Saturday, September 30, 2006

Living Life September 2006

Up until mid morning on the 29th, this monthly post was going to be a very down beat affair. As you can see from the excerpt below that I received from the British Embassy, living in or visiting Thailand at the moment is not everyone’s first choice.
If you don’t get blown up, shot or catch bird flu you’ve been lucky. There is a definite anti foreigner vibe coming out of the government at the moment, Visa’s being cracked down on or not even issued. Western Business’s, such as Tesco and Carrefour told to scrap plans for expansion and any one buying a Condo can no longer get a residence visa, so what is the point in buying property in Thailand?

We advise against all but essential travel to, or through, the far southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla, where there is continuing violence due to insurgency and civil unrest. Since January 2004, there have been regular attacks including bombings and shootings. There were a number of explosions in August 2006. The Thai Government has declared a serious state of emergency in the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. You should also maintain high levels of vigilance when traveling to, or through, the neighboring province of Satun. There have been reports that Thai military presence in Satun is being increased due to insurgency fears.
· There is a high threat from terrorism throughout Thailand. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against places frequented by foreigners.

· On 19 September 2006 the Thai Army Commander, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, announced that he had established a Reform Council to take over the administration of the country. A nationwide state of martial law has been declared. The situation in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand remains calm, but the British Embassy is continuing to monitor the situation closely.
· If you are currently in Bangkok, you should use discretion when travelling around the city and refrain from approaching military vehicles and personnel. If you intend to travel to, or are currently in Thailand, you should monitor all available information on the local situation and keep in contact with your tour operator. You should also avoid the areas surrounding Government buildings and locations where large crowds appear to be gathering, as well as any demonstrations.
· Since December 2005, there have been a number of small explosions in Bangkok. The motives for these attacks are not clear.
· Penalties for possession, distribution or manufacture of drugs are severe and can include the death penalty.
· Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Thailand have resulted in a small number of human fatalities. As a precaution, you should avoid live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked. For further information see Health section below and also read the Foci’s
Avian and Pandemic Influenza Fact sheet.

Then on the 29th, Elizabeth made her long awaited appearance, Nuch was supposed to go in on Oct 4th for a suzerain, but Elizabeth had other ideas. An hour long labor later there she was. I was the third of four fathers waiting, and the first to see their child. I was not allowed in the delivery room, and to be honest I’m not that bothered. Things are done very differently in Asia, up until 9pm on the 30th I still haven’t held her. Looking forward to going home tomorrow.

Other stuff this month includes the late start to the rainy season, it as caught up with a vengeance, several inches of rain in an hour most days, the garden loves it. Next month I will be visiting my Uncle Steve and Auntie Paula in Perth and staying seven days. This brings back good memories of when I used to stay with them when they still lived in the UK, the highlight of the month, going to stay in Long Eaton and one of my first outings to a Pub. The Tiger.

I’ve put a few pictures on of the effect the water as had on a couple of bushes in the garden and of course a few more pictures of Elizabeth, I’m sure there will be more to come.

Thank you to everyone who sent Nuch and me good wishes, and lastly my condolences to the Family of Leslie Howells who passed away on Oct 28th after a short stay in a Hospice.
She was a good friend, a great colleague and will be missed by everyone who ever knew her…..

Friday, September 29, 2006

Elizabeth Ann Parker

I would like to introduce Elizabeth Ann Parker, born today at 8.18am weighing in at 3.1kg.

A very quick labour indeed, Nuch got stomach ache at 3am and then at 7am got me up to take her to Hospital. We arrived at 8am and a few minutes later along popped Elizabeth.

Nuch is fine, tired as you might expect, but otherwise healthy.

I’ll put more on the blog over the next few days.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Goodbye Don Muang

Don Muang Airport in Bangkok is only around 8km from where we live, we could see planes coming into land, but there was never any noise. I have used Don Muang dozens of times in the past three years and in all fairness won’t be sad to see it go.

In all fairness as International Airports go, it was a bit of a shit hole. It was ok, maybe around 20 years out of date. There were very few amenities once inside the departure lounge and the one’s that were there weren’t up too much.

The new Airport “Suvarnabhumi” is said to be the best Hub Airport in South East Asia, that’s something when comparing it against KL and Singapore. It is around 40km away, but the outer ring road makes this a quick journey. I will be using it next month when I go and see my Uncle Steve and Auntie Paula in Perth.

It will be interesting to see if the new airport gives you the same atmosphere when you arrive. At Don Muang, it was hot and chaotic, just a taster of what your time in Thailand was going to be like.

