within seconds of the UK rag’s announcement of the 27,000 hookers that they assessed as one in five of the female population! Yet more hilarious nonsense spouted forth from a Dusit poll that said 85% of the public thought Thai youth were out of control though no one singled out Suthep the 50 plus engineer who gunned one of them down in the road rage incident that inspired the survey. Kids will be kids, try having some or teaching some is my recommendation. But “halloween” said it best with my favorite forum comment of the week that will have to be my only award for the last seven days as nonsense has hogged too many column inches. On the poll findings halloween quipped: “Historians point out that this result is two percentage points higher than a similar poll taken in Athens in 498BC”. Exactly! But as if to defy logic that you can tell the young exactly what to do it was the Chiang Mai rozzers who led the nonsensical way on Valentine’s Day by setting up condom checkpoints to stop area youngsters from doing what comes naturally on the “day of love”. But even the northern cops were upstaged by the Valentine’s Vindictiveness of the district chief in – OMG not again – Pattaya, who thought it was a spiffing ruse to bang on the door of a Brit having his 62 year old end away in a short time room. But his primordially pathetic photo stunt at least was advertising of sorts reminding us how utterly inept the authorities in the resort invariably are. The last Valentine’s story involves more cocks fighting. No, thankfully not Pattaya again but this time the hitching of two valuable chickens in Chantaburi. All the local dignitaries somehow found time off from doing their jobs to attend the nuptials that had all the trappings and in this case undoubtedly all the crappings of a Thai wedding. Though not sponsored by KFC, you had to read to near the end of the report to find its hidden “chicken nugget of nonsense” when the reporter referred to the proud man who adeptly carried the million baht rooster in the parade. Apparently the man’s dad had taught him everything he knew about handling a cock. Way to go Pops! Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-02-19
  24. The week that was in Thailand news: A Thai snowball’s chance in Hell. Very little surprised me this week. In fact I was constantly muttering to myself – come on Thaivisa, tell me something I don’t know. Some chance. There was litter in the ocean. Yawn. Wannabe celebs complaining with crocodile tears that their precious images were in places they’d rather not be seen. Double yawn. Raids on soapy massage with a hundred cops finding one under 18 Burmese girl. Triple yawn. Hanging wires on a dangerous footbridge – zzzzz. All the week needed was an honest cabbie to rear his north eastern head and Rooster could have been the latest suicide statistic jumping from his 12th floor balcony. “UK expat ends it all after suffering terminal boredom”. But I decided not to leap – after all, it would have only meant just another inconsiderately caused yawn for forum readers over their Sunday morning coffee. However, a working life with teenagers in classrooms has taught me nothing if not perseverance. And so it was with some relief when a couple of vaguely juicy stories came along that managed to pique my interest like a five bird pooh chili Som Tam. Top of an admittedly small list was the story of complaints about the double pricing at the national parks in Krabi. More winging foreigners I initially thought until it was revealed that it was the Thais themselves wanting change. The long tail boat owners had got together and found someone who could read to take them to the parks office in town to tell the chief that charging 400 baht for tourists was a bit rum. Even Rooster’s poor maths had me thinking this seemed a bit more than double the 40 baht charged to locals. The boat owners said their business was down 60% and could the fees be halved so that the rip off was just a medium one, and thus acceptable. Rooster, who has paid a baht or two in tax over the years, hates these charges with a vengeance. Maybe tourists should pay a bit more but for people living permanently in the kingdom, I draw the line. I remember once being told in my car at a national park gate that it was several times more for me than the Thai wife and kids. They wouldn’t budge so rather than waste my breath I reversed out and disappeared round the corner. I got out of the driver’s seat and told the wife to drive while I began to clamber in the boot and hide. Surely Thais had never heard of the Trojan Horse! It was only when a gleam came in the missus’s eye at the thought of me in the boot that I decided it may not be such a good ruse after all… Anyway, good luck to the boatmen of Krabi. At least they made a point and what with the state of the Thai education system no one could expect them to know the melting point of snowballs in the underworld and thus their