Thailand Land of Smiles Wed, 11 Jun 2008 08:44:03 +0000 en with My Yahoo!Subscribe with NewsGatorSubscribe with My AOLSubscribe with RojoSubscribe with BloglinesSubscribe with NetvibesSubscribe with GoogleSubscribe with PageflakesSubscribe with PlusmoSubscribe with FeedLoungeSubscribe with Thai Air Expected to Drop New York-Bangkok Route Sat, 07 Jun 2008 03:51:13 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Thai Air Expected to Drop New York-Bangkok Route", url: "" });]]>

Updated June 9th.

If you go to the Thai Air Website and try to book a flight from the end of June the first thing you’ll notice is that round trip Economy class seats are over $5000 and the second is that all the flights from the end of June through the summer are sold out.

Rumors have been circling for the past two years that Thai Air would drop the non stop New York to Bangkok route due to money loss and now with the huge fuel increases it seems the rumors will come true. Thai Air executives are to meet sometime in the coming week to determine if the non stop New York to Bangkok flights will be scaled back from six weekly flights to three or if the route will be dropped completely.

Since May of 2005 Thai Air has operated six non stop flights weekly from New York to Bangkok…and since May 2005 Thai Air has lost money on this route. Although the planes were always at 70%-80% capacity, the higher priced business and first class seats were never close to capacity.

Economy seats in the last two years have averaged $1000.00 round trip and from my experience there was never an empty seat in economy class. Premium Economy was generally around $1400.00 while Business class and Royal Silk (first class) went from $3000.00 to $7000.

With a flight time of 17 hours the non stop flight was the fastest way to get to Thailand from the East coast of America. Using Airbus A340-500s made for a very comfortable flight, even in Economy class…although it wasn’t even close to being fuel efficient. With long flights like this using large planes you have to burn more fuel just to carry the needed fuel.

Sinagapore Airlines is facing a similar problem with it’s non stop flights to America but has chosen to opt for an all Business class seating arangement to offset rising fuel costs and empty seats. Thai Air has no such plans in the works and all signs point to a full shut down of the New York to Bangkok route as of July 1st.

Thai Air is continuing to book fares for this flight from early June at their website but all flights after the middle of June are showing as sold out. It’s believed that these flights and previously booked flights for the summer months will be rerouted to LAX via Star Alliance member United Airlines. This added flight will add three hours to flight time and seems will be the norm if leaving from the Eastern United States to Thailand.

Thai Air isn’t expected to drop it’s non stop flight from LAX and indeed flights are showing through the summer months…at much higher rates.

Update: The Bangkok Post has reported that Thai
Airways Officials have indeed suspended flights from NYC as of July
1st. They maintain that the direct flight from LAX will continue but
with a reduced flight schedule. The LAX-Bangkok route will now only be
in service five days a week instead of the previous seven day a week



Foreign Currency on the Rise Again in Thailand Wed, 04 Jun 2008 01:59:34 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Foreign Currency on the Rise Again in Thailand", url: "" });]]> With rumors of a coup and continued protesting in the capitol The Thai government doesn’t seem to have a handle on the serious implications these factors have on the Thai economy and it’s rising inflation. Central banks across Asia were betting on a global slowdown to slow price increases. With U.S. and European export demands slowing down domestic consumption is rising steadily pushing inflation rates as high as 26% across Asia.

Bloomberg Reports show benchmark borrowing costs are lower than the rate of inflation resulting in negative real interest rates in Thailand, China, and the Philippines. Thailand has held it’s main rate at 3.25% for the past year while inflation has tripled to 6.2 %. There has been a strong boom in the Asian economy the past few years with all Asian currencies gaining on the dollar but investors have good reason to worry after the boom bust cycle of the 1980’s and early 90’s which led to a stampede of investors pulling money out of Asia plunging currency from Bangkok to Beijing. The longer Thailand and it’s neighbors delay anti-inflation action the greater the risk for another bust.

Whats bad for the Asian Economy has a small silver lining for those of us taking our foreign currency to the kingdom. The dollar has been gaining on the baht over the last week and now stands at 32.29 and rising to the dollar. Even though prices are increasing in Thailand you’ll still get more bang for your buck.