Goodbye Don Muang

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

No Go-Go

Yesterday, sexy Go-Go Girls dancing in front of the troops as been banned, especially in front of tanks.

It does seem a trifle in bad taste, these lovely dancers parading in front of the troops. They were organised by a local radio station. The Junta was not happy and as now banned future performances.


Should you heavens forbid, have an accident whilst in Thailand. Your chances of survival are fairly high. Once you get to Hospital!

This isn't as easy as you might think, In the UK you dial 999, in Thailand, you pretty much hope and prey a passing ambulance is passing.

This only the first part of the problem, Bangkok drivers take absolutely no notice of blaring sirens. There is a good reason for this, because all of the ambulances are from private hospitals, they have been known to put on the sirens to get through traffic on their way to an important dinner. I've seen it myself! Even the Police don't hold the traffic for ambulances.

So to combat the traffic, ambulance drivers tend to drive like maniacs to get to the hospitals, i'm sure this is to cause more accidents and then come back for the business.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Thailand Gestapo

I have just come back from my visit to the Immigration Department to obtain my Spouse Visa.

OK, let’s start again! I have just been to the Gestapo to beg for my visa.

Didn’t beg well enough because I left empty handed. There is definitely an anti foreigner feeling in Thailand at the moment. Luckily only from the Junta and its Departments, but that is the seat of power.

The woman who looked at our case find the pettiest of flaws in my application and all of them extra bits of paperwork that are not asked for in the original application form. I have had to give up on getting the visa because one of the things I need to find does not exist. A piece of paper that should be on the back of our marriage paperwork. On the last piece it says continued, she wants the next piece even though all the pieces are there. So what do you do?

Unlike the UK, there is no right of appeal and the fact that you have fulfilled the criteria you still not given the visa to stay with your wife and very soon to be child.

With what as happened in the last week, I will have to give my long term future in Thailand serious thought. It’s a shame but there you go.

Weekend Visitor

Last weekend we had one of our few visitors. Kim, who went away for the wekend entrusted me with her vicious and very hard Yorkie Terrior "Maroon".

Don't get the wrong impression from the photos, she is a hard, mean 3kg of dog.

I did keep on having to ask Nuch, too tell all the neighbours I was still a hard Belper lad. Not a softy Eckington Shandy drinker.

It was a pleasure to have maroon for the weekend, i'm not sure Maroon enjoyed roughing it. She spent alot of time in the very stylish Burberry Dog Bag. Only the best for Marron.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Photo Op

Near our house, on one of the roads coming in from the north of Thailand, There is a small detachment of troops.

Around twenty men, two ancient Scorpion Tanks, three Humvies and a truck, they all look fairly bored just sitting there.

Yesterday as I went passed the soldiers were being mobbed by civilians. Not an overdue reaction from the Thai masses in a revolt against a military Junta destroying their attempts at democracy. No these people wanted their pictures taken sitting on the tanks. There were kids in the Humvies playing with the machine guns and young ladies lying across the tanks.

I guess that is better than a bloodbath.


Getting hold of a good, reasonably priced bottle of wine in Thailand is pretty much impossible.

Don’t get me wrong, there is good wine available, but you pay through the nose for it. The average cost of an average wine is about £7. Probably twice the price of the same wine in the UK.

Champagne, don’t even go down that road! That will set you back three fold.

There are Thai wines, I’d be lying if I said I had tasted a good Thai wine, but then again I’ve only tried three of them.

I do miss nipping down to the Offy and getting a £3 bottle of nice German White wine and going home and supping it to myself.

Smile, say cheese

The new directive today from the Junta is “Smile”

That’s the order gone out to the soldiers on the checkpoints around Bangkok. It seems it will reassure the people and look good in the press. If I was able to sit out in the sun as part of my job and have people bring me food all day, I would smile anyway.

Anyway, the order made me smile.

Yesterday I was out and about in western Bangkok and there did seem to be more troops knocking about, probably consolidating their positions. Everything as far as daily life goes is pretty much back to normal.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Thailand Stories

A very interesting website that I look at most days is

Its basically a website of short stories and articles about living and working in Thailand. Some fictional, some are very funny true stories. I have posted a couple of articles under my pen name of bangkokram.

Check it out, it’s a funny site.

Friday, September 22, 2006

False Alarm

Yesterday whilst I was in Bangkok trying to get more paperwork for new visa, Nuch thought she had gone into labour.
When I got home, I speeded her round to the Hospital, breaking all the traffic rules along the way. Not a serious thing, as everyone does that all the time anyway.