relative chance of success. After the moves by Khun Kobkarn at tourism and sports to waive visa fees it is to be hoped that she might sniff out the story with her elegant nose. Though Rooster holds out little hope – both the lady minister and the TAT clearly subscribe to the view that once you’re in Thailand we can do what we like with you! Another story that suppressed the yawns for a nanosecond – but gripped the Thai nation for considerably longer – concerned the engineer called Suthep who shot a teen in a road rage incident. Many thought he was within his rights to protect himself after he was “menaced” by the teens who had made him wait earlier by double parking. But Suthep was hardly being seriously threatened and he had a loaded gun in a car. And might he not have shot in the air than directly at the chest of a 17 year old. The case mirrors to a certain degree that of Tony Martin the farmer in the UK who shot and killed a 16 year old intruder at his dilapidated farmhouse. The public championed his right to protect himself from constant burglary – until it emerged that Mr Martin had laid in wait and was itching for blood. I am afraid that Suthep falls into just the same category and while he will doubtless get a lesser sentence because of the aggravated circumstances he still deserves many years of rice porridge. And the teens could do with some boot camp too. Falling into the category of the purely yawn-worthy, however, had to be airhead Zomy, who caused the nine car pile-up on Rachada a few months back, doing a new written driving test. It must have been a photo opportunity is all I can think of for this stunt for it would be inconceivable that she could read let alone make meaning of something as complex as writing. Keeping Rooster from his siestas this week was also the ongoing saga of the murder of Pattaya hood Tony Kenway. According to all the stories he was a programmer, a web designer, a boiler room boss….you name it he seemed to have done it. But ripping off people and flaunting his wealth were clearly his downfall. Though the fact that he didn’t target the Thais at least kept him alive until he was 39. When his wife turned up at the nick hoping to see the man who had allegedly ordered his murder the farang soap opera became almost funny as she called for justice. Dear Mrs Kenway – you should be the first to know that is exactly what he already got. Several forum posters asked why the stories always mention the “Red Porsche Cayenne” he was shot in. All I can say to people who are surprised at that is you can’t have been in Thailand very long. You’re probably equally perplexed when a person’s skin color is mentioned as relevant or that a girl in a crime story is pretty… The aforementioned bridge covered in wires and cables story that made me yawn did also make me smile for two reasons. Firstly for the “Stairway to Heaven” headline but also for the fact that I use this bridge almost every week wheeling my daughter in her buggy on trips to the pond at Kasetsart university and I’d never noticed the wires. A sure sign that you have been in Thailand for too long when you are oblivious to the fact that you and your loved ones are about to be fried to a cinder on an afternoon stroll. The story also led to my favorite forum comment of the week that once again went to wag PatOngo who went one better than the headline by suggesting that Stairway to Heaven should be “more like a Highway to Hell”. Adding to the yawns this week was the latest in the marihuana legalization debate. Drugs suppression police seem to be in favor which at a cursory glance seems like they are trying to do themselves out of a job. But seeing the amount of money a Ya Ba merchant’s wife had under the bed in Hat Yai – 56 million baht in cash – one was left to surmise that there is more than enough to go round with more serious substances. Regarding the legalization of ganja Rooster is neither holding his breath nor inhaling. The drug was an unwitting victim of fake news decades before today’s hot potato media topic was ever thought of and repairing that damage to the drug’s image in most of Asia will take more than my meager lifetime. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. The proud winners of the “ ‘Allo ‘Allo ‘Allo do you think we were born yesterday” award goes collectively to the entire police force and individually to the head of metro plod. All the rogue rozzers get it for the suggestion that they will be able to improve their public face and make inroads into corruption by the end of February. Though I’ll grant you that it was probably a typo in the “smarten up your act” story as February 2117 was surely intended. While photogenic Sanit Mahathavorn gets the individual honor after expecting us to believe that he will soon come up with a plausible excuse to justify his 50K tea money from the beer company. Surely such a tiny amount is the ultimate in small biccies for the chief – you’d think he’d just abandon it to take the heat off. Or is he trying to set an example to his subordinates? While the “Keep Trying to be Number One” award goes to all those people who love to make the ocean more interesting by floating plastic bottles in it. An academic this week called the Thais only the fifth worst polluters of the sea in the world. But as an outsider looking in, and with a bit more effort, I know the nation can make it to the top. Suu suu na khrap! The story of the ten kilometer slick of floating trash in the Gulf of Thailand also brought out the best and the most predictable thing about my dear Siamese friends. The best was the response by the Chumporn governor and his coordination with the navy and the private sector to get the rubbish quickly cleared up. The most predictable was the inevitable finding of a scapegoat rather than calling the litter tossing public to task. The authorities conveniently blamed the floods. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-02-12
  25. The week that was in Thailand news: Thai children and the end of English dominance. I have always subscribed to the view that Thais are like children. It has held me in good stead over the years especially on those occasions when it was necessary to ditch my staid northern hemisphere upbringing and have a good giggle with the supposed adults of the kingdom. And so it was yesterday as the whole country – young and old alike – turned out for Children’s Day. Twenty dinosaurs were brought in to wow the kids at Government House – no they were not past prime ministers or even present ones but, we were told, creatures who roamed the earth before even Thais began. I could barely believe there was such a time. However, after a lovely day with the children – my own real, wide-eyed little ones that is – I was left to reflect that Thais really did take the role of playing the juvenile a tad too seriously this week. Top billing went to the general PM himself for a story that topped the charts on the Thaivisa forum as he suggested that Thai language may well be the “lingua franca” of the world in the future usurping that tired old imperial English. He didn’t give a timeframe for this new world dominance but I assumed it must be twenty years – along the lines of the eradication of corruption that is also proceeding so well, according to his advisers. Giving as his reasons were some top quality and refreshing childlike reasoning – there are only 44 consonants, lots more vowels than English and Thai words can mean so many things. Oh you mean like Rooster means “cock” too. Understood, sir. I get it now! Still, like my three year old, he means well and at least we didn’t have a toddler’s tantrum this week – that was not until he threw the toys out of the pram regarding who said what after his audience with His Majesty over some constitutional amendments. Apoplectic Prayut couldn’t believe the temerity of reporters in quoting his exact words. Perhaps he was ascribing to the oft spouted view that you should never take a Thai at face value – there is always a hidden truth. Forum comment had already been rife earlier in the week as apart from the hoo-ha over the Thai language came the story about the Thai flag and the two Italian ‘children’ caught ripping several of them down in Krabi. Foreigners seemed as indignant as the Thais and it will be interesting to see what penalty the tourists will have to pay or serve. My guess is it will be pay but let’s hope, like children, they learn their lesson and perhaps appreciate later that it was just as well the flags were red white and blue and not yellow. And just as well, too, it was flags and not a picture they had vandalized. Some have enjoyed rice porridge for a considerable time for that. Behaving worse children were officials in the South who denied that a five meter long crocodile had escaped in downtown Nakorn Sri Thammarat. Just like a five year old who cannot imagine the consequences, here we had grown men finally admitting that “Nadia” was on the loose. They didn’t want to spook the public, they said, but, hey, never mind if the odd child was eaten. And I loved the name Nadia – if anything does go wrong they can always blame the Russians! Talking of which, we also had the horror of two farangs bathing butt naked in the river in Pai – ok they might not have been Russians but who gives a monkeys especially as all foreigners look alike and speak that olde worlde English language thing. But my goodness, the indignation from the locals! Reminded me of those many occasions with when I’ve been with Thais at beach resorts and they see westerners sunbathing in their birthday suits – strange how they just can’t keep their eyes from looking! Especially Thai women. To wit forum poster ‘LomSak27’ gets my award for the pertinent observation of the week after mentioning how much the locals love to feel outrage: “Thai culture gets too much mileage on finding