Family Money: Making It On Your Own - Part 1
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.
Many expatriates in Pattaya have started their own
businesses, or bought someone else’s. No matter whether the business is
a beer bar, or trades in goods, or provides services, there are a lot of
risks involved with starting one’s own business.
It is sobering to note that in the developed world,
over 40% of all new businesses fail within the first two years. In Pattaya
the failure rate is probably well over 50%.
The question then arises: Why?
Fundamentally, the success of any business depends on
making more money than it spends. Many entrepreneurs get a bright idea,
scrape together enough capital to open shop and hope that they’ll be
Often, they know little if anything about accounting;
cash-flow analysis or budgeting. They leave these matters to others and
get by somehow, often living from hand to mouth, day to day. They have no
idea whether their business is financially sound, or even where the money
is coming from or going to.
Business runs on numbers
Any businessman who doesn’t know the state of his
company’s finances is not a businessman. (He may be a superb salesman,
or engineer, or technician - but he’s not a businessman.) And any
business that doesn’t make a profit isn’t a business.
In fact, every business runs on the numbers. The CEO
may also have a good understanding of marketing or engineering or other
areas relevant to his own business - but the common denominator is a good
understanding of money and corporate financial planning.
The same basic understanding of cash-flows and
accounting for where the money comes from and goes to applies both to very
large and very small firms (and all sizes in between.)
Speak of demographics’ analysis to many entrepreneurs
and you get a blank look. They have no idea of their target market, who
their customers might be, where they are, or how to attract them. Their
marketing strategies are often ill-planned - if they even have one. In
some cases they might like to increase their market exposure through a
marketing campaign or advertising, but simply don’t have the money to
Of course, beer-bar owners will say that they don’t
need all this technical nonsense - they just sit and wait for the
customers to come in - and a trip along Second Road or Beach Road any
evening might lead you to think that this is a business which cannot fail.
Why then are there always lots of bars and restaurants for sale?
“Location,” you might say. “That’s the only
thing you need worry about in the bar or restaurant business.” Okay,
location is indeed a very important factor. But why then does one
establishment do well and stay in business year after year and another
right across the road never has any customers and closes up after just a
Many failing entrepreneurs would tend to put the blame
solely on external factors, and be unwilling to consider factors somewhat
closer to home which would be more painful to accept. But this is not the
place to go into those reasons.
I know how tough it is to run one’s own business -
tougher than managing someone else’s. Having been an entrepreneur
myself, then working with a substantial international organization for
several years, and then choosing to become an entrepreneur again, I have
had the opportunity to look at both sides of the business coin, and
learned a few valuable lessons along the way.
Ingredients of success
>From what I’ve seen and learned, the main
ingredients for successful entrepreneurship are: Attitude; Belief;
Courage; Determination; Effort; Finances.
Courage is what one needs to get going in the first
place. Many would-be entrepreneurs simply don’t have the courage to
leave their relatively safe salaried position to risk their own and their
families’ futures on what may or may not be a successful business
Having decided to take that first step - which is in
fact a giant leap into what is often uncharted territory - they have to
have Belief in themselves, the product or service they will be offering,
plus the Determination to succeed - the will to win.
The Effort they put in will go a long way to
determining the growth and success or otherwise of their venture. Sitting
on the beach watching the world go by will probably not produce much
business - unless you’re in the ‘kao pat’ or ice-cream vending
Most successful entrepreneurs work harder and longer
than when they worked for someone else. But working for oneself brings its
own rewards, both spiritually and financially, and one keeps the profits
of one’s efforts.
Attitude towards one’s business and one’s customers
will also have a great bearing on an entrepreneur’s success.
People are generally turned off by a
couldn’t-give-a-damn attitude and second-rate service, and are unlikely
to become regular customers. Negative reports to others on poor attitude
or service can also lose potential customers. Those entrepreneurs who
“try harder” (to borrow Avis’ motto) and set high standards of
service - especially in an area where mediocrity seems to be the norm -
are more likely to thrive and become successful.
