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Living In Thailand Blog

Thursday 31st July 2008

People greet each other by asking, "Have you eaten?" They are obsessed with food; they ask very personal questions; and cars don't stop at zebra crossings. Where am I? This is Beijing apparently, but I don't imagine that Thais visiting the Olympics will feel very out of place.


At last, a little justice has been done. Hopefully, there will be some more served up in the coming months.

The methods used to evade tax have been so blatant that the guilty parties have actually been laughing in the faces of the Thai people. This is what I can't understand when people say these cases are politically motivated.

When immensely wealthy people lie when completing forms, or use secretive offshore holding accounts (Ample Rich and Win Mark), or relatives, drivers, maids, and other domestic staff to hide wealth that obviously belongs to them, how can it be politically motivated? It's tax-evasion, pure and simple.

More than anything, this verdict seems to have signalled a major turning point in the legal process in Thailand.

It has always been the case that rich and powerful Thais are above the law but the handing down of this prison sentence would seem to indicate that the situation might have changed.

After successfully funding a nominee political party and installing a puppet prime minister who was charged with the task of amending the constitution in Thaksin's favour, Thaksin bounced back into Thailand eventually, confident that using his massive financial power and contacts he would be able to get all charges against him and his family dropped.

It was a gamble that appears to have failed. The first cracks appeared when three of his lawyers were jailed for attempting to bribe court officials, and things could get a lot worse for him yet.

Hold on to your hats because there are lots more court cases coming up. The Export-Import bank loans to Burma case should be an interesting one, and then there are cases involving government lotteries, and corruption at the new Bangkok airport over the purchase of bomb scanning equipment. I expect there are lots more cases we will never even hear about, but what is known about should be enough.

As far as I'm aware, charges have only been brought about so far for alleged corruption and tax evasion offences. I'm not sure if the Thai authorities have any plans to charge him for alleged human rights abuses. During Thaksin's tenure, the so-called 'war on drugs' left a lot of people dead who didn't receive any kind of a trial; there were two massacres of Muslims in the south; and a Muslim lawyer who just disappeared one day without trace.

I'd be a little nervous right now if I was a Man City fan.

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Tuesday 29th July 2008

Motorbike riding bag snatchers - Click for larger image While Iss was living with me she survived two bag snatching attempts, and several other Thais I know (including some of my students and ex-students) have been victims. The problem isn't confined to Thais.

A South African couple who lived near me in Thailand for a while were also victims. The husband is a man-mountain but his wife is quite small. Her bag was snatched just before they were about to leave the country.

Tonight, I actually witnessed a bag snatching innocent. I was walking home from my evening meal and heard two girls on a motorbike shrieking in distress. I looked to see what had happened and they were pointing and screaming at a lone motorcyclist who was speeding off into the distance.

Miraculously, two cops on a motorbike came by just at the right time. They started to give chase but didn't stand a chance.

As I was going out for my evening meal last week I saw a young kid going like a bat out of hell on his motorbike. Ten seconds later, another bike followed. I started to make some comments under my breath about crazy Thais but then realised that the second bike was a police bike with two cops on board giving pursuit. It's hopeless, though.

These young Thai thieves are just skin and bone; weighing probably no more than a little over 50kg. Their reflexes at that age are lightning fast and with so little weight to carry they are impossible to catch, especially when the pursuit bike is carrying two cops who have come straight from the donut shop.

These little brats are a menace. It's not just about having money and mobile phones stolen; there may be personal effects that can't be replaced, and some things are a huge hassle to replace. Thais must carry their ID cards at all times and they have to face the usual nightmare with Thai bureaucracy and red tape to get them replaced.

Unfortunately, this type of incident is anything but rare (which is why the police set up signs like the one in the photo above) so watch out when you are walking around in the evening.


Today is National Thai Language Day. (Only 9.9% of Thais know this.)

Thai consonants aren't too bad. It is generally agreed that there are 44, of which two are obsolete, therefore 42 in general use. What I was never sure of, though, was how many vowels there were. All of my reference books show a different set of vowels. It's a little trickier than AEIOU. The answer, according to The Nation, is 21

On the wall next to my desk are three posters which are really meant for Thai kids to learn Thai, but they have been very useful to me as well. I have two for Thai vowels and they each show 32 vowels, although one poster says that two are obsolete.

David Smyth's 'Teach Yourself Thai' shows 22. Benjawan Poomsan Becker's 'Thai for Beginners' lists 24 but mentions that three are diphthongs, so this would actually tally with the 21 above. However, Benjawan fails to list certain characters.

