Friday, 29 April 2011

Extinct Thai deer might have survived in haunted Laos jungle

Photo:West Berlin Zoo, Lothar Schlawe (1911)
The Schomburgk's deer may once have occurred as far north as Yunnan (China) and Laos, but is known with certainty only from central Thailand in swampy plains, especially the Chao Phya River Valley.
It's antlers also used for medical purposes made nice trophies for hunters, until the animal finally became extinct.
The last known specimen, an adult male, was kept as a pet at a temple in the Samut Sakhon province of Thailand. A drunk local killed this male in 1938 (Huffman, 2004). No confirmed reports of this species have since been heard and it is formally declared extinct since 1996.
During a visit to a Chinese medicine shop in a relativley remote area of Laos in February 1991, Laurent Chazée, an agronomist with the United Nations, saw a pair of antlers for sale. Not recognising the species, he photographed the antlers. The shop owner told Chazée the antlers came from a nearby district and that the animal had been killed in 1990. Later Chazée identified the antlers as coming from a Schomburgk's deer.
Local people consider the site to have strong animal spirits and hunting is prohibited there. This may explain why the Schomburgk's deer possibly survived in that area. (Schoering, 1995), (MacPhee & Flemming, 1999). Further research is needed.
For more on this topic see: the exctinction website, Schomburk's deer, List of mammals of Thailand, Animals and plants unique to Thailand

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Top 41 signs you've been living in Isaan too long

41. You can't wait till friday, since you'll meet up with the other expats.
40. You know all expats living in a 10 mile radius by name, the same applies to their wifes, children and grandchildren.
39. Your daily life mainly revolves around a bamboo platform in front of your house.
38. You give directions using the holes in the road as reference.
37. You wear your finest polo shirt since you're going to dine at the local KFC. It's the red one.
36. Weekend excitement involves a trip to the Tesco-Lotus.
35. Your Thai still sucks but you manage pretty well in Lao.
34. You worry about visiting your family for Christmas back home because you cannot do without som tam that long.
33. You start to suffer from farang phobia.
32. You want to vote red. It's in your blood.
31. You drop your children sitting in the back of your pickup off at school.
30. You send your 13 y/o daughter out to go get beer and ice using your motorbike.
29. Your 15 y/o daughter wants to join a party in the next village and you tell her to drive carefully while handing over the keys of your tractor.
28. You hate the idea that your neighbour's rice field is 5 rai bigger.
27. You're in a commitee to make bi-langual street signs.
26. You're elected chief of the village.
25. You don't find the outcome surpising since you own the biggest house over there.
24. You find out your tattoo's don't match your new 'hiso' status, so you consider removal by laser.
23. You ask your wife to do the same.
22. You teach English to the boys and girls who finished school and will move to Pattaya soon.
21. You routinely claxon while passing any Buddhist temple.
20. You co-support the village idiot by occasionally giving him food and alcohol, and you forbid your children to make fun of him.
19. After he dies you find out you replace him.
18. You refer to anyone with a BMW, Mercedes or a house built in this century as hiso.
17. You like to lean over the fence chatting with your neighbours, a 55 y/o ladyboy and her wife, while watching their grandchildren play.
16. You find out 20% of the village population are retired ladyboys.
15. Altough you know all their names you still haven figured out how many people are actually living in your village.
14. You feel quite happy with your "my other car is a Kubota" bumper sticker.
13. You don't care much what happens outside your area, things will happen there decades later anyway.
12. You start having nightmares about scary ghosts.
11. The nightmares stop after following up the advise from a local Buddhist monk.
10. You find out your wife has a thing going on with your minor wife.
9. You're suprised to learn that a friend from overseas comments on your throwing garbage in a corner of the garden.
8. You last visited Bangkok in the back of a pickup, march 2010.
7. You still can become very upset about the Silom bare breasted girls Songkran 2011 incident.
6. You tell your children your buffalo is sick.
5. You throw in a party after your paycheck arrives.
4. The paycheck comes from your sun and daughter in Pattaya.
3. You tell your 19 y/o daughter to stop dating a black guy.
2. You feel better after finding out he comes from the same city as you do.
1. You feel worse after finding out he's a former classmate.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Cannot eat fruit

