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Rooster has had a few money making brainwaves over the years though most of these have contributed to my relative penury rather than anticipated wealth.
Perhaps this was a result of never paying attention in my Business Studies A-level class at Alleyn’s School in South London. I got a Grade E that was a portent of things to come.
On moving to Thailand in the 1980s I reckoned that I could introduce some successful money spinners that had been tried in Europe but had not yet hit Asia.
Thais already seemed to love fast food especially in my Bangkok roost so I decided to set up a chain of cutesy fish and chip shops. To finance this venture I decided to go for a sure winner by exporting fake Jean Paul Gaultier clothing and pirate Rolexes to the UK.
After the former fell apart at the seams and the latter ticked, my dreams of Rooster Chippy @ The Mall faded.
There was nothing to be done except become a teacher. At least this provided some capital and a distraction from Patpong and Soi Cowboy. Then along came Scrabble that necessitated the study of vast lists of vocabulary 16 hours a day leaving little time for entrepreneurship.
Well I did make nearly a million baht in prize money – that the Thai government taxed me on at 5% – but I invested about one and a half million in travel and entrance fees so this was not a resounding success on the journey to Easy Street.
I came up with a brand of Scrabble watch – my own design no less – but I misplaced the extent of worldwide interest in the word game. Other people didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm for triple word scores (though Mrs Rooster was eternally grateful that her name was written on the decorative watch strap….going down at the double I might add).
Flipping condos in the noughties did result in some improvement to my battered self esteem and battered bank balance especially after the battered fish debacle.
In the end working at an international school took all my time; well that’s my excuse. It has provided me with a nest egg though more the size of a Cadbury Creme.
On trips back to the UK years ago I hit on another plan that remained a pipe dream. Trading in what they called “cherished number plates”.
This had taken off in my youth and by the 80s was a burgeoning industry that had not reached Thailand at all. The problem was that the Thai language and the pesky rules of the Department of Land Transport limited potential.
Once again I missed the boat (not always a bad thing in Thailand what with its safety record) and saw people raking it in with plates like สส 1 (sor sor or MP 1) and combinations of auspicious numbers. I once saw the plate พร 8888 listed in print media with the clear understanding that it would cost far more than a luxury car.
It said PORN 8888 – the Thai word that means blessings along with numbers that the Sino-Thais adore.
I amused myself with a little low key skulduggery on some of the many cars and motorcycles I have bought in Thailand. One had พอ on it that with the aid of a little black tape I was able to convert into the Thai word “phor” or father.
My kids lapped it up but the original Mrs Rooster envisaged arrest and put the kibosh on my personalized plate plans.
Now I ride around with 147 on one of my bikes – at least I know it refers to Snooker….
This week in an entertaining seven days of madness on Thaivisa forum it was announced by government spokeswoman Traisuree that soon Thais would be able to personalize their registrations with a combination of Thai letters, vowels, tone marks and numbers.
This is quite a departure from the past – you couldn’t use vowels or tone marks – and put the forum into a hubbub of speculation especially after the Daily News mock up went for OLE 1234, maybe a reference to the Manchester United manager.
Posters had a field day suggesting their ideas and slamming the notion that profits from the scheme would be paid into a “road safety fund”.
Americans pointed out that this works in the US where entities like national parks benefit from contributions for allowing U2 NEAR or 3SUMSUK
Brits satisfied themselves with wondering how on earth Jimmy Tarbuck deserved the plate COM1C.
As a kid waiting for the bus to school in Beckenham the plate “A1” used to whizz by.
Nah, not for me. I’ll just go for ทีวีรุสะเตอร์ (TVRooster) if and when my kids accept their Asian responsibility towards their Blighty dad with a brand new Ferrari.
In more serious news the vaccine rollout in Thailand continued to be about as “clear as klone” – mud. Foreign reporters suggested this might have something to do with the companies hired to produce them and which resulted in Thanathorn finding himself in hot water.
Later in the week HHHHHH (his hapless highness head health honcho) Anutin suggested that the first doses would be coming not from embargoed Europe but Asia though he was economical with the details. Meaning he didn’t have any or they might be subject to scrutiny.
DPM Prawit – now scarcely able to walk due to overindulgence in pie – was also tight lipped. Shame Big Pom didn’t adopt that habit when it came to lunch.
India – with one of the largest and respected pharma sectors in the world – has been rejected as a much needed source of vaccine, most of which will arrive as late as June.
Thailand is crying out for a speedy resolution to this issue not least of all to help rescue the lumbering tourism industry that despite some good news in certain aspects of the pandemic is still suffering.
Domestic tourism is of course the only hope at present and the Thais’ reticence – or otherwise – to travel will be key. Thai media continued to produce stories about “lively Koh Larn” ,”hopeful Hua Hin” or “Pattaya-in-waiting”.
