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  1. New Year Resolution: Let’s be more environmentally friendly and encourage Thais to do likewise The news that Thailand’s famed Maya Bay was reopening to limited tourism on January 1st set Rooster into a reverie about a life led amid ever changing attitudes and actions towards both harming and protecting the environment. Full story: https://aseannow.com/topic/1245231-new-year-resolution-let’s-be-more-environmentally-friendly-and-encourage-thais-to-do-likewise/
  2. The news that Thailand’s famed Maya Bay was reopening to limited tourism on January 1st set Rooster into a reverie about a life led amid ever changing attitudes and actions towards both harming and protecting the environment. Maya Bay in Krabi was ruined by mass and unregulated tourism then was closed for three years. It reopened yesterday with just 375 tourists allowed to stay for an hour each. Sharks have returned to the bay, coral has been regenerated and a species of terrestrial brown crab is now prevalent. Though the continued improvement of the area is a success story for Thailand, much more still needs to be done everywhere and in all forms of life on the part of both the local population and foreigners residing in the kingdom. There is a will among many dedicated Thai ecologists but we all need to do more so that the issue is not given lip service and that face saving campaigns designed to make politicians look good are swamped by wider public action affecting attitude shifts on a bigger scale. We can all play a part. Rooster was brought up in a house in the south London suburbs, with a woods and stream behind our garden. They were our playgrounds - push bikes and balls, our toys. Even in our privileged neighborhood the streets were filthy with litter and dog mess. Public service announcements told us not to litter. Signs in the streets warned dog owners to little effect. No one walking their dog would have dreamed of picking up the pooh like they do now. But slowly attitudes began to change. As kids we burned tires at the end of the garden - something we’d never do today. Our parents told us of “Pea soupers” - days in London when you could barely see the hand in front of your face when thousands with bronchitis would die. The Clean Air Act began to change that. In Central London the Thames was filthy. Buildings were caked black in industrial grime and vehicle emissions. These days fish swim far upriver and the buildings have been sandblasted and are cleaner as the air quality has improved. But litter from millions of kebabs and fast food meals still plagues many areas. Still more needs to be done despite a far more enlightened population. Of course, there were good things when I was a kid that went downhill. Our groceries were delivered by Mr Salter on his bicycle. His wares were wrapped not in plastic but paper. The “potato man” delivered 56 pound refillable bags of spuds to the front door. Milk bottles were left out for collection with the empties refilled with your “Gold Top”. So many things you bought in the shops could be returned for a few pennies deposit. The “Rag and Bone” man recycled. My dad had one very expensive fridge for 40 years. These disappeared by and large though on moving to Thailand in the 1980’s it was great to see that a version of these were still in place. Some exist to this day though many have sadly gone. Today we throw away far cheaper electrical items and just replace them with hardly a care about what happens to the waste. Out of sight out of mind. My own attitudes to littering and environmental protection had moved on sufficiently that I was truly shocked by what many Thais did when I arrived in the country. My first wife, bless her, casually tossed out a Lipo bottle into the undergrowth as we toured Sukhothai on a motorcycle. I doubled back and picked it up saying that little animals would get stuck inside. Years later she told the story that not littering was the only thing I ever taught her! Double bless! The BMA started a campaign of greening and one called “Taa Wiset” or Magic Eye. This was designed to make the population more aware of the environment in Bangkok. It didn’t last. Trucks and filthy buses belched black smoke and the air was thick. You needed to wash after a ride through the city. Dust was everywhere and this only improved after the 1997 economic crash and the end of much construction. These days the air is cleaner - contrary to the moaners - but the Thai capital and many other cities are still plagued by the latest buzzword “PM2.5”. Crackdowns on pollution don’t address the underlying causes like crop burning by the sugar industry. Much more still needs to be done. Coastal areas are still thick with trash blown in from the sea. Much of it got there after being blown out from rivers and klongs where it is dumped. People still leave their lunch for others to tidy up in national parks. Liter bins overflow, if and when they are ever filled. Traders still dump cooking oil down the drain. Laws exist but enforcement is still sporadic. Crackdowns rather than sustainable solutions. Thailand still has far too much “food and drinks in a plastic” bag style convenience. Things have only worsened as home food delivery adds to waste everywhere. Cast your mind back to a few days before the pandemic began. The much hyped D-Day that was the start of widespread bans on plastic bag use started on January 1st 2020. Two years ago. Covid-19 completely pushed that agenda off the news though many shoppers at supermarkets now take their own bags and big retailers continue to follow through. From a personal perspective I have got used to taking reusable bags everywhere. My new condo management introduced recycle bins that pleased and helped me. I put my 5 year old daughter in charge of recycling duties. The kids' Xmas presents were bikes and bike repairs. I’m constantly banging the drum to Mrs Rooster who still doesn’t quite get it. But then do we all? I still ride motorbikes, have a petrol car, still buy countless items in plastic and toss them out expecting them to somehow disappear just because I can’t see them. We’re all just as guilty as ever. And we can all do more both in our personal lives and in inspiring those around us to protect the environment and educate our children. My new year resolution is to take more containers to be filled than rely on packaging. To talk to traders about putting things like sugar and dried chili in yet more plastic bags for my noodles. To tell the manager at Big C about the horrendous and unnecessary waste in many of their packaged products. Tell him and others why this will affect the money I’ll spend in his shop. How I can take my trade elsewhere if I’m unhappy. I’ll walk more, cycle more. Take the train when I might have flown. And yes bang on more even if people don’t seem to listen, even if I’m still hypocritical in many ways. Let’s all try and do the same and encourage the Thais that we love and care for to follow suit. For the benefit of us all. It’s not a lost cause and genuine change can come from the grass roots of any society. Here endeth my Sunday sermon; I’ll forgo a roundup of more news this week and begin again after the holidays. Finally, many will be glad to see the back of 2021. It was the Chinese Year of the Ox - maybe it should have been the Year of the Pox, though two years of pox would be more accurate. February 1st 2022 will see the start of the Year of the Tiger. Hopefully we can roar and see the back of Covid and all its variants. Hopefully the politicians, virologists, doctors and pundits who talk about living with Covid-19 will start walking the walk. Hopefully the press will be more responsible in its reporting, less scare-mongering, more keen to call out the “experts’ ” claims and the politicians for their vote buying rhetoric. We all need to move on, get the economy back on track, get back to work. And quite frankly….. Get our lives back. Happy New Year! Rooster -- © Copyright ASEAN NOW 2022-01-02 - Whatever you're going through, the Samaritans are here for you - Follow ASEAN NOW on LINE for breaking COVID-19 updates
  3. The mood in Thailand took a big shift this week. Just when it should have been the season to be jolly, that carpet of hope was whipped away as “Grinch Omicron” and its hysterical facilitators stole the festive season. Now more than ever the people are turning on the government over what many see as Omicron panic. Tourists were put off coming while traders vented their frustration. One placard at the MoPH read: “STOP just a few doctors deciding our fate”. Increasingly they seem to have a point. Then while a chamber of commerce leader said the economic impact would be minimal, tourism people in Koh Samui said they had invested heavily in Thailand’s reopening - only to be knocked back yet again. Yes, it’s come to this. Politicians are flip-flopping with festive season abandon. While the Thais - and most everybody around the world - are at the whim of the men in white coats when Santa in his red coat should be bringing joy. What a sea change from the days when a white coat and glasses - in countless TV ads - inferred respect and deference without thought for a Thai public used to bowing and scraping to authority. They have had enough. The worm has turned. They are now joining large numbers of disenchanted foreigners in the country and potential tourists abroad who are at their wits end. New Year beckons - of course a far more important time for Thais than Christmas. But 2022 looks bleak in the eyes of many. Hopes had been raised; now those hopes are being dashed. Anutin Charnvirakul - health minister and DPM - tried to burble his way through all this saying the suspension of new Test and Go applications was temporary. Then he went into standard mode, bigging up himself and his health department for strict measures and bountiful supplies of drugs and vaccines and the Thai people for following protocols to 90% effectiveness. All much better than those silly people abroad. Prayut got himself caught up in total confusion and delirium. Rather than saying CCSA he said NCPO. No, sir, (pronounced in a certain way this means idiot) you disbanded the National Council for Peace and Order when you said this was no longer a “junta”. Remember? And BTW - you’re not a general anymore, if that helps with pointing out the new reality you find