Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thaksin back in Thailand

Thousands of people, many carrying red roses and waving blue flags, have gathered at Bangkok airport to greet ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has just returned to Thailand.

From AFP:
" Filling the airport with a carnival atmosphere, the crowd sang songs in praise of the billionaire politician who was toppled in a coup in September 2006, as he headed back to his country for the first time since the putsch.
Waiting outside the airport's VIP lounge, many wore T-shirts bearing Mr Thaksin's image and waved paper banners carrying messages that read ``We love you,'' ``We miss you,'' and ``Welcome home.''
About 10,000 Thai police have been deployed to boost security in the capital.
Mr Thaksin set off from Hong Kong today to defend himself against corruption charges. He said he did not want to return to politics and would report himself to authorities when he arrived.
Dressed in a black suit and white shirt, Mr Thaksin waited in Hong Kong airport's business lounge to board his flight.
“I don't expect there to be large crowd when I arrive,” he told reporters. “I want to go back as ordinary citizen.”
Since the September 2006 coup Mr Thaksin has lived mainly in Britain where he owns Manchester City football club, two of whose footballers were also on the plane.
His return comes with a new civilian government in office in Bangkok under Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, a close ally who was handpicked by Mr Thaksin to lead the People Power Party (PPP) to success in December elections.
As soon as he clears immigration, police have said they will escort him to the Supreme Court to hear charges from a corruption case accusing him of using his influence to win a property deal for his wife in 2003.
Mr Thaksin is expected to seek bail, which his wife Pojaman was granted in the same case last month.
He would then be escorted to the justice ministry's special investigations unit to hear charges over alleged fraudulent filings to securities regulators in 2003.
Mr Thaksin is also expected to visit the Grand Palace, to pay respects to the late sister of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in what would be an important display for a man accused by the military of lacking loyalty to the throne.
“I am confident that I am innocent,” he told Thai media here Wednesday. “I have done nothing wrong. I am ready to prove it.”
“I am ready to work to serve the king, the queen, and every member of the royal family, in any way that I can,” Mr Thaksin said, adding he would focus his energies on his football club and charitable foundation.
The legal cases were brought by the military regime who toppled him.
The coup was welcomed by Bangkok's middle classes, who led months of street protests against Mr Thaksin in early 2006 accusing him of corruption and abuse of power.
But the military government left many coup supporters disillusioned as the generals mishandled the economy and failed to win convictions on the charges against Mr Thaksin.
Even with Mr Samak as prime minister and close Mr Thaksin allies at the highest levels of government, analysts say the court cases still pose a threat.
“The legal challenges are serious,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University.
“He's taking a gamble here,” he said, although “it's much less (of a) risky gamble than before the election.”
The People's Alliance for Democracy, which spearheaded earlier anti-Mr Thaksin protests, has vowed to take to the streets against any perceived interference with the courts.
But its links with the unpopular military regime have weakened its support, and Mr Thitinan said they may struggle to gather a large following so soon after an election seen as reaffirming Mr Thaksin's popularity.
“This is a different ball game. Mr Thaksin has the upper hand,” he said."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bar smoking ban in Thailand

Dave The Rave muses in his always interesting Bangkok nightlife blog about the reactions to the smoking ban that has come into law recently (and I am not talking about the "I smoke you!" you might hear form the local Thai bar girls).
As always, implementation is sketchy and some a re a lot more 'equal before the law' than others. The smoking ban seems to be a very important issue to some Farang, while other people feel there are bigger problems to deal with.

Soi Cowboy
Down in Soi Cowboy, the smoking ban has been enforced in every bar. Smokers can be seen having a cigarette outside the bars in Soi Cowboy. Some smokers are openly displaying their disdain for the new law. Meanwhile, non-smokers are arguing that it is high time that smoking is banned in all bars right across Thailand. Non-smokers are clearly saying butt out! On the other hand, there are smokers who feel hard done by after all these years.

Nana Plaza
In Nana Plaza, the authorities have not enforced the smoking ban. Non-smokers should be aware of this fact. However, in Angelwitch Go-Go Bar they have banned the Thai staff from smoking inside the bar. This is something of a compromise to the situation. Customers are allowed to smoke in all of the four Rainbow Bars. Therefore, rival go-go bars do not want to lose customers to them. The smoking ban has to be a rule for all if it is going to work.

Regarding the smoking ban issue, I think that non-smokers have a very good argument here. If there is supposed to be a smoking ban, then it should be enforced nationwide. However, we are talking about "Amazing Thailand" where things are definitely not always black and white.I know a few anti-smoking Westerners who feel VERY strongly about this issue. They are bordering on being anti-smoking activists! Hey guys, this is not Farangland! While I do see their argument, some farangs can be intolerable complainers. You can see some of these intense arguments on the chat forums. Do these people not have anything better to do with their time?