The lady I call QUOTES (Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard), was also in the news as mayor Sontaya and his minging minions stared into the abyss – no, not the resort’s future as a tourism destination but a series of very large, black holes in Walking Street (images that delighted many on the forum).
Cable burying D-Day was Monday and Sontaya has promised the red light area will be beautiful come next January. Mystery surrounds the “large boxes” that are threatening to litter the street, however.
Also loosely connected to Pattaya was news that a ferry linking Sattahip with Songkhla will soon begin. It will be able to transport cars, cargo and people the third of which seems to be a commodity in the shortest supply at present.
The twenty hour journey was hailed as a time saver though I reckon I could drive it in just over half that given a couple of M150s and an accident free journey.
Apropos, Thaivisa went with a headline that a motorcyclist dies every half an hour. Safety advocates mentioned the young on Big Bikes and specifications but no one mentioned that plod is reticent to log off Facebook to enforce the law.
Political will remains the only hope for a national disgrace that is the appalling death toll on the roads. It is subject to lip service and “7 deadly Day” crackdowns.
If the powers that be could correlate the annual deaths of 25,000 to the consequent huge loss in GDP they might act. I can only imagine they think fewer people saves them on the bills…
In international news most of the focus was on a country very close to home – the coup in Myanmar and the locking up of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The now former leader fell from grace amid genocide allegations but at least she was elected after a fashion. People in Thailand will recall how she was eulogized in news stories in the kingdom through the 90s.
The coup – and action against many critics – is worrying not least for the ideas it may put in the heads of the khaki underpants brigade across the border.
In the UK good news that 10 million people had received their first dose of vaccine was tempered by the very sad death from Covid of national icon Sir Tom Moore who raised more than 30 million sobs for the NHS.
Rooster was teary eyed hearing his family members tell his story but buoyed by the remarkable year that the centenarian had in 2020 that inspired not just the UK but many around the world.
As a 59 year old if I’m half as strong as this fine gentleman was 41 years later I’d happily go up in smoke in Thailand.
In Russia government critic Alexei Navalny was jailed for three and a half years. In court, he called Putin a poisoner. A leader and a country that is prepared to kill their enemies abroad (such as the brazen attempt using a nerve agent in Salisbury, England) will not have much trouble in a gulag so there are legitimate fears for the safety in custody of this fine and brave Russian patriot.
Details of Barcelona legend Lionel Messi’s latest contract revealed he signed for a staggering $674 million while the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame stepped down.
If only I’d started that chip shop and taken it online…….Prawit could have made me millions.
Back in Thailand Bangkok featured heavily in the news with Thaivisa publishing stories about the amazing new Grand Central train hub in Bang Sue and the Benjakitti Forest Park extension.
Krung Thep – who regular readers of this column will know is my first love – is getting ever more liveable especially with improvements to public transportation and green spaces. But it is vital that something is done to address the poor air quality both in the capital and in many other places in Thailand.
Also in Bangkok a survey suggested that citywide only Don Muang did not have 90% of people wearing masks properly and in Phayathai it was 99%.
This had waned slightly but the second wave of the pandemic, and continuing high daily figures coming from Samut Sakhon, have re-heightened awareness as every governor worth his salt urged the populations to “gard yaa tok” – don’t let down your guard.
That was least of all her worries for a former employee of the Probation Department who was handed a 261 year 348 month sentence for creaming off drug addicts’ bail money. The court kindly cut her sentence to the maximum allowed of 50 years. Enjoy the rice gruel madam!
Schools in Bangkok and elsewhere went back on Monday much to the relief of parents. Now we are waiting with bated breath to see what discounts are given. The Education Ministry has ordered no rebates on fees only on add ons like lunches and trips. In Mae Sot there was a panic after a student tested positive but this seemed to have no relationship with the opening of schools.
Back to Pattaya, many expats were thought to have lost millions due to an errant employee of Kasikorn bank. Reading between the lines it appeared this had more to do with the gullibility of foreigners believing in a Ponzi scheme – something for which the curmudgeons roast Thais. Now the boot was on the other foot they blamed the Thais again….
Craft beer producers staged a publicity stunt by tipping their product in a wheely bin. While Rooster thinks this is undoubtedly the best place for this cloudy stuff, I concur that the regulations prohibiting online sales and the continuing pandemic restrictions on the drinking of alcohol are in need of change.
In quirky news a granny aged 68 was pictured with a sign on her motorbike with a sidecar saying “please don’t go into me” while a little puppy survived a 50 km journey from Kaeng Krachan to Bang Bua Thong underneath a car. Her new owner christened her “Chok Dee with the surname Tee May Taay” (Lucky who didn’t die).
Finally, a lady in her 10 million baht house in Samed, Chonburi was shown on CCTV running with a baby in her arms after an intruder came over a wall.
She claimed that the sleeping guards at the luxury housing estate were rubbish and came up with a great word that I was not convinced was a spelling mistake and could be in the next Scrabble dictionary update: