Living In Thailand Blog
Monday 30th April 2012
Thai TV news this morning showed scenes from the big Porsche crash a couple of days ago. I've owned a couple of Porsches but they weren't capable of 280 km/h so I was wondering which model was involved.
It was a GT2. There wasn't much left of the car so it was difficult to identify but I believe it was a 996 variant. The top speed is 196 mph (315 km/h) so it still had something in reserve when it crashed. Frightening.
This model was built to meet homologation requirements so basically it is a lightweight twin turbocharged racing car that can be driven legally on the roads.
Such a car requires immense responsibility and skill if driven quickly. Sadly, both of these qualities are in short supply in Thailand.
A decent used 996 GT2 can be picked up in the UK for around Bt2 million. In Thailand the price will be very much higher. The owner who was killed in the crash was a hotel owner and obviously had plenty of money.
One of my regrets living in Thailand is that I can't afford to buy a used Porsche in good condition as I could in the UK. On the other hand, having seen how Thais drive would I want all the Thai boy racers driving Porsches?
The answer is an unequivocal no. They are dangerous enough in their pickup trucks and old Japanese saloons with big exhaust tailpipes and comical spoilers. If they had genuinely powerful cars the carnage would just be worse.
Despite all the talk about a clampdown on speeding, I doubt very much that anything will happen. There will probably be speedtraps set up at the moment, but after a month or two they will disappear and everything will go back to normal. This is the Thai way.
I doubt if anything would have happened at all if a couple of upcountry boys had been killed while racing their pickup trucks.
It's a bit sad that there is a call to action only when the son of a poo yai gets killed. This is also the Thai way.
According to this report: "The challenge for government and police is to explain and then to enforce the limits everywhere."
It's 2012 and apparently Thais still need to have it explained to them why speeding is dangerous.
Sunday 29th April 2012
The 28th April deadline has passed and Phuket is still there. What a surprise.
The rhetoric is always good in Thailand but unfortunately the good words never get turned into actions. This Bangkok Post article is another case of, "I'll believe it when I see it."
And meanwhile in Phuket, where they are supposed to be introducing speed cameras and launching a crackdown on speeding. More speeding pickup trucks, yet again:
Friday 20th April 2012
A couple of years ago there was a stupid rumour going around that Hat Yai would be wiped off the face of the earth by huge tsunamis coming from the East and West. Some of the locals actually believed this nonsense.
More recently, a guy in central Thailand was predicting the collapse of a huge dam. For both these events an exact date was given. Of course, the date came and went without anything happening.
Thais recently started doing the same thing regarding Phuket. The big Indonesian earthquake last week caused some minor aftershock problems in Phuket. There have been a number aftershocks, but only small ones.
Some Thais have been saying that Phuket will be completely obliterated by 28th April. Yes, that's right. The huge island of Phuket, which is an entire province in itself, will just disappear. Sure.
These stupid rumours cause damage because simple people actually believe them. I've said in the past that the people starting and spreading the rumours should be punished. The governor of Phuket province has been saying the same thing.
It isn't unusual for rogue monks to be behind these rumours. Instead of concentrating on Buddhism, they are more concerned with magic tattoos and other supernatural nonsense.
Monks are revered in Thailand and some people can't think for themselves. It is a dangerous combination.
Thursday 19th April 2012
Thais aren't world leaders in many things, but they are experts at killing themselves and other people in road traffic accidents.
This happens every single year without fail, and every single year there is an outpouring of rhetoric just after Songkran about what can be done to reduce the number of deaths. The same thing happens to a lesser extent during the New Year holiday.
The unfortunate truth is that very little can be done about crass stupidity and typical Thai attitudes. For as long as Thais continue to get drunk and race around on the roads throwing water at each other there will always be lots of accidents and lots of deaths. It's fun though, isn't it?
When I used to teach, 320 students would have filled about 12 classes. That's a lot of people, and now they would all be dead.
Apparently, this regular annual carnage is quite acceptable based on the evidence that nothing ever changes. If it wasn't acceptable then things would change. In Thailand nothing ever changes. There are certain things about Thailand that I will never understand.
The reason for this is the Thai value system. In the West, life is valued above everything else. People may want to do what they want, but most accept that they can't because if everyone did what they wanted to do it would represent a danger to themselves and other people.
In Thailand it is the reverse. The freedom for people to do what they want is valued above life. No one will accept someone else telling what they can and can't do, and this even applies to those whose duty it is to enforce the law. As a result, Thais do what they want and inevitably this leads to a huge loss of life.
Thais don't accept or follow laws and there is no real willingness to enforce them. It's the Thai way.
If you live outside Thailand this probably doesn't affect you. However, if you live in Thailand it does. You need to be constantly aware of the danger and at times you have to change the way you live in order to minimise the risk of being killed.
There are many advantages to living in a Third World country. On the other hand, there are also a number of very serious problems.
Tuesday 17th April 2012
Well done Thailand. According to the government, the 'Safe Songkran with zero death rate' campaign was a great success.
Monday 16th April 2012
This happens every year and it will continue happening every year. Doesn't there need to be something very wrong with a country that allows this to happen with such alarming regularity?
Disasters which kill lots of people happen everywhere in the world. What makes Thailand unique is that everyone knows in advance what will happen.
If I can't arrange to be outside the country for Songkran, I stay indoors. If you need to go outside you can't elect not to participate in the childish games, and you aren't allowed to object to being drenched with water or having paste smeared all over you.
To do so is considered very un-Thai and the consequences can actually be quite dangerous. Another myth that needs to be dispelled is that of Thailand being a gentle and peace loving country. Violence is endemic.
Thaksin says that Thais should stop quarrelling but seems to be genuinely unaware that he is the major cause for much of the quarrelling. He also maintains that he did nothing wrong. I can't believe that he is stupid or suffering from Alzheimer's. It is simply a case of being completely deluded. He suffers from the same dictator-like delusions as Gaddafi, Mugabe, Idi Amin, etc.
If he does come back, expect more major disturbances in the largest lunatic asylum on earth. The next few years do not bode well for Thailand.
Sunday 15th April 2012
The Thais are trying to set a new record this year. All medals, of course, will be awarded posthumously.
I can't think of another race of people who enjoy killing themselves in road accidents as much as Thais do. I have no problem with the idiots killing themselves. Unfortunately, while they're having so much fun trying to kill themselves, they also manage to kill other people.
Anyway, what does it matter to an insignificant farang. If I don't like it I can go home, can't I?
Saturday 14th April 2012
While watching a wildlife documentary today, my wife was highly amused to find out that a coyote was an animal similar to a dog.
In Thailand it is a recognised profession.
Friday 13th April 2012
Giving basic advice to Thais about safety is about as much use as telling my cats to be careful of the road if they go outside.
Just as many Thais will be killed in road accidents during this year's Songkran as in previous years - maybe morel..
As I've done for many years, I just stayed in the house all day today. The four year-old boy next door was having a great time. I would probably enjoy it if I was four again.
This is my worst day of the year in Thailand. My freedom to do what I want to do is taken away from me because of the stupidity that goes on outside. The people who wish to participate should do so in zoned-off areas and to participate or not should be a choice.
Wednesday 11th April 2012
Thais know very well what happens in Thailand and they know very well how Thais think and behave. However, the truth isn't very pleasant and so they continually try to delude themselves and other people.
This is the Thai way. If something is unpleasant just hide it away and imagine that it doesn't exist. Don't bother trying to actually fix the problem.
Rather than admit their own shortcomings, they attempt to project an image of themselves which is how they would like to be seen, and not how they are. The image is a long way from the truth.
Image and appearance is everything in Thailand, whereas truth and substance are of no importance.
A huge amount of money is generated from the commercial sex industry, but this unsavoury side of Thailand is hushed up and swept under the carpet as best they can.
Asking tourists what drew them to Bangkok: "33.2 per cent mentioned ancient sites and artifacts, 19.8 per cent tradition, culture and folk arts, 16.4 per cent shopping venues, 14 per cent Thai food, and 11.2 per cent the hospitality of Thai people."
Sunday 1st April 2012
Just before I went to bed last night there was a TV news report suggesting that the Hat Yai explosion may have been caused by a car bomb, and not by a gas leak. This had been quite strenuously denied earlier in the day.
According to a report on the BBC news site:
"Thai officials said another explosion on Saturday - at a hotel in the city of Hat Yai, Songkhla province - was due to a gas leak and unrelated to the attacks, the Associated Press news agency reported."Three deadly explosions hit Yala in southern Thailand
As I thought about what had happened, it just seemed too much of a coincidence with explosions also occurring in Yala yesterday. Hat Yai is the largest town in southern Thailand and being an important commercial centre it is an obvious target for insurgents.
Lee Gardens Plaza is at the very heart of the tourist centre and because of its size and importance it would be a target. The busiest time - when insurgents would cause maximum disruption - is Saturday afternoon.
The relevant authorities are investigating the cause of the blast and collecting evidence.
Ever since the insurgency flared up again at the beginning of 2004, there has been increased security everywhere. Lee Gardens and other department stores and supermarkets check cars entering their car parks. However, there is always a way through for people with bad intentions.
I feel really uncomfortable. I never used to worry too much about this kind of thing but my life now is about my daughter, not me. Wherever my wife and I go, she goes too. I am constantly aware of external dangers and do what I can to keep her out of harm's way.
The situation on Thailand's roads is bad enough, without having to contend with the threat of insurgency as well. I spend less time in the centre of town than I used to these days, and now the time I spend there will be kept to an absolute minimum.
For tourists with trips planned to Hat Yai in the near future this will have an affect, but at the moment I'm not sure what the implications are.
I would expect that most other businesses in Lee Gardens will also be closed for a while until damage assessment and rebuilding has been carried out.
The hotel is located on higher floors and the owners will obviously want to continue business as soon as possible, but I don't know when this will be.
The businesses surrounding Lee Gardens were closed temporarily yesterday but I didn't see a lot of damage and I believe they will open soon.
Yesterday's events will not help tourism and based on past problems, it will take a long time to restore confidence.
The chairman of the Songkhla Tourism Business Council says that 60% of hotel rooms have been cancelled. He is optimistic that it will take less than three months to restore confidence.
The problems in the deep south go back a long time. During the current phase of insurgency, which has been going on for just over eight years, thousands of people have been killed.
The recent flood problems in Thailand removed the focus from the south, but the insurgency issue desperately needs to be resolved. The problem is that no one seems to know how to fix it.
As I said yesterday, I will be taking a break from blogging for a while. There are lots of things I need to be getting on with at the moment and this will have to take a back seat until I have more time.
Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.
One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. I always use Agoda to book hotels in Thailand. The company was established in Thailand and has great local knowledge, as well as a huge inventory of hotels.
If you click on one of the destinations opposite you will get a list of hotel deals from Agoda. It's generally a good idea to book on-line because you will get a good room rate and you won't suffer the disappointment of arriving at a hotel to find that it is full.
I book hotels regularly in Thailand and I have always found Agoda to be the best on-line travel agent. At times I have spent a lot of time researching hotel prices and although other deals sometimes look better at first I always end up returning to Agoda.
If you don't wish to pay for your hotel at the time of booking, Booking.com normally allows you to pay when you check in at the hotel. Some people prefer this method, but I have always found Booking.com to be more expensive than Agoda.
If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined. However, you will normally find that Agoda is the cheapest and therefore you can save yourself time and money by just booking through Agoda in the first place.
Images of Thailand