disrespect to put the brakes on it’. Indeed, yet another occasion when Thais would rather stare than flee the scene and when the brakes just seemed to fail again. Also in the realms of the childlike was the absurdity of the story that capital punishment might be used for public officials caught fiddling for – er, let’s pluck a figure from the sky – one billion baht. Lawmakers themselves suggesting such a thing! It was a bit like a father telling his child that the punishment for lying was no more supper, ever again. Anyway, there will only be a conviction if it is the abject poor who do the embezzling and that, as the Thai language promoting PM might put it, is “Catch Yee-sip song”. Calls for the ultimate penalty are also being made for the Bangkok robbers who murdered a man last week for his iPhone. We were told this week that the case is being expedited but the fact remains that no one has been executed here since 2009 and even Amnesty International says when ten years has passed without its use then for all intents and purposes it doesn’t exist anymore. Expect to see the phrase ‘commuted to life imprisonment on admission’ once again. Two massive stories dominated the Thai press this week and received their share of attention on Thaivisa. These – unsurprisingly – both had juicy connections with the constabulary. The first was the continuing scandal of the entrance exams for top positions in the metropolitan police. Plod is desperately trying to blame everyone except their own and pathetically paraded a Pathumwan official who conveniently admitted to charging 400,000 baht a head to cheating candidates. Of course, he acted alone. Perhaps this was the only time someone actually acted as an adult this week by doing the right thing and not dobbing in his mates. But, like the words of a child, no one is likely to give them much credence in the circumstances. Cheating is so engrained in Thai exams of all kinds that it is a wonder they bother with the pretense of tests. Surely it would be better and less time consuming to just hold an auction for the police, school places or even driving licenses. The second rozzer-related story was the alleged abduction of the Bangkok “tom” found buried in a deserted resort in Kanchanaburi. A superintendent from Ratchaburi told met chief Sanit that he had asked some mates to “teach her a lesson”. Sanit first indicated he ‘bought’ that story by which I mean he believed it, not got paid for accepting it. But then he seemed to take a toddle down an evidential pathway for it now looks as though the super is in some serious “nam rorn” along with perhaps half a dozen others as more suspects spill the beans. The errant cop is probably thinking, despite the exams, you just can’t get the staff these days. My final word this week on the guardians of law and order concerns the incident where a traffic cop was helping some children over the road when a car hit him and revved off. It is a national disgrace not that the matter happened at a zebra crossing or that the impatient driver was a policeman. The disgrace is that no one was in the least surprised. Also not surprising was the shenanigans ” going on in Koh Samet. Several forum posters were taken in by the “crackdown” praising everyone from the new set of “upright” park officials to the junta for their “decisive action”. The reality is most operators are just being asked to pull down a bungalow or two that has encroached too near the sand. It is typical Thai face saving and only a Thai newbie, or dare I say a child, will be taken in by it. Most Thais themselves, having grown up to a point with such nonsense, certainly won’t be. And so to this week’s Rooster awards. The “Choice of Words” award goes to UK Prime Minister Theresa Thatcher, I think it is. She gave out a “Point of Light” commendation to the honorary consul of Chiang Mai. Shouldn’t that be “Beacon of Light?” I got the impression that the poor gentleman was so far away from helping anyone in distress that he was just a faint glimmer in some dark corner of the cosmos. Not the case, said forum regular and former top poster winner ‘NancyL’ who spoke of the consul’s good deeds. Makes a change from most British embassy personnel who usually manage just a few rubbers of tennis and some slurps of Pimms to justify their fat salaries. The “Making the Most of Your Assets” award goes to the acumen laden and busty hairdresser in Klaeng who cried foul after pictures of cleavage rather than clippers adorned the internet. “I’m not a slapper. It was after work. That was my nephew”, she wailed. But hey, the indignation soon gave way as the “all round” publicity was boosting business! Finally, FIFA’s decision to expand the 2026 soccer World Cup from 32 to 48 teams had the Thai sports authorities optimistic that the national team would now qualify for the quadrennial showpiece. Some chance. Sweet FA. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-01-14