A positive attitude towards the locale helps also. It
is difficult to have continued confidence in an entrepreneur who is
constantly bemoaning his situation, running down Pattaya, Thailand, and
the people, and cannot wait for the opportunity to sell out and get away
to yet another greener pasture.
But who forced him to set up here? One doesn’t have
to look at the situation through rose-coloured spectacles (which some
entrepreneurs were evidently still wearing when they originally decided to
stay here) and pretend everything is perfect.
Those of us who have chosen Thailand as our home may
enjoy the many benefits this place has to offer more, and tolerate its
negative aspects better, if we keep in mind those wise words of St.
Francis: to pray for the courage to change what one can, the patience to
accept what one cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
(To be continued next week)
Personal Directions: Finding peace of mind amidst today’s madness
By Christina Dodd,
founder and managing director of Asia Training Associates
So many people I know these days just roll their eyes back
and shake their heads when they turn on the television or open the newspaper
in the morning. The headlines shriek out in large black type - of nuclear
weapons, diplomatic threats, individual crimes, government abuses and so on!
So loud is the shrieking that we think - “it’s just
impossible to relax in this world. There’s too much trouble everywhere and
it’s gotten out of hand.”
But the thing is, we can relax. We can create peace of mind
even when others reel with anxiety. Tension is nothing new. The world has seen
many troubled days throughout history and strife has always been part of the
fabric of society. We may not enjoy it, but it is a fact that we live and we
survive amidst incredible turmoil.
We learn to live with these pressures and even to win out
in the pressure-cooker world we have created. Our life is not worthwhile if we
cannot attain a feeling of solitude, of quietness. We must bed down with our
souls and breath in gentle tranquility.
In the words of the great Greek philosopher Plato,
“Nothing in the affairs of men is worthy of great anxiety.”
And we can learn to be calm. First off, we must believe
that a state of inner calm is a realizable goal. It may not be easy for those
of us who are used to having jumpy, pushy, frantic people around us. We may
think that “calm” is an unattainable state. It is not.
Millions of people torture themselves with anxiety.
Indecisive and fearful, they cannot accept their feelings and shortcomings. It
is difficult for them to make up their minds about anything, and they feel
guilty over what they regard as their failures in life. They act too
impulsively - or are afraid to act at all. Anxiety becomes a way of life for
them and they know nothing of the feelings of success and confidence.
In the fight to become calm - and yes, for some of us it is
a fight - we have to start off by accepting our anxieties, not blaming
ourselves for them because blame is a very destructive force. The more secure
our self acceptance is, the more we can come to peace with ourselves, with our
weaknesses, the more attainable is the goal of calmness.
A pleasant room in your mind
When you were a child, did you have a favourite room to
which you went when you were unhappy with the rest of the world? Maybe it was
furnished cozily with soft-cushioned chairs and throw rugs and your most
This is what each of us needs - a serene room in our own
mind - a retreat in which to nurse our wounds when the strains of the world
become unbearable. In the seclusion of this peaceful chamber in our mind, we
can recuperate from life’s fast pace, refresh ourselves for the new day to
come. In this little mental compartment we can make peace with ourselves,
accepting our insecurities, re-picturing our most cherished memories, setting
our present goals, imaging a future full of life, faith and hope, free of
resentment and worry.
Take a daily vacation
Normally we limit our vacation time to a few weeks in the
year, and some of us take them all at once while others spread them out over a
period of time. What is important is not to take a vacation such as this - but
to take a vacation every day. Not once in a while, but every day. Every day
take a flight into the freedom you can give in the quiet room of your mind.