For example, the character

This character is necessary to write English in Thai but it isn't in her list of consonants or vowels, so where is it?

This might give potential learners an idea how much of a challenge Thai can be if different reference sources cannot even agree on a definitive set of consonants and vowels.

I am not the only one who didn't know how many vowels there were. The report I've linked to says that in a survey, only 13.3% of Thais knew this. And there are other things Thais don't know about their own language.

I have problems remembering how to write some of the lesser used characters but Thais tell me that other Thais also have the same problem.

Thai students struggle with English grammar but what I didn't realise for a long time is that many also struggle with Thai grammar. A law professor at the university was telling me how many of his students cannot write properly in Thai. This is because the written language is quite different to the spoken one.

The report also says Thais have problems spelling words but this is something I haven't found. Whenever I have asked how to spell a word, I have been told correctly. The biggest problem I have personally when spelling Thai words is trying to remember the tone marks.


After commenting recently that plans had been dropped to build a third set of toilets for ladyboys (transsexuals, to be politically correct) at Mae Fah Luang university in Chiang Rai because it was seen as a waste of money, special ladyboy toilets have been built at a school in Isaan.

A special toilet sign has even been designed. The head teacher at the school estimates that every year, 10% to 20% of boys at the school would rather be girls. It's an amazing figure but, then again, this is Amazing Thailand.

As I have stated before, it is great that there is so much tolerance in Thailand. Some of the effeminate boys can be a lot of fun and if you teach in Thailand they can be a great addition to the classroom.

Many Thai kids are so intensely shy that it is a real handicap to the learning process. Neither is it much fun trying to teach kids when none of them will speak because of debilitating shyness. However, I've taught a few classes that have had extrovert effeminate boys and they certainly aren't shy. They're entertaining, they bubble with energy, and they bring the class alive.

For some reason, they also seem to be very good at English. I'm not sure why this is but many openly admit to liking foreign men so perhaps that is their motivation for studying harder?

There is a difference, of course, between effeminate boys who are gay and the boys who want to be girls.

One of my friends is a university lecturer with a PhD and two younger ladyboy brothers. Among the students she teaches, she has gay boys, boys who want to be girls, and a few girls who want to be boys (toms).

She reckons that 50% of men in Thailand are gay or ladyboys but I think the 10% to 20% estimate above is more accurate. Her brothers are very kind people, apparently, and very good at English. They work at a fairly high class hotel in one of the farang tourist resorts.

At work, and when they visit their parents, they dress as men but in their own time they dress as girls.

The report I've linked to mentions that tolerance isn't the same as acceptance. There is lots of tolerance in Thailand - and I have never seen any signs of persecution - but not complete acceptance.

Parents may love their children unconditionally but I have been told it isn't the best day in a Thai man's life when he finds out his son is a ladyboy. Thais with gender confusion tend to stick with groups of their own kind and they aren't accepted in many professions. Quite a few also seem to be a little unbalanced mentally.

Another Thai lecturer I know (one of the most intelligent people I have ever met) is a gay man. His intellect is stunning. He has two PhDs and lived in France for 14 years. He speaks fluent French, fluent English, and almost fluent German.

He's one of those people you meet occasionally who has a planet-sized brain, but he feels trapped and hates the double life he has to lead because being his true self wouldn't be acceptable in his profession.

Being a clever, well-respected, and fairly wealthy man he gets frequent offers from woman with a view to marriage. He feigns interest and makes excuses, but of course he isn't interested at all, and he can't tell any of his colleagues the truth.

So, maybe in the wider society there is tolerance, but in certain sectors of Thai society there isn't.

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Saturday 26th July 2008

Another one of those 'proud to be British' moments. I won't rehash the details; just read the story.

Isn't it clear to see why so many Western men have now started looking for women elsewhere in the world?

Even if you took the least educated, most hardened Pattaya bar girl that it is possible to find, she would never dream of behaving in such a disgusting, offensive, obscene, embarrassing manner.

Thank heavens for Asian girls. And Thai ones, especially.

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Thursday 24th July 2008

If you live (and especially if you teach) in Thailand, the lack of directness can be a problem. It's cultural. To avoid any bad feeling or loss of face, most Thais will never give you a straight answer. It's pointless asking students if they can understand, or whether they have any problems, because they never tell the truth. They will always tell you what they think you want to hear.

