Your Health & Happiness: TB on the way up, not the way out
A seminar was held on June 22 at the Empress Chiang Mai
Hotel, to inform the public about tuberculosis and in support of the Global
Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Pongsiri Prattanadee, president of Chiang Mai Tuberculosis Repression
Association at the seminar.
The Chiang Mai Tuberculosis Repression Association, under
the Patronage of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwat
Rajanagarindra, in conjunction with the Office of Disease Prevention and
Control, 10 Chiang Mai, and the Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University,
organized the seminar.
Prof. Pongsiri Prattana, president of Chiang Mai
Tuberculosis Repression Association, was joined by Assoc. Prof. Chaichan
Potirat, lecturer of Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, CMU, to
describe and discuss the disease, its cause and prevention. At present,
tuberculosis is still a disease with significant mortality.
Thailand is in the 17th position for tuberculosis as
reported by the WHO in 2005, with 19 deaths per 100,000 citizens. The Upper
northern regions have 6,000-7,000 patients.
One cause of the spread of tuberculosis is HIV, reducing the body’s
resistance, making HIV patients more at risk.
The Doctor's Consultation: Can you die from diarrhoea?
by Dr. Iain Corness
Yes you can die from diarrhoea (also spelled as
“diarrhea, if you come from the left hand side of the Atlantic Ocean).
Diarrhoea is that fun condition where all of a sudden you get that urgency to
go to the toilet which cannot be denied! The last time I had this, after
visiting the loo three times in the first hour, being the well prepared doctor
that I am, I went to the medicine chest to grab some Imodium or Lomotil, those
magic medications that are the next best thing to a cork. Needless to say
there were none as I had not replaced the last lot! Consequently, that same
urgency lasted all night, with regular half hourly ensuite journeys.
The scenario, as painted above, is typical of a food
poisoning case. The body knows it has a problem and does its level best to
expel the problem. Noisily! (And with malodour!)
There are those that say you benefit from a good
“cleanout” but I am not so sure. Whilst I am certainly now sparkling clean
from the back of my tonsils to my back side it has left me feeling weak and
exhausted and decidedly not thinking that this episode has been beneficial. As
for those who front up regularly for a colonic washout - Gentlemen, include me
out, as Sam Goldwyn once said.
So what is this diarrhoea disease? Well, the first thing is
that it is not a disease - it is a symptom. Diarrhoea, that certain looseness
of the bowels can be caused by a virus, a bacterium, stress, antibiotics and a
host of other conditions, including cancer. However, the vast majority of
cases of acute diarrhoea are a simple infection and self limiting - in other
words, you will get over it (just as I did). An exception should be stated
here, as acute diarrhoea in young children should not be ignored as it can be
fatal. The reason is that children have a much smaller circulating blood
volume and can go into ‘shock’ or circulatory collapse very quickly.
Chronic diarrhoea is a different matter. Recurrent chronic
diarrhoea should never be ignored as this can be caused by much more
important, and dangerous conditions. Blood with the diarrhoea makes it even
more imperative that you seek advice, diagnosis and treatment and not just
swallow a handful of pills every couple of days. The causes here may include
alcohol, thyroid problems, pancreatic problems, celiac disease, colonic
cancer, parasitic infections etc, etc, etc. Again, not the conditions you
would want to choose for yourself and definitely not cured by Imodium!
The investigations necessary to diagnose the cause of
chronic diarrhoea are as varied as the causes themselves. It will be necessary
to do complete blood testing, covering liver, pancreas and thyroid, as well as
the standard full blood count. Examination of the stool is also required, both
through the microscope and attempting to culture (grow) any bugs. This is also
not just one stool specimen, but generally one a day for three days. It will
also be likely that we will have to pass the “black snake” up your bottom,
more properly called a flexible sigmoidoscope and probably snip a couple of
pieces of tissue as well as biopsy material to be examined under the
The treatment of chronic diarrhoea depends upon the cause,
though the simple symptomatic treatment (Imodium/Lomotil) can be used while
awaiting the results of the further testing, but I cannot stress enough that
all cases of chronic diarrhoea must be thoroughly investigated. All cases! And
never neglect diarrhoea in the little ones. It can be fatal.
“Chocs and bubbly, lovely jubbly!” So says Derek Trotter of
Trotter’s Independent Traders (Bangkok and Koh Peckham) who has just
discovered a stash in his lock-up. Delchai will be on his way as soon as
he has found the dipstick for the van.
I didn’t know you drove a van.
Why is it that song taew drivers all over Thailand are so rude and
ignorant? Is it part of their training course to be so surly? Don’t they
realize they are part of the tourism experience for many visitors. They
should be put to work sweeping the roads, not driving on them.
Vic the frequent Visitor
Dear Visitor Vic,
And what, pray tell, makes you think that road sweepers are rude and
ignorant, so much so that the song taew drivers would fit in immediately?
Where would the song taew drivers carry their five baht pieces? And they
would waste all that horn training too. Have you ever seen the size of
their left thumbs? Huge! No, Vic, let’s keep the street sweepers as the
friendly and happy folk that they all are. What has to be done is to get
rid of the song taews, a feat that successive city mayors have found to be
Every day when I open up my email account it is full of offensive emails
from people I have never met and I find it annoying, to say the least. Is
there nothing we ordinary folk can do to stop this kind of thing? 90
percent of them seem to be sites with pornographic material and yet when
you try to send an email to them to stop further messages from these
people, you can’t get through. What do you suggest, Hillary? I’m sure
your email letterbox must get stuffed full too.
Tired of it all
Dear Tired of it all,
One certain thing is my letterbox is certainly not full of chocolates and
champers from that Mistersingha, my Petal! If you have an email account
that you open every day, you should also know that you can block much of
this spam before you download. You can also just bring down the headers
and trash the ones that are obviously rubbish before opening. Most servers
have a ‘block sender’ facility where you can stop that particular pest
or porn purveyor from ever reaching your in box again.
I am very attracted to my mate’s wife. She is Thai and very beautiful
and she has been making it obvious that the feeling is mutual. I know she
has been seeing other guys while her husband is offshore. Should I follow
my heart? Should I tell my mate about her and me, or should I not bother
with her and tell him about the flings she has while he’s away?
Dear Mate’s mate,
With friends like you, who needs enemies? You should not write about
following your heart, you haven’t got one. One minute you are ready to
run off with your mate’s wife, or perhaps you’ll spill the beans about
her supposed infidelities. But if you do have a heart, it’s “jai
dam”, something you should not be proud of. I hope your mate finds you
and teaches you a couple of physical lessons. You deserve it. If your mate
is not of the physical type, tell him to contact me. I know of a couple of
underemployed Muay Thai exponents who’d love to help him.
My maid drives me completely insane. She speaks little English and I am
not fluent in Thai; however, we usually get by with a few words and mime.
She horrifies me by putting all the dishes and glasses and pans together
in the sink and attempting to wash them with cold running water. Or she
will wipe the floor with a dishcloth. I patiently explain and demonstrate
the way I want it done, and it is fine for a while then she will go back
to the old ways. Most times she will put ironed clothes away in right
place but sometimes for no apparent reason will leave them on the lounge
room chair or dresser. Most of the time she does an average to below
average job infuriatingly slowly, though sometimes she will do something
bizarre such as leaving drying washing in kitchen. If I want something in
particular done which should just be routine surely, like dusting the
furniture or defrosting the fridge, I have to ask her every single time. I
truly do not know how to make her more efficient. I already pay her 4,000
baht a month. Do you have any suggestions?
For a start you may have to lower your standards, which are probably set a
little too high for the local situation. To preserve your sanity simply do
not watch her doing the housework. Go out have fun, change your focus and
adopt a “mai pen rai” attitude. If you cannot simply learn to put up
and shut up, then pay more, approximately double, and hire an English
speaking trained housemaid. The other alternative is to do it all
yourself. The choice is yours.
Camera Class: Shooting neon made simple
by Harry Flashman
you are ever in Pattaya, head up Soi Pattayaland 2 one night and just look
upwards. The street is a veritable illuminated forest of neon. There must be
more neon tubes per cubic metre than anywhere else in the world. Even visitors
from Las Vegas stand and stare. In other cities you will also find meters of
coloured neon lighting, especially in the nightlife areas. Neon is universal,
and unfortunately universally misunderstood by most photographers.
These are the tourists who have the camera slung round their
necks and out it is whipped to record this neon wonderland for the folks back
home. With a spitting flash, the auto-focus camera grinds away, but when the
traveller gets his prints back, he or she is going to be very disappointed. That
huge neon glow comes out as a thin thready coloured tube and nothing like what
they saw that night. Why? Did the photo-processor get it wrong? Was it done on
the wrong sort of film? Did the camera get it wrong?
Simple answer is no, none of the above. The failure to record
neon lighting was because the photographer believed the auto camera’s
suggestion that since it was night, flash must be used. In fact, most auto
cameras these days will automatically get the flash ready by sundown. This,
unfortunately, is where the modern cameras are just too smart for themselves. A
flash is the last thing you need when taking neon lights. The reason for this is
quite simple - the strong white flash burst totally overpowers the weaker neon
illumination and washes out all the pretty colours (the reason you wanted to
take the shot in the first place!).
The first item you need to research in the auto camera’s
manual is how to turn the flash OFF. The reason for this is again simple - when
you photograph neon, you must make the neon tubes themselves the light source.
Not the flash.
So what shutter speed and aperture settings should you use?
If you have an auto setting on the camera, or you are using a fully automatic
point and shooter then you are already set up. No fancy calculations are
required. The camera’s meter will do it all for you. For once, I am happy to
let the electronic brain do its thing (but without the flash).
However, since you are dealing with a low light situation the
shutter speeds will be fairly slow, often down around 1/15th to 1/8th of a
second. At these sorts of speeds you will not hand-hold and get ultimate
sharpness in your prints. This is the time to use a tripod or hold the camera
firmly on the roof of a parked car to stop blurring. Or even one of those dinky
little table-top tripods.
If you want to get technical and do it all manually, then
meter from the neon glow itself and then shoot not only at that setting, but
also from one stop below and one stop above. This the pros call “bracketing”
and it just simply increases your chances of getting a good shot. In the
photography bizz, a pro must come back with the goods - no excuses are
acceptable! Not even torrential rain, or polar bears out without a leash.
Now, to really go to town with the neon sign effects, get out
your filters. If you have a soft focus one, then put it on for a couple of
shots. Another interesting variant is to tightly stretch a nylon stocking over
the lens. The result here will be a “halo” around the neon and can make for
a very attractive photograph. Try putting a “starburst” or a rainbow filter
on too. Just to get something different.
And looking for something really different? Another great
visual effect is to put the camera on the tripod and use a zoom lens. Select a
shutter speed of around ten seconds and slowly “zoom” in or away from the
neon light while the shutter is open. You will get something very different with
this technique. Something like a 3D movement effect.
Try some neon shots this weekend - just remember to turn the flash off!
Money Matters: Thailand property boom or bust?
MBMG International Ltd.
One of the hottest property investment markets in Asia is
Thailand. Growing numbers of expatriates living in Asia as well as retiring
Europeans have set their sights on Thailand because of its quality of life,
low cost of living, affordability in buying a property, and the opportunity
to have a base in Asia from which to work in the region.
Bangkok, Pattaya and Koh Samui are some of the main
destinations attracting foreign investors. Naturally, people will also want
to return to Southern Thailand – especially Phuket and Krabi – although
the markets there are still overshadowed by memories of the tragic tsunami.
Other destinations include Chiang Mai and Hua Hin, which are also growing.
Compared to the prices for city property in other Asian
countries, it is easy to see why Bangkok has become so popular. Residential
condo prices are the most affordable and some of the lowest in Asia when
compared to Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney.
High-end condos in the Sukhumvit/Silom areas are selling
in the THB 90-100,000 per square metre range (US$2,300-2,600/sqm) compared
to Hong Kong (US$9,000/sqm), Singapore (US$6,000/sqm), Tokyo (US$7,500/sqm)
and Sydney (US$7,000/sqm) making Bangkok condos a relatively cheap
investment option in dollar terms, which is one of the factors attracting
However, over the next two-three years there will be
quite a few new high end residential condo projects in the Silom and
Sukhumvit areas coming onto the market, many of which will be hard to sell
quickly in the current over-supplied market. Coupled with high oil prices
(which translates in to higher building costs for developers), a slowing US
economy, rising interest rates and falling rental yields, sales targets will
be hard to reach, especially in the buy-to-let investment market.
The good news for investors is that developers facing
rising costs, slower sales and more competition and will be forced to offer
more incentives in order to sell their projects. So if you are thinking of a
second home or a permanent residence in Bangkok wait for a while as 2006-7
should be a good time to look for the best deals – although in the second
hand sector there are such variations in price that there are bargains out
there all the time, although finding them can take time.
For those thinking of lifestyle opportunities, Phuket has
been a major destination for years. Even post-tsunami it will continue to be
dominated and driven by foreign investors looking for investment property or
a permanent address for residence. With excellent infrastructure, direct
flights to most cities in the region and a range of resort style projects to
choose from, starting from 8 million baht up to 40 million baht or so,
demand is expected to remain strong.
For those looking for something a little more idyllic,
investment orientated and more affordable, Koh Samui is a gold mine of
opportunity for investors and home owners. With property values growing at
something like 20 percent a year driven by tourism and property development,
and land values still 40-50 percent lower than similar plots in Phuket,
there is still a lot of growth in the market.
However, compared to Phuket the number of good boutique
projects currently available offering professional management is still small
and buyers need to do their homework before buying. But over the next five
years local real estate agents foresee an increasing number of new quality
developments on offer that will bring greater investment dollars into the
Samui market and, with it, higher prices.
Coupled with the launch of more five star hotel
developments (Four Seasons and the Marriott) and new tourism projects such
as the development of a second golf course and a planned new marina, larger
numbers of investors and tourists to the island will follow.
In summary, the Thai market is one of the most affordable
and sought after in Asia, and it will continue to attract strong private and
corporate investors into Bangkok and established resort areas.
As those of you who know me will attest to, I have been
eulogising the benefits of the Eastern Seaboard for many years now. Business
now seems to have fully recovered from the doldrums incurred since 1997.
More and more investment, both local and foreign, is pouring into the region
and the large industrial estates such as Hemaraj and Amata are having to buy
more land to build on just to keep pace.
International hotels are now either already building in
Pattaya or are looking to start in the near future. International developers
are doing the same. As the infrastructure to the region improves and the new
international airport is up and running more and more people will be coming
to Pattaya to live. There is even the chance of it turning into a commuter
town for Bangkok within the next ten years.
How long will this last? Nobody knows. However, one thing is for certain,
whilst prices remain as they are throughout South East Asia, Thailand offers
some of the best deals to be had anywhere in the region.
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 Alan Hall on
Life in the Laugh Lane: Two million cleaning ladies
by Scott Jones
As a child, I was very young. I used to harass ants, stomp
on their hills and throw burning sticks in their path. Later I collected
insects, gassed them in jars with formaldehyde and pinned them to boards.
It’s pay back time. These gruesome tales traveled through the ant world and
now the ants harass me, though they haven’t use fire or pins yet.
ladies work 24/7 for free.
Of the 10,000 known ant species, approximately 9487 live in
or near my bungalow. Big, nasty thugs from the red ant mafia. Almost invisible
ones composed of nine ant molecules. Carpenter ants the size of horse pills
wearing utility belts with hammers and hacksaws. Small, medium and large
generic black ants marching 20 deep in columns extending from somewhere in or
near my bungalow to somewhere else in or near my bungalow.
For a few futile days I reverted to childhood and waged an
Ant War with traps, poisons and Britney Spears songs played at high volume. The
odds were against me: one to several million. They’ve owned this land for
thousands of years and I’m just visiting. Now, instead of expensive poison
bait inside, I place a cheap buffet of sugar outside. (At least I know where
one end of their column is.) The same concept removes unruly stray dogs. Just
throw a dead chicken into your neighbor’s yard.
If you think you have problems, imagine facing the daily
dangers of an ant. As you walk to the market, a spray can larger than the
Goodyear blimp exterminates thousands. While relaxing in the sun with your kids
and eggs, a broom the size of a soccer field whisks your neighborhood into the
next county. While hunting alone for food, suddenly a finger as big as a
skyscraper streaks out of the sky and scrapes you into oblivion.
The worker ants are actually quite helpful: industrious,
organized cult members that work 24/7…all female. As a million flying
termites descend on my bungalow at night, two million cleaning ladies
efficiently begin corpse removal. With superhero muscles they carry up to 50
times their weight. With that strength, I could lift 3500 kilos: very handy in
tight parallel parking situations. Get out of the car, pick it up and set it in
place. Overcharged by the minibus from the airport? Carry the bus and driver to
a bridge and hang them over the river until he sees it your way.
Searching the web for classified ant security data and
elimination techniques, I found stories (obviously originating in Thailand)
about the largest ant, the elephANT, and its strange relationship with other
ants. What game do ants play with elephants? (Squash.) Why did the elephant lay
his trunk in the path? (Trying to trip ants.) Why did the ant lay on its back
in the jungle? (Trying to trip elephants.) What did the ant say on the
elephant’s wedding day? (“You’re getting married? But I’m pregnant with
Being a bike safety addict, this news item tickled me. While riding his new
motorbike, Mr. Ant met an elephant wanting a lift to the market. Mr. Ant said,
“Hop on.” Later he picked up two more elephants and the four of them headed
to town. A truck screeched to a halt in front of them and they crashed into it.
Paramedics arrived to find unconscious elephants, near death…but Mr. Ant only
had a few minor injuries. (Why? He was wearing a helmet.) Carrying three
elephants, the ambulance sped to the hospital as several ants followed on
motorbikes. (Why? To donate blood.)