It doesn’t have to be for a lengthy period because we all
have daily responsibilities to attend to. But it can be a period of time just
long enough to enable us to escape from the shackles of civilization,
re-affirm our convictions and return to the realities with increased vigor and
Don’t be afraid of “escapism”
Some people frown on the word “escapism”. They think it
is cowardly and that we should face up to everything front on! To live a happy
life, we must come to grips with reality; anything else is an evasion and a
misuse of productive energies. But it is a fatal mistake to feel that this is
a twenty-four hour-a-day task. If we take ourselves this seriously we will
always be tense. We will be able to tackle our problems more forcefully if we
are able to relax and to re-invigorate ourselves with restful sleep. Sometimes
“escaping from it all” can be a big help to the busiest and most
Never be afraid to “escape” and never look upon it as a
waste of time!
I am not talking here about harmful, self-destructive
mechanisms of escape. I am talking about positive and wholesome, up-lifting
mechanisms such as relaxing in the quiet room of your mind, listening to
soothing and almost caressing music, taking yourself on an enlightening
holiday, giving yourself the time to read the books you’ve always put aside
because everything else was more important.
These and others ways to escape are refreshing to the soul
and provide nourishment that will enable you to function more effectively in
the swift-moving world we live in. Without these safety valves, we are very
similar to a pressure cooker that is about to explode!
Sometimes a change of pace can do you good and this is why
so many people love to travel. New images of known or unknown places bring
refreshment to the mind. Sometimes travel can help to solve problems. It stops
us from “thinking too much”. And it’s true. When we have to make
decisions in our busy lives we spend so much time thinking that we never get
to make the decisions! Forcing thinking and decision making does more harm
For more information on this subject and other matters
relating to personal growth and development, please contact me by email at
[email protected] com and visit Asia Training Associates at
www.asiatrain ingassociates.com. Until next time, have a wonderful week.
The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness: Cancer rates increase - are we all going to croak?
by Dr. Iain Corness
According to the American Cancer Society, the number of new
U.S. cancer cases is expected to increase 3.8 percent, to a record 1.33
million this year, but the death rates for the top four killer cancers will
These seemingly paradoxical statements need to be looked at
a little further to get the true picture of what is happening. Remembering
always that there are lies, damned lies and statistics!
What has also to be remembered is that cancer, by and
large, is a disease of aging. If more of us get to “old age”, there will
be more of us likely to begin to develop cancers of all types. That being the
case, the number of new cancer cases will increase as well, and eventually we
all have to die of something, and in the US it is most likely to be heart
disease, followed by cancers of all types.
In the American scenario, cancer deaths are expected to
rise this year to 556,500 from 555,500 last year, but the increase reflects
the aging of the American population, the cancer society says in its annual
Cancer Facts & Figures report.
Now, what about the fact that death rates are supposed to
be declining for lung, breast, colon and prostate cancer? This is correct, as
we (the medical fraternity) are developing new anti-cancer drugs, and new
invasive and non-invasive techniques to combat Jack the Dancer. We can
diagnose the condition faster and have more ways of dealing with it. In fact,
the five year survival rate for all cancers (except non-melanoma skin cancer
and most non-invasive cancers) is expected to be 62 percent. That just means
that 62 percent of people diagnosed with cancer will still be alive 5 years
later. Please note, that is not a guarantee for longevity if you get diagnosed
with cancer aged 103!
So which cancers are the top killers? In the USA, lung
cancer is expected to claim 157,200 lives this year; colorectal cancer,
57,100; breast cancer 39,800; and prostate cancer, 28,900. The society
predicts new cases of lung cancer in 2003 will total 171,900; colorectal
cancer, 147,500; breast cancer, 211,300; and prostate cancer, 220,900. In
America this is equivalent to around 1,500 lives every day.
Again, according to the American Cancer Society, tobacco
use remains the most preventable cause of death and is expected to account for
30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. Read
those figures again - 87 out of every 100 lung cancer cases are related to
smoking. America-wide, about 23 percent of adults over 18 smoke and Kentucky
has the highest percentage of adult smokers, about 31 percent, and also the
highest lung cancer death rate in men. How strange! Quite frankly, I don’t
care how much the cigarette smokers whinge about the new restaurant
regulations in this country - the government has done them a favour, and for
the non-smokers who no longer have to run the risk of getting lung cancer
through atmospheric pollution from their second-hand cigarette smoke, called
The American Cancer Society also stresses early detection
through screening for breast, colon, rectal, prostate and uterine cancer. And
it recommends cancer-related checkups that can detect thyroid, oral, skin,
lymph node, testicular and ovarian cancers. I can only say I agree
The other morning I picked up my husband’s clothes
which he had left in the bathroom, having been out for a night on the town
with the boys. In the pocket there were some little diamond shaped blue
pills. I did not say anything to him about this, as I didn’t want him to
think I go through his pockets, but this has worried me. Are these the
pills they call “ya ba”? I know there is a crackdown on all kinds of
drugs at present. Do you think he is an addict and should I force him to
go and see a doctor?
You are having me on, aren’t you, my Petal. Let me
reassure you that illegal drugs such as ya ba do not come in neat blue
diamonds, but the ones you have found are much more likely to be “Yah
Hoo!” pills. These have been analysed and are found to contain 3%
Vitamin E, 2% Aspirin, 2% Ibuprofen, 1% Vitamin C, 5% Spray Starch and 87%
Fix-A-Flat. Suggest you give him some condoms before his next boys night
out and say, “These will go with your medication, dear.”
My wife (Thai) and I are expecting our first child
sometime soon. We are very happy about this, but have started to argue
over the name of the baby. I want him (we had a test to see what sex the
baby is) to have a British name, but Noi wants him to have a Thai name.
For once, Noi has really not left me any choice here and it is souring our
relationship. She thinks that anyone like you who writes for the
newspapers has to be clever, and I said I would ask you what you thought.
Have you the answer to my problems?
The only person who is important in this dispute is
the child, not you and not Noi. One good aspect of living here is that if
a child hates his or her name, he or she can change it very easily. Now if
you and Noi will just stop bickering and look sensibly at this, why not
give your son and heir a name that fits into both English and Thai?
Something like Tam, Ric or Nat. There’s lots of names out there, but
it’s time you pair got together and worked it out, rather than referring
such miniscule “problems” to someone like me, no matter how
“clever” your Noi thinks I am. Which I am, of course!
I want to lose some weight. About 6 or 7 kilos,
that’s all, and around the tummy mainly, but I have tried many diets in
the past and they don’t seem to work on me. I do like to snack, but it
is because I get so hungry. Have you any guaranteed way I can lose weight?
I am going to England in one month and want to get it off before I get
What am I now? A dietician too! (Mr. Editor, please
note, I want a raise if I am expected to be capable of multi-tasking!) You
want guarantees, my Petal? I can certainly give you a guaranteed way that
you can lose several kilos of ugly fat immediately - just chop off your
arm. Come off it, Poompui. You know that the only way to lose weight is to
watch what you eat and exercise more. Try eating water beetles or deep
fried scorpions for breakfast - that should turn your tummy off food for
the rest of the day! It’s time you took responsibility for your own
weight. I am sure nobody is force feeding you, are they? Watch your food -
watch it, don’t eat it!
One of the office girls is always asking me for advice
on this and that. She never manages to keep a boyfriend and it is always
tales of tragedy and questions as to what she should do about it. Should
she go to live with him? Should she not? Should she go out with someone
else? I have been fairly patient up till now, but the daily agony is
starting to get me down, and the other workers are now talking about me
behind my back because she is always in my office. The last thing I need
is this sort of rubbish. I am also a bit worried that the wife might hear
about this and take it the wrong way. What should I do to get this girl to
stop? I don’t want to add to her problems, she seems to have enough
You know what to do to get out of this, just as you
knew what was likely to happen when you got into this! Having let it get
this far you are going to have to be fairly blunt, and every time she
appears just smile and say you are too busy right now and please come back
tomorrow when you might have more time. She will get the message and you
will be able to sleep peacefully at night - until the next office girl
knocks on the door.
