Monday, March 31, 2008

Isaan delicacies: Rice Rats or Greater Bandicoot Rat (Bandicota indica)

After posting my initial article about Isaan Rice Rats, I have been sent a good number of questions.
To put one misconception right out of the way: the Isaan rice rats as eaten by the people of the Isaan are not the same rats you would find in Bangkok or any other city. They are their own species, quite distinct from common rats and are called in English Greater Bandicoot Rat (Bandicota indica).
This is really fascinating stuff, lately picked up by the BBC itself, so read up on it!

Bandicoot rats as pests and endangered species

Isaan rice rats or Bandicoot rats even have a listing in the IUCN Red List for endangered species, where they are listed under the category "lower risk least concern"; rapid urbanization and increasing use of tools and chemicals while planting rice are severely limiting their habitat.

More information, rather very scientific, about the exact relation to common rats and other rodents of the world and even insight into the evolutionary history from palaeontological finds from caves from Thailand an be found on the site of Bucknell University.

Currently, the farmers in Isaan most likely would not agree with the label 'under (light) threat of extinction': Field Rats seem to be extremely common and are seen as dangerous pests; living all year round in the rice fields, they love to eat the soft roots of the growing rice, thereby destroying the plants before they can be harvested. After rice harvest, naturally they go after the rice in its silos and -- as all rodents -- make a bad mess out of it. Clean table manner are clearly not their strong side, but breeding and getting young seemingly is -- so every year anew it is a kind of war between the farmers and the rice rats, with the victims of battle at least on the rats' side ending up on the dinner plate and making up in tasty protein what they have cost in farming income.

Hunting field rats

There are generally two ways of hunting the Isaan rice rats: the father of my girlfriend loves to go out and hunt them with his antique rifle, and from every trip he comes back with easily six or seven of them. Drawback of this method is, that the rats are later riddled with pellets, which might crack your teeth if you hit one of them unlucky. It takes away a lot of the dining pleasure.
The second way is, to catch them in traps, where the rats pass a trigger which brings down a wooden chopper who is fast enough to break their necks. They can be picked up on the next morning but it is of course much less exciting than shooting with a gun all over the place...

Preparing Isaan rice rats for dinner

The small feet and tail are first cut off. Then a cut is made behind the ear so that it is possible to pull the fur off of the main body. After that is done the head is cut off as the head is held onto when pulling the fur off of the body. The rat is then washed in water and a cut is made along its belly to remove all the intestines -- carefully not cutting to deep because this creates a bad smelly mess. The liver and the heart are kept inside the body. The rat is then spread open and placed between a grate for grilling over an open flame until it is completely fried with a burnt like look to it.
The smaller rats are left on the grill just long enough for the meat to be cooked, but still medium rare. Then the small rats are chopped up very finely, small bones and all, until a sort of fine ground meat is made into a paste. The heart and liver are removed before it is chopped up and placed in a separate dish.
Before the rats are prepared for cooking, about two small cups of red chili peppers are ground up with a mortar and pestle until a red chili paste is made. It is this chili paste that the finely chopped rat meat is added and then cooked in oil in a wok. A great deal of garnish and other spices are added which are mentioned in the recipe at the end of this article.

The recipe below would possibly not go down well in your home town (and I am not sure if one can substitute common rat instead, getting Bandicoot Rat somewhere in the west will be tricky).
Keep in mind, this is all just in peoples heads. Isaan rice rats taste surprisingly well, a lot like tender chicken with a little bit of a game taste to it. After just a few bites you will enjoy it just as much as I did -- guaranteed...!

Recipe for ground rat meat and chili paste


  • 1/4 cup fish oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups of dried red chili peppers
  • 4 long green peppers
  • 8 large bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup holy basil leaf
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 4 small rats

Initial Preparation:

  • With a mortar and pestle place the 1-1/2 cups of dried red chili peppers, and begin to mash until a red paste is achieved. Add a tablespoon of water to make moist.
  • Chop garlic cloves.
  • Place bay leaves in a small bowl of water. Roll two bay leaves at a time and then thinly shred and place in dry dish. Do for all 8 leaves - two at a time.
  • Place holy basil leaves in a small bowl of water.
  • Dice long green peppers. Do small cross sections so look like wheels and place in dry dish.
  • Skin 4 small rats. Clean and place heart and liver in separate bowl.

Cooking preparations:

  • Place oil in a wok over an open flame and heat
  • Place small rats in a grate, and lightly cook over an open flame on both sides until medium cooked. Do not cook well done.
  • Mix red chili paste with hot oil and stir well.
  • Finely chop rats on a wood chopping block over and over until makes a smooth ground meat texture. Be sure to chop all the bones well.
  • Add chopped rat meat to the red chili paste and oil and stir well.
  • Add diced green peppers and stir well. Let cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt.
  • Add whole liver and heart and sir in.
  • Add holy basil leaves to mixture and stir in well and let cook for another 5 minutes. Be sure not to burn the chili paste - add a little water if necessary to keep moist but not runny.
  • Add chopped garlic cloves
  • Add shredded bay leaves and stir in and cover and let simmer for 5 minutes or more to let all the flavors mix well.


