Your Health & Happiness:
Flowers are a great way to say ‘I care’
Lotus and the ‘lotus effect’
Almost all flowers symbolize something. Their meanings go
way back in history, others have a very special significance for
individuals, and others are symbolic, like the rose that is today the symbol
of love, or the Lotus, considered sacred by many.
pink Lotus flower grows in a huge Chinese garden with leaves up to two
thirds of a meter in diameter.
The history of the Lotus flower goes back to Egyptian
hieroglyphics, Roman and Greek mythology and Chinese history.
The lotus symbolizes an empowering idea. It grows in mud,
the deeper the better. Yet it stays pristine. Even though mud clings to the
leaves of most plants, not so with the lotus. Nothing sticks to it. An
outstanding example of the fusion of biology and technology, this is the
A German botanist found out why leaves of the lotus plant
stay clean and dry at all times. Billions of tiny wax-covered nubs on the
surface ensure that dirt particles cannot cling to them and are simply
washed away by drops of water dripping down the leaf. The technical
replication of this natural phenomenon means a revolution to our everyday
lives. Building facades, painted with special paint, require minimum further
care; cars washed with clear water are instantly clean again.
The lotus means something clean and pure; it is a symbol
of Buddhism and a sign that out of mud something clean and beautiful can
Think about the purity and simplicity of the lotus, when you go to the
market to buy this flower. It is one of the most complex on this earth.
The Doctor's Consultation: Unsafe sex and STD’s! Are the tourists at fault?
by Dr. Iain Corness
I read the following in a newspaper in this country a
couple of weeks ago, “A senior (Thai) health official blamed unsafe sex by
foreign tourists for a news report that many young tourists, particularly
those from Britain and Germany, went home with sexually transmitted diseases
(STD), including HIV.”
Apparently the acting permanent secretary of public health
said the government was already providing free condoms in about 60,000 places
which offered sexual services. How interesting! I was always under the
impression there was no sex for sale here. Or have I got it wrong?
The report went on to say that 69 percent of British-born
men with heterosexually acquired HIV were infected through sex while abroad,
as were a quarter of women. “Of these men, 22 percent were probably infected
in Thailand,” the report said.
What all this means is simply that young people still take
risks, which quite frankly is the nature of young people everywhere. What this
report is also showing is that these young tourists didn’t bring their
STD’s here, they picked up their STD’s in Thailand and then took them back
home to the UK.
What has been glossed over is the fact that in the
horizontal folk dancing field, it takes two to tango. Nobody gets AIDS from
masturbation! The safe sex thing has to be practiced by both parties.
The acting permanent secretary of public health is further
quoted in the report, “They might have had sex, without protection, with
risk groups such as teenagers and those outside sex services. Such groups
still had low protection rates.” To be perfectly frank, I do not believe
that these groups are the ones offering sexual favours to British tourists.
The commercial sex outlets represent the pool of infection into which the
collective English willy is dipped. Or have I got it wrong? The 22 percent of
British tourists returning with STD’s are invited to drop me an email if I
The study was apparently done between the years 2000 and
2002, which immediately makes me suspicious of its accuracy relating to today.
Much has been done regarding public education in Thailand, such as that by
Senator Meechai Viravaidya whom I saw carrying out condom promotions in Nana
Plaza in Bangkok, so I believe that the chances of our randy British tourists
getting their STD’s in Thailand are very much less than they were three or
four years ago. (Or at least I would certainly hope so!)
By the way, the Germans came in for a case of the pointed
finger as well, saying that a study of male German sex tourists in Thailand
showed that most were aged 30-40, single, with well-paying jobs and only 30-40
percent used condoms.
So where does all that lead us? Well, it points the way
(not the finger) to achieving a decrease in STD’s, and that is to look at
the source of infection in this country. Undoubtedly it is in the commercial
sex area where the bulk of the STD’s can be found, from Herpes to AIDS. The
full spectrum. Surely it behooves us all to educate the commercial sex
operators in safe sexual practices, and to have regular checks done on
practicing prostitutes, both male and female. And follow that up with active
treatment and further education.
Let the Brits and the Germans educate their own in safe
sex. Let us educate our own. Or is that too simple?
Every weekend when I come back to work I find that someone in the office
has been using my computer to get on to the internet and visit porn sites.
I have asked if anyone knows, but like most things in the office, it seems
to be “nobody”. This upsets me as I do not go and look at such things
and I would not like the others in the office to think I do. I am a
married woman in my mid 40’s and this upsets me so much. Why do they
need to look at naked women like that? It is so degrading. I think the
others in the office (90 percent males) laugh at me behind my back, but I
really have to do something about it. Suggestions?
Dear Anti-Porn Prudence,
I am a little worried about your work mates. 90 percent males, you have
written. What is the other 10 percent? Woman, beast or bird? No wonder
they do funny things like using your computer. You have let this blow so
much out of proportion that you are overlooking the simple and obvious, my
Petal. To log on to the net you have to give a password, right? Just
change your password, and do not tell anyone in the office. Do not check
the little box to automatically remember the password and they cannot use
your computer to get their vicarious thrills. However, you should also
live and let live, but use other people’s equipment, eh?
I have a fifteen year old son and as he was growing up I was worried that
he might turn into a hoodlum as he was a bit of a tearaway when he was
younger. The problem is that he has gone the other way. Now he is lazy,
says he is bored all the time and just lolls around the house after school
and at weekends. How can a fit young fifteen year old boy be bored?
Hillary, I don’t know what to do. He used to like going to the movies or
swimming, but lately he just won’t get out from his own shadow. Have you
Dear Worried Mum,
This is your first or oldest child, I am sure, as any mother who has older
children could have set you right here. It is all part of growing up,
Petal, and unfortunately this growing up process does not stop until they
are aged about 35 years old for boys or 26 years old for girls. I am sure
that if young mothers were told about these things, there would be no
further problems with over-population! You just have to grin and bear it,
I’m afraid. I do suggest that perhaps you should look at joining some
women’s groups, as contacts with more experienced Mums could have saved
you all this worry.
Massage places seem to be everywhere and seem to be very popular too. I
went into one to have a foot massage and they were very insistent that I
take my sandals off before I even stepped inside. I was so annoyed with
them pointing at my feet I almost left there and then. Then I had the foot
massage and it was so painful I had to get the girl to stop. Is it always
like this, or did I go to the wrong place? If this is what they are like I
cannot imagine why they are so popular. The one I went to has all the
conditions it can cure on the window, and frankly I don’t believe it.
Dear Fancy Feet,
I will let you into a secret, my Poppet. Hillary doesn’t like foot
massages either! Perhaps Hillary has tender feet, but foot massages are
too painful for me. Maybe that’s the secret - there is so much joy and
relief when they stop! But there are many of my friends who swear by them
(me, I swear at them) and often go once a week. They do not appear to have
many other masochistic practices, so they must enjoy the experience. Foot
massage has a long history, going back to pre-Buddhist times, so I presume
somebody, somewhere, enjoyed it enough for it to remain a financially
sound business proposition right through till today.
I have been to Thailand a few times and am interested in finding out more
about being a monk. I believe there are some short courses. Have you heard
of them? I have always been impressed watching the monks in their orange
robes going along the streets with their begging bowls in the mornings.
I would recommend that you get the following books before going much
further, “Buddhism Explained” (ISBN 974-7047-28-4) by Khantipalo
Bhikkhu, “Phra Farang, An English Monk in Thailand”, by Phra Peter
Pannapadipo, (ISBN 974-202-019-1) and “The Good Life. A guide to
Buddhism for the Westerner” by Gerald Roscoe, Asia Books, (ISBN
974-8206-56-4). Read these before ordering the saffron robes, Petal. You
will get all the information you will need and important contacts as well.
Camera Class: A photographer’s nightmare
by Harry Flashman
Let me tell you about the time (a few years ago) when I
suffered from every photojournalist’s nightmare - taking two rolls of film in
for processing and getting no images back. Not one! The images ‘supposed’ to
have been there included three portraits, a photo essay on a band, a dinner for
visiting dignitaries and a restaurant. Total disaster!
reason? An internal camera malfunction. Never mind camera breakdowns - this was
The next night it was on again, another band, more
dignitaries plus some candids. My camera bag has more than one camera in it, so
camera number 2 was brought out. It failed after six shots! By this stage I was
sure this was the result of a personal vendetta, and I began to try and remember
anyone whose toes I had stood on during the week.
The important thing was to settle down and look at the
problem. Cameras are just machines and have to obey the laws of physics.
Settling down mentally and physically, and looking at camera 2 and then doing
some elementary diagnostics showed that the battery had failed. Simple! This
particular camera can be run in a full manual mode (no electronics at all), but
the shutter speed then becomes fixed at 1/250th of a second. This was not going
to be suitable for the night shots I had to do.
“Thinking ahead,” I remembered that both the cameras were
interchangeable, so taking the battery out of the first (disabled) camera, it
was possible to get the second one going again. All this was being done while
bands were playing and people parading, waiting to be shot for posterity! It was
not a fun evening.
Why had this happened and what had gone wrong? Well, the
first camera had shattered its shutter, and in the second camera, batteries are
just batteries and so must eventually fail. But this was not really the full
story. I have to take some blame as well. Every photographer should carry spare
batteries as well as another roll of film. Every photographer should also sit
down every year and clean and service his or her camera(s). Claiming overwork
and too busy is no excuse!
Now if you do not feel confident enough to do this basic
maintenance, then you should get it done for you. It will certainly reduce the
chances of camera breakdowns, which at best are frustrating and at worst
diabolical in their consequences. (We just had a relative over on holiday whose
camera also failed to deliver, and all her holiday memories are just that -
memories. There are no photographic prints to take back.)
So how do you do all this maintenance? If you are a camera
whiz, then you can do it yourself, but you are probably much better advised to
visit the main agents for your brand of camera and let them do it. However,
putting fresh batteries in each year is a simple task that you should do
religiously. I suggest that on your birthday each year, you give the camera a
birthday too and fit fresh batteries. It won’t stop shattered shutters, but it
will fix battered batteries.
A cheap movie?
Most photographers also have an interest in moving pictures, and keen amateur
Ernie Kuehnelt brought the following to my notice. It’s in Bangkok, but we all
have reasons to go to the capital these days. It is about a group called
“House” that is screening ‘good’ movies, the kind that are judged at
Cannes and the like, as well as more mainstream ones such as Finding Nemo or
Kill Bill (starring Monica L?). The others come from many countries, but have
subtitles in Thai and English (or at least the ones Ernie Kuehnelt saw had
them). He also reported that the ticket prices were very cheap. The venue is RCA
in Bangkok and you can get more details by going to www.houserama.com, but it is
all in Thai, so have your favourite Thai reader around! They bill themselves as
Bangkok’s only boutique movie theatre.
Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums
by Dr Byte, Citec Asia
In the last edition of Dr Byte, we looked at some of the
choices we have to connect, which we broke down into groups of connection
options to make it easy to compare options. This week we look at the Home ADSL
and Cable options.
The good news is that those of you who just want home use
have a very reasonable alternative offering which is genuinely low cost compared
to us business people. It is unlimited BUT ... yes I am sorry, there always
seems to be a but! ... but, you will share your connection with many others.
That’s how the providers have spread the true cost and at the same time, make
some money. What does this mean?
Well it’s simple enough. You get a genuine ADSL broadband
connection, but you share the broadband with up to 40 0r 50 others. If your
connection is 128K, its not a true 128K because this is divided by 40 to 50
people sharing the connection and one time (and yes it will happen, 50 people
will connect at the same time and you will watch your connection die a horrible
and painful death just as you’re trying to download your Auntie Edith’s or
boss’s urgent/critical e-mail about something).
Home based connections are provided by both TOT and TT&NT
direct and the costs vary from 600 baht ($15 US) per month to 900 baht ($22 US)
per month (or a little over) plus the cost of the modem and the phone line
charges. From my own perspective, I think a 600 baht unlimited connection is
worth the unstable connection caused by sharing the bandwidth with 40 or 50
other users at the same time. This option gets 3.75 stars because it’s a very
TA (Asia-Net) is now bringing cable connection to Bangkok and
Chiang Mai and after checking out connection speeds, costs and availability,
there is little difference between one and the other. Cable is meant to be more
stable and while it’s interesting to hear different opinions about cable
compared with ADSL, having gone down this path some 8 weeks ago, I can say that
our own experience is not good. Set up costs were very expensive, exceeding
17,000 baht (more than $400 US) for the setup, installation, cable modem and
router, plus more than 10,000 baht (approx $250 US) to change our whole internal
office network to suit the new high speed connection. Installation was slow and
delayed by petty bureaucracy, and despite several visits by TA/Asia Net
technicians, the connection continues to be unstable and hangs several times per
day. This option only gets 3.0 stars and should have got at least 4.5 stars if
it was as good as it was claimed to be.
So to re-cap, Thailand’s internet connection problems are a
result of both internal problems (antiquated 50 year old telephone lines,
analogue telephone exchanges, Etc.) and external problems (international issues
outside Thailand’s control such as virus attacks, poor fibre optic
connections, poor support and so on). The cost of overhauling this system is
excessive and the strict controls applied by the Thailand government to keep
control, prevents outsiders investing and creating effective solutions.
The choices for an internet connection are many and include
broadband. However, remember that what you experienced overseas as broadband and
what is on offer here, are not the same thing. Leave your expectations overseas.
While most people in Thailand still connect using dial-up modem, this service is
marred by antiquated infra-structure. Satellite, ADSL and Cable are now
available, and prices, connection speeds and service are all very similar with
no one really offering a superior service. ISDN is expensive and really only for
someone with a deep wallet.
The small and medium size business enterprise (SME) has
little choice for now but to dig into their piggy bank and pay whatever they can
afford. Considering that a 512K ADSL connection here can cost upward of 9,500
baht (almost $235 US per month), I think that’s extremely expensive when you
realise you can get a T1 / T3 or cable connection (several gigabytes of
connection speed used by most business’s in the USA) for considerably less.
The city based home user has the best options of all and
depending on who provides the telephone line, can remain online all day, all
night, every day for as little as 600 baht per month. But remember, you will be
sharing your precious bandwidth with up to 50 other connections/customers.
Last and not least, the Thailand government has clearly said
that it would like to see Thailand compete globally in the IT marketplace.
Chiang Mai is being advertised as an IT hub and while we certainly have the
skills, until these issues are really addressed and resolved, countries like
India will continue to dominate not only the global IT market, but also the S.E.
If you have any tips or tricks that you’d like to share, or
any questions about your internet or pc experience, contact me: Dr Byte,
Beer and More: Beer in the
late Middle Ages
The invention of beer tax!
by Karl Eichhorn,
Chiangmai Malting product manager
While towns grew and prospered during the late Middle Ages
the consumption of beer became a habit. Nobody wanted to give it up. The intake
of beer was more hygienic than that of water. Through the production of beer,
while adding various herbs, health threatening bacteria were destroyed. This was
a strong reason (or was it an excuse) why the art of brewing succeeded and
developed into an independent craft.
boiling tank as can be seen today.
In no time, county chiefs introduced beer tax (Biersteuer).
The revenue department came running. In many places the inns of monasteries,
which were excluded from the tax, were forced to close.
Occasionally, the mixture of herbs (called grit) was replaced
by hops. During the late middle Ages they already had the knowledge that beers
produced from hops were characterized by an extended durability, which was
outstanding for this time. This durability is based on the aseptic properties of
the hops. The advantage of using hops for the brewing of beer was soon realized
by the taxing authorities.
It became obvious that only tasty and long lasting beers had
a market and those were the ones to be taxed. The strict rules for the brewing
of quality beer (until today it is called ‘Reinheitsgebot’), were announced
in 1516 A.D., which permitted only three items when producing beer. Water, malt
and hops which represented not only the first law of food standards but also a
means to fixing the tax on beer consumption.
Beer consumption grew rapidly, mostly in towns with flowering
universities. Often breweries belonged administratively to towns, even to the
universities themselves. Whenever beer taxes were increased, it was often that
students and citizens protested which resulted in bloody riots and even setting
fire to property.