Camera Class: Better portraits - the 10 golden rules
What do people take most photographs of? Simple - people! Now
how many of your people shots are great? How many are average? And how many are
just OK and get left in photo files in the drawer? For most people, their people
shots tend to be of the last category. However, do not despair, this week I give
you the 10 golden rules, so that you too can get results just like the local
“professional” photo shop. It doesn’t depend upon what type of camera you
have, it just needs you to do a little planning.
Rule 1. Walk in closer. It is the single most important tip
to better portraits. Even with a point and shoot compact, walk in till the
subject fills the viewfinder from the waist up.
Rule 2. If you have a camera with a “portrait mode” then
use it! This is one area where Harry and the manufacturers agree. The portrait
mode with modern cameras does work. It maximises the settings to produce the
most pleasing effect, gets rid of backgrounds and sets the exposure to allow for
the best skin tones. Use it.
Rule 3. Use the flash in daylight. If you have a fancy camera
with “Fill Flash” facility, then turn it on and you will see the prints you
get back from the photo processor have now got sparkle and punch. If you have
not, but have a flash you mount on top of the camera, use it, and turn it to
around f2.8 to f4. This will not overpower the daylight, but will give
catch-lights in the eyes.
Rule 4. Watch for horrible backgrounds. It is so easy to
concentrate so hard on the subject that you do not really “see” the
background, which can be confusing and cluttered. Try to keep the subject as far
away as possible from all backgrounds and if you have manual mode or aperture
priority mode, then set the aperture f-stop at around f5.6.
Rule 5. Shoot in the early mornings or in the late
afternoons. At both of these times the light is more flattering than it is at
mid-day, where you will get harsh shadows cutting across the face from the nose.
Rule 6. If you have a zoom or a telephoto lens then now is
the time! Using around 135 mm, this is called by some people the ideal portrait
lens, then you again flatter the face and help throw the background out of focus
- particularly if you have followed Rule number 4.
Rule 7. Turn the camera on its side so you have the
viewfinder in portrait mode as well. People are taller than they are wide, so it
makes sense to have the maximum dimension vertically, doesn’t it! By all
means, take a couple of shots in the so-called horizontal “landscape” view,
but the majority should be verticals.
Rule 8. The nose is not the central point of any portrait. In
the centre of the viewfinder there is generally a small area which you can use
for getting the focus point. After you have set the focus, move the central
point off the person’s nose! The more likely central point will be the mouth
Rule 9. Super trick! Use a gold coloured reflector to give
the skin that healthy glow. Just glue some gold wrapping paper to a piece of
cardboard about 1 metre square and get an assistant to move it so it reflects
“golden glow” into the subject. This is particularly flattering for pale
Rule 10. With older subjects stretch a piece of nylon
stocking tightly across the lens. This will act as a soft focus filter and
smooth out many of the wrinkles we like to pretend we haven’t got!
Follow those ten simple hints and you will soon be taking shots as good as,
if not better than the local neighbourhood portrait photographer. After all,
he’s only following those 10 steps as well.
Recipes from Rattana: Elephant and Rabbit Stew
This recipe I have published before, but after stumbling over
it again and chuckling to myself, I thought I should reprint it. Originally it
was given to me by David Levine, an executive chef. The principal ingredient is
freely available in Thailand, and in fact, you would probably be in line for a
City Administration grant if you took a couple from the streets any night. The
rabbits are harder to find, but I believe you can get them on special order at
most supermarkets. David did say that if you want to try this item, you must
plan well in advance to allow for preparation and cooking. It is not a quick
stir-fry in the wok.