The Thai government is only feeding the fire with its political infighting which really boils down to the same problem it’s had for the past few years…Thaksin. Although he is no longer Prime Minister and his Party, Thai Rak Thai, was disbanded the majority party of the new government , Peoples Power Party, is the same Thai Rak Thai in sheeps clothing.

The current round of protests are due to the new Prime Minister SamakSundaravej’s meddling in the recent 2007 military drafted constitution trying to amend it with changes that would protect corrupt politicians and Keep former Prime Minister Thaksin from being prosecuted on charges of corruption.

Someone better start minding the store if they don’t want to re-live the economic crash of 1997.



MapJack Taking on Google’s Street View Wed, 28 May 2008 22:58:32 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "MapJack Taking on Google’s Street View", url: "" });]]> Mapjack and Google’s street view will give you street level tours of a city as if you were there walking through the city and looking around. This is achieved by having cars or vans drive through the city with specialized cameras taking pictures at certain intervals on every street to achieve what they call Immersive Street-Side Imagery.

With only a few cities added so far MapJack, a geo imaging company headquatered in Hong Kong and Thailand, has already published 6 cities on it’s site. Four in the U.S. and two in Thailand… Chiang Mai and more notably Pattaya.

The Main difference between Google’s street view and Mapjack is the Fact that Mapjack doesn’t blur out faces or License plates as Google does to protect privacy. MapJack wants to give users “an immersive feeling of actually being there” - an effect enhanced by the use of images captured by cameras mounted on backpack-carrying cameramen walking through areas cars cannot go. MapJack is also the first to add image sets of cities outside the U.S.

Apparently The Pattaya image set was taken just a few months ago and it shows everything through it’s tour of sin city from the Tourists to the bar girls and everything in between. Although there are many people like me who wouldn’t care if their picture got snapped and uploaded to such an image map you can bet there are a lot of tourists that don’t want to be seen…specifically seen on Walking Street or in Boyz Town with a ladyboy in tow. MapJack captures Pattaya in all it’s glory.

Surprisingly, according to a MapJack spokesman, no one has complained as of yet and if asked they can and will blur out faces or license plates upon request.

MapJack actually uses Google’s map template but has added functionality with different buttons and navigation tools.

Fortunately, for the shy ones among you who visit Pattaya, Google has recently announced that it will be adding automatic face blurring technology to it’s street view software soon. The upgraded street view will be retroactive to all image sets already out there including the one of Pattaya. It looks like Google will have the last word on this one.

If you search on Mapjack you’ll notice only the Thai city of Chiang Mai exists. Apparently they thought better of adding Pattaya directly so it has it’s own special place…as it should. Pattaya Photo Guide.



Picking up the Garbage Thai Style Sat, 24 May 2008 22:14:52 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Picking up the Garbage Thai Style", url: "" });]]> The first thing you’ll notice, if you’re up at that ungodly hour, is that Thai garbage trucks usually have more trash on them than in them! You’ll see garbage bags piled on top of the truck and tied off to the back and sides. As they pick up the trash they also go through it and separate out the recyclables. Glass in one bag…plastic in another etc.

From the times I’ve witnessed the trash pickup I don’t think I’ve seen them throw more than a small amount into the trash hopper, most is sorted into other bags. Now, I’m not sure if this is a company practice or if it’s the garbage mans own initiative. I’ve seen other people get to the trash before the garbage men to claim the recyclables for themselves and from what I’ve heard they can make a few hundred baht a day doing this. I would suspect it’s a trash companies initiative to sort out the trash because from my observations it takes quite a while for the garbage truck to move down a block and I would think the company would be pissed at the pick up taking so long if they weren’t in on it.

You can be sure the garbage men get something out of it though….decorations for their truck!

You may be asking yourself what the hell is the fascination with garbage trucks and just why I’m up at that ungodly hour noticing these things anyway? Well, when you’re sitting at your favorite bar at 6am or you have to walk back to Sukhumvit soi 4 in Bangkok very early in the morning to meet your ride because you didn’t have a hotel room and a kind Woman took you in for the night…well, you just notice these kinda things.

You’ll even notice those damned tourists have to have their pictures taken with the garbage trucks!