yourself in. So please stop barking like one! Anyway, let’s not get too depressed. I’m still basking in the parental joy of seeing my little kids wowing over their presents and enjoying leftover chicken from a delicious feast yesterday. I nearly lost one of my daughters last month in a swimming pool accident so it’s a special festive joy for me this year. What is going on outside the walls of my condo can stay there. I’m happy so up yours Jack! The suspension of Test and Go and Sandbox - and the introduction of yet more expensive tests for the 200,000 waiting to come - was hardly unexpected. It seems pointless to bash Thailand too much when restrictions are rising in Europe where bars and hospitality are being shut everywhere too. Thailand doesn’t seem out of step with the Omicron madness! Epsilon will surely be next before we have to move onto the Hebrew alphabet after Omega. Fortunately, as ever Thailand kept locals and foreigners entertained in other ways this week. Chief of these was a footbridge in Sattahip built round a power pole. It wasn’t finished but following a social media loss of face the district chief and mayor rushed to the scene within hours. They managed to shift blame - if any were due - to the Navy who’ll get it all sorted in the New Year. Then Sanook found another bridge in Korat where kids and the elderly have to actually step over electric wires and cables on the way to a school. This one was finished months ago! Rooster, remembering a similar case in 2016, reignited the “Stairway to Heaven” idea as locals predicted a swift meeting with their maker by using the bridges. Then laughs were taken to new heights as a SuperPoll suggested that Prayut was the Thai public’s favorite politician of 2021. They loved his “copay” scheme apparently. Here at ASEAN NOW we love Anutin more; he gives us more news content for his brand of crass stupidity almost but not quite rivaling tourism minister Pipat and TAT chief Yutthasak. To all four may I extend our heartfelt thanks for keeping the site afloat this year. Your flip-flopping and predictions have proved a life saver! As if to prove my point one of the most commented upon stories in the last seven days was “news” that Anutin wants to be the next PM. Cue Outrage with a capital “O” on the forum!! This week Rooster celebrates the 300th edition of The Week That Was. In March 2016 I answered an ad for a translator on Thaivisa and since then have written more than five million words in 17,000 translations from Thai. I take pride in trying to explain the news as much as translate the Thai press accurately. Whenever you read “ASEAN NOW notes” that’s me, hopefully objectively. The column - without a single Sunday break in nearly six years - has now far exceeded half a million words. Too many, some say, not enough say others! Up to you! Last week’s column on racism and stereotyping in Thailand was one of the most read and commented upon ever. Sadly it turned into a bicker-fest in the comments though many tried, and succeeded, in making salient and sensible observations on the subject. I took exception to one poster calling the OP “trollish”. My views are genuinely held and very often middle of the road. I merely wanted to show how things were when I grew up and in the early days of Thailand and how they have developed. How the world in and outside Thailand has moved on, or not as the case may be. I’m not interested in clicks per se; I want to inform and entertain and will continue to attempt that until I celebrate 1,000 not out. At least I’m already scoring far more than the English cricket team down under….. It was generally quite a bad week for the British in Thailand. Omicron Brits were found in both Samui and Chiang Rai (among more than 100 cases nationwide) while a far worse fate nearly befell one Blighty expat in Samut Prakan. “Mr Jack” refused to get a pestering Thai man a beer and ended up being chased 200 meters at knifepoint. I must say that I have very infrequently been asked to buy anyone a beer in Thailand. If I was, I'd say that I needed to keep my money in my pocket lest my “mia luang” (main wife) think I had been treating my “mia noi”(mistress). Such banter usually diffuses any situation you need to extricate yourself from and shows the value of having more than “taxi Thai” to fall back on. Also, in my experience in Thailand I have found that it is far more likely to be invited to drink with generous Thais whether it be lao khao or beer. I use a version of the same excuse if I don't want to partake - missus #1 will miss me and suspect if I dally outside the home. “Diaw mia luang ja waa ow!” - etc etc… Grisly crime of the week had to be a 15 year old who hammered a 12 year old to death in sleepy Cha-Am. Violent video games were blamed by his elder sibling who called him a quiet lad. Blaming GPS was a trucker in Nonthaburi taking a consignment south. He appeared to be so entranced by the dulcet tones of the GPS lady that he missed the sign saying “No vehicles higher than 2.9 meters”. His rig was 3 meters plus and the low bridge did the rest. Finally spare a thought for the thousands in Thailand - many from Scandinavia - whose lives were either ended or affected forever by the Asian Tsunami on this day in 2004. I was in my high up condo in Bangkok about 8.30 am when I noticed the mouthwash in the Listerine bottle wobble while I was in the bathroom. My son who was downstairs at my duplex said: “Wow dad! Did you feel the building shake”. I thought it must be a passing truck…. Meanwhile a close Harrow school colleague of mine in Khao Lak was being carried 400 meters inland in a smashed window frame, ending up high in a palm tree pulling another tourist to safety. My friend went on to become a headmaster in China. He had a bad leg for a while and, not surprisingly, a fear of going to the seaside. The stories of heroism and tragedy that day will stay with me forever. Lest we forget. Rooster -- © Copyright ASEAN NOW 2021-12-26 - Whatever you're going through, the Samaritans are here for you - Follow ASEAN NOW on LINE for breaking COVID-19 updates
  4. On racism and stereotyping in Thailand Rooster was brought up in a very different world to the one he now finds himself in - both geographically and in terms of society. Full story: https://aseannow.com/topic/1243583-on-racism-and-stereotyping-in-thailand/
  5. Rooster was brought up in a very different world to the one he now finds himself in - both geographically and in terms of society. Over the years we have all had to become adjusted to changing social mores especially when it comes to issues of racism and racial stereotypes even if we are stuck in one place all our lives. Yes, 1970’s Britain was a world away from 2021 Thailand. Despite going to secondary school in relatively inner London there were only three people who didn’t look very like me in my year group after an “all white” upbringing at primary school in the outer suburbs. At Alleyn’s there was Patel from Pakistan plus Abby (with an impossibly long name) from somewhere that I’d never heard of called Sri Lanka (a country that I later came to love); my mum said she thought it was Ceylon and they grew tea. And there was a West Indian boy called Bosun, presumably from somewhere in western India. They all seemed friendly and we got on fine playing football but I never went to their houses. My dad was an immigrant himself but he was from Le Mans so was white; half French and bilingual he passed off as English easily. I never thought that if French people were all black then I would be too. Our household seemed to be welcoming to all races. A relative's girlfriend from St Vincent arrived and my father was all over her like a rash. It was weird but then growing up was weird. Lots of contradictions to get a young head around. On the telly was Love Thy Neighbour, Alf Garnett and at Christmas my parents enjoyed the Black and White Minstrels. I preferred the Harlem Globetrotters and one bald hoopster who was called Curly. As the decade unfolded we shrieked with laughter as John Cleese did his funny walk after abusing some Germans - they deserved it, of course. And he mentioned the war once but got away with it. (More later about Mr Cleese who is visiting Bangkok in January). The latter, unbelievably from 1990, can be seen on YouTube and I would recommend it. It’s excuse was that it was a spoof on US sitcoms. It featured Adolf and his loving wife Eva and the downtrodden neighbors the Goldensteins, Arny and Rosa. Both shows shocked and appalled me. What had happened in the intervening decades to make this so? Travel and a broadening of the mind as well as societal shifts unimagined in the 1970s. I left troubled Thatcherite Britain in the early eighties and found myself sticking out like a sore thumb on the streets of Bangkok. I rather liked being different and didn’t mind at all when people called me ‘farang’ or made fun of being a pink “dried shrimp” if I spent too long in the sun. It appeared to me that white people were afforded a lot of respect that I was grateful for. The same did not seem to be true of the darker skinned visitor, or even the darker local. This troubled me but I still put it down to what Brits call “banter”. Racism and stereotypes were still far from my mind. I heard that I was a “Phudee Angrit” (English Gentlemen), that French people came from the “Land of Perfume”, Germans “Beer” and Dutch “Tulips”. Indians were just “khaek” that Thais told me meant “guest” with a snigger (a word that I learnt not to play in word games without the initial “S” for fear of outraging Americans. As kids we’d used it innocently in an “Eeny Meeny Miny Mo” rhyme). I pointed out to Thais that these terms they bandied about were all stereotypes; one student asked if that was some kind of “hi-fi”. I brushed my teeth with Darkie toothpaste that had a picture of a black man on the front. Oh for teeth like him! It was some years before they changed the name to Darlie and ditched the image. In the mid eighties I started going back to England not to live but as a holidaymaker. I was now a tad educated about racial issues and therefore aghast that a close relative should use a word for a man walking peacefully along the street that was the same as a processed cheese commonly sold in Australia. (My Aussie flatmate was no better, referring to anyone who wasn’t white as “passport Australians.”) I caught up with