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Thailand | Hazards Page 4

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Detail from Wat Rong Khun temple in Chiang Rai

Detail from Wat Rong Khun temple in Chiang Rai

 

Hotels Deals

I live in Southeast Asia and have booked hundreds of hotels in this region. I have spent many hours researching hotel prices to get the best deal and I always end up booking through Agoda. Their rates are far lower compared to other companies or booking directly with hotels. Give them a try!

Thailand - Hazards Page 4

Snakes

A dead snake found fairly close to where I live - Click for larger image Without question, there are plenty of snakes in Thailand and some very dangerous one at that. One of my students, studying for a biology Master's degree, surveyed an area out by the local airport as part of her studies.

She wanted to record bird, mammal and reptile species. Among the reptiles she observed were cobras, king cobras and other venomous ophidians.

A nearby restaurant keeps several cages full of live cobras to serve to Chinese customers and apparently they have no problems with supply. The owner told me that the snakes come from Nakhon Sri Thammarat province.

The good news is that snakes are very rarely seen in Thailand. Apart from zoos and snake farms, the only snakes I have seen in Thailand have been dead ones like the one in the photo.

They slither on to the roads and get killed by passing vehicles. If you look closely at this one you can see the indentation on its body which was probably caused by a motorcycle wheel.

In areas where there is a lot of vegetation it is wise to take precautions to avoid being bitten by snakes.

Wear sturdy boots that cover your ankles and don't stick your hands in holes or turn over logs where a snake may be lurking.

They are not generally aggressive and will do their best to keep out of the way of humans. Normally they will only bite as a form of defence if they feel threatened or if accidentally stepped on.

Perceived wisdom dictates that the best thing to do is to walk forcefully so that the noise and vibration scares snakes away.

However, large snakes such as king cobras are territorial and if you announce your presence in this way they may be inclined to defend their territory.

Snake bites are definitely not pretty. One time, while visiting the local hospital for a chest infection, I saw a young girl who had been bitten by a snake and her whole leg was black and swollen.

The good news is that in a country where there are lots of venomous snakes, Thai doctors know exactly what to do and the hospitals keep ample supplies of antivenin.

Knowing what to do if bitten by a snake is difficult. First-aid treatment suitable for one species of snake may have fatal results if carried out for a different species because the venom works differently on the body.

Wikipedia has some useful information on snakebites.

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Mosquitoes

Singaporeans are serious about mosquitoes but Thais aren't - Click for larger image Mosquitoes in Thailand represent a real danger rather than just being an annoyance. In 2005 there were thousands of cases of dengue fever reported with one fatality, that of a young boy who died from dengue haemorrhaging fever. Apparently there is an epidemic about once every three years.

Malaria is still a big problem in the world killing over one million people every year but it is treatable in almost every case if diagnosed early enough. However, a particularly nasty strain exists in Thailand that can kill. Areas near the Myanmar border have been highlighted as hotspots, such as Ranong. (I read this in the paper a day after leaving Ranong. I was in Chumpon at the time which was also named as a potentially dangerous area.)

The following month (June 2005) more malaria reports appeared in the newspapers and the situation is quite bad apparently. Although the overall situation in Thailand regarding malaria is improving, certain areas are seeing more cases. The worst area seems to be the top part of the southern peninsular (Chumpon, Ranong and Surat Thani have been highlighted) and all along the Myanmar border.

Vaccinations are not available for either disease as yet so the best advice is to try to avoid being bitten but this isn't always easy, especially while travelling. Mosquitoes tend to hide in the daytime and even if you search temporary accommodation quite thoroughly it is still possible they will appear once night has fallen while you sleep. The mosquitoes that spread dengue tend to bite in the daytime.

An English guy I was speaking to who lives on Koh Tao confirmed what I already knew about dengue being a problem on the island. He also confirmed that it is not something the locals talk about. It is kept hushed up because it is not good for business.

Something else he mentioned was an article he had read in The Nation. The Thai authorities had randomly sampled 100 people by taking blood tests. I'm not sure where exactly, but it was in one of the affected areas. An incredible 20% of those sampled had the malaria parasite in their blood.

Despite all this, most Thais I meet continue to have a fairly relaxed attitude towards mosquitoes, leaving doors and windows open after dusk. They don't seem very bothered by the presence of mosquitoes which is something I can't understand. If I know there is a mosquito in my room I can't relax until it has been hunted down and squished.

Road accidents and contracting a serious disease from mosquito bites are the two things that worry me most about living in Thailand because the chances of being affected by either are fairly high. What continues to puzzle me is that most visitors are apparently not worried by these real dangers but are worried about things that are very unlikely to happen.

These packs contain wipes soaked in mosquito repellent. They are cheap, effective and available in most 7-Elevens - Click for larger image If you find yourself somewhere where there are lots of mosquitoes and you forgot your mosquito repellent, don't worry. Wherever you are there is bound to be a 7-Eleven store close by (they are as ubiquitous as tuk-tuks and stray dogs in Thailand). 7-Eleven sell these little sachets of repellent for just Bt5. Each one contained two small disposable cloths impregnated with a DEET based mosquito repellent.

They are highly effective. In places where I get bitten to death if I'm not wearing any repellent, I don't suffer at all if I remembered to first wipe these cloths over my legs and feet.