I've had a number of students in the past who have had huge difficulties with English. Some have been trying to learn for 30 years but still can't put a simple sentence together. After making yet another failed attempt with the latest in a long line of teachers, their solution is to say that everything is OK and then to stop attending classes.

Even after this happens, they still won't tell the truth. The only reason you will ever be given is that they are very busy and don't have time to attend lessons.

When I first experienced this kind of thing it concerned me, but I'm used to it now. I talked to one of my students about this a year or two ago and he told me a Thai proverb that I have never seen in any of my Thai text books, "You can't teach crocodiles to climb trees."

On the other hand, their directness with certain subjects can be a little too much at times. Personal questions about money and costs are commonplace. Thais often ask what my salary is, and how much I pay to rent my apartment. If they are aware I have bought something new, they will want to know how much it cost.

If I've been eating well for a few days and gained a few pounds, my Thai friends will point to my stomach straight away and tell me I am fat. Thanks.

Age is another subject they have no qualms asking questions about. I was asked my age in a lesson last week and gave an honest answer. It doesn't bother me; it's not as if any of us can do much about how old we are.

One of the girls then commented that I looked like Richard Gere - it's the white hair I guess. Had she said Mel Gibson, I wouldn't have been very happy, but Richard Gere is known for his good looks and his Buddhist beliefs so I was rather chuffed.

She hadn't quite finished, though. "You look like Richard Gere ... from the back."

I think this is what might be referred to as a backhanded compliment. Still, it made me laugh.


What kind of men do Thai girls really go for? On previous visits to Thailand, this one has set a lot of pulses racing and I've heard lots of very positive comments from the girls. It's not just the fact he's a handsome brute. Good Buddhist Thai girls place a lot of importance on kindness and high moral values. Not only does he score on those counts, but he's also from a part of the world that is very spiritual for Buddhists. Yes, I'm jealous as hell.

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Tuesday 22nd July 2008

Boiling water in the forest - Click for larger image Why are we here? Is there a God? Why do we desire to wave at other people when travelling by boat, but want to kill them when travelling by car? How did David Beckham and Posh Spice become international celebrities?

To add to the list of life's imponderable questions, how does one drink coffee in the jungle? I think I may have found the answer to this question that has been baffling me for many years.

Making bamboo cups - Click for larger image Halfway up the mountain on Friday - and flagging badly - my Thai companions did their best to encourage me by mentioning we would soon be stopping for a coffee break. "Really? There's a Starbucks here?" Unfortunately, no, there wasn't.

Not surprisingly, an open fire was used to boil the water. To get the fire started, the fruit of a certain plant was used. It is full of fat and burns very readily. I wouldn't have known this, of course, but I was in the company of experienced Thai forest guides.

While the water for the coffee was boiling, I wondered how we would drink it. Would one large vessel be passed around for everyone to drink out of? Had our guides packed enough bone china cups and saucers plus, of course, a little jug for the milk? Long straws, perhaps?

A bamboo cup and a rather more conventional one - Click for larger image One of the Thai men disappeared into the forest with his machete and returned with a length of bamboo about two inches in diameter. It is the most amazing natural material. Basically, it is a type of grass but it grows dead straight at an amazing rate of growth; it's light, incredibly strong, and has a million uses.

It's not completely hollow all the way through. It grows in sections which means that as long as you cut it in the right place, it can provide perfect drinking receptacles. We drank our coffee from bamboo cups; using bamboo spoons to stir it with.

I was impressed. I'm not a real 'outdoorsy' type of person but on TV years ago I used to enjoy watching Les Hiddins, aka Bush Tucker Man, using his outdoor skills to survive in the Australian bush with only his wits and whatever natural resources he came across.

With every day that now passes, I am enjoying last Friday's experience more but - as I recall - upon arriving home on Friday evening with a body full of aches and pains it didn't then strike me as the most enjoyable day I had ever experienced.

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Saturday 19th July 2008

Mountain forest between Songkhla and Satun provinces, Thailand - Click for larger image I'm a farang; get me out of here!

You have to love the Thai sense of humour. The two Thais who took me out for lunch last week latched on to the fact I like wildlife and nature. As a result, I was asked if I would like to visit a waterfall yesterday. "Sure," I replied.

I wasn't overjoyed with the start time but it's not often these days that I have to wake at an uncivilised hour, and I was pleased to have an opportunity to see some parts of Thailand I hadn't seen before. My alarm clock went off at 4:45am and my friend picked me up just over an hour later.