Links of Interest:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Phi Phi Paradise -- until the naked Swedish girls showed up

"In any case, I figure it must be awfully cold in Sweden most of the year because the second these girls hit the island, all clothing comes off. On the beach, in the bars, wherever. No tops. And, in most cases, barely-there bottoms. Seriously. Fellas, forget Vegas for the bachelor weekend. Save your pennies and head to Thailand instead."
This is the take of Sheryl Nadler from the Hamilton Spectator on Phi Phi Island and Koh Lanta... go there on your own risk!

More from the Hamilton Spectator:
I thought I could be a hippie. I really did.

But then I tried to get into this hammock in a shady spot near the beach and well ... I'm sure you can guess how that went.

So I'm wrestling with the thing, which thankfully was made from a silk sheet or something because can you imagine the damage I might've done had it been netting?

In any case, I'm trying to figure out how to get comfortable in it. 'Cause the local guy next to me has just cocooned himself in his like it's the most natural thing in the world, pulling the sides up over himself, probably so he didn't have to watch me thrashing about.

And I finally get into a spot where my feet are propped up on top of this one part and my head is not falling off the thing and I've stopped swinging wildly -- and I'm still getting funny looks from every local who walks by. But I don't care because I'm momentarily stable. And then I look over to my right and I notice the bar.

Well, I wasn't going through this again. So I hung there, reading my book and waiting for the mellowness to take over. Waiting for the moment when I'd be so relaxed, so insanely chilled out that I wouldn't care about the zillion tiny ants crawling all over the floor of my little beach bungalow. Or about the fact that, despite my being so careful, I still fell for a scam, paying way too much for the ferry's island-hopping open ticket.

I'd just arrived on Ko Lanta island in the south of Thailand, from another island, Ko Phi Phi, where I could've stayed forever. I stayed there six days as it was, by far the longest I've spent in any one spot on this trip.

Some guy has deemed Ko Phi Phi one of the five most beautiful islands in the world, and I totally agree. Even though the other islands I've visited have been, like, Montreal and whatever. I still agree. It has to be.

Not to mention the fantastic fruit shakes. And my cute little bungalow in a tree. And the reams and reams of smokin' hot guys. It was truly paradise.

There was only one problem on Ko Phi Phi -- the Swedish girls. Damn Swedish girls, most of whom barely hit the 20-year mark. The 19-year-old Swedish girls with their sparkly white-blond hair and insanely bronzed skin. The tans were, in themselves, a mystery to me. 'Cause, uh, I'm pretty fair-skinned. And despite all the SPF30 sunscreen I douse myself in, I still manage to turn cherry red. Except for those blotches on my back where the spray didn't get to, which is really nice-looking, too.

In any case, I figure it must be awfully cold in Sweden most of the year because the second these girls hit the island, all clothing comes off. On the beach, in the bars, wherever. No tops. And, in most cases, barely-there bottoms. Seriously. Fellas, forget Vegas for the bachelor weekend. Save your pennies and head to Thailand instead.

So the naked Swedish teenager thing posed a big problem for me for obvious reasons. But I was still able to overlook it for the most-part. There were still one or two guys who'd either been rejected by them or couldn't be bothered trying to figure out how to communicate with them. So life was good.
Until that quiet guy from Philadelphia and I spent the evening, first in a pub, then walking around. And then we found ourselves in this club and he finds a Phi Phi bucket, which consists of a mickey of the booze of your choice, one or two cans of Red Bull, a can of some sort of mixer and a straw. And he starts sipping on this bucket and all of a sudden he's dragging me out to the dance floor.

And then there's a wet T-shirt contest and all the Swedes are up there taking their clothes off again and Philly's still sipping on his bucket, smiling widely now as he exclaims: "All right! It's Spring Break: Thailand!"

And that's when I knew. Knew I had to leave. Not just the bar but the island, in search of something different. Something less ... naked blond and Swedish. Unless it was the male variety, of course. But even then ... 20-year-old guys? Ya, not so much.

So I came here to Ko Lanta where everything is chill and every bar is named Irie something or other or Reggae this and that, and it's all driving me crazy. The silence is deafening.

So I'm leaving tomorrow for another island, which I'm told is a cross between Phi Phi and Lanta. And hoping it's off the Swedish girl tour.

Links of Interest:

Phuket puts Thailand on the cruise map

Star Flyer, a five-masted, steel-hulled cruise ship with a capacity for 170 passengers, was sailing from Phuket to Singapore when the tsunami struck in December 26, 2004. Luckily for the cruiser and the paying passengers on board, the ship was anchored in Pangkor, Malaysia, when the tidal wave hit Thailand's Andaman coastline, killing 5,400 people.

There was an impact, however. "The tsunami effect was immediate as many passengers cancelled for the cruises planned the following months," recalled Christoph Rott, international sales and marketing manager for Star Clippers, the Miami-based cruise company that operates Star Flyer and two other clipper ships - Star Clipper and Royal Clipper - all inspired by the "Pruessen," the world's first five-master built in 1902 (it sank in 1910 after a collision).
But by 2007, Star Flyer's luxury passenger load was already back to pre-tsunami figures and the company is expecting an increase this year.
Star Clippers was one of the first cruise ships to pioneer Thai waters in the Andaman Sea, where it has been operating 14-day trips on the Star Flyer between Singapore and Phuket at least four times a year since 1996.
Passengers fly in to either Phuket or Singapore, where they then board the ship, paying 1,900 dollars to visit Langawi, Penang, Malacca and a host of smaller islands and dive spots between the two ports.
"The Andaman Sea fits perfect to our product: small ports, islands, great watersport," said Rott.
Of course, not all cruise operators are as pleased with small ports. The resort island attracted 199,690 cruise tourists in 2006, of whom some 142,636 disembarked at Phuket Port, a medium-sized facility that cannot handle large cruise ships.
"Tourist arrivals on cruise ships increased by 20 per cent last year, but the traffic is limited by our lack of port facilities for the bigger boats," said Suwalai Pinpradab, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket office.
The Thai government has been promoting Phuket as a marina hub for yachts (there are already three marinas and three more planned) but has not allocated a budget to boost the island's port facilities to cope with the growing cruise traffic.
Consequently, the resort can only handle medium-sized cruise ships that can either dock at Phuket Port or anchor offshore of Patong one of the island's most popular beaches with a deep bay.
Even so, demand is on the rise. The medium-sized Deutschland ship, for instance, will start offering cruises that embark at Phuket this year, also bringing in business for the island's international airport and hotels in the process, according to the TAT.
Thailand only offers only one port specializing in cruise ships, and it isn't in popular Phuket but at Laem Chabang, an industrial port situated on the eastern seaboard between Bangkok and Pattaya.
The Laem Chabang Cruise Centre was established in 2002 as a port of call for cruise ships visiting the Gulf of Thailand, a fairly shallow body of water that is not renowned for its charms.
In 2006, the last year for which figures were available, only 19 cruise ships docked at Laem Chabang, with 4,336 passengers disembarking.
"Usually the passengers go to either Pattaya or Bangkok where they will spend one night," said Sukawat Intong, terminal manager at the cruise port.
The port can only handle ships up to 320 metres in length. "If we wanted to develop Laem Chambang into a cruise hub we'd need a much bigger port to handle the bigger ships," said Sukawat. "The Queen Mary II, for instance, has expressed an interest in docking in Thailand in 2009, but it is 345 metres long so we have no port that can handle her," he added.

Links of Interest:

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bangla Road in Patong

Bangla Road (or Soi Bangla) is the center of the nightlife in Patong Beach on Phuket. Bar girls, ladyboys and of course lots of booze... for some it is too much to take, others think of it like a little bit of heaven down here on earth...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A daytrip to Sukhothai

"For all the desolate, miserable, god-forsaken places on this earth, Sukhothai must surely be the worst." So wrote Reginald Campbell in Teak Wallah, an account of his time as a forestry official in Northern Thailand in the 1920s.
Perhaps Sukhothai, 450 kilometers north of Bangkok, is not one of Thailand’s most inspiring towns, but just 12 kilometers away are the magnificent ruins of the Kingdom’s first capital, from which the modern town takes its name: Sukhothai.
Campbell may have had a blind spot for the history and culture of his host country, however his complete silence on the historical remains of Sukhothai is indicative of the neglect of the ancient site, so nearby, suffered until recently.

In Campbell’s day the ruins were likely all but obscured by jungle. Today’s traveller is more fortunate. Following the completion in 1988 of a decade-long UNESCO restoration project and subsequent designation as a World Heritage Site, Sukhothai now beckons as a fascinating historical park. Full former glory of Sukhothai is beyond retrieval, but the ruins that remain mark the cultural centre of Thailand and offer a superb insight into the early flowering of Thai civilization.

Precisely 101 years ago, Crown Prince Maha Vajiravudh, later Rama VI, made a historic eight-day visit to Sukhothai during a three-month journey in the north of the country. Noted for his nationalism – the Kingdom’s flag, its modern education system and even the modern idea of a Thai nation are all a result of his reign – the Crown Prince’s 1907 journey served to underscore Sukhothai’s influence on the nation’s development.

Major Monuments and Temples

Within the confines of the ancient city’s ramparts are more than 20 major monuments, while numerous other sights are scattered throughout the 70 square kilometer park. The Sukhothai ruins have been restored and stand amid manicured lawns and ornamental ponds themselves set off by a distant background of wooded hills.