Authors note: Any resemblance of above pictured author tourist and this blogs author is mere coincidence…everyone has a twin somewhere and mine just happens to like to have his picture taken with garbage trucks! If it were me I would have a good reason though…it’s soi 8….it’s 7am…and I was drunk…

Edit: 5 points to the first person that spots the panda bear…points can be redeemed on Friday’s between 4:01 am and 4:02 am for really cheap prizes!

Edit #2: Watch the google ads on this post…the best one so far ” Inspirational Thailand Tours” …see other people like garbage too :)



Visakha Bucha Day in Thailand Mon, 19 May 2008 00:47:56 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Visakha Bucha Day in Thailand", url: "" });]]> Today is Visakha Bucha day in Thailand. Visakha Bucha is a very important day in Buddhist tradition as it marks the birth of Prince Siddhatha Gotama who Became Buddha thirty five years after his birth, and died 45 years after becomoning Buddha. All three of these events happened on the 15th day of the waxing moon
in the 6th lunar month,which is the day of the full moon.

Throughout Thailand people will be heading to temples to take part in ceremonies and give flowers, incense, and other gifts to Pay respect to the great teacher Buddha. At temples such as Wat Phra That Phanom many people will gather and circle the great pagoda three times before giving their respects. The great pagoda at Wat Phra That Phanome was built eight years after Buddha’s death and houses his collar bone which is revered as a holy relic.

The following history of Visakha Bucha is courtesy of the Royal Thai Consulate General in Vancouver.

(Vesak) means the worship of the Buddha on the full moon day of the
sixth lunar month. It usually falls in May. In the case of a year with
an extra eighth lunar month–Adhikamasa (there are 13 full moons in
that year)– the Visakha Bucha Day falls on the full moon day of the
seventh lunar month.


The Vesak full moon day
(The full moon day of Sixth lunar month)

Bucha Day is one of the most important days in Buddhism because of
three important incidents in the life of The Buddha, i.e. the birth,
the enlightenment and the passing away, miraculously fall on the same
month and date, the Vesak full moon day. .So each year, Buddhists
throughout the world gather together to perform the worship to
recollect the wisdom, purity and compassion of the Buddha.


The Buddha was a king by birth. His clan name was Gotama. He was born
in Sakya Kingdom, eighty years before the Buddhist Era (around 2625
year ago), at Lumbini Park (now called Rummindel, in Nepal, north of
India), in Madhayama Pradesa, located between Kapilavastu, capital of
the Sakya Kingdom and Devadaha, capital of the Koliya Kingdom, on
Friday, the Vesak full moon day in the year of the dog.

Prince Siddhatha (the Buddha’s personal name) was the son of King
Suddhodana and Queen Sirimahamaya. On his birthday, Queen Sirimahamaya
who was pregnant, wanted to pay a visit to Devadaha wich was her native

In the morning of the Vesak Full moon day, the Queen left Kapilavastu
on a visit to Devadaha. Approaching a lovely park of Sals trees called
Lumbini, located between the two capitals but nearer to Devadaha, the
Queen wanted to visit the park and when she arrived at a Sal tree she
started contractions and gave birth to a son there. When the Kings of
Kapilavastu and Devadaha learned this, they were very happy and
arranged a procession back to Kapilavastu.

Prince Siddhatta was brought up in the midst of luxury, led the happy
life of a privileged youth and married at the age of 16 to Princess
Yasodhara or Bimba who bore him a son, Rahula.

He discontened and took on the life of a wandering ascetic a the bank of the Anoma River. He was then 29.

He studied the mystic practices of the foremost Brahmin ascetics and
realized that such practices were not the way to enlightenment. He went
on his own way applying the reflective thought of conscious meditation
to a rational simple life of moderation.

At the age of 35, he attained Enlightenment at Uruvelasenanigama
subdistrict, Magadha State, (nowadays, located in the area of Buddha
Kaya, Bihar State, India), on Wednesday, the Vesak Full moon day, the
year of the cock, forty five years before the Buddhist Era.