Ingredients Serves 3000
Elephant 1 large
Pepper 1/2 pail
Salt 2 pails
Onions 4 bushels
Water 93 gallons
Flour 6 pails
Rabbits (optional) 2
Cut elephant into bite sized pieces - preferably put aside around four
months for this part. Cook over a kerosene fire for three months, or until
tender. Now add onions, salt, pepper and flour and cook until done, generally
around two days. If more people arrive than expected then add the rabbits at
this final stage (do this only if necessary as most people don’t like hare in
Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums
By Dr Byte, Citec Asia
Q: Dear Dr Byte, when I first got my new PC from the
Computer Shop, everything was fine, but after two days it started hanging
during use. I performed a system restore and this cured the problem, but
only for one more day or so. Is the problem to do with memory or something
else? Frustrated, Mae Dtaeng, Chiang Mai.
A: Dear Frustrated, yes I can see why you are
frustrated. Isn’t it a pain when you spend on a new PC from a reputable
dealer and it starts to have gremlins within a couple of days? Actually
it’s impossible to answer your question without having a look at the PC,
but the symptoms you describe are probably caused by a hardware problem -
perhaps a fault or more probably the CPU fan has failed and the chip is
overheating. I really doubt it’s a software problem. Since it is a new PC
and the fault is easy to reproduce, I suggest that you take it back to the
dealer where you got it and have them repair it while under warranty.
Q: Dear Dr Byte, I want to ask about a printer problem
and hope you can answer this one. My HP Deskjet 890C works fine on my
Windows 98 PC, but, when I connect it to a Windows XP machine, it prints a
portion of a page and then the Deskjet gives up and starts to feed blank
pages through. Sometimes the blank pages have one or two lines of symbols
and garbage on them. I have to turn the printer off or remove the paper tray
to stop it printing on and on. Windows XP has a driver for my printer and HP
says that there is no better version of the driver available. Can you help?
Ratchadamnoen Road, Chiang Mai.
A: It sounds like a data communication error between
the PC and the printer. If a command is garbled, the printer will interpret
what is supposed to be graphical data as text. This is why you get blank
pages or you get pages with garbage printed on them. Resolving the problem
involves checking the Parallel Port Configuration and tweaking the BIOS. If
this fails, testing cables and ports may identify the problem. It’s
interesting that the printer works on one PC but not on another. I suggest
that you take the Windows XP PC and printer to a reputable technician to
check it out for you.
Q: Dear Dr Byte, my PC has a small problem. The grey area
at the bottom of the screen, the grey area that has that funny Start Button
which you use to Shut Down, has grown in size and is now taking up more than
half my screen. I have set Autohide on, but as soon as I move the mouse near
the bottom of the screen, this grey area with the Start Button for Shutting
Down covers most of the Desktop. Can I return the grey area back to the size
it used to be or is this some kind of new virus? Anxious, Chiang Mai Gate,
A: Dear Anxious, your computer is fine and your not
being attacked by any strange gremlins. The grey area you can see is called
the Task Bar. Move the mouse to the bottom of the screen to bring the Task
Bar up, and then slowly move the mouse to the top edge. You will see the
Cursor change to a little double-headed arrow, which means you can resize
it. Press and hold down the Left Mouse Button, and then drag the top edge of
the Task Bar down until it is the size you want. At some time you must have
accidentally dragged it in the opposite direction to make it the size it is
Q: Dear Dr Byte, believe it or not, I live on the east
coast of Queensland and I read your column (and Chiangmai Mail
online) here every week through the Chiangmai Mail Website. Well done
everyone, it’s great. I have a question for you. I have been trying to
send my daughter an email attachment. She has a Hotmail account with the
standard Hotmail limited e-mail gateway and my attachment is larger than
Hotmail allows. I discovered that Outlook Express can be configured to break
the attachment into 500KB sections and it worked. My daughter received the
e-mails each with a 500KB attachment, but her Outlook Express is not
recombining the sections back into one message so she cannot open the
attachment successfully. Do you have any idea how to solve this problem?
Bundy, Queensland, Australia.
A: Dear Bundy, I am delighted that this column is
reaching my home state of Queensland and that’s a really interesting
question. It sounds as if you are expecting Outlook Express to combine the
attachments automatically. Which it wont do - you actually have to tell it
what to do. Select all the parts of the message in the right order by
holding down CTRL and clicking on the Subject Lines. Then select Combine and
Decode from the Message menu. The result will be displayed in a new Window.
After that, grab a tinnie from the CoolBox and have one on me. Cheers.
If you have any tips that you’d like to share, or any
questions about your pc experience, contact me: Dr Byte, at [email protected]
What colour is your taste?
By Ranjith Chandrasiri
There is an important step between knowing how to taste
wine and finding the wines that you like. That step is putting taste into
words. There are two hurdles here: coming up with the words to describe what
you like or don’t like, and then getting the other person to understand
what you mean. Naturally, it helps if we all speak the same language.
Unless you want to drink the same wine for the rest of
your life, you are going to have to decide what it is that you like or
dislike in a wine and communicate that to another person who can steer you
in the right direction. Appearance and aroma are not critical in finding a
wine you like. If you prefer white, red or pink, it’s because of the way
the wine tastes, not because of the colour.
When you first begin to taste wine, you are usually faced
with two opposite problems. The wine was so simple that you really
couldn’t find anything to say about it or the flavours were so complex
that you couldn’t sort them out. Learning to describe the taste of a wine
in wine language is the secret.
Wines have flavours, but wines don’t come in a specific
flavour - strawberry, chocolate or plain vanilla. While you might enjoy the
suggestion of chocolate in a red wine, you wouldn’t want to go to a wine
shop and ask for a chocolaty wine. Instead you would refer to “families
of flavours” in wine.
Fruity wines - the ones that make you think of fruit
when you hold the wine in your mouth.
Earthy wines - These make you think of mushrooms,
walks in the forest, dry leaves and so on.
Spicy wines - Cinnamon, cloves black pepper for
Herbal wines - Mint, grass, hay, rosemary and so on.
And there are so many other flavours in wine that you
could go on and on.
Beginners sometimes describe dry wines as sweet because
they confuse fruitiness with sweetness. A wine is fruity when it has
distinct aromas and flavour of fruit. You smell the fruitiness with your
nose and in your mouth you “smell” it through your retro-nasal passage.
Sweetness, on the other hand, is perceived on the surface of your tongue.
When in doubt, try holding your nose when you taste the wine. If the wine is
sweet, you will be able to taste the sweetness despite the fact that you
can’t smell the fruitiness.
All wines have acidity for both its flavour and its
preservative quality. Acidity is more of a taste factor in white wines than
in reds. For white wines acidity is the backbone of the wine’s taste.
White wines with good amount of acidity taste crisp, and those lack acidity
taste fat and flabby. The sides of the tongue trigger your perception of
acidity. You can also sense the consequences of acidity (or lack of it) in
the overall style of the wine - whether it’s a tart little number or a
soft and generous sort for example. Classify the wine you are tasting as
tart, crisp or soft.
Tannin is the substance that exists naturally in grape
skins. Because red wines are fermented with the grape skins, tannin levels
are far higher in red wines than in white wines. Just as acidity is to a
white wine, tannin is the backbone that gives the structure to a red wine.
Because tannin sometimes taste bitter, you sense tannin near the back of
your tongue. Wood tannin contributes a warm sensation on the insides of the
cheeks. The cumulative effect of both is a puckering drying sensation.
Depending on the amount of tannin, a red wine can be called astringent, firm
A wine’s body is an impression you get from the whole
of the wine. It is the impression of the weight, which is usually attributed
to alcohol in a wine. Think about the wine’s fullness and weight as you
taste it and classify the wine as light, medium or full-bodied.
Good wine should have texture; it shouldn’t be thin
like water. It can be subtle or thick and ropey like oil on canvas. It
should also have what is called a long finish, which is the lingering
sensation in the mouth. The balance of a wine - critical to its quality -
depends on having all these factors present in the right amount.
