Sunday, 19 June 2011

Funny Thai no vote billboards

Seen today in Roi Et city:
Towards the upcoming election July the 3rd, the People's Alliance for Democracy PAD and the Heaven and Earth Party have joined forces in a campaign to promote casting blank votes. Both parties are against the politics of both current pm Abhisit and former pm Thaksin. A previous campaign in begin of June, where  animal heads were used as well, was ruled to be illegal. The official reason was that the billboards were too large and were displayed in an unproportionally high quantity.
Purely relying on Thai sources, the new slogan states: "Don't vote for an animal to become prime minister", but I'm not fully sure if this is correct. (Masters of Thai help me out here..)
Alltough all other parties seem to be represented in Roi Et city, billboards of Abhisit's Democratic Party are marked by absence. The bitter truth is; they wouldn't last very long.
On highways outside the city many billboards of Abhisit have been damaged, defaced and in some cases daubed with red paint. As in many countries this is an illegal act here as well, but so far law enforcement and replacing billboards have sorted little effect.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Washington, Dictatorship City?

Forget the North African and Arab revolutions for a moment. Are you aware that right now 600,000 Americans are being deprived to exercize their current or future democratic rights? They haven't commited any crime, which would abort further equalitarianism in a dozen states or so.
Amazingly, all citizens of the country's metropole are not allowed to vote in the same way as the rest of the people in the 50 states are allowed to.
Washington DC has historically been declared an independent district which doesn't belong to any state, thereby rendering it impossible to be fairly represented in US congress, or at least up to now legislators treat their status apart this way.
The District of Columbia has become a kind of overseas colony like Puerto Rico or Guam which have no members in congress as well. Still, DC is fully under US authority, so people pay the same taxes but are deprived of exercizing all liberties as other Americans do.
Isn't it ironic that a country famous for post order deliveries of freedom and democracy to doorsteps all over the world since 1819 still doesn't grant the same courtecy to folks in their own capital for almost two centuries later to say the least?
A rally is planned coming June 25th.

When in DC, besides admiring it's grandeur, I recommend to listen to different points of view, for example by having a chat with the president's closest neighbour.
I love Washington DC, I really do and feel sympathetic toward the people's cause.
Let's hope the  populace find ways for tweeting, youtubing or facebooking their message out, bringing it on the agenda of the free world.

The Laughing Lama

Besides being regarded as a person with great wisdom, the Dalai Lama is well known for his openess and cheerfulness which often goes accompanied with laugther.
It is being said that one time when he met up with John Cleese and that although they didn't understand eachother very well, they spent 10 minutes together laughing out loud.
Here's a more recent example:

One might argue that the Dalai Lama's English is not sufficient or his concept of humour is too narrow, whatever the case, word jokes are always hard to grasp straight away if the're not being told in your mother tongue. Anyway, he must have gotten the clue by now. Noone likes a good laugh as much as the Dalai Lama.

Karl could have continued with:
The pizza vendor said "that will be $5" and the Dalai Lama handed him a tenner and waited.
Finally the Dalai Lama said: "Hey, where's my change?"
The pizza vendor replied: "Change must come from within.."

For more serious stuff from the Dalai Lama listen to this forgotten gem (poor visual quality due to dubbing), which is a fragment of 34 hours footage of talks with Carl Sagan, recorded from 1991, which has somehow never been released.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Just another generalization: Do Thai people have a high external locus of control?

Image thanks to Micheal Kwan, who questions:
"Are you the puppeteer or are you the puppet?"
"Locus of control in social psychology refers to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them. Understanding of the concept was developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has since become an important aspect of personality studies.
Individuals with a high internal locus of control believe that events result primarily from their own behavior and actions. Those with a high external locus of control believe that powerful others, fate, or chance primarily determine events."
In Thailand where Buddhism is more prevalent than in any other nation and in fact has become a religion rather than a philosophy, lots of people seem to be reluctant to set factual goals in life. Adding superstition and hopes for winning the lottery to the equation, it seems obvious that a significant number of Thai people are being brought up to have a high external locus of control.