The Dhamma discovered by the Buddha was Ariyasacca or the Four Noble Truths, namely:

The Noble Truth of Suffering

The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering

The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering

The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Extinction of Suffering

After having attained Enlightenment, the Buddha wandered from place to
place teaching his discoveries to people who are accessible to
instruction, helping large numbers of them achieve various levels of
spiritual attainment. He sent his followers to spread Buddhism in
capitals, cities and upcountry, until Buddhism was firmly established
and widely spread.

The Buddha passed away on Tuesday, the Vesak full moon day in the year
of the small snake under the two Sal trees in the Sala Grove of the
Mallas in Kusinara, capital of the Malla State, (nowadays located in
Kusinagara of Uttrarapradesa, India) at the age of eighty (around 2545
years ago).

The performance of the rituals on Visakha Bucha day had been
continuously observed in Jambudavipa or India, the motherland of
Buddhism, for a long time before Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka and
Thailand. There, the Visakha worship has been continually observed to
the present day.

In Thailand, Visakha Bucha observance began during the Sukhuthai period
(around 700 years ago), because of the close religious relations
between Thailand and Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan monks came to propagate
Buddhism in Thailand and were highly respected. Thai monks also went to
study in Sri Lanka. It’s believed that, those monks introduced this
ceremony to the King and people at that time.

More pictures of Wat Phra That Phanom can be seen in the gallery Wat Phra That Phanom.



Do You Know Enough Thai in Case of an Emergency? Sat, 17 May 2008 04:06:44 +0000 Talen podcast helpful learning thai SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Do You Know Enough Thai in Case of an Emergency?", url: "" });]]> Jo & Jay over at Learning Thai Podcast have put together a very helpful podcast teaching you the Thai you need to know during an emergency. They have also included a very handy PDF that you can download which contains the words and sentences in English, Thai, and phonetically. Also included in the PDF is a very good list of emergency numbers that any traveler to Thailand should have in case of an emergency.

This is a great resource to have if you are going on your first trip to Thailand or if you’ve been before but are still unsure of the language. If you wander outside of the normal tourist areas this could be a lifesaver.

Jo and Jay work together at Learning Thai podcast to bring you Thai lessons that are very well thought out. Each lesson is based on one subject or theme which helps the listener focus more. Each word or phrase is spoken in English and then spoken in Thai after a short pause for you to say the word or phrase it is then repeated three times which helps to reinforce the correct pronunciation.

I’ve used Pimsleur and Rosetta stone with a moderate degree of success and of course learning while in Thailand but I really like Jo and Jay’s approach to the lessons and I can get a better feel for the pronunciation when Jo speaks in Thai.

They have many free podcast lessons and have just launched a premium course. They also provide a translation service. If you are interested in learning Thai you should definitely check out their site.

I’ll include a copy of the PDF here ltp_emergencies.pdf



Mukdahan Mushroom Farm Thu, 15 May 2008 02:43:56 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Mukdahan Mushroom Farm", url: "" });]]> When visiting my girlfriends village back in January I noticed two long sheds out in back of the family house. Both sheds were made of bamboo and both were covered with blue and black tarps. When I asked my girlfriend she kept telling me that she would take me there later. This piqued my curiosity, so after a few beers and meeting the extended family I figured it was later enough and asked again.

I’m not sure if it’s all Thai girls or just my Thai girl but when asked a question she can never give me a straight answer. So, when I asked again about the sheds and what they could be hiding she just said ” later teelac…I show you.” Another beer or two and later came so she took me out back to the sheds and said go in. She looked at me for a second thinking I would ask whats inside again so she could give me yet another non answer but I just gave up and went in. They were hiding mushrooms…thousands of mushrooms. Ok, they weren’t hiding them they were growing them.

They grow a little bit of everything on the land they have. A little rice, some flowers, a mango tree or two, and of course their secret stash of mushrooms. I thought they sold them at first but my girl was quick to let me know that it was the families personal stash.

Living in Mukdahan bordering Laos on the Mekong the Laos heritage is strong here and a lot of the dishes they make are Lao in origin and contain mushrooms. Two favorites are Gang Lo Mai and Gang Hitt, the former being somewhat of a mild soup with mushrooms and bamboo shoots and the later being a class A incendiary device containing mushrooms.