Turns out, she had a slight attack of food poisoning! She was kept in for observation and I have just picked her up and bought her back home.

Hopefully she can last till Tuesday; we have an interview at the Immigration Department for my new visa on Monday.

Sod off Chris

That is what the Thai Government is telling all foreigners who hold a tourist visa.

From now on if the new regulations are enforced, you will only allowed to have three consecutive thirty day tourist visa’s in your passport, on the fourth try you will be not allowed back into Thailand for 90 days.

I myself through circumstances will be on my third tourist visa this time; luckily I’m in the process of getting a different style of visa. This regulation however will affect 1000’s of short to medium stay foreigners. Some cannot be bothered or cannot afford to get a different visa, so monthly have to trog all the way to a border crossing and get a new tourist visa. These people put a fair bit of income into the Thai economy, especially in Bangkok. I worked it out last night and in the last year I have spent 2.2 million baht in the Thai economy (£31000). That’s probably more than most people, but the numbers for Brits that will be affected alone is put at 2500 in Bangkok alone, so a figure of 500,000GBP is not far of the mark. Add into this citizens from US, Japan, Korea, Europe, Canada etc etc. Then that figure will soon begin to dent someone‘s pocket.

If it wasn’t for Nuch and the very impending baby, I would be soaking it up in Penang living in a more civilised country.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

New Restrictions

General Sonthi Leader of the Military Junta

There seems to be a few new crackdowns from the military Junta, nothing that is to harsh and hopefully this isn't them start of some more serious stuff.

Meetings of five or more people politically is forbiden.

No new political parties to be formed.

Several of thaksin cronies taken into custody.

There seems even more troops about today, probably consolidating their postions.

For how much I have criticised the British Embassy in Bangkok, they have kept me informed through email updates and seem to be keeping a level head.

As more revalations come out, i'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Actual Military Coup

Tuesday night at around 10.30pm I got a sms from Phil asking me what was going off with the Tanks in Bangkok. I hadn’t a clue what he was on about.

We turned over to the good old BBC and there it was, a military coup underway about 25 miles away. Something else to add to my life list. The Thai TV stations were all playing patriotic music and showing pictures of the royal family. Radio stations were just playing the music.

My main concern was my impending trip to Cambodia on the 20th; I had to go to renew my visa. When I awoke at 4am, CNN and BBC had been taken off air. The internet was still up and running and I decided to go for it. The drive into Bangkok was pretty normal, less traffic and no sign of soldiers. I got the Bus at 8am for the drive to Cambodia. On the outskirts of Bangkok on the motorway I began to see the armoured vehicles and soldiers. All tooled up and waiting for action.

At the border we only had a minute to do all the paperwork and get back across to Thailand before the land borders were closed, too close for my liking. On the way back we were stopped at manned checkpoints twice and as we got into Bangkok, saw more soldiers.

The drive home was superb, as you can see from the road picture, this part of the expressway at this time in the evening should be bumper to bumper traffic, and I saw about 30 cars the 25km length. About 3km from our house there is a large Air Force base and sports stadium, the Stadium was being used as a staging area for the troops, lots of them and tanks.

The ex PM Taksin who is now residing in his huge London Estate as we speak still claims to be in charge and there are lots of negotiations in the background to try and get all the forces loyal to him, to come over to the new Junta. Thaksin does seem to have been on a self destruct ting for the last few months, he didn't seem to listen to anyone and couldn't see that it was definately time for him to go.

The King seems to have given his approval to the coup and the new Generalissimo as promised a new PM in 2 weeks.

Tourists don’t seem to have been affected in the slightest, and up until now, neither as the exchange rate, I was hoping the Baht would plummet!

So there you go, apart from troops on the streets, everything seems as normal as it can be, but remember this is Thailand, normal doesn’t always mean our normal.
Thaksin shopping in London...

Beer Awards 2006

It’s been around a year since I listed my favourite beers; several new ones have appeared on the market. These include Phucket Beer, beer Lao and Cheers.

Cheers beer is even worse than Marksman Lager by Mansfield Brewery, anyone who ever had a pint of Marksman will know what I mean.

There are a couple of Places offering micro brewed bitter, its ok, buts it not Marston Pedigree. I also miss the strong taste of Stella and Kronenbourg 1666.

Anyway here’s my top 10 list of beers available in Thailand.

1. John Smiths
2. Beer Lao
3. Beer Chang
4. San Miguel
5. Heineken
6. Phucket Beer
7. Red Horse
8. Leo
9. Kloster
10. Tiger Beer

Many people may wonder were Beer Singha is; this is definitely the No. 1 tourist beer. I’ll be honest with you; I’m just sick of the taste, too sweet and bloats you up a good un’.

