I know I’m biased as a paid employee of Thaivisa but I think some of the best, most unbelievable and most newsworthy stories in the world come out of Thailand. And here at Thaivisa – with the help of Thai language newshounds on the ground – we are bringing the best daily coverage in English right to your computer, right to the palm of your hand. In double quick time too.
Compare this to some of the more established media – especially that printed on old trees – and there really is no comparison. Though stories in an organ like the Bangkok Post are usually well written they are often out of date. And the variety – for which you must pay through the nose daily – is sorely lacking. (I said was biased!)
Their columnists – what few are left – trot out the same cultural observations of yesteryear and the letters page is frequented by about five contributors with axes to grind whose opinions are invariably tedious and esoteric. Compare that to the manic vibrancy of an online forum like Thaivisa where – nutty curmudgeons aside – there is a huge amount of interesting opinion and information.
On Sundays the Post’s ‘veteran’ Australian Andrew Biggs bangs on about “graengjai” and the Thais’ “mai pen rai” attitude as if they are cultural awakenings to his readers. Recently he had a go at “newbie expats” – I should tell him that I consider him to be one of those because he’s only been here since the 1990s! As immodest as it sounds, I’d far rather read me.
Whether it’s news or threads based on Thailand only a fool would look anywhere but Thaivisa. Sure, one needs to weed out some of the wheat from the chaff but that is true of any media. Personally when I see other media sites I am overwhelmed by chaff. I ignored Thaivisa until 2014 then started work here two years later. I was sucked in initially after reading a post that saved me literally 100,000s of baht. I grew a little tired of it as a poster – especially threads like the Koh Tao murders – but I persevered.
When an offer of employment came I snapped off my now boss’s hand and have never looked back, unless it’s to look behind me occasionally after posting nasty things about the government.
Thailand has had several “Amazing Thailand” tourist campaigns. Now “Amazing Thai News” is everywhere you look – the best of it is in Thai and now brought to you in English (and other languages) through Thaivisa. So please read the stories (in full if you can), keep commenting and keep clicking because as in the paraphrased words of the song:
“It may not be paradise all the time, but you may not appreciate something until it is gone…”
Thursday this week was a case in point; a great news day on the forum inspired much comment. I knew something was up when my editor mentioned one particular story to me. The item he was referring to, on the face of it simplistic and vaguely absurd, was a Thai TV news report of a farang sitting on a zebra crossing and refusing to budge.
Whether he had been hit or not was a moot point – he wasn’t going anywhere! The female driver had got out and was barely able to conceal a grin, perhaps suggesting she hadn’t done much to incur Johnny Foreigner’s righteous wrath. The TV presenter revelled in the fact that Thais are the greatest road rule lawbreakers on Mother Earth even throwing in a few Soap Opera style bells and whistles at the westerner’s plight.
Posters noted in equal numbers that you’d have to be barking to think anyone would stop at a crossing in Thailand and defended the foreigner for thinking otherwise citing his upbringing for his behavior. I expected Amarin TV to follow up with an interview in Thaiglish – maybe they would have done if the felled pedestrian had been someone important, like a Chinese.
For my part I have always believed that it is the law to stop at zebras in Thailand. Unfortunately this is a complete irrelevancy! In my half a million kilometers of driving in the kingdom I have occasionally stopped (when completely safe to do so) more to see the shock on the face of the pedestrian as I urge them across with my waving hand than any sense of uprightness or altruism.
Mostly I’d just drive on for fear that if I did slow down and let them cross some nutter tailgating me behind would dispatch me to the chimneys of my neighborhood temple.
Thursday also saw footage from the Sikhio market in Korat where a Thai woman was electrocuted in a hail of sparks by a 22,000 volt hanging wire. Brave motorcycle guys came to her rescue and she survived. The PEA – whose collective brain size is akin to their acronym – did very little until the power of social media took over. Then they coughed up a million baht and promised more when the husband mentioned a lawyer.
The “Hanging Wires of Thailand” are a bit like that wonder of an ancient world, those gardens in Babylon. Just less photogenic. Bill Gates raised the wires issue in holiday snaps three years ago and Uncle Too has buried a few in strategic places where there are sufficiently well heeled tourists called Kumar, Chin and Ivan. And I doubt there are any unsightly ones outside his or the watchman’s residences.
Aforesaid tourists also featured in the news this week. The Thaivisa staples featured in a few pictures on a law enforcement site in Pattaya and news that the Russians were returning to the kingdom in droves to save Thai tourism along with the Indians and Chinese.
The pictures of a thronging Walking Street were debunked as merely tourists passing through from the port to a temple without spending so much as a satang. Ivan’s return after rouble trouble (what a pity that the two words don’t rhyme) was met with some dismay by some posters in English and a hearty welcome in Thai. Methinks this might have something to do with one’s pecuniary perspective.
Thousands are expected aboard charter flights in Surat – hopefully a similar number will return home after trips to Koh Tao. Others had already packed out Nong Nuch Gardens in Pattaya on Monday to Wednesday when they were treated to a sound and light extravaganza marking Loy Krathong.
Rooster took his chicks to Kaset and witnessed the Thais – and myself – patting our collective backs for being eco-friendly and floating only Krathongs made from bread. Mine was contained in a large plastic bag that I scandalously accepted.
Also in carrier plastic bags were the children’s food on sticks (that were in their own mini-plastic container) and Mrs R’s pearl barley thing that somehow flows down her throat despite its viscosity formed of pure sugar. The result – amid our krathong efforts that a friend calls “virtue signalling” – was a mountain of trash at the uni campus.
Elsewhere from Chiang Mai to Krung Thep and back again there was tens of tons of extra trash. Somehow the Bangkok governor was aware of the exact number that his cleaners had collected. Yi Peng lanterns – supposedly forbidden in the north – landed on the airport and were still being collected from the runway days later.
I have always liked Loy Krathong – indeed when I was in charge of the Thai department at an international school we showcased Thai culture extensively on that day every year – but something needs to be done to rein in the event and others like it to maintain a semblance of tidiness. I know I am an offender – I need to be forced along with everyone else to fully mend my ways.
The best video I saw was on Thaivisa’s Facebook arm – a Thai had a picture of a virtual krathong on an iPad by the water’s edge. With one swipe he had floated away his troubles – job done!
Litter is never out of the news these days. It was further announced that Thailand would be plastic bag free from January 1st – the latest D-Day. Even Churchill was not sure about the Normandy landings and opinion is rife on the use of plastic bags. Most agree – like World War II – that it needs to end, but how?
The media mentioned three kinds of plastic will go on New Year’s Day without saying what and several more would be history in a year or two. A bit like the fall of Berlin, the devil will be in the detail.
I believe that the Thais – and the rest of us – need some severe prodding up the backside to effect change. And the food industry needs some sharp reminders about their packaging. What we carry our shopping home in is only the tip of an iceberg that floats throughout the oceans of the globe.
Waste was also paramount when it came to Thai Airways. The human kind.
The bloated airline has clearly now been targeted by the still relatively new transport minister Saksayam Chidchob. He is behind THAI cancelling the hiring of 200 new trolley dollies, part of 4000 applicants.
In the days when I frequently travelled to America to take part in their National Scrabble Championships we always seemed to get great deals on THAI and in my comparative innocence I wondered why. This was partly explained when a man in uniform came to the seat of my elderly Thai travelling companion “graap-cum-wai-ing” him in the lap as we waited in adjacent seats for takeoff.
It was the pilot.
Who you know not what you know is a maxim suited to Thailand. Down in the near south, the former head of Kaeng Krachan national park could do with some connections.
Chaiwat Limlikhit-akson planned to go with three other suspects to vow to the spirit of a hanging bridge that they had nothing to do with the murder of Karen community activist “Billy” Rakchongcharoen. Spirits are one thing, knowing the judge quite another.
Chaiwat – in that disarming Thai way – has explained that he only reprimanded Billy for collecting wild honey and insisted that he was released after admonishing him for trying to bribe him with the said “nam pheung”. That’s sweet….
Though the farang on the crossing avoided becoming a statistic, the news pages of Thaivisa were still full of the most horrendous accidents and the latest damning numbers. Seventy three died on Tuesday which means it was probably well over a hundred. Three were in a pick-up that had its roof torn off. Eighteen students were lucky to escape alive when a minivan left the road hitting a tree and a lamppost.
A long road rage video was notable for the fact that it was thoroughly entertaining for all its six minutes. There was plenty of barging shenanigans between a taxi and a car before the taxi driver made the other guy stop heading out to Nonthaburi. While he was going ballistic on a bridge his passengers – a woman and a young boy – got out of the taxi.
The taxi driver tried to persuade his passengers to get back in. They were having none of it even though they were marooned on a bridge. Later it emerged that the woman was his wife and the boy his son. I hope they gave him hell to pay at home because the DLT did their usual diddly squat.
And so, after a sojourn of several weeks, the editor has released funds for some timely Rooster awards further highlighting the breadth of the wacky news in Thailand this week.
The prize for “Ruse of the Week” goes to Warunee in Sakon Nakhon who was convinced that she saw her chihuahua engaging in some “reverse coupling” with her pussy, I mean her Thai breed cat. The resulting issue – four dats or cogs – had the feline and canine colors and as if this were not proof enough Warunee won the two digit lottery with “15” the day the “cuppies” or “dittens” were born.
A vet had his own two digit opinion about the chance of cats and dogs procreating.
Just one digit was enough for the driver of a Mercedes Benz who showed his middle one to an ambulance with its siren wailing trying to get past taking a patient to hospital in Sri Racha. He wins an award with no name kindly sponsored by my dear friend Richard Head.