A plastic bag shaped like a bottle is filled with compost and fungus spores are added before inserting a plastic ring at the top giving it a bottled look. These are left outside for a bit and once ready are then stacked inside the sheds and kept in the dark. The mushrooms push out of the mouth of the bottle and are collected when grown. I’m not sure what the grow cycle is or how many mushrooms you get per bottle but there were a lot of mushrooms growing and they were readying even more bottles to go into the sheds.

From what I gathered they only grow two kinds of mushrooms in their sheds but their are many other varieties to choose from.

A few more pictures can be found in the gallery in Mukdahan Mushroom Farm.



Pattaya Beach 2cnd Annual World Tattoo Arts Festival Mon, 12 May 2008 13:19:22 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Pattaya Beach 2cnd Annual World Tattoo Arts Festival", url: "" });]]>

Jimmy Wong’s second annual tattoo festival will play host to over 200 tattoo artists from around the world. The festival begins May 16th and will go through May 18th.

Traditional Thai tattoo known as Khone Drama will be at the forefront of the exhibit due to it’s renewed interest in the past few years by foreigners as well as traditional Japanese and Tribal.

The festival will kick off on May 16th with a seminar at the Manita hotel in Pattaya at 1pm featuring
Gippy Rondinella from Italy, Johnny Twothumb family from Singapore, and the Jimmy Wong family from Bangkok.

There will be many things to see and do over the 3 day festival including tattoo contests:

  • Best of creation.
  • Best tribal tattoo.
  • Best of Thai traditional tattoo.
  • Best Japanese style tattoo.
  • Best Color .
  • Best body suit.
  • Best lady tattoo (Miss Tattoo).
  • Best shadow work.
  • Best male tattoo ( Mister Tattoo).
  • Best dragon tattoo.
  • Best old school tattoo.
  • The regent tattoo artist of the year.

For a full Itinerary of events and more information regarding the festival and tattoo artists involved you can head over to Jimmy Wong’s site 2cnd world Tattoo Arts Festival



Meeting the Thai Family Mon, 12 May 2008 04:08:18 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Meeting the Thai Family", url: "" });]]>
Village Trip (131).jpg

My last trip in January it was decided that I would make the journey to Mukdahan to meet the girlfriends family. I really didn’t know what to expect or how to act other than going with the flow. When we arrived at her village Most of the women in the family were waiting for us at the house and a few villagers stopped by to meet the falang as well.

Village Trip (141).jpg

They made sure I was comfortable on the front porch and then commenced to cooking food and pouring me a beer as I met everyone.

Village Trip (143).jpg

After a little while an ornate silver bowl was brought out and I was asked to stand. Inside the silver bowl was a small banana, sticky rice and an egg. Another family member brought out a small pile of string. The contents of the bowl was placed in my left hand and one by one everyone present tied a string around my wrist while the others touched my elbow.

Village Trip (151).jpg

I was wondering if I was getting married and someone forgot to tell me, but as it turns out this is done for good luck.

Throughout the day more villagers stopped by to meet the falang and tie a piece of string on my wrist.

Village Trip (153).jpg

eventually day became night and we went to the local Thai BBQ to get food for everyone. Mind you I was buying. Some people will say this is the Thai’s taking advantage of the falang by making him pay but Thai culture says it is for the newcomer to gain face with the family and friends.

Village Trip (184).jpg

When you can buy food and beer for twenty people and the total cost is $30.00 U.S. it’s hard to feel taken advantage of…especially when the food and beer last all night.

Village Trip (178).jpg

Over the next couple of days I was fed and watered well and driven around town and out of town to see all the sights which seemed to be worth more than the $30.00 I spent for dinner.

The rest of the night was spent eating drinking and meeting new people and having many strings tied to my wrist. It was an experience I’ll keep with me for a long time to come.

More pictures can be seen in the gallery in My Trip to the Village



The One That Got Away Fri, 09 May 2008 04:09:40 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "The One That Got Away", url: "" });]]> One night my girl decided she was going to have a girls night out with her sister and friends for a few hours at a Thai Karaoke which left me with some time on my hands and a brother fresh off the plane to Thailand.

We decided to roam about Pattaya and hit some bars and no more than 2 bars into soi 7 we settled into a bar with some very lovely ladies and one persistent Ladyboy. Now don’t get me wrong here…the Ladyboy was very nice and fun to talk with but definitely more boy than lady. She/he/it kept making eyes at me and telling me I was handsome and we were all having a good laugh. We decided it would be best if we were just friends.