When the wine is in your mouth, the multiple taste
sensations - flavours, sweetness or dryness, acidity, tannin, balance,
length, body and texture - occur practically all at once and the experience
is so sensational that the best you can do is to try to describe it.
Ranjith Chandrasiri is the resident manager, Royal Cliff
Grand, Royal Cliff Beach Resort and the Founder of Royal Cliff Wine Club,
Pattaya, Thailand. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]
Website: http://www.royal cliff.com/rcwineclub.htm
Ask your local US Consul
I went to Immigration last week to get my visa extended,
and they said they needed a notarized copy of my passport. So, I go to the
Consulate, and - hello! - thirty dollars? For a signature? Are
you guys in cahoots with the Thai authorities, or what?
- That’s Good Beer Money
Dear Mr. (just a guess!) Money:
You’d be surprised by just how often I get this
question, although there are usually a few more four-letter words in there
(apologies, by the way, for taking yours out - though I commend your
I know there’s no convincing a truly hard-core
conspiracist, but I’m hoping you’re not in that category, and I promise
you that Immigration’s decision to require notarized documents took us as
much by surprise as it did you. Frankly, I’d much rather that we didn’t
have the longer lines and increased demand for services - especially
considering that we never see a cent of proceeds.
That’s correct: not only does the money not benefit the
individual officers (which, let’s face it, would be a little weird), but
neither does it come into the Consulate’s coffers in any way. In fact, it
doesn’t even directly benefit the State Department.
Here’s how it works: some services - basic ones, like
the existence of our facility - are supported by taxpayers. Some - visa
services and their related security requirements - are funded entirely by
visa application fees. And some, like notarials, are shouldered by the
American citizens who use the service themselves, with the money received
going into the General Treasury.
Every few years, an independent assessor looks at how
much it costs to have government personnel overseas to provide various
services (answer: lots) and how much time is spent with each function, and
Congress adjusts the fees accordingly. And no, not always upwards. Last
year, the notary fee was $55.
Yes, $55 (or $30) is quite a lot compared with what you
would pay in your home state (and no, you needn’t tell me exactly how much
it would cost back in Akron, and yes, I do know that whatever it is, it’s
a really big difference). But truly, that’s not the right comparison to
make. Think of it this way: you always have the option to hop on a plane
back to Akron and take advantage of the free or $5 service there.
Preposterous? Of course! But so is not figuring in those same costs - many
times over - in providing that service out here. The only alternative is to
have the fee absorbed by all the U.S. taxpayers who don’t need
anything notarized in Thailand (or Mozambique, or …) - and that’s hardly
fair, is it?
The U.S. government is not a for-profit enterprise, and
we at the Consulate do realize $30 is a lot of money for someone on a fixed
income or a teacher’s salary. That’s one reason we always advise people
struggling with the new Immigration rules to fill out one blanket affidavit
rather than our certifying every document, which would be a very expensive
proposition (but in many ways less work for us, certifications being less
time-consuming than notarials). It’s also why we urge you to go to a Thai
attorney for a notarial unless the purpose for which you need the document
absolutely requires that it be done in a U.S. facility. And if your
Immigration paperwork isn’t accepted on a technicality, we try to work
with you to modify a service you’ve already paid for rather than charge
you for a new one.
As with visa decisions, in which the Consulate merely
executes the law as set by Congress, if you find you absolutely, positively
cannot abide what the Consulate is required to do, your best option is to go
after the root of the regulation: write your lawmaker; please don’t abuse
Jai yen yen,
Have a question about visas, passports, travel to the
United States, services for American citizens, or related issues? Ask the
Consul. Send your e-mail to [email protected] state.gov, with “ask the
consul” in the subject line. If your question isn’t selected, you can
get an answer by calling the Consulate at 053-252-629, from 8 to 4.