This morning after breakfast we walked a bit around when I came across fruit which looked like green apples hanging from an unfamiliar tree. Usually Polly can tell me the name of any plant we stumble upon, so I asked her what it was.
She answered that it was a 'Cannot eat fruit tree'. She further explained that the actual name of this tree was not that interesting because the fruit was inedible anyway.
Polly left me behind a bit puzzled when I later met a man who told me earlier he worked around there for over 10 years, so surely he would know, or so I thought. I got the same answer: "Cannot eat fruit". Then I almost started to believe it was forbidden fruit similar like Adam and Eve's apple tree.
It appeared to me that everybody around here is merely interested in edible things and that's quite a lot or so I have noticed. When whatching a documentary on Next Step channel (the Thai Nat Geo), we do see some strange animals and while trying to learn a bit more, Polly will often be able to tell me how good it tastes.
Rouseau already told that going back to nature is good for you and I suppose he should know.

After more inquiry, I finally found out the tree is called  'Dad nam' (forgive my spelling), which translates to something like 'duck flipper water'. It's called this way since the leaves resemble flippers (with some imagination) and it grows near the water side. The tree belongs to the so-called dogbane family and is family of the oleander. 

Monday, 25 April 2011

"Sorry boss, I didn't know banning Facebook makes Thailand lose face.."

Seen today at 14:30: A complete Facebook ban.
A somewhat drastic measure against Thailand's 2nd most popular website.
Understandbly during the Cambodian temple conflict Thai authorithies are a bit edgy right now.
15 minutes later when I was about to pack my bags and book a ticket to a freer country, the ban had been lifted. Now probably just a few pages in particular have been selected inappropriate for the Thai ego instead of all 900 million.

Although in the past other countries have banned the social networking service, at the moment it is permanently being blocked in China and Vietnam only. The latter one not to be taken that serious, since in Vietnam Facebook still manages to rank no.7.
In Thailand all information regarding bans is kept classified, but according to one source in 2007 an estimated 45,000 sites were being intercepted for violating the law and threatening so-called national security issues.
"He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know" (Lao Tzu).

"We apologize for any inconvenience.
The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology ordered to stop publishing the web site that you want to visit because the images and text contain inappropriate content. For more information contact
the Ministry of Information and Communication Tel: 0 2141 6950 ".

See also Bangkok Post: National security v. democracy.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Petcharat Garden Hotel, a nice place to stay while in Roi Et city, Thailand

After staying in three other places in Roi Et city, Petcharat garden hotel offering 148 rooms is probably the best place to spend your time. I don't know who designed the building; but besides the large dinner/breakfast room co-functioning as karaoke hall in the evenings as well, the 'Feng Shui' of everything else is really excellent, it just makes you feel comfortable everywhere.
The hotel offers decent clean rooms with all basic facilities including free wifi for about ฿600 or €14/$20 till  ฿900 or €21/$30. This includes a decent breakfast for average standards. Also Petcharat's offers pretty good a la carte Thai, Thai-Chinese and a bit of Thai-Japanese food (no, Western food is not on the menu).
Apart from the fact that the owner is currently way too busy with a far too high priced property scheme, which will never succeed, the 'forgotten' staff tries to do their utmost to make you feel welcome, even though not everyone around here will be able to speak English that well.
Below is one of the views I like to enjoy in the evenings; sitting at the swimming pool.
At day-time from about 9:30am it becomes much too crowded with local children and their families, since it's one of the very few places to take a swim around here. Also the pool is about 100 cm/39" deep, safe for children but as an adult a little bit unconfomfortable to excercise your 500 yards breast stroke. Anyway around here you'll just have to settle with that. At 7:00pm after adding a large quantity of chloride, things become quiet, so before 9:30am and after about 8:00pm it's a perfect opportunity to relax, take a quick dip and if anybody there, meet up with other guests.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

What our 24 hour global economy has to offer us, or how close is the nearest 7/11?