Let me end with the drinking quote of the week, “If your doctor warns that
you have to watch your drinking, find a bar with a mirror.” John Mooney.
Money Matters: Scott Campbell’s views on Thailand
written at the start of May 2004
MBMG International Ltd.
Last month, MBMG invited Scott Campbell, the man whose
Growth Fund has been judged by S&P to be the best in its sector for the
last 6 years, to pay his first ever visit to Bangkok. Over the next few
weeks, we’ll be publishing Scott’s views on a number of topics, starting
appropriately enough, with Thailand.
Writing this week’s view from Bangkok I felt it was
prudent to look at this economy and market. Having given a presentation to
the British Chamber of Commerce and talked with a number of financial
adviser clients, it is pretty apparent the spectacular rise in the Thai SET
index of 100%-plus last year has renewed interest in the local equity
market. David Fuller, global investor and analyst has been very bullish from
London on this market and a buyer of LSE listed Thai funds. Once I had
managed to avoid the zillions of scooters but not the oppressive heat, this
is what I found.
This Buddhism dominated country of 60million-plus
population traditionally relied on agriculture and is the world’s third
largest exporter of rice. The currency is known as the baht and is
approximately 40 baht to 1US$. The economy is set to grow at 7-8% this year
as interest rates stay low with strong consumption. According to Moody’s,
Thailand’s external payments and fiscal position remains strong, with no
appreciable overall effect from the outbreak of the bird flu. While public
debt and contingent liabilities remain relatively high, the post 1997
build-up in the public sector debt has been due primarily to financial
sector losses. Thailand’s strong export performance, high international
reserves and flexible macroeconomic policy framework also gives authorities
much more leeway to manage any external shocks as in the late 90’s.
Thailand experienced a small trade deficit in March as
imports racked up record highs in tandem with the strong domestic economic
growth. However, last year exports grew to US$80.2bn and imports also rose
16% to US$75bn leaving a strong current account surplus. Exports have grown
6% in 2002 and 16% last year after a decline of 7% in 2001. The commerce
ministry is expecting 15% export growth again this year and Finance Minister
Somkid Jatusripitak’s projections are for the current account to remain in
surplus for the next three or four years. According to UBS Warburg economist
Christa Janjic, “Thailand is firmly in the league of the fast growing
Asian export countries” and I have to agree.
Interest rates are low, real low. The government bond
yield curve looks remarkably like the US, with 1 month money at 1.05% and 10
year notes just under 5%. The business pages of the local papers had a
number of reports concluding that they will stay at these levels for the
rest of this year. Most observers say a rate hike is unlikely before the
general election early next year but the biggest impediment to a hike
appears to be excess liquidity.
The Asian crisis in 1997 hit Thailand hard. The financial
sector has now mostly stabilised as a result of institutional and regulatory
reforms, together with public fund injections into ailing institutions,
although according to Moody’s some residual weakness remains. The Stock
Exchange of Thailand’s (SET) index is dominated by Banks and other
financials, but interestingly has a whole sector entitled Companies under
Rehabilitation! The market cap of the index is US$107bn, which is not small
and the SET has skyrocketed from 350 at the start of 2003 to current levels
around 670. This gain of 90% was significantly higher as the index has eased
back from above 700 in December. The index should have support at 660
according to local stockbroker Tisco Securities but they are concerned that
a chart pattern has emerged with the relative strength of SET versus the
Asia Pacific region falling below its 50 day moving average. This would be a
significant negative relative indicator.
The baht peaked and has been in a pretty stable range of Bt45 to Bt35
since 1999. In summary, the SET trades on a PE of 10 times with earnings
forecast to grow 25% again this year. The economy has recovered from the
Asian crisis of 1997 and has significant reserves, a current account surplus
and big growth prospects. Interest rates will undoubtedly rise and the boom
in property and financial stocks will probably slow but exporters are solid.
Like all emerging markets there is political risk, so conservatism is
warranted, but Thailand appears to be in pretty good shape and we should be
buying into weakness subject to the important proviso that key support
levels hold. After all with such famous and delicious dishes such as Phad
Thai, Tom Kha Gai and Panaeng Gai as the real export success story, how can
they go wrong!
The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be
reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept
any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any
responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not
taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please
contact Graham Macdonald on [email protected]
Mrs. DoLittle’s Corner: Blondes have more fun
Last time I wrote about gibbons, which are known as the
‘lesser apes’. This week I’d like to introduce you to an Orangutan which
is part of the ‘greater ape’ family.
with ‘her’ blonde wig!
Her name is Sambee and great she is. Not only is she
intelligent, perhaps even smarter than some persons I’ve met, but she is also
one of the greatest characters I’ve ever met, human or otherwise. In fact, I
think that since her only companion for 16 years was her caretaker at Dusit
Zoo, Sambee thought of herself as a human too. She certainly acted like one.
Her keeper accompanied her to Chiang Mai Zoo and was to stay
for a month to get her accustomed to her new surroundings. The management had
decided it was time for her to become an orangutan again. A huge enclosure had
been built for her and a male companion was on the way from Indonesia.
In the meantime Mrs. DoLittle’s job was to distract her
from her old keeper. This proved to be rather a difficult task as she was used
to going everywhere with him, even to the toilet and restaurants around the zoo
where she’d eat fried rice with him. The other keepers used to refer to
Sambee as his ‘mia noi’! When he finally left four months later he told
Mrs. DoLittle that if he didn’t go back to Bangkok NOW, his ‘mia luang’
would divorce him. She claimed he loved Sambee more than her!
The last evening before he left, I found them sitting in a
private area of the zoo. As I got closer I saw that they were smoking and
drinking. As soon as Sambee saw me, she threw her cigarette on the ground. But
the glass she clutched close to her chest and with very long lips extended into
the glass, she slurped it dry, and then threw the glass into the nearest bush.
Her keeper had tears in his eyes. I knew he would miss her dearly and I backed
out of there. As I left, I saw Sambee searching the bush for her glass!
The next morning Sambee had a hangover and slept till
lunchtime. I took her for a drive in the zoo director’s car to get her mind
off her keeper’s absence. She sat in the passenger seat and whenever she
wanted to look at some of the other animals, she’d bang her hand on the roof
of the car. When she’d finished, she’d beep the horn to go on. While we
were driving she’d study her face in the rear vision mirror on the door and
make faces at herself. It was very difficult to keep a straight face and not
drive off the road. I couldn’t laugh at her. She got offended. I’d done
that once before and then she snubbed me for days.
Everything Sambee did, she was very serious about. Once she pulled a blonde
wig from a visitor and put it on her own head. Then she looked at herself in
the mirror and grinned. The moral of this: Blondes do have more fun!
Information Technology: More ‘byting’ in the ‘computer wars’
Computer and learning center under one roof
CM Computer is spending 10 million baht to expand its
educational center and provide a parking area to accommodate 200 cars.
“We do not fear our new competition, Panthip Computer
Plaza, after our survey showed that it attracted customers during its initial
period but did not affect consumer behavior in the long term,” said the owner
of CM Computer, Pornchai Jitnavasathien.
Pornchai said that CM Computer was the first center in
Thailand to bring computers and learning to the same location. It has been
operating for over five years in Chiang Mai.
parking for 200 cars
“CM Computer is the only center whose owner opens the
building to the public to rent, unlike other centers whose owners also operate
their own shops on the premises and disadvantage other rented shops,” claims
Pornchai. CM Computer is also the largest tutor center, with over 10 academic
centers including dancing, singing and tae kwan do classes.
With the Rachada Academic Center (RAC), it opened a tutor
center in late July in response to public demand. Local teachers will be allowed
to tutor in some subjects, but only skilled teachers in Accounting,
Administration, Management, Marketing, Physics, Chemistry, Language and
Mathematics will be chosen by CM Computer to teach there.
Pornchai said he wanted to support local people and prefers
distributing income by hiring local people. To date, CM has provided work for
over 2,000 local people.
CM Computer is also offering a special promotion where
customers who spend 1,000 baht will get a gift and a lucky draw coupon to try
for 30 gold necklaces. The lucky draw takes place on October 31.
We await the second wave in the onslaught!