Personally, being brought up without a specific religion, I am inclined to follow the internal locus control way and scored 78% internal, 22% external in a test.
However, I find Rotter's theory a somewhat Western atheistic approach on how to look at things.
What I mean is that when we seperate schools of thought, we get a division of people who leave things up to chance and higher powers, thereby generally considered being less successful of achieving progress, against the more dominant and prospering self-made people, who like to believe that in practically any situation one can take destiny into own hands. "Internal" people seem to try and find out how to control external factors, without asking why they are so anxious to control things in the first place. How much does this bring you happiness?
In my opinion it could very well be that one is satisfied feeling to be the puppeteer of some, but without being aware that at the same time they are the puppet of others. And this pyramid the structure of powers might be a very complex one.
It looks like a game where everyone is so busy not losing control of things or is trying to play god all the time, that we tend to forget what it is to just enjoy life in it's simplicity.

Quote of the day: "Take everything in moderation. Including moderation."

Monday, 6 June 2011

Improvised Beef-Burger Birthday Breakfast

Today is my birthday and instead of having the standard toast, bad sausages and boring fried eggs breakfast, I ordered a beef-burger for a change.
"Sorry, no have" didn't satisfy spoilt me, it was my birthday after all. They really should help me out here.
Go and accuse me of neo-colonialism or orientalism or whatever, I don't care: Me want burger!
Anyway, 15 minutes later the cook came up with this unique creation:

Oh yeah, despite some minor shortcomings, it tasted great and made me a happy man.

Farang tuk-tuk

In Roi Et and in fact in large parts of Thailand the typical means of private transportation for expats will be a pickup, scooter or motorbike.
Today I saw someone who formed an exception to the rule.
He told he bought the vehicle from a tuk-tuk driver for ฿15,000 (€338/$495).
Since many farangers in Isanistan value their privacy, I didn't want to bother the guy too much.
Yet it would be interesting to know how the locals react to his newly acquired curio.
I don't think folks around here, who almost invariably dream of owning a Mercedes or BMW, consider his alternative means of transport cool.
Still, I guess one could get a fair bit of attention value for money in the more densely populated expat hangouts of Thailand.

Update 7-6-2011: Heard at least 2 other foreigners permanently living or frequently visiting Roi Et are the proud owner of a tuk-tuk. The advantage is that it's a economic city vehicle, where it offers more space than say a Robin Reliant and can be used for shopping or going places with your family.
Should you really run out of funds, you could easily start a local taxi service as well.

Saturday, 4 June 2011


Had a similar car before, but never tried shopping for any 'bitches' in Walmart.
In fact I've never seen a Walmart and more importantly; I aint so cool like dis bro from da hood..

Frog and cow: A Thai fable

Image thanks to Tiphanie Beeke
Once upon a time there was a baby-frog who happily lived with his mother near a pond.
One day the baby-frog decided that he wanted to explore the world.
He hopped for hours until he met for the very first time in his life, a cow.
The cow scared the hell out of the tiny frog, so he quickly hurried back to his mom.
After the baby-frog told the story of the frightening big animal, his mother wanted to know how big the beast exactly was.
"Was it this big?" she asked before pumping up her cheeks full with air.
"No mother, it was bigger than that" said the baby-frog.
"Was it this big then?" his mother asked, after which she blew more air into her cheeks.
"No mother, it was more big than that" said the baby-frog.
"Did you mean it was this big?" his mother replied while she tried to pump even more air into her cheeks.
Finally the mother frog exploded from the high pressure which had built up.

Moral of story: One's horizon is limited by fear, lack of knowledge and imagination.

Thank you for telling me this story, my dear Polly.

Friday, 3 June 2011

That will teach you..

The expat co-owner of a restaurant in Roi Et came home too late, so his Thai wife let his pizza in the oven wait as well. Just when we were leaving, he arrived. We greeted him, unaware that he was going to dine with Duke Humphrey:

Baan Jarn street view

When coming to Baan Jarn in Roi Et province, it seems like an average Isaan village.

Yet, there's something special going on..Click on the photo's to enlarge.

Below the so-called Haus Müller:

For a view from behind, see here.

Still, not everybody in Baan Jarn seems to prosper..

For more info on what's going on in Baan Jarn, see this post from last year.


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