Originally an outpost of the Khmer empire centered on Angkor in Cambodia, Sukhothai achieved independence in the first half ot eh 13th century when two Thai chieftains rallied their formerly disunited followers and established what was the first sovereign Thai state in Sukhothai. With the influence of both Pagan to the west and Angkor to the east declining at the same time, Sukhothai was well poised to become not only the capital of a new kingdom but also a regional political and cultural hub of the first order.

History of Sukhothai

As the undisputed power base of the new Thai nation, Sukhothai reigned supreme for only 140 years. In 1378 it became a vassal of up-and-coming Ayutthaya to the south and only 60 years later it was totally absorbed by the younger Thai nation. By the end of the 15th century, Sukhothai was abandoned. Yet in that brief time it established religious, cultural and political patters that continue to influence the nation. The history of Sukhothai in the Khmer period is still not fully understood. Khmer architectural touches are readily discernable in the ruins of the few Sukhothai temples, notably the earliest parts of Wat Sri Sawai and Wat Phra Pai Luang, but it is unclear whether the site was a fully fledged Khmer settlement or merely a military stronghold But whatever they did inherit from the Khmers, it is obvious that the Thais wasted little time in constructing their own capital on a scale and in a style befitting the birth of a nation called Sukhothai.

During the reign of King Ramkamhaeng, between 1279 and 1299, Sukhothai experienced its golden age. Under this monarch’s masterful leadership the kingdom was consolidated, politically throughout territorial gains and culturally through the adoption, from Sri Lanka of Theravada Buddhism.

It was Theravada Buddhism that served, as it still does, as the principal cohesive force in the Thai state. The Sri Lankan school of Buddhism had an enormous impact on art and architecture, its influence distinguishing the Sukhothai achievement above all else. This is most evident in the Buddha images, cast according to descriptions in Pali scriptures, in the details of line engraving, in decorative stucco work and most importantly, in the bell-shaped Chedi.

Although Sukhothai’s political and social organization was perfected under King Ramkamhaeng, the art and architecture of the city did not reach their apogee until around the middle of the 14th century. At that time, during the reign of King Lithai, a man noted both for his religious conviction and his scholarship, Theravada Buddhism was greatly strengthened through the Kingdom’s direct links with Sri Lanka. Previously, the faith had arrived indirectly via monks from Nakhon Sri Thammarat in Southern Thailand. The result was building of Chedis and other religious structures at both an accelerated and more refined pace.

The so-called lotus-bud Chedi, characterized by a bulbous dome at the top of the spire and unique to Sukhothai architecture, then made its appearance. The construction of Sri Lankan bell shaped Chedis Sukhothai also became more widespread, replacing the pyramid and round tower of the old Khmer style, while incorporating Singhalese stylistic influences in stucco decoration and line engraving. This is also the period, most historians agree, that the art of bronze-cast Buddha images reached perfection.
On the national timescale, Sukhothai’s glory was short-lived. Yet its brief passage does not truly reflect Sukhothai’s enormous contribution to the nationhood of the Thai people. In virtually all fields of human activity – political, religious, civic and cultural – Sukhothai established traditions that, despite later adaptations and development, are still discernible in the modern, present-day society.

The most vivid example of this influence is the Thai concept of monarchy, which originated in Sukhothai. The regional forerunners were more akin to the god-kings of nearby Angkor, but the Thai model, while similarly providing absolute power, made royalty more accessible, more paternal, than it had been under the Khmer. Such an ideal and practice of monarchy has served to bind and guide the nation throughout subsequent centuries, which in turn has helped to preserve a remarkable historical continuity.

Links of Interest:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thailand google maps now available in English

Google maps for Thailand is now available with English Language Labels: and better late than never...!
This is long overdue news, after all, the majority of the world neither speaks nor reads Thai (even when this seemingly is not common knowledge #inside# this country).

In this sense, a serious roadblock from using Google Maps has been removed and finally applications built for, lets say, tourists planning a hotel stay here are much more valuable to the user.

Now off refreshing my Javascript skills and having a look at the Google Maps API...

Update: see 'Pattaya Hotels Google Map' below:

Links of Interest:

Phi Phi bars and nightlife

There is something special about nightlife and the sunset in the Phi Phi Islands. It screams, "pass me a cocktail" and give me the best view you've got. And from both, Phi Phi has plenty to offer the interested traveler.

Some of the bars down on the beaches of Phi Phi have that classic laid back feel especially on Long Beach, Carpe Diem near Phi Phi Villa Resort and Phi Phi View Point bar. Restaurants are varied and special on Phi Phi islands and some of the best restaurants are in the village.The dress is informal at best with many cruising around with same beach clothes makes it very relaxing. The more you like to dress up the more you will want to make your way in to the village. In Laem Tong, the Holiday Inn and Zeavola are more formal.

The Phi Phi bars at night can be wild. There is something on the island which makes for a regular New Year Eve feeling and the nights are brilliant. Watch out for the fliers handed out to announce parties.
Thai serving girls at Irish Bar on Phi Phi Island

Links of Interest:

Police officer embezzling tsunami funds charged

From the Phuket Gazette:
"The Royal Thai Police Disciplinary Division has charged a high-ranking officer in the Foreign Affairs Division over alleged improprieties in the use of funds for the Thailand Tsunami Victims Identification (TTVI) center.
Col Chaiyaporn Wannaprapa, Deputy Commander of the Disciplinary Division of the Royal Thai Police, on February 12 announced that Col Pornprasert Karnjanarin was formally notified of the investigation against him just two days before a resignation letter he had tendered was set to take effect, on February 10.
Col Pornprasert, Deputy Commander of the Royal Thai Police Foreign Affairs Division, will have his pension benefits seized unless he is able to prove himself innocent, Col Chaiyaporn said.
“The investigating panel has issued Col Pornprasert a two-part summons ordering him to appear and hear the charges against him and also notifying him that if he fails to appear within 15 days a decision will be rendered and punishment imposed based solely on the facts already collected by the panel,” Col Chaiyaporn said.
“From our investigation, we believe that Col Pornprasert cannot prove his innocence and had thus been trying to avoid the consequences by reporting in sick until his resignation took effect,” he added.
Col Pornprasert said that it was important that justice be proved in the case because the image of the Royal Thai Police was at stake.
The Disciplinary Division will have one year to conclude the case before the statute of limitations runs out, he said.
It was also reported that since the alleged impropriety, which first came to light in 2006, Col Pornprasert had changed his first name to Paramate.
The case made international headlines after the ambassadors of seven countries that donated funds to the TTVI requested then-Police Commissioner Kowit Wattana to launch an independent audit of how 88 million baht in donated funds were used.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thailand's economy gets a doctor

Some interesting times may lie ahead of Thailand’s economic development (or decline?) with a former communist rebel and doctor as the new Finance Minister.

From the Asian Times:
"Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee, a former communist rebel who trained as a medical doctor before entering politics, has no professional experience in the finance sector. Nor do his top two deputies, Pradit Phattaraprasit, a provincial businessman, and Ranongrak Suwannachawee, a senior police official, both of whom earned their portfolios through political horse-trading among coalition partners."
Links of Interest:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Suspected American Pedophile Arrested In Phuket

While the Phuket Gazette thinks it somehow a "strange irony" that this (suspected) pedophile has written down his experiences in a short story that brought him obviously well forward in local social circles, I am rather horrified of the thought that we have here some not so subtly hidden descriptions of the abuse this perpetrator has (allegedly) put his victims through.
Message to the Phuket Gazette: NOT funny! And that such a short story could be taken as ironic and worth a medal by the big-names of Phuket media circles should be a story by itself -- read more...!

From the Phuket Gazette:

"A man wanted for child molestation by police in the US state of Missouri was arrested Tuesday afternoon and has been turned over to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for extradition.
During questioning, the suspect, Earl Russel Bonds, tried to kill himself by cutting his left wrist with scissors, but police seized the scissors from him in time.
Bonds, 42, was handed to FBI agents at Phuket International Airport last night and flown to Bangkok to await an extradition order to the US.
Bonds was with his Thai boyfriend when officers from the Phuket Tourist Police and Phuket Immigration Police arrested him at a rented house on Soi Yanui in Rawai about 2 pm on Tuesday.
Police said Bonds entered Thailand August 30 last year and worked as an English teacher, then later as a freelance columnist for an overseas publication.
Bonds did not resist arrest and admitted he was the person on an FBI wanted list, but refused to answer further questions, police said.
Police said Bonds asked for tranquillizer pills during his brief detention at the Phuket Immigration Office before FBI agents picked him up. He grabbed the scissors and cut his left wrist when a police officer on guard turned away to get him water for the pills.
A native of St Louis, Missouri, Bonds has been charged in the US with four counts of molesting an 11-year-old boy in 2003. He was charged in 2004 and fled after posting US$10,000 bail, according to the popular St Louis Most Wanted television show aired in that city by the local Fox Television affiliate in that city.
Phuket Immigration Police Superintendent Pol Col Chanatpol Yongbunjerd told the Gazette today he first received a report from Immigration headquarters in Bangkok that Bonds might have been hiding out somewhere on the island.
The initial investigation did not get far due to a lack of details and the fact that Bonds was listed as an African-American, which led investigators to expect him to have a much darker complexion than he actually does, Col Chanatpol said.
Immigration Police had visited his home once earlier, but did not arrest him because they thought he did not match the FBI’s written description.
Further investigation with the help of the Tourist Police led finally to the arrest, Col Chanatpol said.
Bonds had been issued a work permit by the Phuket Employment Service Office as an employee of STN Company Ltd, which described itself as a “business management and development services company”.
Police failed to locate Bonds at the address on the work permit, but subsequent investigation revealed that he had changed jobs and begun working as an English-language teacher and freelance writer, Col Chanatpol said.
At the time of arrest, Bonds had overstayed his permit-to-stay issued by Immigration, he added.
Bonds last year applied for work as a travel writer with the Gazette under the name Chris Bonds and supplied as a writing sample an Internet link to a short fiction story which won him first prize in a local writing competition held by The Boathouse in Kata.
The story is a first-person account of a child who is subject to sexual abuse at the hands of his own father.
In a strange irony that hints at the cycle of such abuse, the story is entitled 'Escape From Home'.