A few beers and a couple of hours later my girl calls and says that the karaoke time with the girls is over and she’s at the bottom of soi 8…I tell her I’ll check bin and meet here there in a minute. All is well and I pay my tab but before I can go my new found friend gives me a kiss on the cheek goodbye, no big deal…right?

Well, I meet my girl and the first words out of her mouth are “what you do? You have lady!” of course the thought never occurred to me that I was walking around with a perfect lipstick kiss on my cheek. I protested but still got that evil Thai eye so off we went back to the bar on soi 7 to introduce my girl to my new friend…much to my brothers amusement.

Satisfied that I didn’t have a lady my girl laughed and asked me why I didn’t tell her I like ladyboys!

I don’t think you’ll have any problem figuring out who my new friend is in the pic below  :)



Thailand’s Beautiful Flowers Mon, 05 May 2008 00:52:37 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Thailand’s Beautiful Flowers", url: "" });]]>

Finding beautiful scenes to take pictures of in Thailand is as easy as pulling out your camera and clicking the button. The tropical climate produces so many rich and diverse species of flowers you will find a beautiful tapestry of colors around every corner, high and low. To me it’s one of the most pleasurable experiences in Thailand and very easy for even a amateur photographer to take amazing pictures

Many more beautiful flowers and tropical plants can be seen in Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens Gallery 1 and Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens Gallery 2.



My Thai Girl and I Sun, 27 Apr 2008 18:19:39 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "My Thai Girl and I", url: "" });]]> My Thai Girl and I

Recently released by Andrew Hicks, author of the best selling novel, “Thai Girl”, “My Thai Girl and I” is a departure from the fiction of his sophomore release . My Thai Girl and I is about his life in Thailand after retiring early as a corporate lawyer and university professor in England to live in rural Thailand with his Thai wife Cat.

This is how I met Cat, a ‘Thai girl’ half my age and how we set up home together in her village out in the rice fields of North Eastern Thailand.
I’ll tell you of toads in the toilet, of ants’ eggs for breakfast, how we took up frog farming and how I got married without really meaning to.
It’s also a book about the countryside, of the old Thailand where the rhythm of the seasons and belief in the spirits and Buddhism remain strong.
Though how could I, a greying English lawyer, ever fit into the lives of a Thai rice farming family. Can Cat and I with our many differences really be compatible?
If you’re curious to know what it’s like to start a totally new life as I did, to slow down and ‘go with the flow’, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading the story of ‘my Thai girl and I’.

With many books published and being published about the Thai/falang (Thai word for foreigner) relationship and experience it’s refreshing to see one thats written from the rural Thai experience instead of the tried but true Bankok or Pattaya settings.

I started writing it when we’d been together about two years. I went back to my diaries and I racked my brains but it wasn’t difficult as I had a vivid recall of the many special experiences we’d shared together. I wanted to write about Isaan, the dry North East of Thailand where we live among the rice fields and that’s exactly what I’ve done.

I hope it’s funny and I hope it’s fair. I hope that it portrays the agonies and the ecstacies of reinventing oneself and finding a new life in a context I could never before have imagined I’d find myself in. And it’s about a very special relationship and of building bridges across our vast differences of culture and age.

So how hard is it to retire in Thailand in the bosom of a Thai family and to find happiness then? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

Andrew Hicks first book “Thai Girl” was written out of despair for the lack of Thai credibility and experience so often encountered in books about, or set in Thailand. One notable book ” The Beach”, supposedly set in Thailand, really had nothing to do with Thailand at all and what traces of Thailand that were injected resorted to typical stereotypes showing Thai people as gun toting thugs or prostitutes.

I wondered if I could write something different with strong Thai characters and which made the Thai setting pivotal; not just an exotic cliche? but a place inhabited by real people that was fundamental to the story. In particular I wanted the book to challenge readers to think about Thailand and its people and perhaps to learn something from it.

But that was not to be an easy assignment. Dickens was good at social comment, but as the novice author of Thai Girl, I have little idea if I have succeeded in my aims for the novel which I now present to you.

