Thailand in the News Week Ending 07/17/10

Thailand Buys Sugar

Thailand sugar farmers

Sounds innocuous enough but when you consider that Thailand is the worlds second biggest exporter of those sweet crystals and the fact that they haven’t made a sugar purchase in over 30 years then there might be a problem. This, as sugar prices continue to climb, is just more bad news for Thailand on the agricultural front this year.

With rainfall down across South East Asia it has proven to be a tough year for rice and sugar growers and with Thailand buying back 74,350 metric tons of domestic sugar from traders this week the market was sure to react in an upwardly mobile way. The sugar bought back from the market was to meet local consumption needs.

With this news you will be sure to see sugar prices rise even more and stay high until next years crops are in.

British Behavior Abroad Report’s that Brit’s are Lacking

Brit Tourist

With more cheap options for holidays in Thailand and an increasing number of eager tourists to explore the world the British Behavior Abroad Report says that tourists just aren’t taking into account much more than cheap prices at the expense of their health and bank account.

According to figures from the survey, which is based on the number of incidents reported by British people abroad to Foreign Office branches worldwide, 957 people required help when in Thailand between April last year and March 2010. With Thailand being a cheap destination in many ways and with cheaper flight options becoming available a lot of Brit’s are foregoing trip insurance and not taking into account the possibility of needing medical attention while abroad.

Foreign and Commonwealth office minister Jeremy Browne stated:

The worrying fact is that so many of these situations are preventable. Helping out Britons in trouble abroad is part of our job, but we can’t get you out of jail or pay your hospital bills.

Thailand has become increasingly popular with Britons and with cheaper flights and holiday packages available now travel abroad has really been made available to those that wouldn’t have considered it before due to cost. Unfortunately cheaper holidays means that people will stretch to their limit to plan a holiday in Thailand and let the essentials such as insurance fall to the wayside.

Insurance is cheap in the long run and should be the first thing on your list after purchasing your plane tickets.

U.S. Names new Thailand Ambassador

 Kristie Kenney

Barack Obama on Thursday named veteran diplomat Kristie Kenney as the US ambassador to Thailand. Ms Kenney most recently served as ambassador to the other key US ally in South-east Asia, the Philippines, where she helped smooth out relations through a series of incidents including rape allegations against a US Marine. Ms Kenney, who has also served as US ambassador to Ecuador, was known in the Philippines for her public diplomacy including taking to blogs and Facebook to reach out to Filipinos.

It’s nice to know that Ms. Kenney is good at sweeping under the rug smoothing things over such as rape allegations involving U.S. Servicemen. I am sure her skills will be invaluable in Thailand where the political scene has been quite robust as of late. Lets hope any hopeful rapists, pedophiles and or just ugly Americans realize she is on the job and will help to make her job easier by just admitting to your crimes so she doesn’t have to smooth things over as it were.

It has also been stated that Ms. Kenney is very good at facebook which should come in handy as ambassador to Thailand.

With Thailand’s political scene what it is it might have been a better idea to nominate someone with a better grasp of the situation but then again we all know that Ambassadors are about as useful as tits on a bull anyway.

There Be Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs in Thailand

When the rains come and the rivers swell odd things begin to appear in Baan Na Kum, Thailand…dinosaur bones…and lots of them. For years the locals had no idea what they were or what to do with them. The more superstitious among the Thai farmers buried them again while others took them to their local Wat where monks were collecting them, others just threw them away.

Over time the word has finally gotten out, Don’t throw out those bones!

Thailand is known for its beaches, great food and, more recently, its propensity for political protests, but not much for dinosaurs. It turns out that the creatures of prehistory, like the tourists of today, found certain parts of Thailand very hospitable.

Paleontologists say that the Khorat Plateau of northeastern Thailand was teeming with dinosaurs starting about 200 million years ago (Bangkok was under the sea at the time), and that the proof is in the frequency with which villagers find dinosaur bones and other fossils.

Paleontologists have documented five new genuses of dinosaurs and six previously unknown species since research began in the 1980s in partnership with French scientists. About 10,000 dinosaur bones have been collected nationwide in three decades, scientists say.

In terms of the breadth and scientific significance of discoveries, China remains a more important center for dinosaur research in Asia, according to Mr. Varavudh, but Thailand could contribute more if it had more trained paleontologists. He counts only 10 dinosaur experts in the country.

Mr. Varavudh and others hope that the younger generation will embrace the region’s dinosaur past more enthusiastically. The Sirindhorn Museum, a dinosaur museum named for Thailand’s crown princess, Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who has shown an interest in paleontology, opened in the area three years ago, drawing about 200,000 visitors a year, many of them schoolchildren. Large dinosaur replicas have been erected along some roads here in Kalasin Province, home to the region’s most significant dinosaur discoveries.

Among the most compelling attractions are those found here in Baan Na Kum, an eight-hour drive from Bangkok past endless rice paddies and fields of sugar cane. Shrouded by jungle and accessible only by a single-lane road that winds through the hills, it is where visitors can view the giant footprints left in a riverbed by a tyrannosaur, the fierce carnivore that roamed these parts 140 million years ago.

Each claw of the footprint is about the size of an average human foot. The imprint is well defined and deeply embedded in the sandstone riverbed, as if the tyrannosaur had walked there only last week.