a pal who I’d met in Bangkok who was the first person I knew who had a kid with a Thai. He shook his head after his daughter was called “a chocolate drop”. Thank goodness the world has moved on but as the Premier League advert reminds us - racism never went away and we all need to do more no matter if we consider ourselves enlightened. Many white people, in particular, need to take a long hard look at themselves for speaking from a privileged position in denying racism exists. The same goes for some foreigners in Thailand who moan about Thai xenophobia in one breath then make appalling comments about Indians and Chinese in the next. We should all wince when hearing people say there is not a racist bone in my body or “some of my best friends are…”. We need to question ourselves. A few years back I innocently wrote in a translation from Thai on ASEAN NOW the word “Chinaman” and was roundly criticized. I had no idea people found it offensive. I haven’t repeated that. This week Thai immigration and the press writing about a raid in Ramkhamhaeng used the term “khon phiw see” - Rooster translated this as “colored” with posters saying it should be “people of color”. Still others said there was no difference. It’s a learning curve. I particularly like how many British comedians have addressed the subject through irony and our favorite sarcasm. Ricky Gervais’s “Racism Test” in Extras is one of the finest segments in ‘comedy’ history. Check that out, too, if you’ve never seen it. John Cleese, now 82, - oh so famous the world over for Monty Python and his masterpiece creation of Basil in Fawlty Towers - will be visiting, Bangkok for an Asian leg of his “Why There Is No Hope” tour (on January 11th at Muang Thong Thani, tickets start 1,500 baht). The Guardian has called it “less comedy” and more about society’s issues. Mr Cleese has become more crabby in recent years but it should still be worth a visit. This week he complained about a BBC interview that turned into a “cancel culture” fest. Last year he called the Beeb “cowardly and gutless” for taking “The Germans” off one of their streaming sites. He even blacklisted himself from speaking at Cambridge University as he was bound to break their rules! My final word on the subject comes after seeing Susie Dent on Sky this week. Susie is the lexicographer famous on one of the UK’s longest running word and maths game shows, Countdown. She told Kay Burley that she absolutely loves slurs. With 400 slurs recently removed from my favorite dictionary to satisfy games maker Mattel, I have to say I agree with her. And there isn’t a racist bone in my body and some of my best friends are…... As usual ASEAN NOW published a huge array of interesting stories this week the following catching my beady eye: Daily News were in Loei when they caught A-NUT-IN the health minister ranting and bigging up Thailand over Covid. He called the dreaded lurgy “grajork” or inferior when it comes to Thailand’s abilities to give it a sound thrashing! Then he banged on about “government” vaccines being available up to the 5th dose next year...blah blah effing blah. Earlier Anutin and the CCSA’s Dr Opas confirmed that New Year officially ends for drinkers at 1 am on the 1st of January. The third “Grinch that Stole Pee Mai” - Bangkok governor Aswin - agreed and said you’d need to be double vaxxed and ATK’d even to attend the “countdown” - not a word game in Thailand of course! No thanks, I’ll enjoy the fireworks from my balcony if they are allowed. Apropos, this week as the mercury plummeted I nipped out to a “famous Bangkok road” to see how the other half lived, doubting a Thai doctor’s view that booze couldn’t keep you warm. Dozens of bars were serving drinks without an SHA+ accreditation or a plate of food in sight. Methinks the local constabulary will have enough money to live it up at New Year, possibly even after 1 am. I only spoke to one woman - Mrs R’s sister who has fallen on hard times - had a 12 inch Subway, made my excuses and left. Two Thai banks - SCB and Krung Sri - told tourism minister Pipat and TAT chief Yutthasak that their rose tinted view of tourism recovery next year was optimistic. And some. Rather than 20 million foreigners spending 1.8 trillion baht they predicted it could be as low as two or three million visitors being frugal with a capital F. Yutthasak had previously said that he favored high spending tourists. Yes, no riff-raff are welcome these days as it’s “Value over Volume”. I propose these are now to be called VoV tourists for short. Another report suggested that “Same Sex Marriage” in Thailand remained years off. If it’s any consolation the sex in my marriage has been the same for decades. In Thonglor an old lady went to what passes for the local police to complain about “light pollution” from an LED sign. “Air and noise” pollution thus amusingly took a back seat though soon all and sundry were harping on about PM2.5. One official said this year’s coughing would be worse than ever. In Phetchabun, Thais went into irony overdrive to suggest that the kingdom’s famous hanging wires were now a tourist attraction for “farang selfies”. On the expressway a Road Rage man claimed self-defence with a tire iron while a cosmetic executive drove his Benz into three innocents killing them all in the latest “Thailand Road Carnage” that saw 74 others dead on Monday. In happier news a factory worker in Prachinburi called Jamlong scooped 6 million on the lottery. He couldn’t decide what number to choose when purchasing the lucky ticket so plumped for the year of birth of his ex-girlfriend - 35. The number 639235 came up. I was at the Railway Park on Thursday afternoon with Mrs R and the chicks recovering from cycling when conversation turned to the just completed the draw. Motorcycle taxi drivers, passers-by, the shop owner, everyone was giving their hard luck stories about missing 235. All I could muster was that I was 23 once and my daughter is 5 so I really should have got it. Bemused looks as Brit sarcasm triumphs. Finally thanks for reading this far. It’s a very long column and every week I’m both criticized and praised for that. Don’t expect any change and stay tuned for next week’s 300th edition of The Week That Was. Oh, and…. Merry Christmas to all my readers in Thailand and around the world. Rooster -- © Copyright ASEAN NOW 2021-12-19 - Whatever you're going through, the Samaritans are here for you - Follow ASEAN NOW on LINE for breaking COVID-19 updates
  6. Covid: I can’t help thinking we’re being taken for fools Having always loved the cut and thrust of politics, one of Rooster’s favorite delights is to tune into Sky’s coverage of the UK Houses of Parliament for Prime Minister’s question time every Wednesday. Read more: https://aseannow.com/topic/1242771-covid-i-can’t-help-thinking-we’re-being-taken-for-fools/
  7. Having always loved the cut and thrust of politics, one of Rooster’s favorite delights is to tune into Sky’s coverage of the UK Houses of Parliament for Prime Minister’s question time every Wednesday. I also love a good laugh having quit the UK when I was knee high to a tukkataen (now you’ve learned the word for a grasshopper). This week Boris Johnson was under fire for having parties 12 months ago while his compatriots were in lockdown and couldn’t go to funerals. Opposition leader Keir Starmer said that he was taking the British public for fools. This week it seemed it was not just the Brits - are we not all feeling like we’ve been trussed up like a kipper since Omicron came on the scene? Now Rooster’s been a good little puppy (I prefer not to use the world “sheeple” because I don’t know the singular). I’ve worn my mask everywhere, even on the motorbike. Fist bumped my mates and kept a few meters away when we’ve occasionally met “offline”. Not dared to seek out a speak-easy. Educated my children at home for two years while paying full fees. Locked myself and my family away like prisoners. Had two jabs in my arms when I hadn’t had any vaccines since I was a kid. Believed in the 70% herd immunity. Believed in the “must learn to live with Covid” rhetoric. Believed that our individual efforts would be for the greater good. I’ve even done my best maintaining hope that good times were just around the corner. The BBC announced yesterday that two doses of vaccine are not enough to stop you catching Omicron. Even a third booster will give only 75% protection against symptoms. Government minister Gove said it was “deeply concerning” as the UK heads for 100,000 infections in weeks and more “threats to the health system”. In Thailand - where we see similar trends but where only about 5% of the population are triple vaxxed - the doctors have said Omicron will be the most prevalent strain soon. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this is heading. Even I can do the sum: “Song buak song = sii” Voila! More of my prison sentence. More being an unpaid teacher. More restrictions. More misery. More arguments with the missus because we’ve gone stir crazy. Patience has worn thinner than my bank balance. The carpet of hope that was vaccines is being pulled from under us. AstraZeneca and Pfizer - two of the most widely used in Thailand are now looking as effective as Sinovac was against Delta. Moderna and J and J are expected to be the same. And what is all this for exactly? What replaces this? Yes, more vaccines of course you silly fool! We’re on the wagon, you can’t get off now! Data is admittedly sketchy but early signs are that Omicron is more infectious but less likely to induce serious disease. LESS likely. I’m losing the will to live let alone believe Big Pharma who always seem to say that we’ll just need more of their products. Funny that. What a merry-go-round minus the merry. If the reader senses a tad of frustration from your favorite columnist - you’re goddamn right. If I may be allowed to speak ill of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Thailand had its first Omicron case in a US national from Spain this week. A couple of Thai women back from Nigeria were next. (I doubt they even had a sniffle - meanwhile my mother-in-law was at death’s door with chronic diabetes - a mere bagatelle!) The reaction to the latest Greek letter was ridiculous. Complete over-reaction. I thought the Thai media was going to start blaming the road carnage on the new variant with so many spikes it looks like a Christmas