I love Thailand, and issues such as poverty, and tourism and commercial sex trouble me; it is so easy for visitors to exploit the Thai people. I therefore hope Thai Girl does not look like another trashy Bangkok bar story. It is about well-meaning young people taking a life-check and briefly travelling through Thailand and is not about the older hoodlums of the typical sex novel. Mass tourism brings visitors of all sorts here in large numbers and they are bound to have an impact. Perhaps that is what the novel is about.

This looks to be an interesting read especially for someone such as myself that is thinking about making the move to Thailand and living in the the rural areas of Issan. I’ve just ordered the book and will let you know what I think once I read it.

If you are interested in finding out more information on ” My Thai girl and I” or “Thai girl” there is a website dedicated to the books and author: Thai Girl

Likewise both books can be found at Asia Books

Andrew Hicks also has a blog if you would like to find out more about the author and what he’s up to Thai Girl 2004



Hor Kaew Mukdahan Mon, 21 Apr 2008 01:58:01 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Hor Kaew Mukdahan", url: "" });]]> Mukdahan Tower

Hor Kaew Mukdahan, otherwise known as Mukdahan Tower, was constructed in 1996 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of King Bhumibol’s accession to the throne of Thailand.

View into LaosStanding over 65 meters in height it provides beautiful 360 degree views of surrounding Mukdahan, the Mekong and over into Laos.

The first floor of the tower is dedicated to an arts and culture museum showcasing antique Thai arts and tools as well as a collection of bank notes from most of the worlds countries.

The second floor showcases the history and culture of the eight ethnic tribes that make up Mukdahan which are:

  • Tai Kha
  • Tai Kha Soe
  • Tai Kha Lerng
  • Isan Peoples
  • Tai Yor
  • Tai Saek
  • Tai Kula
  • Phu Tai

The third through fifth floors make up the pillar of the tower with a small observation deck on the fifth floor which provides 3 gongs to ring for good luck.

The sixth floor is the 360 degree observation deck which is enclosed in glass and also has artifacts to see .

The seventh floor is reserved for Buddha with a large silver Buddha in the meditation position called Phra Buddhanavamingmongkol. There is also a Buddha image for every day of the week.Silver Buddha on seventh floor

The view from Hor Kaew is one not to be missed if you’re ever in the vicinity of Mukdahan.

You can see more pictures of Hor Kaew (Mukdahan Tower) in the gallery by clicking here: Hor Kaew Mukdahan



Suvarnabhumi Airport Phase Two to Begin Soon Fri, 18 Apr 2008 17:12:47 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Suvarnabhumi Airport Phase Two to Begin Soon", url: "" });]]> Photograph by Mr. Boonlert Tangtaveevech

Yes, you read that right. Although Thailand’s flagship airport was just opened 18 months ago there are already plans for phase two to begin as early as this year.

Since the opening of Suvarnabhumi Airport in September of 2006 it has been plagued with problems from not enough bathrooms to cracks in the runways. There were also delays and passenger over crowding between international and domestic flights. To ease crowds Don Muang , the old international airport , was recommissioned to accept all domestic flights.

The expansion will begin this year with construction work starting on a new 3.7 billion baht runway which will give Suvarnabhumi a third, much needed, runway. 114 million baht is slated to be spent this year on studies for future projects which includes a new passenger terminal which is set to begin construction sometime in 2010.

Word has it that newly elected government officials are not happy with the situation of Don Muang handling domestic flights and they want to see Suvarnabhumi take them back over as soon as possible. Don Muang should only be available for charter flights and air shows they stated. No timetable has been given for the move of domestic flights back to Suvarnabhumi but some estimates say it will be at least five to eight years before they could be transitioned back to Suvarnabhumi ,if then.

The new airport can handle up to 45 million passengers and figures show that they are getting close to that number now so a new terminal will definitely help ease crowding and help to bring domestic flights back to the airport.



Songkran Videos 2008 Tue, 15 Apr 2008 01:10:45 +0000 Talen SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Songkran Videos 2008", url: "" });]]> Songkran ( Thai new year ) started yesterday and the worlds largest water fight is well under way. Here are some videos taken yesterday throughout Thailand.