Sunday, January 23, 2011

Very Strange Slavery Case

In today's Bangkok Post there is the weirdest story I've come across in a long time, even by Thailand standards.

A Ukrainian National "Anatoliy Vdovychenko" age 57 claims to have been held captive in a Factory at Rangsit in Bangkok for the last 14 years!

He claims to have come over in the mid 90's to work as a specialist for an oxygen company "Combitex Corporation Ltd". Whilst he was working there he suffered an accident and this is were the story becomes a little jaded, he couldn't return home. The company offered him a position with them with a very nice package. After a few months everything went pear shaped and Mr. V was confined to the factory and received no wages. From then on he was guarded and spyed on by other employees. He was only allowed to leave the Factory to buy food from a food vendor across from the site.

His family struggled to find him because at the time Ukraine did not have an embassy in Thailand. However, a recent letter was received a letter from a Burmese worker arrived at the new Embassy and an investigation was launched and the Embassy went directly to the Factory and confronted the owners. After a confrontation, Mr. V was released in to the custody of Embassy officials. Mr. V is in a poor state of health and can hardly speak his native tongue.

All this is being investigated by the DSI, which is the Thai version of Special Branch. This begs another question, why aren't the Police involved? In short, the local Police were probably aware of the situation and were receiving a cut back to turn a blind eye.

Thailand Immigration has granted Mr. V leave to stay in the country till the end of next month. (That's kind of them). Others are telling him to pursue the company for the very least payment of un paid salary. There is something underlyingly strange about this story, it will be interesting to see if any international news groups pick up the story, and if that will have an affect on the out come.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ex Italian Ref runs Right Wing Thai Movement

Yet another right wing nationalist movement as reared it's ugly head in Thailand.

Hot on the trail of the Thai Patriot Network (TPN), we now have the Sonti Asoke Sect. This Bhuddist group with bases along the Cambodian border wants the Government to step down over the way it is handling the border confrontation with Cambodia and the lack of help given to the Cambodian 7.

Together with the TPN, they are camped outside Government House protesting in a makeshift camp.

What really caught my attention was the head mans uncanny likeness to Pierluigi Collina, the famous bald Italian Referee who made a name for himself with his "The Hills Have Eyes" stare and no nonsense approach to refereeing in the 2006 World Cup.

It's good to see he's keeping busy

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Shining Cliff Woods

I'm really trying hard to get fit. The bike is still the best way for me to do.

Today I went on a pretty hard but short ride. Has you can see from the graphics below, there was a lot of climbing just to get to the top of Shining Cliff Woods.

Shining Cliff Woods is a large woodland area between Alderwasley down to Ambergate in Derbyshire. It's always been a huge playground for us, we even played in there when we were at School. However, it comes in to its own when you give it some going down from top to bottom. Its a fairly wide trail, but full of rocks and wet in places. I had forgotton how much I enjoyed Shining Cliff and can't wait to do it again.

I say that, but there is the small matter of the long climb from Belper up to Alderwasley to cope with. You can see what the elevation is like from the graph.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Still in Prison

The fate of the seven Thai's in a Cambodian Prison became a little bit clearer today.

All but one is now out on bail and staying at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Phen. The only one left in the comfort of a Cambodian Prison cell is the leader of the Thai Patriots Network Veera (TPN) Somkwamkid. This guy has been arrested before for illegally entering Cambodia, he was released last time after he wrote a letter promising to not do it again.

In developments in Bangkok, the TPN has set up a camp next to Government House. They are going to stay there until the Thai Government is thrown out because of the lack of help for the Cambodian seven. Today they marched to the Grand Palace and handed over a petition to the King.

All this is not to shabby when you remember that there are only a few dozen protesters!

This is getting very sicky and in some ways playing in to the hands of the right wing TPN. Like all extremist groups they thrive on any publicity.

There as been a lot of talk about the Thai prisoners appearing in blue prison pyjamas, The TPN is outraged by the indignity. From what I've seen, this is only the same treatment that foreigners get in Thai prison. In fact you mostly see foreigners shackled and bound.

Diabetes and Me Day 164

Well! I've survived my first week on the Weight Watchers Diet.

I won't pretend it has been easy. At times I've felt really hungry and my meals hve been a little boring. I'm spending more money on special meals and food, but less on take aways and shitty un-healthy sncks.

I lost 7-1/2lb (3.4kg) according to their scales, in all fairness I'd expected to lose this amount of weight and want to loose the same amount next week.

All this can only be good for the diabetes!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thai Patriots Network

Sadly a new group is beginning to rear its ugly head in Thailand. The "Thai Patriot Network" (TPN) is currently in the news because its leader is being held in a Cambodian Jail. The TPN is an off shoot of the yellow shirt movement or (PAD). Pad were the group redponsible for the take over of Government House and the Bangkok Airports in 2008. They support the Democratic ruling party, although recent events have strained the relationship.

I think that the TPN is a dangerous group, any group that tries to whip up nationalist further by having a go at another people is trouble. We have it in the UK with the BNP and the EDF. I hope the TPN aren't as extreme as those two, but recent events seem to indicate that they like controversy.

Two of the detained are the leader of TPN and his Secretary, whilst they were detained with five others on Cambodian soil just after Christmas, the two TPN activists have been charged with espionage as well. This is a serious offence. Yesterday day in court the leader, Veera Somkwamkid would not give evidence in court because he wanted an interpritor from the Thai Embassy. He seems to like pissing the Cambodians off!

The Thai 7 on Cambodian soil just before the arrest!

Today the TPN is marching on Government House to demand action from the Government on the preceedings. They have also threatened to close the Border at Sa Kaeo. (A crossing I know well). This immediately bought a protest by locals against the TPN.

Everyone is waiting to see what strength the TPN can muster today, estimates from 50 to 5000 have been bandied about, they need to show a BIG show of strength to gain any credibility, especially after the Red Shirts fielded 30000 at the weekend.

One thing the TPN should remember is a saying the Americans use. Don't get Cambodian on my ass! The Cambodians might not but up there with Thailand as a 2nd world country, but they've gone through a lot in the last 50 years to get were they are. They are a tough people who when enraged won't avoid confrontation, but will go mental. Be careful what you wish for TPN.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Diabetes and Me Day 156

I finally got round to visiting the Doctor to find out the result of the blood test I had before Christmas.

It all came about because my eyesight is all over the place and the Optician was concerned that my sugar levels had gone up.

Well the result was great news! My average has come down from 11.8mmo/l to 6. This us what you'd expect from a healthy normal person. All very good news, also the Doctor took me off the Ziclazide tablets and will see how I go with just 2 x 100mcg of Metformin. This is also good, Ziclazide is a strong weight gain tablet, so cutting it out and going on to Metformin should help me loose weight.

Talking of loosing weight, I've enrolled at Weight Watchers. I went before in 1995 and lost 7 stone in 7 months. Too much too quick! I want to loose about 6 stone by the end of the year, this works out at roughly 2lb (800g) per week. I'm up for it and know I can do it. I'll keep this blog updated weekly with how it's going.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Red Tide Rising Again

Yesterday, the centre of Bangkok came to a standstill because of a new rally by the UDD (The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship).

Over 30000 people turned up at two rallies which later converged at Rachaphrasong Intersection, the site were 92 demonstrators were shot dead last year. What marks this rally out from the rest of the rallies is that the Reds were very well organised and did exactly what they needed to do without incurring the raith of the authorities.

This has really paniced the Thai Government who had secretly hoped that the Red and even the Yellow shirt movements had burnt themselves out. Certainly the Yellow shirts seem to be on the wain and if an upcoming rally by them doesn't have large numbers then their influence in the political arena will be very much lessened.

The rally was also addressed by former Thai PM, Thaksin Shinawatra. He is the de facto leader of the Reds despite having to live abroad because he is wanted on several corruption charges.

My only concern is that the political troubles don't kick off again, we want to really go back to Thailand this year, but if there is going to be street troubles then I'm not putting my family's safety at risk.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Thailand Air Fares

We are looking to go back to Thailand this year, around the end of May, beginning of June. Notice I don't say "Going back to Thailand for a Holiday". The last two times I've been back, I've ended up being an unpaid Taxi Driver and baby sitter. This year we aren't going to hire a car the whole time we are there and we'll stay in Hotels being as our house is almost sold.

I've been looking around various web sites looking for some good deals on Air Fares, Hotels and Car Hire.
As far as Air Fares go, I tend to use . They always seem to be in the ball park with regards to the best price and service. Prices for the time of yer seem to come in four brackets. The cheapest way is by using the Airlines that use their hub to get you to Bangkok. These include Etihad, Kingfisher, Gulf Air and Emirates. These type of flights tend to be around the £1300-£1400 for the three of us. The airlines are usually excellent service and have the most up to date planes. Time to Bangkok is about 14 hours with the stop over at the hub.

The next is the direct flight by private company, EVA is the best of these and comes in at £1500-£1600 for the three of us. EVA use new 777 planes and the service is good. Flight times are 12 hour.

Next come the National flag carriers such as BA, KLM, Quantas and Singapore Airways, these big companies use 747 planes and usually offer a direct flight with OK service. The price comes in at £1600-£1800 and again take 12 hours to get to Bangkok.

The last method is to use Thai Airways. For some reason this is one of the most expensive modes to get to Thailand, Anything from £1900 - £2100 for the three of us. They use some of the oldest 747's still in operation and the service is OK. Nuch and all of her friends love to travel by Thai Air, maybe they feel more secure flying with people who speak their language.

My personal choice would be EVA at a good price or if money was the end of it, then probably a middle eastern airline with a stop over in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. A three hour longer flight, but superior planes and service.

