Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The averse effects on expats after long exposure to the Siam sun

Pic thnx to Androidzoom
When moving to Thailand, in the beginning everything looks exotic, interesting and fun, just like it was on your holidays before.
You have fallen in love with your new home; the land of smiles.
Like with real love the novelty and mystery wears off over time. Gradually you start to change.
Following is a inventory of various behavioural types of long term expats I came accross in Thailand. Of course people can develop different behaviours mentioned below simultaneously.
1. The Grumpy Expat
The grumpy expat, usually a man, gradually becomes acidified about everything which doesn't make sense or in his/her words 'is wrong' with the Thai culture, people and government.
They often had a bad previous experience with a cheating Thai partner or just have an unhappy relation with the current one.
These people are often entrepeneurs with their wife/girlfriend controlling personnel. Their situation is such that they cannot separate due to children and/or losing the bussines to their Thai partner.
The grumpy expat will stereotype Thai (usually women) as 'lazy', 'careless', 'unreliable' and 'lacking initiative'.

2. The Orientalist
These people will feel Western superiority towards the Thai population and culture right from the start.
After time they find it hard to live without this ego-boosting feeling they would lack back home.
Although they will not openly admit, their secret motto is: 'In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.'

The groups below suffer from a cognitive dissonance syndrome:
For those unfamiliar, an example:
A man wants to buy a new car, he already made a choice but hesitates between two colors, red and metallic blue. The metallic blue can be supplied but not the red. He likes red the best, but also likes metallic paint, but not blue. After long hesitation, he lets the blue metallic finally prevail, also because the garage owner advises him to take the one which is on stock. After a few weeks driving in the new car he notices a red car from the same brand, he likes it less than he first thought. Unconsciously, he changed his mind. There is no longer a conflict between the desire for a red car and the fact that he chose blue.

Expats often like to justify their new habitat, while they tend to portray the situation at home in a more negative way. Probably I have to include myself suffering from this syndrome, although I'm technically not an expat nor am I able (after two year) to categorise myself :).

3. The Conservative Cultural Defender
These are mostly older retired people who live in the countryside where they have a small farm or at least grow some own fruit and vegetables.
They will defend old Thai cultural values tooth and nail.
Most of them can get more upset about declining moral values of the Thai new generation than some of the most conservative natives.
The 2011 Silom Songkran bare breast incident and the increasing extravagant little to reveal fashion of some Thai girls and ladyboys irritates them to maximum levels.

4. The Spiritual One
These people are actively following Buddhism, either the incomprehensible Thai Buddhism which includes Hindu and Chinese gods as a backup, but more often the orthodox form of Buddhism. They practice yoga and often will not turn down a joint for more intense experiences.
Most believe the West is wicked and evil prevails.
A number of these people live from social welfare back home which becomes increasingly more difficult due to spending cuts and increased Thai prices.
Some are wondering to move to Cambodia, Vietnam or Laos and as a new option the opened up Myanmar.

5. The Fanatic
These kind of people were also mentioned in a talk with Lani of Tell Thai Heart.
It seems that many people have an urge to establish their identity.
The fanatic gradually starts to exaggerate parts of his/her identity as a means to compensate for all things alien abroad.
This can be in the form of the food one would take for granted back home, but is now willing to die for.
For example longing for McDonald's food.
Their perfect day is started with a breakfast exactly like back home.
Exaggeration also can apply to the following: Practising or being over-fanatic about national sports from home, celebrating national fests, political views, religion and as Lani claims; accent.

6. The Racist
This group is a sub-group of the above fanatic group. Unfortunately I met a lot of these, so I name them seperately. Although not exclusively, similar to group 1 these are often entrepeneurs.
They complain mainly about the situation back home, where foreigners, usually Muslim, 'fail' to integrate and spoil it for the rest.
The arguments that:
1. They themselves chose to opt out and don't experience these 'problems' anymore, so don't need to complain.
2. They do not differ from foreigners back home, since they now have become the foreigner who has problems integrating.
will not help to change their mind. Believe me I tried.

7. The Overachiever
Often these are women, but there's a considerable group of expat men too.
Right from the start this person jumps in the deep. They will eat any food including spicy som tam which would burn the untrained. Rarely uses cutlery. Will learn the language, including Isan, in no time, fluently.
If you meet them they will spends much more time talking to your Thai partner than to you. Will make your partner laugh out loud by telling jokes and funny stories in Thai, which is irritating, because you don't have a clue.