I’ve seen some dinosaurs myself walking about Bangkok and Pattaya in recent years but that is yet another story…it does make me wonder though if some poor punter will ever hear  ” Teelac, you can send money….dinosaur is sick”



Just to reiterate a story I ran earlier. Bangkok is cracking down on elephants wandering the streets and their Mahouts, but they are also cracking down on tourists. If you are caught feeding an elephant in Bangkok YOU WILL BE FINED 10, 000 BAHT ( roughly $300 ).

Do not encourage this business of using animals to make a living. These elephants are often mistreated and wind up maimed and injured if not dead just so tourists can have what they think is the Thailand experience.

This ordinance is being taken seriously and the Mahouts have all but cleared out of downtown Bangkok, although there are reports of Mahouts now using baby elephants in the back of pick up trucks on the outskirts of the city.



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12 Responses to Thailand in the News Week Ending 07/17/10
  1. Thai Connoisseur
    July 19, 2010 | 3:01 am

    Avoiding travel insurance is a false economy. It forms such a small percentage of total holiday costs that the peace of mind alone makes it a worthwhile investment. Yearly plans can be very economical.

    Poor sad elephants. If tourists also need to be fined to help stamp out the problem then I am all for it. No excuses.
    Thai Connoisseur recently posted..Suan Luang King Rama IX Royal Park- BangkokMy Profile

    • Talen
      July 19, 2010 | 9:23 am

      Thai, travel insurance really is important but so many travelers still don’t use it.

  2. Mike
    July 19, 2010 | 8:25 am

    Talen do the American State Department(or whatever is similar to FCO) collate figures for US citizens travelling world-wide? Would be interesting to know how Thailand fares with US travellers.

    The only dinosaurs I had previously heard of in Thailand apart from some expats were the Thai government or at least some of their policies :-)
    Mike recently posted..British Behaviour Abroad Report FCO-ThailandMy Profile

    • Talen
      July 19, 2010 | 9:25 am

      Mike, I looked around and couldn’t find anything official on American tourist numbers but I would suspect they are comparable to the Brits.

      There are definitely dinosaurs in Thailand in many different guises…hell most of Pattaya could be a museum :P

  3. Catherine
    July 19, 2010 | 9:00 pm

    When my son was little, instead of Easter egg hunting we’d cruise through outcrops looking for fossils for the fish tank. It was great fun then and I haven’t grown out of it, so I expect I’ll see Thai bones at some point. Wish me luck :-)
    Catherine recently posted..How Mindfulness Can Help You Learn ThaiMy Profile

    • Talen
      July 20, 2010 | 7:52 am

      Cat, it would be cool to go dinosaur bone hunting…I would expect they wouldn’t fit in a fish tank though :P

      • Catherine
        July 20, 2010 | 8:01 am

        Talen, a large chunk of fossils are tiny. Microscopic even. When I was a mudlogger, I collected all sorts of bits coming across my microscope. So perfectly formed. So beautiful. So very easy to misplace.
        Catherine recently posted..How Mindfulness Can Help You Learn ThaiMy Profile

        • Talen
          July 20, 2010 | 9:44 am

          Cat, yeah I guess you are right…I just always think of dinosaur fossils as big…I want to come out of a rice paddy in rural Thailand with a huge T-Rex leg bone :P

  4. Martyn
    July 20, 2010 | 1:24 pm

    Talen I love the Bangkok and Pattaya dinosaur quip, are you talking bar girls or falang.

    I’ve been to the Ban Chiang National Museum in Udon Thani and that’s an impressive place. The museum is home to archaeological discoveries from an ancient civilisation which lived on the Khorat Plateau thousands of years ago. The Sirindhorn Museum is one I’ll be putting on my must see list.

    Brits in trouble in Thailand….I blame alcohol for most of it. When Brits drink, many of us find dumbness and bravado floats to the top of the glass… insurance, don’t leave home without it.

    Ambassadors are good at saying the right things at parties and making little impact in the job they’re meant to be doing. A job for the boys or girls in your case.

    Good to see you are still warning us tourists and expats about feeding elephants in the cities, I’m sure there’s hardly anyone else doing similar. By that I mean governments and travel agents won’t think it’s necessary.
    Martyn recently posted..Who Sows Wind Harvests StormMy Profile

    • Talen
      July 21, 2010 | 2:39 am

      Martyn I was thinking of the men but now that you mention it I have been noticing the aging bar girl numbers so it might fit there as well.

      Travel insurance is a must…you just never know what will happen and in many ways Thailand is still like the old West.

      I haven’t seen many talking about the elephant feeding fines either but you can bet the first fine imposed will hit the boards like a storm.

  5. SiamRick
    July 22, 2010 | 1:14 pm

    Talking about dinosaurs reminds me of work. Us older folks, with more than 25 years, are being dug up or flushed out and not even given the courtesy of a place in the museum. They just don’t want to see us ever again. Of course, they can hire young folks, cheap on the payroll (but expensive in the error column). Wonder if I can get a job as Canadian ambassador to Thailand? But I guess I’m only qualified to work in a sugar cane field.

    Moving right along . . . I wasn’t aware of the dinosaur findings, Talen and Martyn. That’s a good tip for a weekend trip after I arrive in LOS.
    SiamRick recently posted..Thai colours and smiles break out in TorontoMy Profile

  6. Anonymous
    July 22, 2010 | 10:22 pm

    “Thailand buys sugar”: Can we deuce from this that business is not going sweetly? Or that producers are taking a caning?
    Thanks for some interesting items.
    All the best, Boonsong