Serve ground rat meat on an oval dish with livers and heart on the top. Circle with garnish of basil leaves and halves of lime. Serve with white rice. The flavor will be hot and tangy with a mild crunchy chew to it. It is not to be considered the main dish, but a nice hot and spicy accent to other prepared dishes. Surely very good on crackers, but Thais do not generally eat crackers.

Links of Interest:

Shark Savers: Sharkwater DVD

Filmed in visually stunning, high definition video, Sharkwater takes you into the most shark rich waters of the world, exposing the exploitation and corruption surrounding the world's shark populations in the marine reserves of Cocos Island, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

For filmmaker Rob Stewart, exploring sharks began as an underwater adventure. What it turned into was a beautiful and dangerous life journey into the balance of life on earth.
Driven by passion fed from a lifelong fascination with sharks, Stewart debunks historical stereotypes and media depictions of sharks as bloodthirsty, man-eating monsters and reveals the reality of sharks as pillars in the evolution of the seas.
In addition to this spectacular film, the DVD and Blu-Ray contain extra content including the featurette "Sharkwater: Beneath the Surface"; the theatrical trailer; "Shark Defense (Vintage Naval Training Video)" (DVD Only); TV Spots (DVD Only); the featurette "The Making of Sharkwater" (Blu-Ray only); and interview with filmmaker Rob Stewart (Blu-Ray only).

Links of Interest:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thai Lao Food Blog with Videos

Thai food and especially Isaan food fascinates me a lot, both because a lot of it tastes really good and secondly because that is what my girlfriend cooks for us. Therefore, widening my own horizon on the possibilities of Thai, Isaan and Lao food is a constant endeavor of mine. On this blog I found, a Thai / Laos girl named Manivan Larprom shows you how to cook Thai and Lao food through her videos. Her authentic cuisine roots from Sakon Nakhon, Thailand and Paksan in Laos. Enjoy!

As K. Manival tells about herself: "I am part Thai and Lao. The reason for my blog is to preserve the authenticity of the Thai and Lao food. Enjoy watching the home videos as I follow family recipes. Growing up, I was spoiled by my parent's home cooked Thai and Lao food. When I moved out, I searched restaurants and found that nothing compares to the authentic taste of home. This started my journey into cooking Thai and Lao food under my parents' guidance. I share my journey with you."

Links of Interest:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bangkok's Lebua Hotel: Another Day, Another Controversy

Lebua Hotel seems to thrive on controversy. The hotel is now involved in a lawsuit with the general manager of The Oriental over a message Kurt sent to his managers to escort Lebua spys out of his hallowed property. Not everybody is pleased with the Lebua for their background, nasty temperament toward their more venerable neighbors, and their insatiable appetite for publicity, no matter good or bad. And most of it is bad.