Vines and creepers - Click for larger image Our destination was a mountain range between Songkhla and Satun provinces on the Songkhla side. It's a very natural area with just rubber and fruit plantations. Upon arriving at the waterfall, which was located at the foot of the mountain, I wasn't that impressed. It wasn't exactly Niagara, and it was even poor in comparison to other waterfalls I have seen in Thailand.

After I had taken a few photos, I thought we were going to get back in the truck and go somewhere else. I was wrong.

There were some other people at the waterfall who seemed quite friendly and I thought they were there for the same reason, that is, just to look at the waterfall. Wrong again. Very wrong.

One of the forest guides - Click for larger image What my friend had failed to tell me was that we were, in fact, joining a mountain climbing expedition for the day. Had he told me, I'm not so sure I would have been quite so keen to join them. As the day progressed, I gradually worked out for myself what was happening but no one said a word beforehand.

As a group, we started walking into the forest, and up the mountain. Five hours later, we reached the top.

Fortunately, I was wearing shoes that were just about up to the job but proper walking boots would have been better - had I known what we were going to be doing. In fitness terms, I guess I am about average for my age. I don't smoke, don't drink, eat quite healthily, and walk to most places.

Fungi in the forest - Click for larger image I'm not one of these guys you see who gasps for breath after climbing two flights of stairs, but neither I am very used to climbing mountains.

My camera bag isn't that heavy, but it isn't that light, either. I also had a tripod. After about three hours of walking through some very difficult terrain, we rested, and I wasn't sure if I had the strength to continue. The Thais sensed this and then helped me with my gear. It was still tough but I don't think I would have made it carrying the load I had on me.

Several stages were 45 degree slopes. There were rocks and a lot of leaf litter, not to mention quite a lot of running water. This made the going slippery at times. Not only did my legs ache but I grabbed on to trees a couple of times to save myself from falling and almost pulled my arm out of its socket. Thus my arms and shoulders were also sore.

I was hoping to see some birds but only saw a couple. For most of the time, my gaze was fixed on the ground two feet ahead of me because it was necessary to watch every step. There weren't as many mosquitoes as I had feared, but lots of red ants. Red ants bite, they're aggressive, and their bites sting.

Small snake - Click for larger image The only reptile we saw was one very small snake. We came across a few boar traps in the forest but they remained empty. In the group was a policeman (carrying his gun) and he dismantled the traps. Not only are they illegal, but they are cruel.

I was told that some droppings we saw were those of some kind of mountain cat. I was also told that if you go far enough into the forest, there are tigers and elephants. However, the areas where they live can't be reached in a day and to get there requires sleeping in the forest for a night or two.

Coming down was quicker; it only took about three hours. Whereas going up was tough on the calves, coming down was tough on the knees. I slipped once and landed on my rear end but no damage was done.

Lunch at the top of the mountain - Click for larger image The distance was three-and-a-half kilometres each way so the time it took should give an idea of the type of terrain. The guides all carried large machetes, which they used at times to hack through the forest paths.

While hacking through jungly vines and creepers, it occurred to me on a few occasions that all I was lacking was a pith helmet and a very posh English accent.

I can't describe the sense of relief I experienced after finishing the walk and I can't remember the last time my entire body has ached so much. I am writing this half way through Saturday and I am only just beginning to feel normal again.

View from the top of the mountain with Hat Yai in the distance - Click for larger image We all took a rest before going home and took advantage of the fruit that grows wild in the area. I was hungry and thirsty, and the rambutan I ate fresh off the tree were the best I had ever had. On the way home, I didn't even have the energy to speak.

Once home, I showered, ate, drank enormous amounts of water, and slept solidly for about nine hours. The other members of the group do this kind fairly regularly and asked if I wanted to go again. I told them I would think about it - kit gawn.

Fresh rambutan straight off the tree - Click for larger image What was it all about? Some members of the group do it for nothing else than they enjoy being in the forest. A few were proper guides and it would be impossible to do such a walk without them, as I would never have found my way back.

There were also two old ladies who go every three months or so to observe and record orchids. Their fitness levels put me to shame. One struggled more than I did but the other was an amazing lady. Most of the group were very much into flora. One young lad of fourteen who was with us didn't even break a sweat and his breathing remained unchanged throughout.

When I told Iss today, she thought it was hilarious. As I started off by saying, you have to love the Thai sense of humour.

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Friday 18th July 2008

Today is the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month, otherwise known variously as the Buddhist Lent, or Kao Pun-saa, or the Rains Retreat. The end of the Buddhist Lent, or Ohk Pun-saa falls on October 14th this year.

Traditionally, Thai men entered the temple during the three months of Lent. In the days before paved roads, the main reason was to protect rice seedlings from being trampled on.

Various merit-making ceremonies take place in Thailand at this time, with candles being presented to monks so they have light during their time in the temple. Candles need to be big in order to last three months and some of the candles you see certainly are. They are huge.

Most Thai men enter the temple to be ordained some time after reaching 20 years of age. However, not many spend three months as monks. It isn't unusual now for them just to spend a week or two in robes.

This act is very meritorious for their parents and it makes them marriageable. I asked some of my female students if they would marry a man who hadn't ordained. With the exception of one girl, they all said no.

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Thursday 17th July 2008

Today is the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eighth lunar month, otherwise known in Thailand as Aasaanha Boo-chaa Day. On this day, over 2,500 years ago, the Buddha delivered his first sermon in Benares, India.


Do foreigners in Thailand complain too much?

Arguably, they do at times. On more than one occasion, I've heard foreigners complaining that mayonnaise and other Western foodstuffs are too sweet. In one hotel review, posted somewhere on the Internet, an American guy was complaining that a Bangkok hotel had advertised breakfast sausages on its menu whereas they were actually frankfurters.

"Don't they know the difference between sausages and frankfurters?" he asked. Well, probably not.

It's a bit like Westerners abroad trying to please Thai guests by including some Thai dishes on their menus, and Thais complaining that the wrong kind of tomatoes were used in the som-tum, or the fish sauce was too salty.

On the other hand, I've read comments from the 'I know everything there is to know about Thailand' brigade who maintain that foreigners only complain because of ignorance, and that if the foreigners had their superior knowledge of Thailand there wouldn't be anything to complain about.

In true Thai Buddhist fashion, I believe there is a middle path. There is no point complaining about things Thais don't understand, or things that nothing can be done about. However, if you don't say anything when someone is clearly out of order, they will just walk all over you.

I went shopping at Tesco Lotus today for a few bits, and in my trolley was a sealed bag of pre-packaged apples.

While the checkout woman was scanning my items, she made a comment that the bag of apples had no barcode and put them to one side. When she had scanned everything else, she rung up the total and asked for my money.

"What about my apples?" I asked her. "No barcode," she told me, "you can't have them." She asked for the money again. I quickly pinched myself to make sure the situation was real, and not just another stupid dream. It was real.

Now, according to my books on Thai culture, I should have said, "Mai bpen rai," thanked her, smiled, and gone home sans apples, without making a scene. I like these particularly apples, though. They are red, sweet, extremely crisp, and I was quite looking forward to them.

I'm sorry to admit that I began to rant. I did so in Thai because a rant in English wouldn't have meant anything to her. I asked whose fault it was there was no barcode, and went straight on to tell her it was their fault, not mine.

Normally, when this kind of thing happens, they either call someone to find out the price or they get a replacement product that has a barcode. With her though, she did nothing at all to help me, simply telling me I couldn't have the apples.

At this point - to my surprise - another customer joined in and came down firmly on my side. The checkout woman then contacted an assistant who found out the price. I got my apples but I wasn't very happy with the customer service, and all this messing around wasted about 10 minutes of my day.

Not only do I not like to be treated like a doormat, but by making a bit of a stand I hope to let shop assistants know that they cannot treat customers the way they do. I also hope that Thais witnessing a stroppy farang might start to realise that sometimes complaining can be a good thing.

It's no coincidence that countries where people are very good at complaining also tend to have the best levels of customer service.

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Wednesday 16th July 2008

So, you've learnt your Thai vowels and consonants, and you venture forth into Thailand to start reading. Everything is easy now, right?

Not quite.

The first problem for many will be the fancy fonts that are commonly used. Beauty and appearance are highly prized in Thailand and Thais like to make the written word look as beautiful as possible. Unfortunately, what this means is that letters start looking nothing like they do in your text books.

What's a back-to-front C; and why do they use an English 'S'?

The next problem is consonant clusters and implied (unwritten) vowels. Many Thai words will be written just using consonants. It's up to you to insert the vowels, and to know the appropriate vowel sounds. There are some rules but, nonetheless, it isn't as straightforward as it seems.

Many single syllables are written with two consonants and no vowel:

ลด

The two letters above are L and D sounds when used as initial consonants. However, they change to N and T sounds, respectively, when used as final consonants. To join them, an unwritten 'o' is used. In this case we get lot which means to reduce, as in discounting a price.