I will use Fast Car Hire for my car rental, they use Budget in Thailand. The reason why I use Fast Car rather than going direct is that I buy the deal in British Pounds which makes the deal cheaper.I plan to rent a Toyota Fortuner for four days at a cost of £140, whereas the Budget price is £190, a no brainer.

Hotels are very good in Thailand, even when I've had a bad experience of a Hotel in Thailand. Its still been better than anything of the equivalent price in the UK. My favourite site for booking Hotels is the Asiaroom site. They list most good Hotels in all areas of Thailand and at a competitive prices.

When I've booked, I'll follow this post up and tell you who I booked with.

Ted Williams

Its very rarely that supposed good will stories have any effect on me other than a passing interest. For me to write a post they must have sparked an interest.

The story of Ted Williams as been picked globally this week and shows that the power of the Internet is vast.

For a in depth story click here

In a nut shell, Ted Williams was a down and out in the US. In a previous life he had been a radio voice over personality, he fell in with the wrong crowd and got in to drink, drugs, robbery and forgery. He was spotted by a local reporter doing voice over impressions by the side of the road, he posted the encounter on You Tube and rest is history.

I hope things work out well for Ted and lives the rest of his life in comfort.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Follow up on Teen Crash Death 1

The following is from the beginning of The Bangkok Post:

"Orachorn "Praewa" Thephasadin Na Ayudhya was released yesterday after being questioned by police and officials at a juvenile detention centre.

Authorities had no grounds to detain the teenager. She had contacted police to turn herself in to face charges after the Dec 27 crash in which nine people were killed and several others injured".

Despite the fact that the young girl in question is connected to Thailands Elite, the whole case is being handled very well. Last week she visited the injured people from the crash in Hospital. That must have taken a lot of bottle. Yes, maybe it was a publicity stunt, but it came off well.

The University were most of the victims were from have started a fund for the victims and have promised to use their legal Department to its fullest to ensure the case is processed correctly. I hope that happens. One peice of the report does make me think that Praewa will never have to face full justice:

"Pol Maj Gen Amnuay said the girl's parents were willing to negotiate with the victims and their families over compensation"!

In short, a load of blood money is about to be paid out......

Super Hero?

I saw this story today and I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

The man, called Phoenix Jones, wears a bullet proof vest, and also has stab protection as well as being armed with a taser and tear gas. He says when he walks into an area, criminals leave because they see the suit and do not want to take him on.

Uummm? My first thought is that he is making himself a prime target for some one to make a name for them self by taking him down. It would be great to think that this gimmick will make a difference to the streets of Detroit. If it does then hats off to him. It appears that Phoenix Jones is one of nine people in the city walking round in superhero costumes.

If I was to walk around the streets of Belper dressed in this outfit, I would reduce crime by making people laugh so much that the thought of committing a crime would be at the back of their mind!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Annual Road Carnage in Thailand

The Annual carnage on the roads in Thailand got even worse over this new year period. Last year 347 people were killed in traffic accidents. This year the figure rose to 358. Injuries were slightly down, but the number of accidents were up.

Most of the accidents happened to the under 20 year old age bracket and drivers of pick up trucks and riders of motorbikes. Drunk driving is the scourge of Thailand, it is a national pastime and not taken seriously. The government is trying to address the problem, saying it will suspend the license of people caught drink driving. A good start, except most Thais I know don't have a license! Maybe the confiscation and sale of the vehicle would deter people better.

This debate rages every year, it will be an issue next year for sure. Until people take notice of the drink drive laws and the Police enforce these laws then people are going to die on the roads of Thailand.

Please be a good year

At the start of this year there as been a series of depressing financial figures and statements, and I'm not talking about my bank balance!

Even though I don't own a house in the UK, when the house price falls it will have a direct effect on most people. Last year house prices fell an average 6.5%, this means that if your house was worth £150k , its now worth £140k. These falls vary throughout the country, but with a mortgage of £500 a month. It means you also paid £6k to loose £10k. Renting in these times is a good option.

VAT as gone up to 20%, this doesn't a great deal in the great scheme of things, but it will have a direct effect on inflation. Inflation isn't under control and this extra burden could mean a rise in interest rates. As a non mortgage payer this will only mean my small savings will be worth a little more, but for mortgage payers who are index linked to the base rate, it will mean an increase in monthly payments. Higher interest rates may also help the pound become a little stronger in the currency markets, which will be nice.

I've only got a part time job at the moment, I'm looking for a couple more part time jobs to keep me going. But there is about to be a large number of people loose their job from the public sector. This will mean more people chasing jobs. It will also mean less people providing services, this will be noticed!

I hate tempting fate, it has a habit of biting me in the arse, but if I can find a couple of jobs to give me 20-30 hours a week and Nuch keeps her job, we should be OK, but who knows? My motto is "Never knowingly thinks ahead"