The International Herald Tribune had this to say about their upcoming feast.
"Bangkok's Lebua hotel, which is organizing the dinner, is no stranger to publicity - or to Michelin-starred chefs. Last year, it put on a decadent feast billed as the meal of a lifetime for $25,000 a head. Six three-star Michelin chefs were flown in from Europe to cook the 10-course meal, each plate paired with a rare vintage wine.
On April 5, the Lebua is offering another 10-course spread, this time for free. The hotel has invited 50 of its biggest-spending customers to the dinner prepared - it hopes - by three top-ranked Michelin-starred chefs.
There is one twist. Before dinner, guests will be jetted to a poor village in northern Thailand to spend the afternoon soaking up the sights of poverty. The dinner and full-day excursion will cost the hotel $300,000."
The Electric Newspaper goes over some of the lawsuit filed by Lebua Hotel against the general manager of The Oriental.
"It's a battle of the stars. Bangkok's five-star hotels, that is. With back-stabbing, snubbing and animosity worthy of a TV soap opera, Bangkok's famed Oriental hotel is now embroiled in a defamation suit filed by a competitor.
The lawsuit, filed on 17 Jan, highlighted the nastiness behind the scenes at some of the world's top luxury establishments. News of the spat was made public yesterday after The Oriental's general manager appeared at the Bangkok Criminal Court for a preliminary hearing.
Mr Kurt Wachtveitl, the general manager, is accused of defaming Bangkok's lebua hotel in an internal memo warning that the competitor was on the prowl for qualified hotel staff. The lawsuit is a first for Thailand's hotel industry and stands to harm the reputation of hotels across the country, the Thai Hotels Association said.
According to The Nation, Thai Hotels Association president Chanin Thonawanik was quoted as saying: 'What will the world think of Thailand when the world's best hotel is involved in a lawsuit? 'This is (a) first in Thai hotel history and will certainly damage our reputation.'
In the memo dated 30 Nov 2006, Mr Wachtveitl accused the lebua of poaching 26 employees from The Peninsula Hotel, another five-star competitor, and expressed concern that The Oriental could be targeted next. 'Effective immediately, no management members from lebua ... are allowed at The Oriental,' the memo signed by Mr Wachtveitl and sent by e-mail to department heads said, according to the court complaint. The memo added: 'Should you come across any of their management members in the hotel, please make sure they are escorted out of our premises immediately.'
The Nation reported that the lebua has filed two complaints, including a criminal case accusing The Oriental of forwarding the memo to general managers at nine other Bangkok hotels."
The International Herald Tribune also reported on the messy lawsuit by upstart Lebua against Thailand's most historic hotel.
"Bangkok's famed Oriental hotel is embroiled in a defamation suit filed by a competitor, highlighting the back-stabbing and animosity that thrives behind the scenes at some of the world's top luxury establishments.
The lawsuit was filed Jan. 17 but only made public Tuesday, a day after The Oriental's general manager appeared at the Bangkok Criminal Court for a preliminary hearing. Kurt Wachtveitl, the general manager, is accused of defaming Bangkok's lebua hotel in an internal memo warning that the competitor was on the prowl for qualified hotel staff.
The lawsuit is a first for Thailand's hotel industry and stands to harm the reputation of hotels across the country, the Thai Hotels Association said. The Oriental consistently ranks among the best in the world in surveys. In the memo dated Nov. 30, 2006, Wachtveitl said the lebua poached 26 employees from The Peninsula Hotel, another 5-star competitor, in two months and expressed concern that The Oriental could be targeted next."
But Chris Baker, guest columnist at New Mandala really gets down to the details of what's going on, but leaves much unanswered. So who is this Rasi Bualert?
"The principal owner of lebua is the family of Rasi Bualert. She always gets tagged as “arms dealer” which seems a bit unfair. Too narrow. Their real estate empire went spectacularly bankrupt after 1997, but they kept going by refusing to repay their creditors. Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that they had to repay 10 billion baht to Bangkok Bank, but I don’t know whether they complied. Their biggest debt was to Krung Thai. The Bualert acquired the building now housing lebua from the developer and architect Rangsan Torsuwan after he was charged with masterminding the attempted murder of the chief judge of the Supreme Court."
The Nation has some background on Rasi Bualert financial problems a few years ago.
"Bangkok Bank has filed a bankruptcy suit against high-flying businesswoman Rasri Bualert and her associates for failing to honour debts totalling almost Bt10 billion. Nine other defendants named in the lawsuit are D Five Co, Charoen West Enterprise, Royal Charoen Krung, Kongchai Bualert, Anand Chanthrakul, Sa-nguansri Dejpornthewan, Parichart Puchatham, General Sawat Phatchuenjai and General Prathuang Wongchan.
The Bankruptcy Court has agreed to hear the case and scheduled June 22 for the first hearing. In its court filing, Bangkok Bank charged that D Five and Charoen West Enterprise had borrowed money from its branches, with the other defendants acting as guarantors. The total debt, principal plus interest, owed to the bank is Bt9.72 billion. The bank said it had asked the defendants to settle the debt but had not received any payment. It believes the defendants now have more debts than assets, making them liable to bankruptcy proceedings."
The New York Times also mentions Rasri Bualert and her financial shenanigans, along with other Thai millionaires who refuse to repay their debts and somehow stay in business to the present day.
"Workers are, for example, putting the finishing touches on the 63-story Royal Charoen Krung Tower. Promoted as Southeast Asia's largest building, the tower, a 3.6-million- square-foot monolith with residential time-share and commercial space, looms over the pharmacies and jewelry shops around it.
First scheduled to open in 1996, the Royal Charoen Krung fell behind schedule in part because Rangsan Torsuwan, the flamboyant architect who designed and owned it, was forced to sell it.
The buyer was Rasri Bualert, a real estate tycoon and Thailand's only female arms dealer. Ms. Rasri helped pay for the project with a loan from the government-run Krung Thai Bank, a loan that is now among the nonperforming loans that account for at least 60 percent of the bank's overall portfolio. Last year, auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers, reporting that the bank had weak lending standards, singled out the loan as a glaring example.
Ms. Rasri declined to be interviewed for this article. Krung Thai officials did not return phone calls."
Links of Interest:

Cheap Farangs Suffer as Rice Prices Climb

As serious as the rapidly rising prices for rice might be for the "average poor" Thai person, I saw this hilarious piece in Not The Nation...