bauble. Here are some other gems that caught Rooster’s beady eye. I include them in the hope that it may afford the reader a chuckle or two or may - don’t wait for it - give us hope! Hope that the rich and famous may actually get rice gruel after Premchai Karnasuta - chief of Thailand’s biggest construction firm Ital-Thai - was jailed for two and a half years for poaching. It’s a fair sentence. Now keep him in there. Premchai has been playing the “I’m too sick to be in prison plan” appearing with walking sticks, wheelchairs and patches on his eyes. Give him a bandaid and a corner of the prison floor with a picture of a sad panther on the wall. Pheu Thai MPs caused some laughs when they suggested that Laos was streets ahead - maybe that should be tracks - when it comes to railways. Jibes against Prayut of course. The neighboring country - used to buffalo jokes from the Thais - now has 400kms+ of swanky high speed Chinese rail. Thailand has enough track to get you to 7-Eleven if and when it opens. You’re lucky if you take a long distance train and arrive on the scheduled day, let alone an hour. Meanwhile poking fun at other nationalities - called racism and xenophobia in some quarters - continued at the Immigration Bureau where a huge vinyl board gloated over the arrest of a fraudster from “the land of perfume”. Yes, this French man who’d done the dirty on a string of Thai women was not smelling so sweet in IB clink. Som Nam Na I hear you say though Facebook’s ASEAN NOW commentators - a minority of whom appear about as intelligent as a dead “moo han” - delighted that foreigners were now getting their own back on tricky Thai women. In their eyes the entire female population of Thailand are prostitutes who deserve whatever is coming to them. As I said, thankfully it is only a minority who appear to hold those views. Bucking the trend for honesty was a “moo han” (suckling pig) trader on Samui who is also a real estate agent. He pictured himself up to his neck in water in a flooded bog he had for sale grasping the chanote (land title deed). He wanted to show that all his ilk were not money grabbing tykes but could be honest about their deals for land prone to flooding. He also noted that it would be good publicity and the netizens obliged by sharing far and wide. Insurance was in the news. A driver was irked that he paid a quarter of a million premium then the company wouldn’t cough up after he crashed his Ferrari in the rain on the motorway. They said the engine number was wrong and he was “speed testing”. A furious debate ensued on the forum less about insurance companies shafting their customers and more about the state of the roads. One claimed they were great and another that they were appalling for his alleged collection of supercars that made Joe Ferrari look like he drives a Fiesta. In other insurance news Nong Ying’s mum and dad got 2.5 million baht out of a company after they were named and shamed following the death of the 21 year old law student in Buriram several months ago. The parents made good on their promise - a standard one Thais make to temples before lottery wins - to hold a 100 day Tham Bun (merit making) event for Ying and install CCTV where the Benz driving woman sent her soul skywards. How quaint - surrounding the pen after the cow has done a runner, as the Thai proverb says. Meanwhile DPM Prawit decreed from on high: “Let it rain!” And lo and behold it didn’t. You see he picked a bad time, the dry cool season. Never mind, the clouds would be seeded and soon it’ll pour - just you skeptics watch! Then Prawit said” Let there be pie” - and behold, there was pie on the table for tea. Replete and on the seventh day he rested and looked at catalogs for nice watches. Years ago Prawit noted that 20,000 plus of his “phee nong” were carking it on the roads. Then he said: “Let there be no death!”. Then 25K continued to perish, though of course 80% are expendable motorcyclists. Daily News reported the carnage continues unabated. Deaths are a tad down on last year but everyone’s been stuck at home with the motosai gathering dust with the chickens under the house because the people don’t have money for the gas. The failure to do anything on the roads is only matched by the complete mess that is the “War on Drugs”. The corrections department chief sheepishly admitted that 82% of his guests are in for drugs and they can now go to court for earlier release after the rules were changed Thursday. The Narcotics Control Board chief said the changes meant he could now grab dowries and bequests as well as other assets. Then he said that those who got two years for a few Ya Ba would now get just 12 months. Whoopy Do! Why not work with your Laos and Myanmar pals and shut down a few meth labs rather than announcing a huge press conference to report the latest mule arrest or Thai woman with some coke in her luggage or some partygoers having a spliff. We know the answer to that - MONEY! Transport minister Saksayam was puffing out his chest in Pattaya announcing that Thailand would soon be a hub of luxury liners - he meant to say harbor but he forgot the word. He declared that the Pattaya sands were wonderful. Fortunately Prawit had failed in the rainmaking and the sands were actually in situ for the minister’s visit. They are normally washed back into sea from whence they came meaning that another billion baht or so just has to be spent to advance tourism and “improve the image of the world class resort”. Former playboy-cum-politico Chuwit Kamolwisit admitted this week that he was over the hill. Hasn’t he heard of the help available from drugs that seem to end in - gra? The former “Lord of the Soaps” (that’s fishbowl massage not primetime TV in Thailand) said that the old days were over after an ad appeared for a 470 million baht massage parlor in Pin Klao. He pointed out that most of the money was in the value of the land for condos. Oh I don’t know. When it comes to prostitution Thailand always manages to find a way despite adversity. Yes, most of it has moved online in the pandemic but it was going that way pre-2019. Whether Pattaya can survive as sin-city-by-the-sea is another matter. For that den of iniquity the pandemic has sounded a boom-boom death knell. Now the only stories you get from “the resort” (as Bernard Trink used to call it) are inane reports from Thai media that the Thai tourists are flooding in for long weekends and that it’s “kheuk khak” - exciting again. Give me some TOA emulsion and a brush and I’ll show you something more exciting than Pattaya. Like Scrabble….perhaps. Rooster reported on the end of the world championships held “virtually” online in which two of my Thai pals did admirably and which was won by New Zealander Alastair Richards. I remember losing to him when he was a teenager in Penang about ten years ago and being a Scrabble pro’s version of suicidal. Posters asked me if I had competed in the latest championship. No, I didn’t trust the monitoring from Pakistan designed to stop people around the world cheating. Even my favorite game has been denied me during this damned pandemic. Just call me a right fool. Rooster -- © Copyright ASEAN NOW 2021-12-11 - Whatever you're going through, the Samaritans are here for you - Follow ASEAN NOW on LINE for breaking COVID-19 updates
  8. On dying in Thailand; and going from hero to zero One of the most touching stories of the week came from the north east of Thailand - that lovely part of the kingdom that this Bangkokian has always thoroughly appreciated even if I like to tease the natives as bumpkins. Continue reading: https://aseannow.com/topic/1241896-on-dying-in-thailand-and-going-from-hero-to-zero /
  9. One of the most touching stories of the week came from the north east of Thailand - that lovely part of the kingdom that this Bangkokian has always thoroughly appreciated even if I like to tease the natives as bumpkins. The story featured a 64 year old lady called Luay who died from lung cancer last week and was given a rather unusual sendoff in front of the temple crematorium. In her interesting life she had been a Ramwong Girl - a kind of dancer in short skirt famous for appearing at all kinds of events and accompanying “luuk thung” or country singers in their performances and videos. In later life she started her own troupe and it was these ladies - some perhaps a little the ‘wrong’ side of 50 - who turned out to perform three numbers before the fire was lit and Luay went upstairs through the chimney to join the dancers in the clouds. How beautiful to see the grieving celebrating a life well lived, clapping the performance and being comforted by comments that this is “exactly how she would have wanted to go”. Rooster has been to many Thai funerals though none were as sad as my first wedding...I jest. But they are not always as sad as you might think with many involving a lot of hard drinking and gambling, especially out in the sticks. And especially if the departed “enjoyed a good innings” as British people like to say. The common expression for a funeral in Thai is “ngaan sop”, the two component words meaning roughly “event” and directly, “corpse”. The latter word shows how Thais are far more attuned to death than most westerners who love to slather someone’s “passing” in euphemisms. My first Thai girlfriend who wanted to explain “ngaan sop” to me and didn’t know the word funeral went for the charming and direct translation of “party dead”. That summed it up neatly. People are dead, not passed, and shouldn’t it be a celebration too? I will never forget the death of a very close mid-thirties Scottish friend who very sadly succumbed to cancer in 2001. The Saturday before, his prognosis had seemed hopeful and we had happily watched Wimbledon together in his room at Bumrungrad. A couple of days later he was dead and on the next Saturday myself and many friends trooped off to a temple in Bang Mot where we were greeted by the unbelievable sight of our pal lying on a slab dressed in a suit, something all the more incongruous to us because we never saw him at work. We expected him to be nailed down already in a coffin. His Thai wife beckoned me forward and we kneeled together respectfully by Mike's body. She said calmly that if there was any reason to harbour any bad feelings towards my friend and her husband, we could wash them away by bathing his hand that she then stretched out for this purpose. It was incredibly moving and a poignant and unforgettable way to say goodbye to a dear friend. It provided a profound sense of closure. I keep some of his ashes in a place of honor in my condo to this day. A reminder of a special guy, and a reminder to live each day to the fullest. As always the week on ASEAN NOW was a brilliant mixture of the touching, the absurd and the utterly predictable, reminding those of us lucky enough to live in the kingdom why we are here and why so many are doing a PhD in “Thailand Pass Studies” just to visit! At Suwannaphum (my spelling) customs caught two young Pakistanis trying to traverse the Green Lane with more than 30 kilos of heroin and ketamine worth 95 million baht in instant tea sachets in their luggage. For this the hapless mules were paid the princely sum of 20,000 baht each. This brought to mind Oscar Wilde in America and I paraphrase: “We have nothing to declare but our stupidity”. The latest NIDA poll suggested that half of the Thai population never watch porn. Rooster extrapolated this to mean that half do. If only half admit such mischief to a pollster then the real figure is probably 90%. The two facedness about porn is one of the cornerstones of Thai culture - similar to the denial of prostitution. I never, ever watch it and of course never would…….if you get my drift. In crime news in Kanchanaburi a 50 something woman fainted when reporters pressed her for information following the shooting of a 27 year old man who had been sitting beside her in a pick-up stopped at the lights - as well she might. It emerged that the shooter who emptied his 9mm 11 times into her friend after chasing him on his bike to a nearby parking lot was in fact her own 29 year old son who was annoyed about the affair his mum was having with the younger guy who was a farmer from Phetchabun. I wonder if she’ll forgive her little boy or take him some sweeties in the clink. The shooter might do as much time as Ferrari Joe who the RTP are hanging out to dry after his shenanigans in Nakhon Sawan a couple of months back. Chief Suwat said on Monday that he expects “Chief Joe” to be drummed out of the force. No way Jose! Surely wrapping someone’s head in multiple layers of plastic, thereby murdering them, in an effort to get millions more baht to add to your paltry 600 million in cars, deserves a second chance. Where is your sense of fair play Gen Suwat? Or are all the inactive posts filled? A grim case of extortion and sex emerged after a mobile phone trader filmed two teens in the toilets having ‘relations’ (there’s my Blighty euphemisms kicking in…) He soon blackmailed the pair and after the boy went to get 5,000 at the ATM forced the 16 year old girl in school uniform to pleasure him in his CRV. He denied everything as the proverbial “investigations continued”. Tourism minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan made his second sensible comment in as many weeks. He really should be careful as this could make him stand out like a sore thumb in the cabinet. This time he said that the 2 pm to 5 pm alcohol ban in Thailand was unfathomable and he called for a repeal of the law. To promote tourism, you understand. Posters on the forum tried to recall which puritanical minister in the Thaksin era brought in these daft rules. They were originally designed to stop school kids having a tipple after school; that’s cruel, children need something strong after suffering rote learning in Thai school all day. Things got worse when the ban was extended to 7-Elevens, supermarkets and restaurants in the afternoon and 24 hours in gas stations. Ostensibly to stop people from drunk driving. Some countries around the world have laws and an entity called the police force that enforces them when it comes to DUI. Here in Thailand the issue is still treated with the most childish of kid gloves. This was exemplified as the DLT proudly rolled out their demerit points system on Wednesday for taxi, bus, tuk-tuk, and motorcycle taxi drivers as well as truckers. They all get 100 lovely points and to go to zero you’d have to get plastered several times, refuse to pick up anyone at all, leave the meter off 24/7 and generally behave more obnoxiously than Anutin, if that is possible. Even then you can top up the points by sleeping through a bit of “training”. What the translator didn’t mention was the way that drivers could go to zero from 100 in one fell swoop: “By damaging the reputation or image of Thailand”. Such a misdemeanour, tantamount to treason, was clearly high up in the minds of immigration and other officials who shut the door on government critic Yan Marchal for being a “threat to national security”. Readers will recall the Frenchman’s rather pithy song in Thai in 2019 mocking our leader who art in khaki, hollow be thy name, for attempting to return happiness to the people. Subsequently he garnered 600,000 followers on Twitter exceeding the “head above the parapet half million mark”.... Onliners had a field day pointing out that now he is heading out of the country he is really free to put his oar in! While one poster who shall remain nameless tickled me pink with an observation aimed at the government: “A threat to security? - more like a threat to their ego”. In lurgy news the emergence at the end of the previous week of the new Omicron variant had the Thais scurrying, as is their wont. Inevitably the widely praised decision to replace onerous and expensive RT-PCR tests with easy and cheap ATK swabs was reversed amid the hysteria of “expecting the worst”. OK, this may prove sensible but Rooster like millions of others could see what was coming when governments the world over started reacting to the new strain. As something of a wordsmith intimately familiar with the Greek alphabet because of Scrabble, I was intrigued by the WHO’s reasoning behind jumping over XI and NU - the former because it’s a familiar name (even a president who ought not to be offended) and the latter because it sounds like “New” and could be confusing. Earlier in the pandemic I pointed out that an anagram of CORONAVIRUS was CARNIVOROUS. The latest variant is even more meaty. It’s anagram is MORONIC, conspiracy theorists take note. Down in Pattaya a heavily tattooed Thai with the nickname “Duck Striped Face” was arrested and admitted robbing a female Russian tourist because he needed alcohol and drugs. ASEAN NOW’s staple of crime at “the resort” has tapered off during the pandemic despite the fact that whenever we report on crime posters say it is increasing because of the desperation of the people. I could be wrong but I’d say if our forum is anything to go by there has been less street crime like snatch theft and robbery in the pandemic. Maybe more problems online. In other news Central Group announced they were buying the famous British department store Selfridges while a fire on the eighth floor of Central World in downtown Bangkok killed several employees. Finally, in the rush to worry about “omicron” and coronavirus we should not forget other diseases that affect millions worldwide. One such virus is HIV and the WHO noted the continuing fight to raise awareness and stop stigma as World Aids Day was marked on December 1st. These days antiretroviral treatment means that tens of millions of HIV-ers around the world live normal lives and normal lifespans. Indeed those with what is called undetectable viral loads are not even infectious. But not everybody has access to treatment and deep seated prejudice and misinformation - ring any bells? - remains. Estimates vary but at least 600,000 to 700,000 HIV+ folk are in Thailand. Great strides have been made by many in Thailand both in the medical and pharmaceutical sectors and society in general but discrimination still exists. Suthep Ou-oun of a parliamentary labor affairs committee said on World Aids Day that discrimination against people illegally being made to prove they are HIV negative before getting jobs - and being denied employment if they test positive - still exists in Thailand. He said that this needs to end now. I second that and call for all people to work together to reduce inequalities, end stigma and get life saving treatment for all. I also call for anybody - male or female - who might have got the virus to have a test. Knowing your status is far, far better than ignorance. Don’t get carried away by Covid-19. Yes, it’s serious and “in vogue” but there are other conditions that persist and safeguards to take. Like wearing condoms or insisting on their use and looking right, left then right again when crossing the road. Rooster -- © Copyright ASEAN NOW 2021-12-04 - Whatever you're going through, the Samaritans are here for you - Follow ASEAN NOW on LINE for breaking COVID-19 updates
  10. Thailand won’t be opening a legal casino any time soon - you can bet on that! One of my favorite memories of travelling with Thais were almost annual trips to Las Vegas. Our party was always in the States to play in the National Scrabble Championships that were held throughout that vast nation. Full story: https://aseannow.com/topic/1241118-thailand-won’t-be-opening-a-legal-casino-any-time-soon-you-can-bet-on-that/
  11. One of my favorite memories of travelling with Thais were almost annual trips to Las Vegas. Our party was always in the States to play in the National Scrabble Championships that were held throughout that vast nation. We’d arrive in LA then be driven by van through the Nevada desert to Vegas, the way lit in later years by the circling beam atop the Luxor Hotel and Casino. Kind of beckoning the unwary. Several in our group wanted to have a little flutter before the word gaming began in New Orleans, Dallas or San Diego. Chief of these was a gorgeous Thai man who started the Scrabble scene in Thailand and who became my closest personal friend before his untimely death in 2017. On one occasion we went to check-in at the main desk of the Treasure Island Hotel and were quickly ushered into an ornate side room where there was free champagne and strawberries covered in Belgian chocolate. Due to the high rollers in our party everything about our stay - even for the non-gamblers among us was fully comped or free. The room, the food, the whole lot. My friend had me play some hands on his behalf at the “Pai Kow” poker table - thousands of dollars changed hands at the turn of each card. I enjoyed myself but it wasn’t my money. I’d play then go and eat free cheesecake and watch horse racing from around the world while getting drunk for nothing. Las Vegas for me was like one of the seven wonders of the world especially as I loved betting. But, not unreasonably, I’d always thought casino games were too stacked against the punter. I preferred horses though I never made any money in the long run. In Vegas it was amazing to see the panoply of people that traversed the Boulevard, visiting the incredible hotels and attractions. Go to shows like Siegfried and Roy and Cirque du Soleil. That’s if you could get out of the airport - the only one I’d ever been to that had hundreds of slot machines on the concourse! When we’d finished two or three nights in Vegas we moved on to play Scrabble for a measly $25,000 top prize none of us ever won. Far more was dropped by my buddies in Vegas. My very first trip to Asia was a baptism of fire especially in understanding the Asian love of gambling. I was on a stopover at the Philippines Village Hotel in Manila. I never saw Makati - I spent the entire time in the casino marvelling at people I imagined were Filipinos but were probably Chinese. In Australia at the races it always seemed to be Asian looking people putting on the big bucks. I read that when famed jockey Lester Piggott rode in Hong Kong one regular afternoon the betting turnover was more than that year’s Grand National in England, my homeland’s biggest gamble. Years later I witnessed this for myself at Shatin when the biggest crowd in the history of Hong Kong racing gathered at Chinese New Year. I was the leader of a school trip - we’d packed the kids off to do a version of The Amazing Race so we could go to the amazing races! Coming to Bangkok in the 1980’s it was clear that the Thais - almost to a man and certainly a woman - loved gambling. But perplexing that there seemed, at least on the surface, so few opportunities to bet. There was horse racing at Nang Lerng and the RBSC tracks and the national lottery, but little else. Or so I thought. My first girlfriend was arrested at a house and had to pay 1,500 baht in fines for playing cards. This was a large sum at the time. Thereafter there was a big scandal in the Japanese community in which I taught English after a group of Sukhumvit housewives were arrested playing Mahjong. The penny was gradually dropping about gambling in Thailand. It was rife and everywhere and the Thais were wild about wagering! These days illegal casinos - so I am told - exist everywhere. In addition Thais these days are obsessed with online gambling particularly on casino games and foreign football. Betting is a part of weddings and even funerals. I suppose you have got to enjoy yourselves at such occasions….. Yet a strange relationship exists around the subject - not unlike many people’s interaction with the Buddhist religion or prostitution. Many know it goes on, even take part themselves, but love to blame it in public for society’s ills. It’s the ultimate in two-facedness and used by those who profit from the trade as cover. The week on ASEAN NOW started with an announcement that MPs were going to debate opening a legal casino in Thailand. Then one MP proposed that an “entertainment complex”, complete with a luxury hotel, shopping, race track and theme park could be opened in Hua Hin to promote tourism. The subject of a legal casino is one of the hottest of hot potatoes in Thailand and has been raised every year since Somchai and Bunkerd bet on which fly would depart the Som Tam first. The result of the debates is always the same and probably always will be. The proposals flounder and are then forgotten until the next time when the cycle goes on. Politicians and police always hide behind the societal ills that could result (as if they don’t exist already!). In fact one Maj-Gen burbled on about penury, prison misery before it was even raised in the House. The reason for this is that casinos are everywhere. They exist with the connivance of the local police who profit by them either directly as owners or in “look the other way” bribes. Politicians are more likely to be the owners of what Thais call “bons”. And this is why nothing will change. The very people who might change the law are those who could lose out. The very people who supposedly enforce the law would also be out of pocket. Thailand won’t be opening a legal casino any time soon unless someone comes to power who is willing to take on the mafia in brown or the mafia that sits in judgment. You can bet on that! The House debate took place on Thursday and Daily News reported that there was consensus that it was a good idea. ASEAN NOW said the idea was gaining traction. That will look like the case until the friction kicks in along with inertia. So what was accomplished on Thursday? They set up an “extraordinary committee” to look into the matter. The only extraordinary thing is that they bothered rather than simply quitting the house early and going to one of the dozens of illegal casinos in the Thai capital that already exist. In lurgy news it was another busy week. The CCSA managed to blame foreigners for not wearing masks then in the same breath balanced this with castigating hotels for fleecing the tourists with sharp practices. It was almost comforting that Thailand was getting back to normal. ASEAN NOW started a series of “Covid Tales” after a request was made for your stories about trying to get into Thailand and getting vaxxed. One that caught my eye was a 78 year old man in the north who implored people to get vaccinated with any vaccine rather than wait for Moderna. Many on the forum have revealed themselves as little more than vaccine snobs in rejecting free offers for Sinovac and AstraZeneca so they can pay 3,100 baht for Moderna. As the poster pointed out in reference to a story about a friend, it was better to get any protection as quickly as you could, especially if old or infirm. The same point was made by health minister Anutin who seemed almost sensible until he started ranting again about illegal nightclubs spreading the virus and having been responsible for the misery of the last 6 months. Inevitably he praised his lord and master Uncle Too and looked a bit silly, not least for the fact that several government ministers were in the Thong Lo member clubs and elsewhere back in April and the absurd decision to hold a free-for-all Songkran proved disastrous. Now that nearly 100 million doses of vaccine have been administered - and more donations continue to arrive - the health minister and his cronies think we will forget and forgive his mistakes. We won’t. Pathumwan plod raided restaurants serving alcohol in Central World. Thirty of them managed to find a glass of beer on the table. A couple of managers took the fall for the “War Against Booze”. Drinkers have been the main targets in more face-saving, scapegoat hunting distractions perpetrated by the authorities to mask their inadequacies. Earlier the minister said he was determined to find the “missing 10 million” who were either hesitant to get vaxxed or who had been unable to. Better news followed later in the week when it emerged that the onerous RT-PCR test for foreign arrivals would be replaced soon by a simple ATK swab. How this will be done - and how the authorities will profit by it - has yet to be decided. The Association of Thai Travel Agents even called for the 500 baht tourism fee not to be levied just yet. They understand as every poster worth his salt on the forum did months ago that levying such a fee right now was a very bad look. Then annoying transport minister Saksayam was jumping up and down saying that the reopening of Thailand was a great success as 100,000 had come in just 25 days. Anutin completed the madness by burbling that December 1st would see more easing, if only we are all good, little compliant children. In print media the RTP admitted (and then denied) that they think Red Bull Boss is living in Austria. It makes no odds, they are completely unable to do anything about him especially with the Yoovidhya family giving them the finger. More government cock-ups were revealed when AirAsia suspended flights from Hua Hin to Chiang Mai and back. The timing of runway improvements were at the heart of this debacle. In “Poll News” we were told - yet again - what we all knew. That about half of all Thai kids are brought up by their grandparents. I know it’s an economic necessity for millions but I really wish that parents who can’t look after their kids just don't have any. It’s unfair on the elderly and unfair on the children. The story produced the standard attacks on Thai parenting in general and boys and Thai men in particular. Some on the forum have clearly only met women in bars and base their opinions of Thai males on their pimps. Rooster had such prejudices for a while until I started meeting more Thai men. I suggest some forum posters would benefit by doing likewise. As always, the mood was lightened by several stories that reminded us why we love Thailand and have made it our home. These included an ad from a mattress company for a committed sleeper who could earn 35K a month if “lethargy was their strong point” and they had a “passion for sleeping”. Candidates could be found on any bus in the heat of the day. Even more dosh - 90,000 baht - was offered for a buffet dishwasher though the cheeky ad was really one for a contractor to hire seven or eight people. On Thursday a Khanom Tokyo seller in Chiang Mai who - shock horror - sold her wares without wearing a bra, was visited by the cops and the culture vultures. The former showed her how to cook the books while the latter advised more decorum when it comes to cleavage. In Prachinburi a Portuguese man trying to reconcile with his Thai girlfriend jumped on the hood of a ladyboy’s pick-up and was driven halfway down the road. Finally, best picture of the week was a group of senior police “graaping” and returning 63 million baht in cash to an abbot who’d been embezzled. As Thailand journo legend Bernard Trink was wont to remark: Any comment would be superfluous. Rooster -- © Copyright ASEAN NOW 2021-11-28 - Whatever you're going through, the Samaritans are here for you - Follow ASEAN NOW on LINE for breaking COVID-19 updates
