Your Health & Happiness: Samui Spa Fair
was represented by Chitra Klanprayoon (third from right) from Ban Sabai Spa
Village and Resorts Chiang Mai and Samui talking here to Wanwarlee Tantikarn,
(second right) president of the Samui Spa Assoc. and Privy Councillor Plakorn
Chiangmai Mail Reporters
Besides art and culture, health and Spa are the key words in Chiang Mai, and in
order to help promoting this in other Thai provinces, the Samui Spa Fair 2006
was held during the second week of May, well attended by interested visitors,
and also represented by Chiang Mai’s Spa owner Chitra Klanprayoon, from Ban
Samui aims at becoming another spa destination for high end travelers, as
Chiang Mai is already known for, with their own Spa association.
Samui Spa Fair presented herbal products, aimed highly at health and nutrition
products and the sales of OTOP goods which is very successful in Northern
Thailand. Seminars and educational speeches were delivered and one can only
hope that Samui will achieve attracting not only beach lovers in the future but
also art, culture, and health interested people.
The Spa Invitation of Thailand which started in March 2006 in Bangkok will
travel around Thailand and after Surat Thani province (Samui), it will hit Hua
Hin, Cha-am, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phuket and Krabi during 2006.
The Doctor's Consultation: Giving up cigarettes – a personal experience
by Dr. Iain Corness
I used to smoke 45 cigarettes a day. I gave up 24 years, 10
months ago at 10 o’clock in the morning, not that I’m counting or
anything! It was probably one of the most momentous decisions I have ever
made, and definitely one of the best decisions I ever made about my health.
It was 1981, and I had started smoking as a medical student around 20 years
previously. It was just the done thing at the time. We all smoked, it made us
feel older and more mature. After all our fathers all smoked, so it was almost
a ‘badge’ of adulthood. A rite of passage, perhaps.
As the evidence began to mount up against cigarette smoking at the end of the
‘70’s and the early ‘80’s, I found myself in the ridiculous position
of advising people to give up smoking, while I hid my ashtray in the bottom
drawer of my desk, and waved my hand around a lot before the next patient came
Like all smokers, I was able to rationalise my stand. I was advising patients
whose lung function tests were down, but mine were perfect. If mine fell, then
I certainly would give up smoking immediately. Yes, you are way in front of
me, aren’t you! I had to test my lung function machine one day – and there
was the proof – my respiratory function was 15 percent below the
“average” for my age and height. It was ‘bite the bullet’ time! The
biter was bit, hoist by my own petard and other aphorisms.
So, I just gave up smoking. It was going to be easy, because I still
considered myself to be a “social” smoker. I could give up when I felt
like it. I expected that there would be a couple of ‘difficult’ days, but
then the cravings would abate and I would be smoke free again. Two days was an
understatement. For two weeks, I would follow other smokers down the road,
nostrils flared and twitching as I desperately tried to get a whiff of their
second hand nicotine. I would look at ashtrays, wondering if I could take a
quick lick before anyone would notice my bizarre behaviour. Really, it was a
very stressful time of my life.
But after two weeks, the cravings became less, I was able to have a beer
without looking for a cigarette at the same time and I had schooled myself
into saying, “Thanks, but I don’t smoke,” when offered a cigarette. But
it was still very difficult.
In fact, it still is very difficult. I am sure that if I smoked a cigarette
today I would be smoking 20 tomorrow and 45 the day after. But I don’t,
because I made a conscious decision, based on medical knowledge, all those
Today, the medical evidence is not just suggestive, it is totally compelling.
Cigarette smoking increases your chances of getting just about everything you
don’t want, from crow’s feet to cataracts to cancers (all of them, not
just lung cancer). So why do we still smoke, any rational member of society
would ask? The simple answer is that we, as a society, have been manipulated
by big business into taking an extremely addictive drug called nicotine.
Like all addicts, we do not wish to admit to addiction, saying, “I can kick
the habit any time I want. I just don’t want to right now.” It isn’t
your ‘fault’ that you are continuing to smoke. It isn’t your fault that
you have returned to smoking after some time of being a non-smoker. It is a
drug of addiction and next week I’ll tell you how to stop – permanently!
I just moved here to the land of smiles after my wife Sally Sue passed
after being stabbed 25 times. I’ve come to Pattaya because I’ve been
told that the women are very attractive, but on my first nite, I found a
lovely girl and we were about to do the deed when Joob the girl I met,
turned out to be a man. I was very shocked and called the police. Please
give me some help, I feel partially homosexual, and I’m contemplating
suicide because I miss my wife and want to join her next to God in heaven.
Please reply soon. By the way, I love your work and the way you can
endlessly help people. I want to be like you in my next life.
Cheers from Alabama!
Dear Billy Joe,
There is so much in your letter, I am unsure where to start. Now, taking
Sally Sue first and the “passed after being stabbed 25 times.” Was
that all at the same time, or are we looking at separate incidents?
Hopefully this was all at once, not that I would wish that on anyone (not
even Mistersingha), but if you’re going to go, get it over quickly would
be my idea. And did they catch the perpetrator(s)? Or was it you? I also
wonder about “passed”. Did you mean to write “passed away”, or was
it just that she “passed” on coming with you to the Land of Smiles?
Such a shame, if this was the case, as your friend Joob could have helped
her. However, it is very important to get ‘closure’ on traumatic
events such as this, so I hope that writing about it has helped, my Petal.
Or helped Sally Sue.
Now, about feeling “partially homosexual”, I need to know more details
here. Which part of you feels this way? Have you thought that perhaps you
are bisexual? This is nothing to do with riding bicycles in Alabama, by
the way. Your friend from the first night, Joob, could have helped you
with this conundrum as well, if you hadn’t called for the coppers.
You also worry me with your implied threats of suicide so that you can
meet Sally Sue, who is apparently next to God in heaven. I’m not sure
that any of the usual gods are that enthusiastic about having young ladies
with 25 stab wounds lying next to them anywhere, let alone in heaven where
they can be seen by cherubic children with harps, if any of the classical
paintings of life in heaven are anything to go by. (Anyway, I hate harp
music, and I believe it also gives you ‘harpes’ which can last a
You have also answered your own question about the contemplation of
suicide. It is not going to get you nearer to Sally Sue, because you
believe that you are coming again in a next life as an Agony Aunt like me,
while Sally Sue continues to leak away in heaven. Life as an Agony Aunt
isn’t all champers and chocolates, or even beer and skittles, let me
assure you. Stay where you are, would be my advice.
No, Billy Joe from Alabama, it is better that you get on with life down
here and wait for the second or third week before you “do the deed” as
you so quaintly put it. A little grope for the grapes will soon sort out
the men from the boys (sorry, girls) if you must resort to this type of
behavior in your efforts to forget Sally Sue. Enjoy your time in the Land
I am an American and I want to buy a house here in Thailand, but I believe
it is not possible for me to do this. Is this right? If so, is there a way
around this problem because I really would like to do this.
I don’t know who told you this, my Petal, but they are wrong. Buying a
house is very easy for foreigners here, it’s just ‘owning’ it that
is a little more difficult. Let me explain, even though any reputable real
estate person could give you this advice better than I can. ‘Buying’
means giving somebody (known as the seller) a pile of money, for which
they will give you a pile of bricks sitting on a lump of dirt. To do this
very quickly, I suggest you go to the nearest beer bar and ask to see one
of the real estate consultants there who can be recognized by the fact
they will invite you to “sit down please, sexy man”. This young lady
will help you through the paperwork and Thai laws and statutes, and at the
end of the time you will have managed to complete your dream of buying a
house here in Thailand. The only catch is that the title deeds will be in
her name, not yours, but up till the time of the title deeds being issued,
you will also have a very faithful companion. After the issuance of said
title deeds, things generally change somewhat. That gets us back to the
differences between ‘buying’ and ‘owning’. Please go and ask for a
reputable real estate agent, and not in the beer bars. By the way,
you’re not from Alabama, are you?
Camera Class: Look before you leap
by Harry Flashman
A few weeks ago, I wrote, “How many times when you are
taking a photograph do you look at the background? If you are honest, then the
vast majority of you will reply, “Never.” Unfortunately, the wrong
background, fussy, cluttered or “jarring” is a sure-fire way to spoil what
could have been a great picture. In your haste and eagerness to make the subject
the “hero” you forget to look at the background, being so engrossed in
making the foreground subject look good.”
This article spurred on Gordon, another of the local camera enthusiasts who came
with the photo he took of his pride and joy Mercedes when it was new. I have
published Gordon’s photo with the column this week. Take a good look. There
was the car, sparkling and pristine, parked in front of a rubbish bin! Gordon
even admitted that about 50 meters down the road there was a beautiful park he
could have used as the backdrop! However, in the excitement of the moment, all
he could see was the “hero” and did not see the background.
While we have Gordon’s Mercedes in front of us, a few pointers on car
photography is in order. Photographing cars is a very specialized field, and
there are professional photographers all over the world who just make their
living snapping cars. I met one from Japan who used to shoot the car in his
studio in Tokyo, then travel to different locations and shoot the background,
finally putting the two elements together back in his Japanese studio. This was
actually much more difficult than you would imagine, as he had to get the
lighting on the car to match the lighting direction on the background location.
The height of the camera from the floor in the studio had also to be same as the
height of the location camera from the ground. He also used a very large plate
camera to get his shots.
However, back to you and me with our new Yaris or whatever. If you stand and
take the shot, you will make the car look small and insignificant. This is not
what you want to portray. If nothing else, a motor car is a significant
investment (or hole in the bank account).
For most cars, use a wide angle lens (around 24 mm is good, but 28 mm is fine),
get down on your knees and shoot from the three quarter front position. Turn the
steering wheel so that you can see some of the tread on the tyre and even turn
on the headlights and flashers as well. This will make a dramatic shot.
Regarding exposures. If the car is a dark colour, underexpose by one f stop to
get that rich depth in the paint. If the car is white, however, overexpose by
one or even two f stops to make the white really white and not the 18 percent
gray the meter wants to give you!
By the way, it seems that I am not the only one ringing the bell for film as the
photographic medium, as I received this letter the other day from an enthusiast
Dear Harry Flashman and Fans,
Analog Science Fict and Fact May 2006 ran a short story by Jerry Oltion,
“Slide Show” (pages 88-94) about the demise of both slide film and bulbs for
slide projectors. This generated quite o bit of talk at URL
http://www.analogsf.com/discus/ Analog Discussion Board, General Discussion: in
the May 2006 Issue!
With regard to “Slide Show,” they discuss various kluges, contraptions,
methods and lessons learned in using a digital camera to capture images from
slides. The discussion also includes the comment that black and white is the
only archival-quality photographic media.
Frank Lee in Yasothon
Further to this topic, I have just picked up a Nikon D50, courtesy of my
photographic friend Ernie Kuehnelt, to test against my Nikon FM2n. I will report
further on these two cameras in the next couple of weeks.
Money Matters: Private School + University = Better Pay for your Kids
MBMG International Ltd.
Further to the recent flurry of recent
articles eulogising the benefits of a private education and how to fund it,
I came across a recent article that showed that there are quantifiable
financial benefits later for those who attend a private school and a top
university, whose graduates can earn over three times as much as their
contemporaries. To put it another way, an independent school education then
followed by a degree from a top college can add more than USD 100,000 per
year to a person’s earnings.
The research was carried out on behalf of the UK government which paid the
Economic and Social Research Council to do the study. Hundreds of children
who started their secondary education in the 1980s were closely monitored.
The Council came back with some astounding results:
Those who went through the privileged education system as mentioned above
were FOUR times more likely to earn more than ฃ90,000 a year in their
thirties than those who attended ‘new’ universities (ex-polytechnics);
most of whom were paid less than ฃ30,000 per annum.
From those who were classified as the top earners over 85% had gone to
private schools, whilst 61% of those being paid less than ฃ30,000 had
gone to state schools.
The paper will be published later this year by London University. The
students came from a variety of backgrounds. Most of them are doing well but
the highest achievers were those who had gone through the British public
school (private education) system and then followed this by going to a
leading, established university.
The study showed that 41% of those that went to top, elite universities were
in the highest social and occupational class. This compared to 28% of them
who went to ‘old’ universities and only 8% who went to the ‘new’
universities. Researchers found that there was also a strong relationship
between earning levels and the status of the university.
The study goes on to say that, “Meritocratic arguments could be used to
explain the connection between schooling and earnings, as privately schooled
respondents obtained higher A-Levels and more went to Oxbridge. However, the
legacy of private education is also evident in the relative success of a
small group who did not go to university, which suggests that an elite
private education confers advantages other than high levels of academic
Different research by the London School of Economics, conducted over a
fifteen year period from the early eighties to the late nineties, found that
the proportion of children from the richest families who had completed a
degree by the age of 23 went up from 20% to almost fifty percent. In the
same time period, the number of graduates from the poorest families only
managed to increase from 6% to nine percent.
That’s the good news. The bad news that if you want your children to
attain these heights then you are going to have to pay for it. The phrase,
“Ready, Willing and Able” comes to mind.
Ready – Without doubt, “Knowledge is Power” and higher education is
almost becoming a pre-requisite to acquiring a good job. It is the key to
open the door to a professional career. Many parents will consider the cost
of private education as a lifetime investment in their children’s future.
Willing – If you are living overseas then a private education may well be
a requirement much earlier than may have been the case had you stayed at
home in your own country. Whilst education is an investment for your
children it does not come cheap and unless you planned for it could mean:
- Re-mortgaging the family home to pay the fees or borrowing from a bank.
- Depleting present savings and retirement accounts that should be for you
in your dotage.
Able – Assuming that you start to save as soon as your first child is born
(or, even better still, before), we estimate that educating each of your
children will cost in the region of USD 300,000. This figure assumes that
each child will commence nursery school at the age of two and will continue
through to a university degree and education fees rise by an average of 6%
This is for private education here in Thailand and then foreign tertiary
The news is far worse if you want your child educated privately in somewhere
like the UK. Most schools now cost about GBP 20,000 (USD 35,000) per annum
and do not forget that these schools increase their fees each and every
year. For example, in 2001 the fees for Eton were GBP 15,660 (USD 27,300)
and they are now GBP 23,688 (USD 41,454). That is an increase of 51% in five
The earlier you start saving for all this then the less you will have to pay
on a regular basis and any investment, however small, is better than none.
Think about the amount of time your children could spend in full time
education. If you start them off at two years old and they want to be a
doctor or lawyer then they will not be qualified until they are 24 years
old. You may have to pay for a gap year as well so that is funding them for
23 years. As more and more couples choose to become parents later in life,
that does raise the spectre of having to defer retirement until your
youngest child completes his or her education so that you have the financial
wherewithal to support them through this. We have clients whose youngest
child was born while their father was in his 40s or 50s – add 23 years
more of having to go to work isn’t always the retirement planning that
they had in mind!
Also, it is not just a matter of having to pay the schooling; you will have
to fund music lessons, field trips, school clothes and sports equipment,
etc. All of this will be even more if your child becomes a full time
Despite all this, few would argue that a good education is the most valuable
gift you can give your child. Even though the increase in the costs of
private education has consistently outpaced inflation, its popularity has
remained as strong as ever. However, children’s education is rarely seen
high on the list of financial planning priorities. In fact, over 70% of
parents suffer personally as they try to finance school fees from current
earnings or short term savings. A child starting at school can coincide with
the return to work of the parent who has stayed at home to look after them.
Alternatively, you may find that a return to work is necessary to fund the
school fees. This strain on your day to day finances or change to your
pattern of living could be avoided by thoughtful planning.
With foresight, you can use an investment plan that will provide you with
the growth potential to give you part or even all of the money you need to
ensure that you have the ability to choose the best education for your
One of the most important things that you need when taking out an
Educational Fee Plan is security. In other words, the knowledge that,
irrespective of global or local economic conditions, your child’s
financial needs will be met. These plans should be safe, not speculative.
They should be based on guaranteed returns from substantial, reputable
companies based in safe and secure jurisdictions.
These products should also offer the security that, if anything happens to
you such as death, critical illness or long term unemployment then your
child’s education remains provided for. For this reason, many educational
fee programmes are actually a combination of investment and insurance.
Thus, it can be seen that your children will benefit greatly if you can
afford to send them through the private education system. Go on, give your
child a chance and do something now. In fact, if they do well by you they
may even be able to pay for you in your dotage – now that is a good
Carpe diem as they say!
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 [email protected]
Life in the Laugh Lane: I don’t miss my lawn
by Scott Jones
I don’t have a lawn in Thailand. I have a
rural bungalow tended by a landlord, overlooking a stunning mountain and a
marsh that resounds with a cacophony of boisterous birds, some of which,
judging by their calls, have had several affairs with monkeys. I don’t have
to mow the marsh and the mountain takes care of itself. Now I can peacefully
watch the sunset and pleasantly try to forget my decades as a Lawn Slave.
Ten years ago, after a long tour, I approach my newly purchased house to see
the unmowed monster grass and dandelions grabbing at pedestrians running by.
Minnesota had received enough rain to make a sidewalk grow, and the lawn is a
little shorter than the elm tree on the boulevard. Finally, there is a true
wilderness in the city! Soon the city sends a nasty letter demanding that I cut
the grass yesterday or they’ll take it away from me, and if I ignore the
warning, a couple of those big-bellied city employees with low-hanging jeans
will come and mow my lawn while mooning the neighborhood.
The back yard was bad to begin with. Before I’d moved in, it was the eating
and excreting area for several bull terriers — fertile ground for sure. I
planted grass seed and jumped back. The grass had mutated into weeds you
wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley, turning it into the vacant lot on the
other side of the tracks where you wouldn’t want your kids to play.
John the Backyard Builder, a friendly college boy, had promised to till and sod
the backyard, and although he had easily passed courses in the Fundamentals of
Delivering Large Piles of Dirt and Barely Covering Them With Ugly Blue Plastic,
Advanced Removal Of Half-Buried Chunks Of Cement Weighing Slightly Less Than A
Chevrolet and Primitive Methods Of Hacking Apart Roots With Prehistoric Tools
That Make Great Scrabble Words, he obviously flunked Time Management 101, so he
only got around to tilling the soil. As the neighbors dug out their lawn
mowers, they were undoubtedly shocked to see John roto-tilling my lawn.
“Harvey, either he’s got the wrong machine out there, or that lawn mower is
set way too low.”) All the dirt, assorted manure and peat moss the rain
didn’t wash down the driveway had transformed the yard into a convincing
replica of the mud bogs that caused the extinction of dinosaurs. If any sod had
been laid, it sank out of sight. A few neighborhood children are still missing.
Two weeks later, right after my new sod was laid, the city sends the Tree
Police to spray paint orange graffiti on the elm tree — an ominous circle and
a big A-10 that meant Dutch elm disease. The entire tree is hacked into about
ten pieces, each the size of an oil derrick, and dropped onto my baby sod that
was suffering through a private battle with the developing weed roots reforming
beneath it. I join the War of the Weeds because of a serious birth defect, a
psychotic desire to have a lawn just like my mother’s, a perfectly groomed,
textbook lawn, though I suspect hers is indoor/outdoor carpeting fertilized
with hair gel, Geritol and green paint. The weeds have yet to break through the
sod, but I can feel the trembling of angry pig weed roots ready to lift it
right off the ground. My main attack is directed toward sinister weeds in the
front yard whose massive root system originates somewhere in China. Late at
night I hear them snickering to themselves, reproducing asexually or
cross-breeding with my black plastic lawn bags. I try burning them, but the
ashes sprout. The only way to get rid of them is to die and leave them behind.
Even if I succeed in removing every single weed fiber from my yard, my
neighbor’s yard is a Regional Weed Distribution Center. Dave the Accountant
seems to enjoy maintaining his vast army of weeds so he can practice counting
to a billion. He’s one of these big bicep guys with arms the size of my
deceased elm tree, and I don’t dare criticize his lawn care. If his name were
Clyde or Dale, he could spend his life pulling a Budweiser beer truck.
In an uncontrollable fit of hereditary insanity, I actually start weeding his
lawn while he is at work, hoping he won’t come home and bury me in my compost
pile. Dave’s weeds are strong, like Dave. Leather weeds. You could tan their
leaves and make belts out of them. I’m sure other neighbors see me ripping up
Dave’s lawn and think, “If that’s what it takes to keep up with the
Joneses, I think I’d rather just try to keep up with Dave.”
After several weeks of vigorous weeding that built impressive biceps on my
thumbs and fingers, I could proudly announce that, in my front yard, there were
no broad leaf plants taller than the White House Christmas tree, and only a few
bare spots the size of Connecticut. If they can make silk flowers that last
forever, why couldn’t I buy a silk lawn? And a big, silk elm tree to replace
Luckily, though I live in Thailand where they could probably do it, I’ve
escaped from the Mental Lawn Cult. Maybe I can still get a silk marsh with