"Briton John Wilson says he’s just like any Thai person: He wakes up at the crack of down, takes the bus three hours to work, slaves away at work for a low wage and simply wants to enjoy his khao mun gai and Leo beer in peace when he comes home. But now, with rice prices soaring to record levels, his life has become all the more difficult. The food vendors on his soi in Thonburi raised prices of nearly all dishes by five baht, leaving him struggling to survive. “I think a lot of Thais are confused and think that just because I have white skin I am a rich person,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “I’m not though. Five baht is actually a lot of money to me.” “Thais think I am rich because I can make 40,000 baht per month,” he added. “But what they don’t realize is that I need to pay for my flights back to London twice a year, so that actually means I make less money than Thai people.” John is not alone. Cheap farangs all over Bangkok are erupting in anger at the price increases, claiming that food vendors are simply trying to pull a fast one on old whitey. In Bang Na, an American man reportedly was so livid about paying the extra five baht for khao pad mu that he called the vendor in broken Thai “a thief and a liar” and ensured him that he would never eat there again. In Ramkamhaeng, a fat British woman was overheard complaining about decreased portion sizes, claiming that she was “absolutely famished” after a recent meal of krapow gai. And on Khao San Road, a group of Australian backpackers beat a pad thai vendor nearly to death after he raised the price three baht from the previous month. “Thai people, listen to me: We are not made of money,” declared Andrea Silverstein, a fast-talking British backpacker who was “appalled” that prices were at least five percent more than the Lonely Planet guide said they would be. Americans who are paid in dollars are especially in dire circumstances. They claim that they have already lost 20 percent of their large salaries in the past few years, and rising rice prices will cause them to cut down on drinking or paying for more expensive farang food. Some foreigners have decided to take action. Renowned farang beggar Marcus Stevenson says he is planning a march on the Commerce Ministry to call for cheaper prices. “Not every farang is sipping cocktails at Vertigo, and I think that Thais need to hear that as well,” said Stevenson. “Sure we might make double, triple or quadruple what Thai make for the same amount of work, but our traveling and living costs are much higher. Thais don’t need serviced apartments, laundry service, pools, fitness rooms and UBC. We do. And those things cost money.” To coincide with the rising prices, Stevenson has started asking Thais for 1,500 baht contributions instead of 1,000 baht. He says he has “almost” made enough money to finally go home and should have enough cash in a few more years."
Links of Interest:

Friday, March 28, 2008

Marriott Patong catches fire

The Marriott Courtyard hotel, currently under construction to replace the Grand Tropicana hotel that once stood plumb in the middle of Patong, is reported to have caught fire March 28 at 2:45pm. The fire is anticipated to have caused damage to the tune of 1 million baht. A notice board that caught fire during a welding process is believed to have caused the conflagration.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rice Prices explode on the world market

From the Bangkok Post (2008-03-25):
"Cambodia banned rice exports to protect domestic food security on Wednesday, after spiraling food prices pushed the price to the equivalent of 31 baht a kilogram.
The move comes amid the steady climb in the price of most staple goods, including the doubling of the cost of cooking gas, which has put increasing strain on large numbers of Cambodians.
"Cambodia will halt the export of rice for two months," Prime Minister Hun Sen said." ...
"Despite GDP growth averaging 11 per cent over the past three years, more than a third of the country's 14 million people live on less than 50 US cents (less than 16 baht) a day, making even the slightest rise of food costs devastating to Cambodia's poorest."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sunny Karon Beach weather end of March

I took a little walk along Karon Beach in the midday sun today. Beach full of roasting tourists, trying to get some tan to take back to the cold and dark days in Europe. The beach was looking good as the photo proves...

Who is the most beautiful girl in Thailand?

The original post comes from Asian Sweetheart, who runs a blog full of pictures of the most sexy Thai girls imaginable; as there are new posts several times a day (!) it is well worth to subscribe to this one -- or at least visit often!

Somebody asked me who do I think is the most beautiful girl in Thailand. I think that question is impossible to answer. Everybody has different specs of course so my opinion would be different that many other people. And everybody likes more than one type of person so picking only one Thai girl as the most beautiful is too difficult.

I think that I could never pick only one but maybe the top ten. I was thinking about it and there are so many beautiful Thai girls that it's hard to narrow it to only ten. But for sure one of them would be Nun Woranuch.I like Nun because she not only looks pretty, sweet and sometimes sexy in her photos but also when you see her acting or see her live on a talk show. Many other models and actresses look great in photos but they look awkward when they move or when they talk they are not pretty or sound kind of rough. Nun has it all. And she is not sleazy at all. She is definitely in the top ten and maybe quite close to the top.

Links of Interest:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Phuket Food Festival 2008

The Phuket Food Festival 2008 started on 19th March and runs until the 28th. It's an annual event organized by the Phuket Food Vendors Club and Phuket City Municipality. There's around 50 or 60 stalls selling everything from Phad Thai to BBQ Fresh Water Prawns, fried fish, Sai Ua (spicy northern sausages), Satay sticks and much more.

The Phuket Food Festival event is being held annually at Sapan Hin, in the south of Phuket City. Many local events are held there during the year as Sapan Hin is by the sea, has lots of open spaces, and also features extensive sports facilities.

This festival is well worth a look. The food is good and cheap, a great chance to sample many different dishes and get a bit of local life. This is very much a local Phuket event, organized and run by locals for locals. It'll be on my calendar for next year for sure.

Cha Am Beach

Cha Am beach is another beautiful Thai seaside resort area located at about 200 kms (124 miles) from Bangkok. Traveling by car will take about 2.5 hours. There are several good hotels along Cha Am beach road and also at nearby beaches.

Cha-am Beach is renowned for the best beach in Phetchaburi. You can get a donkey ride if you want one and it is possible to rent bicycles to explore the area. There are also herds of food stalls selling excellent snacks. Cha-am is remarkable in that it is unremarkable this is a pleasant beach with green water and that's about it.
Links of Interest:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Thai Foot Massage in Phuket

Everybody knows what a Thai massage is all about; but all over Phuket, there are shops offering a foot massage. I just had to try it for once and it was well worth every minute spent under the careful kneading hands of Noi, my 'foot masseuse'.

Foot Massage is another skill that has been passed down through the ages. It works the internal organs of the body through manipulation of pressure points on the soles of your feet in much the same way as reflexology; by massaging them, Foot Massage can be quite effective in producing a mild detox effect on the body.

Are Thai girls really the most fascinating thing about Thailand?!

I am quite astonished, to tell the truth, which articles are finding the most interest by the readers of this Thailand life blog after writing on it for the last three months.
Absolutely on the top of the list are articles about Thai girls and Farangs getting ripped off by them -- does that mean that Thai girls and the nightlife of Thailand are really the most fascinating things about this country...

The rather fascinating peculiarities of Thai Isaan food like Bandicoot Rats seem to draw the most readers from those who are already browsing through my entries. I personally think them the best of my entries, together with commentary on events like the lese majeste charges against Jonathan Head from the BBC.

That I am not totally off the mark is at least proven by the fact, that they are to date the two most-read and visited pages in my blog.

Still understandably, a few more seem even interested in something like:

However, the most traffic is coming for articles centering around all kinds of combinations of 'Thai nudes' or 'tropical nudes'.
In many cases it seems weird that my blog was even found as I do not recall having written all that extensively about such (and where, I have put a link, no need to wade through all that 'tiring time wasting' political and Thai lifestyle stuff, go directly to the source :-)

What does this mean? The internet being just a cheap (free) spot for nude pix seems so much a thing of past times. Should I then still cater more to the interests of my readers and bring you more 'Thai girls' stuff?

Comments of readers for or against would be more than welcome and I might just decide to follow advice given.

But rather, if you are writing a blog more targeted to the above search phrases, I am quite willing to have you post your link to it right here -- saves me the hassle to go out of my way to report on things others might have much more (and better) to say about...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cambodia Impressions -- the next haven after Phuket, Pattaya and Bangkok?

A lot of my friends and acquaintances tell me endless stories, what a great place Cambodia is. You want temples go to Siem Reap, if you want whisky and girls go to Phnom Penh, and if you are in need for sun and waves go to the beach at Sihanoukville -- and you get all that with so much less visa hassle.

Of course this is all theory and third-hand information to me. I have never been to the place; but one not so far off day I really want to go there. Until then, more stories form people who have seen the real action...

The story I want to present here was actually a Stickman's Reader Submission and it makes me doubt that Cambodia is really that unadulterated h(e)aven I heard about; even though we may bitch about the Thais trying to sell us the very things we don't need, they generally do it with a smile and move on when they see we're not interested. This Cambodian lot of vendors however would do my head in...

Read more here: Cambodian Dust in My Mind.

Links of Interest:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thai nude beaches

Are there real Thai nude beaches? A lot of people will tell you, that they do not exist or that it is forbidden by Thai law (or by the purist Lonely Planet, if you wish - and even they mention Leela Beach on Koh Phangan).
Guessing by the amount of interest those keywords create on this blog, a lot of people seem to want to stay nude on their Thailand beach, or at least topless. Nude and topless sunbathing in Thailand, this is a readers experience...

Thailand nude beaches on Koh Samui and Koh Phangan:
"The first is Golden Buddha Beach Resort in the Andaman Sea. An isolated eco-resort with a 10 km beach, we walked nude every day, stayed nude at our beachfront house and swam in the nude. Other guests do not mind as topfree is the norm and it is easy to find our own space. On each visit, a few other couples and individual travellers were nude as well. As requested by management, we covered ourselves when Thai staff are near by -- for a few minutes every day.
The second is the Sanctuary on Koh Phangan's Leela Beach. A spa accessible by boat from the overcrowded Haad Rin town where the famous moon beach party takes place. The Sanctuary is very different and laid back. Top free is again the norm. We were nude at the beach (in full view of the restaurant) and at our hut. We were joined by a few people during our visit. There is another beach five minutes north which sees more regular nude use (again in full view of the restaurant/small hotel). We only covered up for yoga, when going to/from the beach and when a large group of Thai tourists happen to visit."
Leela Beach Image Gallery:

The Sanctuary at Leela Beach Lighthouse Resort on Leela Beach Leela Beach Lighthouse Resort Leela Beach
Leela Beach View from Leela Beach Leela Beach Sunset at Leela Beach
Thailand nude beaches on Phuket, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao:
Many time questions about nude beach in thailand and nudity, here are some answers:
Nudity is in Thailand forbidden! But there are many qiet places to do it! On every small island you can find a place to enjoy naked swimming and sunning. Some examples where are sometimes people nude:

1.On the freedom beach near patong. There is a small (15 meters) sandy beach on the left of freedom beach. Its a good places for nudity.
2. Near the Naithon beach is a small public beach with one restaurant. The owners there accept when you stay nude one the chair and swim nude. Please not in the restaurant!

Koh Phangan:
1. Ao Hin Lor is a long nice rock and sandy beach where start in Booms Cafe Bungalows until Blue Hill Resort. There are many paradise nice places for enjoy nudity.
2. Another very good and nice place is near the Wok Thum Beach. When you drive from Thong Sala the way to Wok Thum , after a small viewpoint restaurant you will see a big place without any building on the left. One the end of this place is a small path for go down to the beach, then you see a nice beach.
3. A small but nice beach is near Bovy Resort (Pirates Bar). But the watertide on this beaches goes down in the afternoon. Best time is morning and early afternoon.

Koh Tao:
1. A very small nice beach is near Freedom beach. On a small path you can walk from Taa Too to there.
Not forget: Maybe sometimes Thai people come to this beaches, then not go nude. Most on the weekend the Thai like to go on the beach for picnic.
Links of Interest:

Sora Aoi in a Thai movie

Since it was revealed that Japanese porn starlet Sora Aoi appears in the movie called Hormones the forums have been even more active posting photos of her. She was popular with the Thai boys already but now it's very busy.

That's the title of a news story at reporting on the success of that movie I posted about called Hormones (pit term yai in Thai). It's the biggest money making film so far this year in Thailand. The news story mentions the actors but does not mention Sora Aoi, which is kind of strange. It's already in theaters so it's no secret any longer that she is in it.

More on Asian Sweetheart.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is Thailand really tolerant towards ladyboys?

Just yesterday I read an article in the Bangkok Post about the Thai army's view on ladyboys. Ladyboys are ususally exempted from service. According to an army general during every annual draft a ladyboy, or katoey, is considered as a person suffering from a "permanent mental disorder" and therefore does not have to do the one-year army service.

After many protests against this definition katoeys now have to show up at three consecutive drafts. If they always appear as ladyboys, they will also be exempted from service. And here comes the great news. Ladyboy shall now be defined as "people with illnesses that cannot be cured within 30 days".

Wow! Now that's a big step ahead! According to the article it was a hard decision-making process for all army people involved to come up with this new definition… Is Thailand really as tolerant towards katoey as many people believe?

Links of Interest:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Whistles for Phuket beach nude girls

It sounds like an early April's Fool Joke but this announcement is serious (if you could call the Thai people that, who are not able to plan and think a minute ahead in their life):
Thai Tourism Police are planning to issue Phuket beach girls, who wish to sit topless or nude on the beach, with whistles so that they can call for help if they are approached by untoward males...

From The Star Malaysia:
Next time when you hear someone whistling on an isolated beach in Thailand don't immediately assume it is a wolf call. It might be a female tourist desperately in need help.
Two days after the shocking murder of a Swedish woman in the island of Phuket on March 15, Thai Tourism Ministry distributed safety whistles – shaped like the symbol commonly used to designate women (a circle above a cross) – to female tourists as part of its campaign to increase security.
It is debatable whether a whistle could have saved 27-year-old Swedish tourist Hanna Charlotta Backlund, who was stabbed to death in broad daylight while walking alone at Mai Khao, a secluded beach on the northern tip of Phuket.
Backlund's murder is one of the recent killings of foreigners visiting Thailand that grabbed international media attention.

The list includes:
  • Chetn Dadhwal, a 24-year-old Indian, who was trying to stop a fight during a Full Moon party at Koh Phangan on March 22
  • A 23-year-old Japanese woman, Tomoko Kawashita, who was murdered in Sukhothai Historical Park during the Loy Krathong water festival during an attempted robbery on Nov 25 last year
  • Russians Tatiana Tsimfer, 20, and Liubov Svikova, 25, who were shot dead while they were sitting in beach chairs on Pattaya's Jomtien Beach on Feb 25 last year
The murders, according to the Bangkok Post, "come as a wake-up call for the Thai authorities, who seem to show no concern about the shortage of investment in the tourism industry or the political will to improve the safety of tourists".
Quoting tourism experts, the newspaper reported that people only travelled to destinations that they feel safe in. "Thailand owed much of its reputation as the region's tourist hub to its safety record," it said on Sunday.
The tourism industry generates the largest amount of foreign exchange for Thailand, raking up more than 500 billion baht (RM51.5bil) last year and accounting to about 6% of its gross domestic product. Last year, Amazing Thailand attracted 14 million visitors. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects the number of arrival to increase, forecasting this year's income to be 800 billion baht (RM82.4bil).

Have the killings put a dent in Thailand's tourist arrivals?
"A little bit," says Jim Pollard, an Australian, who is in charge of the expatriate page in Daily Xpress, a Thai English-language tabloid. "But not to a crisis point. Fortunately, the police managed to quickly get the fellow who murdered (Backlund). That probably limited the damage (to the Thai tourism industry)," he said.
On March 19, after a three-day manhunt police arrested a 31-year-old Thai labourer Akaradech Tangae, who confessed that he tried to rape Backlund. "But she resisted and I had to kill her," he told the police.
Police described Akaradech as a peeping Tom who "loves to bring friends to this remote and quiet beach to look at naked tourists swimming or sunbathing."
Asked whether there has been a surge in the number of foreigners killed in the country, Pollard, who has been living in Thailand for nine years, says: "Frankly those things happen here off and on, and it is not unusual. "The murder of a pretty, young girl (Backlund) in Phuket in broad daylight is unusual. But many deaths of foreigners in Thailand do not get international coverage." With that explanation, the expatriate added: "I'm off to do a story on a Finnish man who was killed by his Thai minor wife in Pattaya."
According to Pollard, one of Thailand's most notorious tourist murders is the strangling to death of 24-year-old British backpacker Kirsty Sara Jones in a guesthouse in Chiang Mai in 2000. The case is still unsolved even though it was reopened several times.
Included with the Thai Tourism Police-issued whistles are safety pamphlets warning female sunbathers not to wear revealing swimsuits. "Many tourists, particularly those from Europe, come here to enjoy the beaches. They tend to choose a quiet spot away from other people, take off the bikini and sunbathe. That's when the attackers strike," Choochart Suwannakom, commander of the national Tourist Police, told the Bangkok Post.
Many disagree that wearing skimpy swimsuit attracts rapist attack. But just to be on the safe side, when you visit Thailand perhaps you should pack a whistle together with your bikini.

Phuket beach nude

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... in the end, the Thai government is even to cheapskate to give out the free whistles it promised (not because they have realized how stupid an idea it is, but because they have just let it fall udner the table; security of tourists is seemingly not high on the agenda):

This is not yet posted online in Phuket Gazette, from Paper edition, April 12-18. Page 29, Issues and Answers.
Q: "In light of the recent attacks on women in Phuket, I'm worried about my personal safety and have heard that women are being offered free whistles. As a resident, am I entitled to a free whistle? If so where do I get one?"
Answer from Police Major Sathaporn Sanguansuk of Phuket Tourist Police: "The idea to give whistles to female tourists came from the Tourism and sports Minister while he was in Phuket after the murder of Swedish tourist at Mai Khao beach. However, we have yet to receive any orders about that, so for now there are no free whistles."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Artificial reef to be created off Bang Tao Beach

Ten decommissioned military aircraft will be sunk off the coast of Cherng Talay to create the largest artificial reef of its kind in Thailand.

From the Phuket Gazette:

"The announcement was made at a meeting and project presentation chaired by Vice-Governor Worapot Ratthasima at Phuket Provincial Hall on Thursday.
Attending were representatives from several government agencies and Vittayen Muttamara, head of the Bangkok-based For Sea Foundation, a non-profit organization that has organized the project with the support of the Thai Diving Association.
The Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor) has provided 4 million baht for the project, which will see four Douglas C-47 Skytrain military transport aircraft and six Sikorsky S-58T helicopters sunk about a kilometer off Bang Tao Beach. The aircraft will rest about 20 meters deep where a sunken tin-mining sledge already lies submerged." ...
"The aging aircraft, which have been dubbed the “Coral Reef Squadron”, are currently at the Koke Krathiem Air Force Base in Lopburi. The US-built aircraft, which served during the Vietnam and Korean wars, will be partially disassembled and transported overland before being dropped into the ocean in a two-day operation scheduled to start on May 5.
The dive site is expected to take some pressure off popular dive sites in the Similan and Surin Marine National Parks, K. Wittaya said.
“We believe these aircraft are very suitable for creating artificial reefs because they are large enough for divers to enter and will not affect currents at that depth. Also, they are mostly aluminum and will not rust,” he said.
The Douglas C-47 Skytrains, commonly called “Dakotas”, have a wingspan of 29m and are more than 19m long and more than 5m tall. The Sikorsky S-58T is a large helicopter built for a crew of two and 12 passengers. It is more than 14m long and 4m tall.
Cherng Talay OrBorTor President Manote Panchalaad said the project has full local support because it will promote tourism while helping local marine ecology.
Paitoon Praechaiyaphum of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department Region 4 office in Phuket said the project will become Phuket’s second major dive site. “The reefs located off Koh Racha Yai, which attract some 600 divers monthly, is currently the only major site,” he added. “We expect about 3,000 divers to visit the site annually,” he said.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Swedish girl murdered in attempted Phuket beach rape

Sadly, another attack against a foreigner in Thailand in a growing list this year; to remind everybody, Thailand is still a country of the Third World, with a tremendous chasm between rich and poor, and a lot of desperate people out there; be careful and culturally aware (as you should be everywhere on your travels).
As this was only the latest in a good number of crimes against tourists holidaying in Thailand, the handling of this incident by local police has sparked a lot of controversy, even though the Tourism Minister himself came to Phuket to smooth the impact, and a suspect was actually arrested within a very short time frame.

From the Phuket Gazette:

"The body of Hanna Charlotta Backlund, 27, who was found murdered on Mai Khao Beach yesterday morning, has been flown to Bangkok for forensic tests, Col Sakchai Limcharoen, Superintendent of Tah Chat Chai Police Station, told the Gazette this afternoon.
“There is no news to report at this time, but police are working quickly to solve this case. We have questioned many people, but no-one has reported being a witness to the crime, including her girl friend,” he said.
Hanna Charlotta was staying at Mai Khao Beach Bungalow resort with Emma Storman, who found Hanna’s body about 300 meters from the resort.
Tah Chat Chai Police Deputy Superintendent Lt Col Payongsak Petchrod told the Gazette, “The place where the body was found is hard to see and very quiet. There is a mound there and behind that is thick with trees. There are no restaurants near there, and no people.”
Emma told police that she did not see anyone in the area around the time of the murder, Lt Col Payongsak said. “Emma left the resort to buy some water and she told Hanna that she will join her sunbathing later. About 30 minutes later, she returned to find Hanna dead,” he said.
“Hanna was very beautiful and she was sunbathing topless. Emma said that they normally sunbathed topless if there were no people around,” he added.
“There were many stab wounds on her neck, one on her back, one near her navel and both of her hands had been cut by something sharp. It’s possible those wounds came from her fighting her attacker,” Lt Col Payongsak said.

For more information and discussion, please see the following ongoing forum threads on Thai Visa:

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Thai bar closing time law leads to early shutdown of Phangan Half Moon Party

I have to congratulate the Thai government -- who are just doing their job of protecting Thai interests of course -- they really go out on a limb to search for the golden goose that needs killing.
After effectively squashing the real estate market in Phuket, driving away high-end tourists and long-stayers to replace them with budget-class tourist hordes, they have found another target.
Surely the people of Koh Phangan do not need any income from their decade-long famous rave parties, so let's shut them all down right away, shall we...?!

Saturday March 15, 2008 local special police forces from the island of madness, formerly also know as Koh Phangan Paradise Island, shut down the Half Moon Party Festival in Baan Tai village at precisely 2 a.m. in the morning.

Local police forces have finally enforced the shut down of all party activities around Koh Phangan Island at exactly 2 a.m. Baan Sabai Day Party in the center of Baan Tai village was also closed at 2 a.m. the following day. Jungle Experience Party which was scheduled for 18th March 2008 was cancelled by the party organizers due to new party regulations, a reliable island source told.

The reliable island source further added that all clubs and bars at world famous Had Rin beach are also closing their entertainment venues at 2 a.m. in the morning.

The one and only exception to the new strict 2 a.m. closing policy is the world famous Full Moon Party at Had Rin beach Koh Phangan, which is held once a month during the Full Moon Night. The world famous Full Moon Party attracts thousands of tourists every month and without this monthly all night long top event the fragile economic system of Phangan Island might collapse as many businesses and bungalow owners heavily depend up on it, an island economic specialist said.

While bars and clubs everywhere else in Thailand were always obliged to the strict closing policy at 12 or 2 a.m. in accordance with national Thai law, "Party Island" Koh Phangan always received a special status thanks to massive corruption of the local district administration, police officers and village chiefs.

Local party organizers might currently be in the process of negotiating with local administration and police officers to lift the strict closing policy as it happened in the past many times. As thousands of party hungry tourists attempt these parties and generate massive income money economics might play an important role in regulating new policies and as everything is possible with money here on Koh Phangan … the island of madness … well … let's see how long the strict closing policy will last… Business as usual?

Chillout at the Half Moon PartyHalf Moon Party ChilloutHalf Moon Party Chillout 2nd FloorChillout on Half Moon Party
Half Moon Party Chillout Koh PhanganChilloutHalf Moon Party Dancefloor 1Half Moon Party Dancefloor
Day View of the Half Moon PartyHalf Moon Party DJ BoothDJ Leung at the Half Moon PartyDJ Tripikal at the Half Moon Party
Half Moon Bar on Koh PhanganHalf Moon DJ ChoyHalf Moon Killer NightHalf Moon Lazer
HMP PostcardPainting UV Area at the Half Moon PartySmokingTernal
To The TopHalf Moon Party: UV PaintingVacanoView From 2nd Floor at the Half Moon Party
View To Bar (Half Moon Party)Half Moon Party: Water PartyKoh Phangan Half Moon Party
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