พร

These two consonants normally make a P and an R sound in English as initial consonants. The second consonant, when used as a final consonant, changes from an R to an orn (awn) sound. Again, there is no written vowel. Normally written Porn, it sounds like pawn. It's a common girl's name but unlike pawns, nice Thai girls rarely make the first move.

Similarly:

กร

These consonants make G and R sounds as initial consonants but written like this, the word becomes gorn or gawn.

This is an unusual word. My dictionary tells me it means hand or arm but the Thai words I know for hand and arm are different. I think it could be a royal word but my dictionary doesn't specify this, as it does with other royal words. In Thai, it is common that there will be more than one word for the same thing, be it a verb or a noun.

These two consonants also form a very common consonant cluster. For example, there are pages full of words that begin with:

กระ

It makes a kind of 'gruh' sound.

Watch out for another 'R' character though after the first one, because two of them together make a 'U' sound:

กรรม

This sounds like 'gum' and it can mean the object of a verb; or deed, sin, action, fate, performance, destiny, work, occupation.

In addition to verbs and nouns having multiple words in Thai for the same thing, single words can - and do - have multiple meanings in English. This is something that makes trying to translate from Thai to English very difficult for me.

If there's a vowel after the 'R' (remember that vowels can be written above, below, before, after, or they can surround consonants), the rules may change again.

Here's the Thai word for 'please' (although it has other meanings):

กรุณา

The 'GR' stops being a consonant cluster and we now have to use an implied uh in between the 'G' and the 'R' - 'guh-roo-naa.

The Thai word for this month (July) is another example. It has five syllables but only one written vowel:

กรกฎาคม

The breakdown letter-by-letter is G_R_G_D_AA_K_M. With only one long 'AA' written vowel, we have to know the sounds of the other implied vowels. It's an 'O' sound between the final two consonants but an 'UH' sound between the others, so something like 'guh-ruh-guh-daa-kom'.

How do you know? As I said above, there are some general rules but Thais learn these words in the same way as English speakers learn the different ways to pronounce 'ough' depending on the particular word that letter combination is used in.

They are also taught something at school referred to as sonti and samart which is related to this subject. I am in the process of trying to find out more and will report any findings here.

Words consisting of just three consonants and no written vowels will often have an 'uh' as the first implied vowel, and an 'o' (maybe 'aw' or 'or') as the second:

ถนน

T N N = tuh-non = street. Many transliteration system also use the unnecessary (and confusing) 'h' just to confuse foreigners - thanon - but if you put your tongue between your teeth to pronounce this word, you will get it completely wrong.

What about the Thai word for countryside?

ชนบท

It's another word consisting of consonants only, with no vowels - 'CH_N_B_T'. This one is pronounced chon-nuh-bot, so slightly different again.

There's no quick way to learn. My students always want to know short cuts when it comes to learning English but there aren't any. It takes hard work and perseverance. Learning a new language, especially one that is so completely different to your native tongue, is not something for lazy people.

It's relatively easy to learn to read Thai while living in Thailand, compared to living outside of Thailand, because you are surrounded with practice material and people to help you.

The best way to learn (in addition to studying) is to try to read everything you see, and to ask Thais questions if you aren't sure of anything. Thai people love it when foreigners show an interest in their language and they are very willing teachers.


Did I read this correctly? Six relief measures for the people

All third class train services in every route nationwide will not charge passengers because the government will pay the fares on their behalf.

All passengers? Foreigners as well? Can't be bad.

Wasn't I saying just the other day what a fine chap that Samak is?


This is getting silly now. Thai troops 'cross into Cambodia'.

What next?


Despite having some of the highest salaries, the quality of life for Britons is among the lowest in Europe. Spain ranks highest, and is followed by France according to this article.

It's something I realised many years ago and, judging from the number of people leaving the UK each year, many others are waking up to this fact.

My income these days is a fraction of what it was in the UK but my happiness quotient and my standard of living are far higher. Happiness has nothing to do with money - provided you have a sufficient amount - but that amount needn't necessarily be huge, depending where you live. If you want to change your lifestyle but are reluctant to because you are afraid of giving up your big salary, it is a huge mistake. In my humble opinion.

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Blog entries 1st to 10th July 2008

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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

Images of Thailand

 

 

Cities

Beaches

Mountains & Hilltribes

Islands

Interesting

 

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