8. The Dude
These people are most commonly spotted in bars. They don't say much.
Usually they will default to staring at the soundless sport channel.
When being enquired by tourists (especially female) what they like about Thailand, the answer will be something like:
"Well, the beer is cold and the women are pretty.."

9. The National Community Person
These people prefer to live in an area amongst compatriates. They like to hang out with their neighbours, talking in their mother tongue. They share national newspapers, magazines and if possible also share resources like workout equipment and if possible a common swimming pool. They will help eachother out in case of problems. They also organise social events like BBQ's and festivities during national events back home.
Even though it seems they like to rearrange everything like the in country they came from, they feel more happy in their new coherent community than at home. Cost of living, climate, Thai marriage and conservatism plays an important role too.

Expat in Nakhon Rachasima produces snus

Necessity is the mother of all invention.
Or so Monk an expat Swede, must have thought when he started Svenskt Snus Co., Ltd in 2008.
Snus Co., Ltd is located in Pak Chong, Nakhon Rachasima, 175km North East from Bangkok

Snus is a moist powder tobacco product which is consumed by placing it under the upper lip for extended periods of time.
Whereas cigarettes became popular less than 100 years ago, snus was discovered in the 16th century by Frenchman Jean Nicot, a man who became immortal when he discovered nicotin.
Use of snus is a very popular (and addictive) pastime for Swedish and Norwegian men. To a lesser extend it is also being used in Finland and Denmark.
Snus is banned in the rest of Europe due to improper research results, stating that it could cause cancer.
When Sweden and Norway joined the European Community exemptions for legal production and use in these countries were made.
Research has shown that thanks to snus Sweden and Norway have considerable less male smokers, whereas smoking amongst the female population seems to equal European averages.
Yes, snus is a real male Viking thing.
Europe is now considering to lift bans, since by any means snus is a healthier alternative than smoking.
Although some people claim it is more addictive than cigarettes, in the rest of the world snus is fully legal and healthier tabacco alternative for adults.

As advertised Svenskt Snus is made from 100% Thai tabacco.
One box costs about ฿250 ($ 8 / € 6) and depending on consumption reportedly it lasts for about 6 days or so. A wholesaler for the South is located in Chalong, Phuket.
The Southern provinces Phuket, Phang-Nga and Krabi appeal to many Scandinavian visitors and expats.
In other araes in Thailand the product can be mail-ordered by individuals as well.
For more information about Svenskt Snus, click here.

Monk is not alone, roughly at the same time, compatriot Karl started producing snus in Sihanoukville for the local market in Cambodia and there's even a Swedish snus manufacterer in Vientiane, Laos too.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Do I need to turn off my cell phone during lightning?

In case of lightning, lots of people disconnect their TV and other home equipment from the mains and other outlets like cable,  to safeguard them from breaking down. Since many homes don't have surge protectors everywhere, it's the right thing to do, since if the lightning hits a power line nearby a high voltage spike will get in the mains and do it's destructive work. In Thailand lot's of people turn their cell phone off too, since it's an electric/electronic device. Is their any need to do so? I have had some arguments with Polly, who insisted on doing this. Since I don't like false feelings of safety, here are some more details I came across.
Lightning is the discharge of static electricity from highly charged clouds in comparison to the neutrally charged earth.
If the difference in charge becomes too high, air, preferable humid air will become a conductor which guides the discharge. Since many objects near the ground have a higher conductivity than air, lightning will find its the way of least resistance.
Cell phones are usually located in your pocket, handbag or near your face when calling..
Devices which run on batteries have a neutral charge regardless of turning them on or off, but are not connected to the earth like TV's via the electric plug.
Cell phones however do contain metal parts which could be dangerous, since if held nearby these parts form a conductor which could guide electricity to your body, if this would happen it would leave in the best case nasty burn wounds.
Although I'm not sure this custom still exists, interestingly enough in Isan, North-East Thailand, casualties of lightning used to be burried standing up with a metal pan on the head, instead of being cremated. Only older people who died from natural causes were cremated, but this custom has changed over time.

Back to the main topic, the advice is:
- No, there's no need to turn off your cell phone during lightning. If needed, use your time for other safety precautions
- In the safety of your home or (closed!) car, use of your cell phone would be a low risk issue.
- When outdoors don't keep your cell-phone near your body, regardless whether it's on or off.
- More importantly, don't call outdoors!
- Half an hour after the last strike, use of your phone is generally considered safe.

Friday, 25 November 2011


Seen on Facebook:

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Making a living of ฿20 ($ 0.65) per picture

Seen in Patong, Phuket:

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Children of Patong

Seen in Patong, Phuket:
A girl using a laptop in her outdoor 'study room',
In the background one of her foreign peers is still sitting in a buggy
An orchid flower neckless sales girl takes a break playing video games.
A neckless costs ฿50 ($1.63) (for Thai)
One video game costs ฿10 ($ 0.33) 
This girl seems very happy with her electric car.
A big garbage truck is coming, but doesnt keep left.
What to do? OK pass him on the right.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Dangerous pitfalls by keeping the money out of Soi Kebsap, Patong

Nowadays w're used to companies applying signs such as "Attention: wet floor" or "Danger: construction area" and so on.
Besides warning the public another main concern is to prevent liability for possible injury claims.
Patong's Soi Kebsap also transliterated as Soi Kebsup, which ironically means street of keeping money, is a popular shortcut  for beachgoers from one of the many hotels in the town center of the most popular tourist destination of Phuket.
Besides the fact that the street is in a bad condition as a whole, a 40 by 50cm open drainage pit which has been there for at least three months now (although some locals claim five months), has meanwhile become a new landmark of negligence.
It would seem obvious to blame the department of publics works, was it not that the whole street is owned by a single company. And since they constructed it, they are responsible for parts of the infrastructure and maintenance such as the street as well.
Repair works for the pit are estimated to be ฿4500 (€106 /$146), not a great deal one would say, however the owner of Soi Kebsap has so far remained reluctant to take any action.
Renters and mostly shop owners of the buildings nearby are fed up with the resulting accidents and frequent near-accidents. The poor condition of the street has a negative impact on the neighbourhood. Recently a few individuals atttempted to take matters into own hands and proposed to jointly pay for repairing the pit.
They proposed to share costs, paying  ฿500 each. Problem is that some people refuse to cooperate, since they feel the street is not their property. Also paying for road damage would possibly create a precedent for more neglection by the owner in the future. As a result the initiators couldn't come up with the required minimum of nine participants, so now the deal is over and once again nothing is being done.
Whereas in the last month the spot has been marked by some individuals in a rather poor way, making it more or less visible in the day-time only, several accidents both in day- and night-time have occured.
Although the real number of accidents is much higher, ie. a local resident claims to have witnessed 17 accidents, seven of which involved injuries. Personally I witnessed at least two cases where cars got one of their wheels stuck in the hole both resulting in visual damage to the vehicle.
More serious accidents occured when at least two people recently got injured.
Today I saw how an older tourist fell in. A few minutes later with the help of some bystanders he was able to walk away with a cut wound in his leg.
Reportedly in another case a German tourist recently walking at the spot at night, fell in the pit resulting in leg and head injury which needed medical care.
By law the owner of Soi Kebsap can be held fully liable for any damage and injuries caused by severe neglectance of common sense safety standards.
At the entrances of Soi Kebsap there are no "Danger: private street, enter at own risk" warning signs, so
unsuspecting non-residents and tourists do not know whether they are entering one of the public streets
which are being inspected and maintained by the city or a private street where in this case  the owner seems to lack any common sense regarding a potential hazard which could easily be solved for a mere ฿4500.
In my opinion the owner can succesfully be prosecuted should more severe accident happen in the future, a thing which is almost unavoidable in the current situation.
One could also argue that Patong city council is indirectly responsible for not demanding the company to comply with general public safety standards by enforcing the company to do the nescesarry repair work needed to make Soi Kebsap and Patong a safer place.

Knickers and bananas

Seen in Ao Nang, Krabi at the appartment of some nice bar ladies who offered us a bye, bye barbeque yesterday.
This photo was taken with permission of the respective owners

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Child exploitation in Thailand

Seen in Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand, 30-10-2011 at 23:15

In the mean time I got used to seeing young children or even babies being exploited for begging, selling roses or orchid necklesses at a time they should be well asleep. Often the mother is waiting around the street corner.
Usually I don't want to encourage their business by paying money, but since I didn't came across this strategy before, I made an exception:


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