  12. Getting back to normal - not the New Normal just NORMAL! All of our lives have been so disrupted over the last couple of years that most of us are understandably desperate to get back to normal. Not the ghastly “New Normal” the authorities and us journos try to push down your throats. The old normal - our old 2019 lives - when little did we know, we were freer and happier than we thought. When we innocently couldn’t imagine what the next few years would hold in store. Full story: https://aseannow.com/topic/1240256-getting-back-to-normal-not-the-new-normal-just-normal/
  13. All of our lives have been so disrupted over the last couple of years that most of us are understandably desperate to get back to normal. Not the ghastly “New Normal” the authorities and us journos try to push down your throats. The old normal - our old 2019 lives - when little did we know, we were freer and happier than we thought. When we innocently couldn’t imagine what the next few years would hold in store. For this columnist getting back to normal is a subject of even greater poignancy following the near drowning of my eight year old daughter earlier this month. I was craving hearing the normality of two kids arguing, witnessing a mother scolding them for not doing this or that. Having something as simple as a bedtime hug or taking them out for a Happy Meal. Were I not a devout atheist my prayers would have been answered on Tuesday. After four days in ICU and eight on a communal ward my wife and child returned to my Ratchayothin roost. Within two days my daughter was jumping off a jetty into a lake, going off on a paddle board as if it was the easiest thing in the world. Mrs R brilliantly resisted the temptation to fuss. A close friend who has a precious daughter of his own struggled to hold back tears. Tears of joy this time. We all marvelled at the resilience of children. As my little one surfaced after diving into the depths, I returned her smile and kissed her on the forehead. Wondering how I would put my overwhelming feelings into words. I guess I just did. Normal was starting to come back and that’s all we wanted. Normal this week was Rooster back reading and translating the Thai news for ASEAN NOW. Normal was the usual array of characters that make up the motley crew of jokers otherwise known as politicians, tourism officials and doctors; Prayut, Anutin, Yutthasak and co. all vied for attention, clicks and laughs! Most disconcerting given my recent experience was Prayut who gave what the press described as a “strange speech” in Krabi. Hesitant to click but feeling duty bound I did. It was like a screen had appeared instead of a mirror in the bedroom wardrobe. Yikes! It was like Prayut was some Phee Chai (Big Brother) and I was Winston Smith. He seemed to know more about me than I did. (Well he did famously say years ago that he’d read Animal Farm, though he thought it was a manual about raising pigs). “Kids must be able to swim”, he advised. Er, yes General, I mean, sir. Swimming very important, sir, thought a flustered Rooster. “Kids must be able to speak two languages” another edict followed. Yessir, English and Thai, reading and writing too, we’re doing our best. “And you must exercise” boomed the all seeing PM from behind the monitor. Yes indeed sir! I promise I’ll get back on the bike just as soon as I’ve had my bacon and eggs and three pieces of fried bread, oh master. Seriously, the content of these messages didn’t seem weird to me. More like practical good sense. Though the PM’s claim that being able to swim means no danger from drowning should come with a Rooster caveat after recent events; my kid caught her long hair in a suction pipe. Health minister Anutin’s normal message was anything but. He sounded like a normal human being, itself very abnormal. His measured and sensible interview with Daily News about the unvaccinated facing restrictions in everyday life and possibly not being able to do certain jobs smacked of thoughtfulness rather than his usual off-the-cuff bombast. As several posters on the forum pointed out, the anti-vaxxers who insisted on going out during the height of the pandemic may soon find that they are thoroughly restricted in post-lurgy times. Quite frankly they should be. It is incumbent on everyone in a responsible society to act in a way for the greater good. If you are not medically exempt, get jabbed. Save yourself and help others. Arguments against vaccination are absurd, like climate change deniers. Renounce, renounce! It’s been proven that the earth is not flat, buddy! Anutin spoke of human rights (no one is forced to have a vaccine of course), of the rights of employers to protect their staff and other customers. Of business owners to serve who they bloomin’ well please. He even compared his own difficulties in being effectively barred from Switzerland to make a valid point about being properly vaxxed - or else. Fair play to him this week. TAT chief Yutthasak’s appearance reminded me of Marlon Brando in The Godfather talking about reading the “Funny Papers”. After a break he was back spouting his crystal ballpark figures of 18 million tourists next year spending a trillion baht. Here at ASEAN NOW we have to thank dear Khun Yutthasak. He’s given us more than our fair share of stories. I beg the powers that be not to replace him. We love him! Even though he is more barking than a Pit Bull tearing a three year old apart in the soi. Maybe we should make ASEAN NOW t-shirts emblazoned with “We Love You Yutthasak” - they might replace the Singha singlets in Pattaya given time. In related news the BBC’s Thai team stated the BO (bleedin’ obvious) in a story about tourism recovery based on an HSBC report. The sector will not recover without the Chinese. As much as the central kingdom bashers want Europeans and Americans to reinhabit the Thai earth, it ain’t going to happen in sufficient numbers folks. When Mr Xi says go, go they will. Bucking this nonsense was an extremely popular piece based on the comments of Thanet Supharothatrangsi, the chief of the Chonburi tourism business association. He slammed the government for their rhetoric, said the only visitors since November 1st were returning expats with families and condos in Thailand, screamed about the nonsensical booze ban and criticized the ridiculous hurdles and hoops that tourists have to go through before they feel free in Thailand. Restrictions that are making even hellholes like Cambodia look appealing. Of course all this was just what people on our forum have been saying for yonks. But Thanet - ably assisted by Rooster’s use of English to translate his words - got 120 “likes” - a large amount for a long story. Posters cried “At last a man with sense,” “We’ve been saying it all along, thanks for listening” and the inevitable “He could be in line for some attitude adjustment”. Yutthasak responded by saying that Emirates airbuses would be bringing in 500 baying tourists a time, “Test and Go” was really rather spiffing and quality tourists were the panacea Thailand needs to return to the normal of 2019. To round it off he started musing about the cool season coming quickly this year being auspicious for tourism. Reminiscent of tourism minister Pipat who said early last year that the Songkran winds would blow Covid away by April. How these two jokers have kept their jobs would be baffling until one appreciates how many other incompetents have kept theirs. Meanwhile, the Department of Land Transport raised their heads above the parapet to announce that a demerit points system for public vehicles - not just buses, but taxis, tuk-tuks and motorcycle riders - would help make their drivers safer and more polite. They will get 100 points and if they go through a red light ten, twenty or thirty points will be scrubbed off. It was impossible to find out precisely how much. The DLT also said that suspensions could effectively be avoided, if they go down to “nil point”, by passing a few hours of training and getting 50 points back! I’ve seen this training while getting a licence. It involves sleeping while a carnage-cum-nasty video plays on an old TV. The DLT’s approach is pathetically inadequate and over lenient. Thailand needs stricter rules, more severe fines and punishment and far greater enforcement to reverse decades of laissez-faire on the roads. And it needs to be brought to bear on the wider public, not just the drivers of public vehicles. At the moment all these points being handed out are of the face saving variety. The alcohol ban found predictable support in the shape of teetotal Prayut and Dr Wattanayingcharoenchai who Rooster said came out with a longer list of reasons to keep the bars shut than his surname! Apparently it was something to do with the pharynx. I had to check that it was not a new spelling of Farangs, but no, he was talking about Covid germs wantonly speeding down the gullet highway of drinkers and merrily parking in the lungs. It was another bad week for Ferrari Joe who must be wishing he’d scarpered like Red Bull Boss when he had the chance. The death penalty was mentioned. That’s not going to happen, of course, but the sheer mention of the ultimate sanction - if it is indeed worse than a life in Thai clink - indicates that Suwat and his RTP cronies are hanging the former chief of the Nakhon Sawan nick and his associates out to dry. In grisly crime news, a despicable nanny and two others were charged with murder after attacking three year old Bas in Bang Khun Thian and dumping him still alive into a klong in Samut Prakan. Then a so-called father who was criticized for drinking rather than getting a phone for his two year old, unloaded his 9mm at his wife but missed killing his child with a bullet to the face. He turned the gun on himself but even messed that up and unfortunately lived. Moves were made by an OnlyFans star to legalize porn in Thailand. This caused the culture minister Itthiphol Khunpluem to say that “culture is more important than personal freedom”. Twaddle. Especially coming from the mouth of someone from a family whose father thought nothing of having a rival shot dead. Finally, I’ve been congratulating myself in lockdown saving heaps of Rooster readies by making my own pizzas for 18 months. Predictably, this now seems like a false economy after I bit one of my rock hard crusts, cracked a molar and am facing a 30,000 baht dental implant. Yes, I need to get back to normal. Back to Pizza Hut. Rooster -- © Copyright ASEAN NOW 2021-11-21 - Whatever you're going through, the Samaritans are here for you - Follow ASEAN NOW on LINE for breaking COVID-19 updates