Death To Mosquitoes

Mosquito control in Singapore - Click for larger image I dislike mosquitoes intensely for the suffering they cause, whether it be annoying itchy bites or the potentially fatal diseases they transmit. I still haven't worked if they serve any useful purpose. Flies are annoying but at least their larvae gets rid of dead and decaying matter which could otherwise spread disease.

As far as I am concerned, the only good mosquito is a dead mosquito. In Thailand though, Buddhist beliefs cause a dilemma. Buddhism respects all life regardless of how big or small and a few of my reading sources specifically mentioned ants and mosquitoes as creatures that should not be killed.

These electric mosquito zappers are effective as well as being great fun - Click for larger image Spraying takes place occasionally but it isn't like Singapore where spraying takes place everywhere, every day.

I am doing my bit to help with Thailand's 'War On Mosquitoes' and will be on high alert with my mossie zapper.

In addition to making the world a safer place, they are also fun to use.

I am patiently waiting for larger, higher voltage versions to deal with other annoyances in Thailand; namely teenage maniacs on motorbikes, dogs that bark and howl all night, tuk-tuk drivers who think they can charge me four times the normal fare, and Indian tailors.

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Staying Healthy

This section has grown quite large so I have created a separate page to cover the subject.

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Falling In Love

Thailand remains a fantasy land for many vulnerable foreign men. They may be old; they may not have much money; and they may never have had any success with women their entire lives, but for some reason they think all their problems will be answered in Thailand.

They are so desperate to enter into a relationship with a young, attractive Thai girl that rational thought deserts them. They've read the warnings and the horror stories, but those things only ever apply to other people. Never to them.

They convince themselves that the bar girl they met on their two week vacation in Phuket is the one bar girl in Thailand who is different to all the rest. Really? It's strange how they always meet the one bar girl in Thailand who is different to all the rest.

Time after time, foreign men have written to me telling me about the bar girl they met in Phuket or Pattaya. They try to convince me that she is different, and that things really will work out, but really they are just trying to convince themselves.

I try to warn them about what will most likely happen but what I have to say is the last thing they want to hear so they don't heed any advice. They only listen to what they want to hear and filter out the rest.

It's up to them.

In Thailand, the same as everywhere else, there are no short cuts when it comes to meeting good girls. There are plenty around but meeting the right ones takes time and effort.

Most foreign men aren't willing to put in the time or effort required to meet genuinely good Thai girls. They simply take the fastpath route and go to the well known tourist resorts where they meet prostitutes - yes, that's what they are.

They think they're smart, and they think they know better than people who have lived in Thailand for several years. In most cases the relationships go very wrong.

Age and intelligence seem to make no difference when it comes to foreign men and Thai girls. The forces at play overtake all logical thought. There is no fool worse than an old fool.

In life, anything that seems too good to be true probably is. That applies just as much in Thailand as it does anywhere else.

Have fun with the young girls but never forget what they are. For as long as you are handing over money you will get access to their bodies. However, if you believe that anything else exists between you and the girl beyond simply paying for sex then you are deluding yourself.

If you haven't been there already you might want to read my page about Thai Girls.

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Ladyboys

Ladyboys in Koh Samui - Click for larger image There are lots of transsexuals in Thailand. Most are OK. They were born male but believe they should have been born female. Thailand is very relaxed about this type of thing and if boys want to dress and act like girls, no one thinks anything of it or persecutes them.

I've seen European and Indian Malaysian transsexuals in Thailand. It's obvious they are really men but no one cares. In their own countries they would probably get a hard time but they can relax in Thailand.

In Malaysia, for example, homosexuality is illegal and effeminate men are regarded as having an illness which needs to be cured: 'Effeminate' boys in Malaysia sent to 'anti-gay' camp.

Indian transsexual in Singapore - Click for larger image Thais are extremely tolerant of other people. If they are of another religion, or boys dressing as girls, the Thai attitude is live and let live.

However, some ladyboys appear to be mentally unbalanced and they can be quite volatile. They always look upset and angry with the world, and you never know quite how they are going to react.

Ladyboy beautician - Click for larger image Lots of foreign men come to Thailand to meet ladyboys, and Pattaya is a popular destination. However, news reports in Pattaya indicate that there are lots of problems with dishonesty and theft.

The majority of female prostitutes are quite honest. You hear a few reports about foreign men being drugged and robbed by female prostitutes but it is unusual.

If your inclination is towards ladyboys then it would be advisable to be a little more careful.

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Permanently Moving To Thailand

Nothing is ever what it seems in Thailand. No matter how something might appear on the surface, the truth is always very different. Being a tourist in Thailand and living in Thailand are two completely different things.

The notion of 'face' is a powerful part of Thai culture. To save face, many unsavoury aspects of Thailand are hidden from view. What is presented to visitors is the image that Thais would like visitors to see, and not necessarily the truth.

Things are so well hidden that casual visitors will never really understand the truth. Someone can visit Thailand for short vacations over a period of 25 years and still not understand the country.

To anyone who has been seduced by the charms of Thailand (and/or Thai females), I would respectively advise not to burn too many bridges too quickly.

Aim to spend at least a couple of years living permanently in Thailand - and make a serious attempt at learning the language - before making any permanent commitments.

 

Visit 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 wish 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

Images of Thailand