Living In Thailand Blog
Friday 25th May 2012
First they tell us how well Thailand's economy is doing:
... and then how the export market is struggling:
Who knows what to believe.
The government has made lots of populist pledges that will put a big strain on the budget. They can talk about boosting domestic consumption but most Thais pay on credit and this will increase household debt.
Thailand relies heavily on exports and foreign tourism. With the West in such a bad way, especially Europe, this must be creating a negative impact on Thailand's economy.
Greece is looking worse every day but for a long time people have been saying that Greece is a minor issue; wait for the Spanish economy to start collapsing. It appears that the process has already begun.
The Eurozone is falling apart and the situation is even being compared to the fall of the Roman Empire.
Thursday 24th May 2012
I wish that my local Big C Extra (previously Carrefour) would follow the Chinese lead and implement a fly policy in their food court.
Even though the food court is indoors, there is a serious fly infestation. When you sit down to eat, the tables are covered with flies and you find yourself constantly waving your hands to keep flies from settling on your food.
Thais don't seem to worry about flies on their food. As usual, I'm the only one who ever makes a fuss. Perhaps they believe that nothing can be done, or that is normal to have flies crawling over food?
When we first moved into our rented house there were swarms of mosquitoes and my first task was to eliminate them. It cost me some money buying mosquito screens, and also a couple of electrocutors, but the house soon became mosquito-free.
My wife's relatives live in houses full of mosquitoes so it is something that she is accustomed to. When I declared war on mosquitoes she made the comment that she didn't anything could be done.
In Singapore's urban areas you never see a fly or mosquito. Lee Kuan Yew mentions his decision to get rid of unwanted insects in his memoir. It takes time, effort and money, but it can be done.
Americans are known for their 'can do' attitude. It's the opposite with Thais and there is always a cloud of fatalism hanging over everything. They don't even attempt to fix problems because they believe that problems can't be fixed.
Lee Kuan Yew devotes several chapters to China and now we are seeing the results of the development in China that has been taking place for many years. What kind of place will the new superpower be?
LKY says that China will not be a hegemony but I'm not so sure. The BBC had an article highlighting the good and bad in China and how there is so much hostility towards foreigners.
It's a country that has never appealed to me, and it still doesn't.
There is no doubt that the East has been getting a lot of things right, while the West continues to head towards disaster. I strongly disagree with some of Lee Kuan Yew's policies and viewpoints, but Singapore the success of Singapore speaks for itself.
LKY is extremely dismissive of political correctness and welfare states. It's not politically correct to say so, but he is right.
I read a while ago that China has been buying up as much gold as it can, with the objective of using gold to back the strength of its currency.
This is what Western countries used to do. After the Gold Standard was abolished countries simply printed money when they wanted to, but the money has no real value.
I'm not an economist but I simply can't understand how central banks can just turn on the printing presses whenever the economy falters.
I wasn't sure if the article I was reading about China buying up gold was a conspiracy theory, but then I saw this article:
The United States has done well from the American dollar being the most widely held reserve currency. From Wikipedia: China has said, "we don't want to make any more foreign exchange reserve of any paper currency, because all the paper currencies are government debt currencies."
If the Renminbi is backed by gold and starts to become a reserve currency this will further impact the already perilous state of Western economies.
Saturday 5th May 2012
According to Professor Ian Morgan up to 90% of Asian school leavers suffer from myopia because as students they spend too much time indoors and don't go out enough.
"Professor Morgan argues that many children in South East Asia spend long hours studying at school and doing their homework."
Professor Morgan is on the right track, but his analysis isn't quite correct. At least for Thai students.
Thai students do spend a lot of time in classrooms at school and at tutoring institutions after school, but not studying. Sleeping, talking with their friends, playing on their fancy mobile phones, and generally pissing about take precedence over studying.
He's also right about them spending too little time outside. They do spend too little time outdoors. And the reason? They are terrified of having dark skin.
You mean they actually believed Thaksin was genuinely interested in them and wasn't just after their votes? One day they might learn. All of the current political problems in Thailand have been caused by the naivety of the poor.
I have a lot of sympathy for them, but to be taken in by Thaksin's lies was utter stupidity. He has about as much interest in Thailand's poor as a Hasidic rabbi has in the price of bacon.
Thaksin was always happiest taking shopping trips to Hong Kong, shopping in Paris's most expensive designer stores, admiring the cherry blossom in Japan, sitting in the directors' box at Manchester City, or cruising around London with his friend Mohammed Fayed in his yellow Rolls Royce.
The last place he would ever want to be is in a poor village in Isaan surrounded by poor rural Thais.
Thursday 3rd May 2012
From the Bangkok Post:
One racing enthusiast, the owner of a souped-up Honda Civic, said he has been racing for years and does it mainly for the fun of it.
He said racers usually know if the police are likely to arrive, as someone warns them. If not, they simply get in their cars and drive away. Police seldom chase them. And if they do get caught, the stiffest penalty they face is a fine.
"There is nothing to deter us," the driver said. "Sometimes we even get permission to race."
The road racer quoted here sums up the problem perfectly. There are no deterrents.
The lawlessness and utter disregard for life on Thailand's roads is probably the thing I hate most about the country. It is a social problem of the highest order that no one in Thailand is interested in solving.
The greatest danger to life that foreigners face in Thailand is on Thailand's roads. Never underestimate the danger.
Wednesday 2nd May 2012
You can attempt to get on with your own life in Thailand, trying to ignore what goes on, but the crap around you never stops.
On TV news this morning there was a report of an altercation between the driver of a Honda Jazz and a teenage motorcyclist. The motorcyclist pulled out a gun and shot the driver of the car dead.
Thais are hot-headed (they actually say hot-hearted jai rawn), there's this big thing about losing face, and there are lots of unlicensed guns in the country. It's a dangerous combination.
I didn't hear where this happened, but my wife thought it was Chonburi. I took a look at the Pattaya Daily News to see if I could find the story.
I couldn't but there was another story about a fatal shooting among hot-headed teenagers.
This, unfortunately, is the reality of Thailand. You are subjected to discourteous, inconsiderate and often dangerous behaviour all the time, but you daren't retaliate or say anything for fear that the other person will turn a gun on you.
When I get upset with Thai drivers, as I do every day, my wife hates it when I respond for this very reason. What a lovely country.
Selfish Thais are openly defiant and believe that they have a right to do what they do. They are also normally aggressive.
I was driving along yesterday and once again a Thai had double-parked. This is really common. His pickup truck was parked in the middle lane of a busy road with the hazard warning lights flashing while he went off to buy some food. He had blocked the entire lane but he didn't care.
I saw the driver getting out of the car and told him in Thai that he couldn't park there. Thais don't like being told what to do by anyone - even the police - but when an insignificant farang says something they get furious.
This type of behaviour and the prevailing attitude that people can do what they want without any consideration for other people goes beyond driving in Thailand.
One of the neighbours opposite plays really loud music. It's not really music for all I can hear (actually, feel) is, "Boom, boom, boom." It drives me crazy.
I was about to have a word with him recently. The wife asked where I was going and when I told her she told me not to go. Again, her fear was retribution. Thais will never say anything because they are afraid of what the other person might do.
Her fears are not unfounded.
The impression that tourists get of Thailand and the Thais when they visit Phuket for a couple of weeks is nothing like the reality of living in Thailand.
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. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. Agoda hotel rates are usually always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people. Here is some analysis I did regarding booking hotels in Southeast Asia.
Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.
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.
Images of Thailand