Today I wanted to know how much convenience our 24 hours modern economy actually has to offer to us, the people.
Sure the internet gave us more information, easy communication, e-shopping and e-commerce etc., but still not everybody will be able to easily obtain more essential things like basic food, drinks and condoms when needed.
A solution which comes closest is being offered in countries where w're able to buy life necessities at any time of the day at the nearest 7/11. Okay besides 7/11 the're many other convenience stores, but data is not publicly available. Besides that Japanese owned 7/11 is world's largest, best known and widely appreciated; it even has it's own official page on facebook with many people who encountered the luxery abroad requesting to open outlets in their home country.
Below is a map of capita per 7/11 which I created with targetmap, covering 17 active countries (China, Hong Kong and Macau regarded as one).
It turns out that Taiwan has the most 7/11's per capita offering one store per 4,898 citizens. Singapore follows with one per 9,281 people. Third ranking is home base Japan with one per 9,900. (Data mentioned by wikipedia and some other websites need to be updated.)
In these countries it's not uncommon to find shops facing eachother on both sides of the road, very much a  contrast to huge area's of the world like Africa, South America, West and North Asia and practically all of Europe where people are still deprived of up to date standard basic life necessities for large parts of the day. Just the relatively small populations of Norway, Sweden and Denmark seem to form about the only exception here.
Thailand, where I'm fortunate enough to live right now, is 5% the size of the US, but offers one store for every 11,845 people to choose from, open 24 hours per day. The US offers one 7/11 per 37,950 inhabitants but luckily they compensated with enough alternatives.
In these countries things are taken for granted, but we often forget that people in large parts of the world still lack any basic comfort concerning this matter at all.
One may find it hard to believe, but in fact in some more fundamentalist regimes, mostly situated in Europe, will not tolerate 7/11's formula by law. This measure oppresses store owners and clients to restrict service to daytime and early evening only, whereby service on sunday's is prohibited all day. How disrespectful towards the people's freedom of choise regarding day/night schedule and non-Christian religions to say the least.
See below the sad truth of the unfair inequality in our world today..
Capita per 7/11

New: Italian pizza

Seen today near Tesco-Lotus in Roi Et:
Brilliant, now The Pizza Company even offers Italian pizza.

Monday, 18 April 2011

High increase of Russian tourists expected in Thailand

Image thanks to
family Seckel
According to Maurice de Rooij, general manager of Coral Beach Rotana Resorts in Sharm El Sheikh, tourism in Egypt has dropped dramatically due to unrest in the country. Last february Egypte received 221,000 tourists instead of 1,100,000 last year, (a decrease of 80%). In the same month hotels had an occupancy of about 10%.
In a rescue attempt some 5 star all inclusive hotels dumped their prices to $20 (฿600) per night. Things are slowly recovering but the summer season is lost. This year Egypt tourist authorities expect a decline of 25% in the industry, but this is a cautious estimate, de Rooij mentions and expects recovery after the September elections.
Many Egypt goers now opt for safer alternatives like Turkey, Spain, Bulgaria and Thailand.
Especially Thailand will benefit from more Russian tourists, de Rooij says. Annually Egypt attracts about 2.8 million people from Russia alone.

According to the department of Tourism in 2010 Thailand welcomed 15,841,683 guests, whereby Russia ranked no. 11 (611,019 people), just below Germany and USA. So this year they are most likely to trade places. Possibly in 2011 Russians will outnumber the Australians and perhaps even the British. Be prepared for the borscht..

Sources: Thailandblog.nlMisset Horeca (both in Dutch)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Evil tree

Seen in Roi Et: The palm tree has an evil eye and on left side somebody attached an orchid plant which appears a bit like Medusa's face.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Hotel proverbs, sayings & quotes

Photo thanks to 
Below some proverbs, sayings and quotes about hotels I came up with today:
Don't judge a hotel by (it's) entrance, judge it by (it's) egress.
Boss' away, staff play.
The less one has traveled the more one is tempted to steal things from hotels.
The bigger the country the fewer languages spoken.
The uniqueness of the guests is inversely proportional to the room charge.
Close guests are more important than distant relatives.
The greater the drop in shower pressure and temperature, the busier the breakfast.
The early bird catches the warm boiled egg.
Small hotels and B&B's:
The gayer the owner, the cleaner the room.
As the host is, he trusts his guests. (Old Dutch proverb, really)

- At breakfast with the exception of Germany, having simple things like a boiled egg same as at home will usually cost you an extra $250.
- Breakfast buffets will at least force you to open your eyes.
- When staying in a hotel longer get friendly with the people backstage, like the cook, cleaning ladies and the owner. A good cook as your friend is better than having your mum cooking, cleaners have interesting stories to tell about what is going on, owners often make good guides. One disadvantage is that after longer time the staff will start to act as if you were the owner.
- According to all hotels outside Europe, including England, Europeans have toast and jam for breakfast, whereas in Asia toast, bacon and eggs is American.