  14. One Night in Bangkok makes a Brit guy crumble - even today Rooster is not "remotely in control!" There’s no changing the past. We have our memories but the here and now and the future are what matters most. Regrets are largely pointless; moving on and learning from our mistakes are key. Full story: https://aseannow.com/topic/1239385-one-night-in-bangkok-makes-a-brit-guy-crumble-even-today-rooster-is-not-remotely-in-control/
  15. There’s no changing the past. We have our memories but the here and now and the future are what matters most. Regrets are largely pointless; moving on and learning from our mistakes are key. Such sentiments loomed large in the last week as my family began the recovery, both physical and psychological, from the trauma of the incident at the condo pool. I recalled with some trepidation a time when having a family seemed like opting for a prison sentence - giving up the enjoyable recklessness of youth for the boring responsibilities of true adulthood. It was 1986 and I was being tossed up and down in a tuk-tuk outside Lumpini Park trying to read a letter (yes, those things we used to get) from my Filipina ex-girlfriend in Sydney. We’d split up months earlier at New Year; I’d told her I loved Thailand more than her, or words to that effect. How nice.... As I scanned the words, what really registered was an inclusion in the letter. An ultrasound picture of a baby in the womb…. It was resolved later after many machinations that Charity (who had a twin sister Faith...there was no Hope) would visit with the now seven month old boy in June, 1987. The date was set as I excitedly prepared for their late night Don Muang arrival. Final preparation was with two mates over several stiff beverages at the infamous Thermae Coffee shop, where entry was by the toilets. When the time came for my moment with destiny we all took off to the airport to meet mother and child from down under. In the meantime, unbeknownst to me, one of my Japanese housewives had called my apartment to cancel her upcoming English lesson. The call was taken by my flatmate’s Thai girlfriend, home alone, whose English was just as bad as the student’s. She determined that this was in fact a call from Australia and that my Filipina was not coming to Bangkok after all. The reality was the complete opposite. On arrival at Don Muang I was paged and told to call home where my flatmate informed me that the ex and baby son were indeed not coming. “Oh Joy!” - the three of us piled back into a taxi and returned to the Thermae where by means of celebration Rooster teamed up with a “JBC” as we used to call the desperate ladies wanting to be taken care of for the night. This Juke Box Casualty was known to me as “Mrs Peacock” as she had a husband in the UK. Like the rest of us she had been listening to Murray Head’s “One Night in Bangkok” that was still all the rage. Though it was about Chess it had become a Bangkok anthem. (Bargirls used to imagine the lyric “you’ll find a god in every golden cloister” was in fact “golden Kloster”...) Off we all trooped in a tuk-tuk back to our apartment in Soi 39 where “yaam” (the name we all gave to the “gateman”) was wide-eyed in disbelief. These idiotic Englishmen had behave badly before but now this…. “Tham arai wa” (what the hell are you up to now). “Mia maa laew, mia maa laew, yuu khang bon ay...” - Your wife has arrived! She’s upstairs you numpty! Barely able to comprehend this turn of events I sprinted up the stairs and opened the front door. On seeing a pram laden with nappies I slammed it shut in panic and belted off downstairs to pay off a bemused Mrs Peacock. Charity and the baby - now seven months old - were still awake in my bedroom having been let in by the maid. She had arrived and finding me absent had been taken under the wing of some concerned construction workers who had given her a lift in their truck to downtown Bangkok. I’m afraid that after a three week holiday from hell I decided at age 25 that I was not ready for fatherhood. Her dad came to pick her up. A few days later her mum - The Wicked Witch of the Western Suburbs - telephoned to say that she had hired a hitman and I would be dead presently. I sat in the back of bars and restaurants for a while, keeping a close eye on the door. It was three more years before I married a Thai woman and several later when I had two children who I took responsibility for and cherished. While this “night in Bangkok” was a monumental one in my life I often pondered what might have been if I’d been less of a jerk. But ultimately what is the point of regrets or recriminations? I made my choice and lived by it and the Filipina’s parents ultimately raised their grandson. My thanks to the many posters who empathized and showed their support after the near death experience of my eight year old - a child of a subsequent marriage - who was saved by my wife with CPR after her long hair was caught in a swimming pool suction pipe at my condo on November 4th. The news is great - she is making a full recovery after four nights in ICU. At the time of writing she is being looked after in a communal ward at the National Children’s Hospital by Mrs Rooster while I take care of our other daughter at home. We were lucky on so many levels. The condo management said they would pay our bills. These won’t be much - the private hospital - 30,000 baht a night for ICU - said the government would pay almost everything as it was an emergency. At the government hospital - where she was transferred due to the presence of a specialist in children’s lungs - she was covered by Bat Thong - universal health coverage. I took the precaution of filing a report of the incident with the Phahonyothin police who heard me out and did a professional job. I don’t intend to sue anybody. I was shocked to see that there was a volunteer lawyer at a desk in a corner of the station. He said that my actions were all good so far. The sign said that he was pro bono; I smiled thinking I didn’t care much for U2 myself. Fortunately, we have all kept our sense of humor and the smiles of my once stricken daughter have replaced the tubes that kept her alive. I took most of the week off work as a translator for ASEAN NOW though the following stories mostly from the last seven days and some before caught my beady eye: PM Prayut enjoyed his moments hobnobbing with Boris and co at the Glasgow climate change conference COP26. He thought it was about policing until 2526 but I’m sure his advisors put him right and explained that not all emissions come from his mouth and the illegal burning of sugar cane fields. He returned to Bangkok to hear that governor Aswin - another general - had predicted more PM 2.5 this year. Ah, another two and a half years at the helm, mused Prayut contentedly. He was obliged to bark some orders before going to the mess (where officers eat, not the November 1st reopening of Thailand). These were to fix the “Thailand Pass” debacle, the latest IT project that wasn’t tested properly and resulted in predictable glitches. A tourism expert said that it’d be 2022 before leisure travellers returned to the kingdom, clearly articulating that most of those so far are returnees, as everyone knew. Richard Barrow featured stories about several arrivals left in the lurch after testing positive for Covid on arrival in Thailand or being close to those with the lurgy. Well, they took their chance and frankly there were only a few handfuls of such unfortunate cases probably covered by the mandatory insurance. Meanwhile the TAT’s Yuthasak banged his drum about wanting “high value travellers”, 80% or airlines returned their high season airport slots and it was announced that Thailand was 18th in the world after vaxxing 80 million souls. Apropos the Oxford English Dictionary announced their word of the year: It had to be VAX! They also mentioned “anti-vaxxer” and “double-vaxxed” as candidates and noted that the use of the word pandemic had rocketed 57,000%. Rooster played his first Bangkok Scrabble tourney in a year the other week. We had a new dictionary to use after the wokes at Mattel demanded that 400 slurs were now to be deleted. These include ABO, HONKY and LEZ. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrived burbling about business and went to visit the Triumph Motorcycle factory. Hopefully the workers there cleaned up the oil spills from the leaking engines….. Loy Krathong will be celebrated nationwide next Friday, November 19th. It will be interesting to see the crowds; my own trips to shops and Chatuchak weekend market post November 1st D-Day meant seeing large numbers of people out for the first time in a year and a half. There is a firework, lantern and Chinese cracker ban for Loy Krathong in Krung Thep. This always reminds me of my first LK at Chula in the 80’s when I was struck in the stomach by a rocket. And back to my primary school in London in the 60’s when all children took in a Roman Candle or Catherine Wheel in their satchels for the PTA display on November 5th. Times changed in the west and they still need to in Thailand and elsewhere when it comes to the peril posed by fireworks. In lighter news a village headman in Don Mod Daeng, Ubon, called the police after seeing a naked man loitering up against a wall. After Plod discovered it was a mannequin the village chief said he might need new glasses. The same could be said for Rooster. After secretly congratulating myself for manfully acting as the head of the family in a crisis, being in charge and responsible in the wake of my daughter’s near tragedy, myself and my five year old wondered where on earth the TV remote had disappeared to. The backs of chairs and sofas were checked, under table areas were examined, upstairs at the duplex, in bathrooms, cupboards opened. Everywhere. No luck. Baffled and panicked that I might not be able to switch from one EPL match to another, the riddle was finally solved in the kitchen area. The True remote was found covered by paper and slathered in discarded food in the deep recesses of the rubbish bin. Yes, I’m completely in control. Rooster -- © Copyright ASEAN NOW 2021-11-14 - Whatever you're going through, the Samaritans are here for you - Follow ASEAN NOW on LINE for breaking COVID-19 updates
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