I must reiterate that the avoidance of Cheers Beer is important; it is without doubt the worse beer I have tasted. Porno pic for Simon

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Come on Baby!!!

When is this baby going to arrive?

Nuch and I are both getting bored now, everything is ready and waiting for the little persons arrival. Bath, car seat, clothes, nappies all ready.

Nuch as bought a load of the old fashioned Terri nappies. I know these are no longer in vogue in the UK, not sure why. Maybe it’s the extra hassle of cleaning and the fact no trees have been destroyed in their production, who knows. What I do no is that we have bought thirty for the same price as two bags of nappies.

As you can see from the pictures, Nuch is now actually the size of a house, poor thing. She is holding up ok, in fact she is better now than a month ago. We spend the evenings watching her stomach morph to different shape and sizes, guessing which bit of the baby is pushing out?

At the hospital next week, so fingers crossed.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Nuch and the Crown Prince

The above picture is of Nuch receiving her MBA from no less than the Crown Prince of Thailand.

I can’t believe she kept this a secret from. How impressive is that?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Milky Milky

For many years now, Hospitals in the UK have not been allowed to give Baby milk formula to new mothers. The theory being that it encourages women to stop breast feeding and so deprive the baby of a natural food source.

In Thailand, government run Hospitals are now not allowed to give formula away. Nuch is using a Private Hospital and it seems that they have no problem with dishing out baby powder at will. We’ve been given milk for the mother as well as new born baby formula.

It’s a very cheap way to advertise for the manufacturers, but even I’m not sure that it’s not the best way to carry on.

As it turns out, we gave the mothers milk to Nuch’s Mum and the next door neighbour had the baby milk, she had found an abandoned ten day puppy at an ATM machine and I reckon this milk will be ideal.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Thai's, worse drivers in the world?

The answer is, probably!

The Thai’s are certainly the worst drivers I’ve had the pleasure to mix it with on the public highway. Apparently, Indian and Chinese drivers are worse. When I started driving over here, I put it down to a different style of driving. Now I know that driving ability is secondary too owning a car.

I remember in the UK that daily you would see several bad cases of driving per day, let me tell you. In Thailand I see that many per minute. I’ve listed below some of the major faults, I’ll probably get some comments telling me otherwise, but these are my observations;

No Lane discipline
No use of indicator
Ignoring ALL highway signs
Ignoring all speed limits
Putting yourself above the safety of other drivers
Lane hopping
Cutting in (That really pisses me off!)

Sometimes I think about driving in the same manner, but then I remember how wrong and dangerous it is. If this type of driving happened on the roads of Britain there would be a blood bath. Road rage would turn into hobby for most people.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

San Miguel

This last week I have come across a good Light Beer. Yes, you heard right “A good Light Beer”

I never thought I would utter these words, but there you go. San Miguel Beer, which everyone usually associates it with Spain, is actually made by a Phillippino Company. Regular San Miguel is not s common in Thailand, but is gaining popularity.

A new Light version is out, the taste is crisp and it goes down very easily, usually Light Beers are the normal beer with 50% water added, that is what it tastes like. Well San Miguel is still 5%ABV. It’s just so much easier to drink, and doesn’t make you feel blotted after half a dozen bottles.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Grand Palace

Bangkok's most famous landmark was built 1782. Within the palace complex are several impressive buildings including Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) A royal chapel, Wat Phra Kaeo contains a small and beautiful Emerald Buddha, dating back to the 14th century and is greatly revered. The robes on the Buddha are changed with the seasons by HM King of Thailand and forms an important ritual in the Buddhist calendar.

There is a strict dress code, like men cannot wear shorts and women must wear long garments, no strappy tops and no open toed sandals. There is a shop were you can rent the correct garments.

The main Palace is similar, but smaller than Buckingham Palace, complete with Sentries, who look to young and short to be in the Army.

A real good day out, and easily mixed in with other close by sights like Wat Arun and Wat Poh. It looks fantastic at night lit up.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


McDonalds is a very popular food outlet in Thailand, the branding is pretty much the same as everywhere else in the world and the burgers too, are very similar.

The menu as some very Thai meals on it, such as Som Tum salad and Samurai Pork Burgers.

The taste to me seems a lot sweeter, with the enforces on the sauce rather than the bun or meat. The price is around 95p for a BigMac meal. To westerners that is cheap, but remember that is twice the hourly wage in Thailand, even at minimum wage, I cant imagine some paying £10 for a Meal in the UK.

A brill concept, is home delivery! Just make a phone call and “Hey presto” Your McDonalds turns up.

Ronald is still here, but he greets you with a Wai, rather than a wave. He still looks like a perv to me.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Nuch out to lunch

Today Nuch is leaving work on maternity leave.

In Thailand working up until the child is born seems to be the norm, Nuch is now about 8-1/2 months pregnant. She will be having three months off work, of which she will only be paid for half that time.

In Asia the first month seems to mean a total rest for the woman, and I mean complete. I guess it means opposite for the Father.
So from now until our baby is born, I’m going to get some sleep tokens.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Golfing in an Oven

You all know that I love to play golf; I have not played much lately so jumped at the chance of a game yesterday.

I met Kim and her Mother at The Royal Thai Army Golf Course and off we set. It very soon became apparent that the heat was going to be a problem, even with a buggy and caddie.

The temperature must have been at least 40C in the shade, so what the temperature was in the sun is anyone’s guess? I slapped a load of sun block on, which protects you from the sun, but I’m sure warms you up, I had to take my hat off. Too Hot!

I had to have drunk 4-5 litres of fluids, just to keep on going. Everything in this temperature seems to sap your strength; luckily wanting the toilet is no problem. There is no fluid in your body. It’s one of the few times I’ve been glad to finish a game of golf.

Oh yes, the game is still on track.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Chaophraya River

Much of Bangkok's history has evolved along the banks of the Chao Phraya river. Wending its way through the heart of Bangkok, it continues to play an important part in daily life. Every day you'll see commuters, saffron robed monks and school children speeding by on fast river taxis, overtaking the heavily laden rice barges making their sedate journey upriver.

For the visitor, the river provides a contrast of the old and the new, with some of Bangkok's most revered temples standing alongside warehouses, old wooden houses, new residential blocks and prestigious five star hotels.

On the Thonburi side of the river (the original site of the Thailand's capital) a network of canals (klongs) still remain connecting the city to the suburbs which remain largely unaffected by modern development. A trip around these klongs offers a fascinating insight into local Thai life and a refreshing diversion from modern Bangkok

While many of the klongs have since been replaced by roads, the Chao Phraya River ("the River of Kings") continues to flow unaffected, separating the original capital of Thonburi on one side of the river, from today's Bangkok. Many of the historic sights of Bangkok lie on on the banks of the Chao Phraya river which is why it's such a great way to get around.

As well as the local river taxis (Rua Duen) which stop at boat landings along the river, the Chao Phraya Express Boat Company operates an additional tourist Boat service which stops at ten major piers and provides access to attractions like the Grand Palace, Wat Po and the Royal Barge Museum. You can buy a day pass for 75 Baht with departures every 30 minutes from Sathorn Pier incredible value with guide and drinking water included.

There are also the Longtail boats that bomb up and down the river at break neck speeds, these can be hired on a individual basis and will take you to several good sites.

One of the piers at the end (Tha Sathorn) links with the Skytrain terminus, so even if your accomodation is away from the river, it's still within easy reach.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Buddha Rules OK

Thailand is a full on Buddhist country, there is a small Hindu and Muslim community and an even smaller Christian community.

The religion is more a part of people’s daily lives in Thailand than being a Christian is in the UK. At least one day of the week seems to be a “Buddha Day”, meaning that the monks cannot leave the temple (Wat).

Most Thai men at some point in their lives become Monks; Nuch’s Brothers did it for three months and three weeks. Sometimes seen as a way of getting out of the Army or in some cases getting out of family responsibilities.

As far as I can tell, Buddha was an Indian bloke, who one day around 2500 years ago went off into the wilderness and after lengthy meditation achieved enlightenment, were he became one with the universe. I quite like the aspect of Buddha being a man and not an all seeing God.

Thailand’s calendar is taken from when Buddha achieved enlightenment, in Thailand the year is 2549.

The religion is based around the Wat (Temple), as you drive around Thailand you come across Wats like you see Church Spires in the UK, these are little communities in themselves, with homes for the monk, places of worship and Schools. Most morning you will see Monks walking round the community collecting food and giving blessing.

Like Christianity there are several types of Buddhism. Indian, Thai, Chinese and Tibetan. All maintain a standard belief in the achievement of enlightenment and reincarnation.

It seems a fairly cool religion and does not conflict with any other religion, unfortunately in the deep south of Thailand, Buddhists do seem to be targeted as easy prey by the Muslim Insurgents, and so the unflappable image of a Buddhist will soon be tested.