Quotes about hotels from others:
- “I stayed in a really old hotel last night. They sent me a wake-up letter.” (Steven Wright)
- “The great advantage of a hotel is that it's a great refuge from home life” (George Bernard Shaw)
- “There was a girl knocking on my hotel room door all night! Finally, I let her out.” (Henny Youngman)
- “Do Not Disturb" signs should be written in the language of the hotel maids” (Tim Bedore)
- “I've always thought a hotel ought to offer optional small animals. I mean a cat to sleep on your bed at night, or a dog of some kind to act pleased when you come in. You ever notice how a hotel room feels so lifeless?” (Anne Tyler)
- “This is an elegant hotel! Room service has an unlisted number.” (Henny Youngman)
- "In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth, a life full of the most atrocious tortures on earth, will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel." (Mother Teresa)
I really hope for her, now being there, she had it right..

More suggestions anyone? If provided, your link will be mentioned above.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Happy Songkran!

Thai Happy New Year Photoshop. Images thanks to:,, G-ville

Monday, 11 April 2011

Smart new bank card phone

I don't like to cary much around in my pockets: banknotes and coins usually never exceeding $100, cigarettes + lighter, my bank card, my phone and a camera in a pocket on my belt, that's it.
Actually I don't like to take my camera as extra weight, but often when I didn't, I saw the most interesting and/or funny things and was not able to take a picture. Now it belongs to my default outfit, even during breakfasts.
My phone is a 2007 Samsung credit card sized type with a protective leather case, which includes an additional thin integrated battery, in my case co-functioning as a protection for my bank card.
A potential problem was that during calls, if I didn't take care, the card could fall out..

Today Polly solved my little problem and glued a plastic pocket inside the phone cover, where the card is safe to keep also during calls.

For one of the many other creations by Polly, mostly modifications of clothes, see How to create a wine glass.
Now who said Thai were not inventive?

Roi Et 101 club and other places to meet locals and farangs

The traffic light turns red, the traffic light turns green
in short Muang Roi Et is the place one must have been

In Roi-Et the place to be seen is the 101-club, which can accomodate about 2000 people and offers Isan style popular live music till 3:00 am, 7 days a week. Besides that 101 offers an outdoor BBQ and hotpot restaurant. 101 is located at Kolchapalayuk road. Next door on the corner there's a large outdoor BBQ buffet restaurant.

Another popular night life place is My Thai disco near My Thay hotel which besides Western popular music offers live music and coyote dancers. By the way did you know that Coyote is an accronym for Cast Off Your Old Tired Ethics?
Farangers can meet up at the German/Thai runned White Elephant restaurant, Canadian/Thai owned 101 pizza besides the lake, Danish/Thai owned JJ restaurant, opposite Rose hotel, or at the Petcharat garden hotel.
Also around Roi Et the're seem to be two more 'farang' restaurants, one with a Swedish guy and another one called  'Enjoy' co-owned by a Swiss man, but I still have to locate them.
Estimates about the number of farang living in Roi Et city vary from 10 till 50.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

It's a Sony

Seen in Roi Et City, Roi Et Plaza road:

S O N Y drinking water

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Gee! What's that?

Seen in the hotel's restaurant in Roi Et city; "one thousand years gees with chilli"?

Seems to be century eggs

Guns and planes

Seen in Nok Air's in-flight magazine, an advertisment for Colt guns:
Nowadays guns and planes are not really considered to be compatible are they?

73 airlines of ASEAN countries with scheduled passenger flights

Should you want to know what specific passenger airlines are operational in some country of the ASEAN part of S-E Asia, here's an overview. I checked the airlines for their existence, i.e. they have a website, scheduled passenger flights and in a few cases chartered flights.
Some airlines are still in the phase of starting up, but plan to take off this year.
I counted 14 that I have used so far, still, I didn't know that there were that many around here.

SGA Airlines (Nok Mini)



Valuair Jetstar


Yangon Airways 

* Operation scheduled in 2011

Source: Wikipedia and many other sites

Update 18-4-2011
AsiaMajestic Airlines from Thailand will commence operations in 2011.


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