Links of Interest:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thai Girls Nude Pictures: Peter Klashorst in Bangkok

A prodigy of Thai nude photography and a collector of fascinating and incredibly sexy Thai girls he is not... Peter Klashorst.
His collection of nude Thai girls is unluckily less than average, the blog outdated and the "artistic" tries of Peter Klashorst seem unluckily rather amateurish. But then again, everybody needs a hobby, so why not this...?

Dutch painter Peter Klashorst used to travel (and live) in Africa and make nude paintings of all the girls he met there. He became intimate with quite a few also ;-)
He had a real reputation for taking big risks in that department. The 'delicate Muslim' situation there did not allow him to continue his 'Artwork' (he was even imprisoned once and escaped!).
So now he lives in Thailand. And he is taking pictures also this time. Check out his girls at his flickr account. He also has a blog
with some more nude pictures there.

Links of Interest:
  • Discussion of the nude Thai girls of Peter Klashorst on Asia Sirens

Saturday, February 9, 2008

10 Commandments of Thai Love

The wonderfully caring Ministry of Culture has launched a '10 Commandments of Love' brochure in another attempt to prevent teenagers getting too carried away on Valentine's Day and getting up to hanky-panky in short-time hotels.
According to the golden-oldies in charge there, all proper Thai girls are virgins before the day of their marriage. And any girl who dares get herself involved with any disgusting behavior beforehand is labeled 'Un-Thai' and declared a threat to both national security and Thai Culture.

Unfortunately however, the ministry’s granny and grandad officials have failed to read any surveys which have uncovered that the average age for the first bout of pre-marital practice in Bangkok is a tender 16 and a half.
Here below is the lovely list (in brackets, however, is what the average male Thai teenager is going to think!):
  1. Love with patience, so as not to become a premature parent.
    (“Geez, the last thing I wanna do is get her pregnant, as for the patience bit, I always try to make it last 10 minutes”)
  2. Truly love only one person.
    “One! They must be completely of their trosh! We having a saying in Thailand which goes ‘One is never enough”)
  3. Love with mercy, trying not to hurt the one you love.
    (“Too right, I have compassion, I never tell a lover about my other girlfriends!”)
  4. Carefully love to avoid taking risks that might lead to contracting sexual diseases.
    (“Good one. I always make love carefully, slowly does it and the condom won't break”)
  5. Love with honor, waiting until the proper time to have sex.
    (“Yeah...I certainly pay honor to my parents wishes and sticking to the proper time. I wait for my parents to go to bed before going for a quickie in dad's shed”)
  6. Love in accordance with custom.
    (Not sure about the customs bit, but I definitely prefer my dolls dressed up in a few different 'costumes')
  7. Love reasonably, not taking sexual advantage of your lover.
    (“I'm always darned reasonable. One on one is enough, I’ve never asked for her younger sister to join in the action too - though I wouldn't mind”)
  8. Love permanently, without defaming the one you love.
    (“Permanently! I got me eyes permanently fixed on those lusty technical college girls down the road”)
  9. Love honestly, believing in your partner.
    (“I always tell me darlings to believe that I love them, otherwise they play 'hard to get'”)
  10. Love with understanding, forgiveness and without anger.
    ("I’m understanding and try not to get angry, but if she's 10 minutes late to our date, I give her a kick up the bum")

Friday, February 8, 2008

Two Canadians shot by drunk police man in Pai

The Nation:

"Mae Hong Son -Damning new evidence has emerged in the case of two Canadians shot by a policeman in the northern town of Pai last month after two eye-witnesses to the drama sought protection from the National Human Rights Commission.
The witnesses, a young man and woman from Chiang Mai, told the NHRC they were scared to give evidence to police in the North, so the commission helped them gave their account of the fatal shooting to officers from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in Bangkok.
The witnesses, who identities were not revealed, told the DSI Sgt Uthai Dechawiwat had intervened while Carly Reisig was fighting her Thai boyfriend. The officer kicked Reisig, then hit her with his pistol, but she pushed it away, and he shot her in the chest. He then shot her friend Leo Del Pinto, 24, twice.
They claimed del Pinto had his hands in the air and was yelling at the officer to "Stop! Stop!" They said Sgt Uthai was drunk.
The witnesses' account is greatly at odds with the police report of the drama in the early hours of January 6. Sgt Uthai has claimed the two tourists attacked him after he confronted them about a fight and that his gun discharged accidentally." ...
"Sgt Uthai was summonsed to answer charges of murder and attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty to both.
Reisig told the court she was on the ground and had been fighting with her boyfriend Ratthapon because she said he had failed to feed her Labrador dog 'Magic'. Leo had tried to separate the couple when a man she knew as Sgt Uthai approached.
"He came and kicked me in my side as I was trying to get up. He was shouting in Thai and pointing a gun at me. I pushed the gun away then he hit me over the head with the gun and I fell to my knees. As I fell he shot me just below the chest. I looked up and saw Leo was shouting 'Stop! Stop!' He had his hands in the air. The policeman fell back over a motorcycle then recovered and he fired twice. After the first time Leo put his hands to his stomach and went down. Then he shot down at Leo as he fell."" ...
"Commissioner Surasee said: "What is the most telling point of all is that police have give evidence that the bullet which hit Carly Reisig also hit Leo Del Pinto. It is not possible. So we are starting from that point and going back.
"There are reports that the policeman had been charged with murder and attempted murder, but no such charges were placed. They have, however, been put to the officer today and we will be referring the case to the governing board of the DSI and recommend they take over the investigation."
Also involved is Dr Pornthip Rojanasunan, Thailand's top independent pathologist, who has been studying post mortems carried out in Calgary, Alberta and Chiang Mai. Dr Pornthip has already rejected police claims Leo Del Pinto was shot from below as he was falling to the ground. "It's just not possible, what the police say. Evidence shows that the gunman was above Leo when he was shot in the head." she said at the Maharaj Chiang Mai hospital after studying medical records."

Links of Interest:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The BBC (and even The Register) find about about my delicious Isaan Rice Rats

"Thailand's roadside fast-food vendors are enjoying booming sales of the country's latest fave dish - rat. According to the Beeb, rat has long been on the menu in Thailand's poorer north, but is now widely available for discerning gourmets countrywide."
-- this could be as well a quote from my not so far past article on this Isaan delicacy: Isaan Rice Field Rat or Bandicoot Rat, by incidence one of my most quoted pieces so far.
World-media stuff, read more on it (and maybe taste some field rat for yourself when coming to Thailand!

The Register:
"Thailand's roadside fast-food vendors are enjoying booming sales of the country's latest fave dish - rat.
According to the Beeb, rat has long been on the menu in Thailand's poorer north, but is now widely available for discerning gourmets countrywide. Customers can get their rat uncooked, or poached, fried, grilled or baked, and stump as much as 150 baht (£2.30) a kilo for the privilege.
Rat seller Sala Prompim told AP: "It's tastier than other meats - nothing can compete with rat," adding that the liver and thigh offered the best dining experience.
One satisfied customer confirmed: "It's better than chicken. It all depends what you like, but it's a normal meat like any other."
Prompim, who claims to sell as much as 100kg of rat on a good day, stressed that his rodents were captured in the countryside, not in Thailand's cities. He said: "They are definitely clean."
Sadly, the BBC doesn't offer an answer to the obvious question: what does rat taste like? While guinea pig and snake are reckoned to be a bit like chicken, and humans obviously offer a bacon-like experience, we have no data available on rat. Anyone eaten out in Thailand recently?"

Links of Interest:

Phang Nga Super-Projects planned

Getting to Krabi gets easier with each passing year, thanks to its rising popularity and Thailand’s improving transportation network. Flights now arrive and depart at Krabi’s tiny airport every day from Bangkok, eliminating the long bus trip down the isthmus. Alternatively, visitors can fly into Phuket’s international airport and make the short road or boat journey south to Krabi. New dive sites are regularly added to the menu, proving that Thailand’s western coast is indeed one of the planet’s premier diving destinations and will continue to be so.

The beginning Year of the Rat certainly was the focal point to announce not one, but two super-projects that are planned for Phang Nga province:

From the Phuket Gazette:

"The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) will request a budget of 1.3 billion baht from the new Cabinet to fund construction of a domestic airport in Phang Nga province.
Plans have already been drawn up for the construction of an airport that would cover 1,400 rai on Koh Khao, a 45,000-rai island in Takuapa district.
" ...
With the current plans, the airport would be able to accommodate airliners as large as Boeing 737s."

Phuket Gazette:

"The Year of the Rat is certain to change the fortunes of a sleepy area of Phang Nga province, as a Hong Kong company owned by billionaire Richard Li has announced plans for a mega-resort project along the beach in Thai Muang district.
Land acquired by Li’s company Pacific Century Premium Developments Limited (PCPD) in late 2007 totals 1,081.25 rai, with 2.5 kilometers of beach frontage. The property includes all of the Thai Muang Golf Course, which will be retained and undergo extensive reconstruction.
The 18-hole, Perry Dye-designed Thai Muang Golf Course first opened in December 1995.
Buildings on the property have been demolished to make way for luxury hotels and villas, as well as yachting, recreational and retail facilities. Details are being kept under wraps until the master plan is completed.
Award-winning Hong Kong-based architects Original Vision, which has a branch office in Phuket, has been appointed to design the project.
Asians, Europeans and Americans will be the primary customers, said Jenny Tam, PCPD’s head of corporate communications.
“We have successfully developed a luxury lifestyle through the Bel-Air experience in Hong Kong. Through the Bel-Air exercise, we have found there are quite a lot of affluent customers who are interested in buying second homes in luxury developments overseas. We believe the Thai Muang Beach Project would become their second home.”
Bel-Air is a large luxury apartment complex that forms the residential part of Cyberport, a high-tech hub in Telegraph Bay developed by PCPD’s parent company PCCW Limited, of which Richard Li is also the chairman.
Ms Tam declined to reveal whether Richard Li, son of Li Ka-shing, reputedly the richest man in Asia, was personally involved in the transaction or if he will have his own private residence on site. It is also not known if the “digital city” concept on which Cyberport is based will be brought to Thai Muang.
She also declined to confirm or deny newspaper and online reports of the land acquisition price tag of 2 billion baht.
" ...
Richard Li, 41, is ranked 698th in Forbes magazine’s World’s Richest People list, with an estimated net worth of US$1.5 billion."

Wat Chalong Fair

It is Chinese New Year. Among the many events that take place around Phuket is Wat Chalong Fair.
Wat Chalong is the biggest and most important temple on the island, hosting a famous bone of the Buddha itself coming from Sri Lanka.

More from Jim in Phuket:

The Wat Chalong Fair is a big event with market stalls selling all kinds of stuff, games, rides, food and shows. In fact, it is so popular that if you are not going to the fair, the area is worth avoiding because the traffic can be a bit of a nightmare...

Links of Interest:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Oriental in Bangkok

For almost 130 years royalty, dignitaries and distinguished travellers have all followed the legendary Chao Phrya River through the heart of Bangkok to the doors of one of the world’s most luxurious hotels – The Oriental, Bangkok.
The rooms and suites are sumptuous. The restaurants and bars are in a class of their own. The spa is one of the most beautiful in the world. All are rich in history, filled with the stories of the celebrated guests who have made this hotel an essential stop on their world travels for over a century.

“If only all hotels could be like this.” Conde Nast Traveler USA.

The Oriental, Bangkok is renowned for its sheer extravagance of its rooms and suites - and one of the world's most beautiful spas.Whatever the purpose of your stay in Thailand, you'll find we have everything you could wish for to amuse and delight you. Whether you choose one of the newly renovated rooms or suites, you're staying in a little piece of history.And to set just the right tone, when it's time for bed you'll find a quotation from a famous author about the wonders of sleep, waiting for you on your pillow.

Links of Interest:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Phi Phi Jump Girls

On my last trip to Phi Phi, I bumped into these Korean girls. They were mucking around with their camera to take some action shots, so I asked them if they would mind if I took their photo, with my camera (doing some sort of action).
Jumping was the thing that Korean tourists seemed to like to do for photos -- not nearly as good as posing nude, but definitely a start :-)

Links of Interest:

Friday, February 1, 2008

Shrimp World shut down: no more Thai beach nudes

Patrick Gouvain (Shrimp) was the photographer behind Shrimp's World, a site dedicated to fine art nudes from Thailand. Shrimp was one of the first people from Thailand to take nudes with beautiful Thai girls on beaches and his yearly calendars were highly sought after by fans and conoisseurs of nude Thai girls alike.

As he was a publicly known person his nudes were discussed very controversially in the Kingdom and it took a long time for him to get the proper recognition for his nude art in Thailand. As the example picture shows, he avoided frontal nudity, overly pornographic poses and his calendars actually could be hung openly on the wall.

His photo shoots were always very elaborate happenings, very artistic and exact -- completely unlike the quick hit-and-run porn shots one sees so often on the internet.

Still, the current political climate in Thailand does not distinguish between art and commerce; Shrimp himself is still around and works now behind a team of designers for "brand strategies and design solutions".

However, one of his friends, George Mann, who's Asian nudes have been featured on the same site, shows some nice introduction into photography for other pro photographers. Some of Shrimp's erotic movies from Thailand can still be downloaded on the net.

Links of Interest: