Wednesday, 30 December 2009

4,000 Hmong "Voluntarily" Evicted From Thailand

Monday saw Thailand send more than 4,000 Hmong refugees to Lao with soldiers in riot gear escorting the convey over the Mekong river where the two countries boarder.

Many will ask the question why these people are being sent back to a land which they fled in fear of the country's communist regime since it came to power in the 1970s. The US Goverment has been particular vocal on the subject of Hmong repatriation with the State Department quoted in the NY Times:
“We deeply regret this serious violation of the international humanitarian principles that Thailand has long been known for championing. The United States strongly urges Thai authorities to suspend this operation.”
Most shocking is Prime Minister Abhisit's declaration that the Hmong have left Thailand "voluntarily":
The Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, said yesterday the repatriations were voluntary and were carried out without incident or violence.
[Via New Mandala]

Cell phone lines out of the camp where the refugees were held were jammed while journalists, human rights workers and UN officials were forbidden from being 12km from the camp.

Sadly this is the latest in a long line of incidents which reflect the Thai government's heavy handed policy of dealing with refugee and political asylum seekers in the region. Just last year Thailand was heavily criticised for sending 1,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar out to see on boats, which subsequently caused the death of many of the group.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Tiger and Santa

- What's the difference between Santa and Tiger Woods?

- Santa knows to stop at three hoes.

Ouch - sorry Tiger, I couldn't resist.



[Image via wetfdstamp on Twitter]

Of course Tiger is half Thai (mother) which justifies me putting this gag here.

Anyone got any others?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Google Friend Disconnect

Apologies in advance fellow bloggers.

If I am registered as following your blog via Google Friend Connect I will now be unsubscribing.

This is not reflect on you, well most of you, but GFC has run its course with me. I subscribe to most blogs in an RSS readers and am cutting the wastage.

As for my own GFC app, on the left hand side, I'm yet to decide.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Thailand's Top Websites

UPDATE - whoops, my mistake, didn't mean this post to end up here.

Is entry from my early Posterous experimenting over here, where it looks a lot smarter and easier on the eye.


Top Sites in Thailand

The top 100 sites in Thailand.

The sites in the top sites lists are ordered by their 1 month alexa traffic rank.

The 1 month rank is calculated using a combination of average daily visitors and pageviews over the past month. The site with the highest combination of visitors and pageviews is ranked #1.

  1. Windows Live

    live.com

    Search engine from Microsoft.


  2. Google

    google.com

    Enables users to search the Web, Usenet, and images. Features include PageRank, caching and translation of results, and an option to find similar pages. The company's focus is developing search technology.


  3. hi5

    hi5.com

    One of the world's largest social networks


  4. Facebook

    facebook.com

    A social utility that connects people, to keep up with friends, upload photos, share links and videos.


  5. YouTube

    youtube.com

    YouTube is a way to get your videos to the people who matter to you. Upload, tag and share your videos worldwide!


  6. สนุกดอทคอม

    sanook.com

    หนึ่งในเว็บท่าที่มีผู้เข้าชมสูงสุดของไทย


  7. Microsoft Network (MSN)

    msn.com

    Dialup access and content provider.


  8. พันทิปดอทคอม

    pantip.com

    เว็บชุมชนที่ใหญ่ที่สุดในประเทศไทย แบ่งหมวดหมู่ชุมชนหลากหลาย นับตั้งแต่เรื่องทั่วไป จนถึงเรื่องเฉพาะทาง


  9. Yahoo!

    yahoo.com

    Personalized content and search options. Chatrooms, free e-mail, clubs, and pager.


  10. Blogger.com

    blogger.com

    Free, automated weblog publishing tool that sends updates to a site via FTP.


  11. เอ็มไทย

    mthai.com

    จุดนัดพบชาวไซเบอร์สเปซหนุ่มหล่อสาวสวยทั่วเมืองไทยมีทุกสิ่งที่เลือกสรรเพื่อคุณ


  12. กระปุก

    kapook.com

    ข่าวเด่นประจำวัน, กระทู้, ฟังเพลงออนไลน์, นิตยสารออนไลน์กะปุ๊กลุ๊ค และรวมลิงค์


  13. Dek-D.com

    dek-d.com

    ::> Dek-D.com :มหานครวัยรุ่นออนไลน์ : เวบไซต์แหล่งพบปะ รวบตัวของวัยรุ่นอันดับ 1 ของประเทศไทย สำหรับระดับมัธยมฯและมหาวิทยาลัย


  14. MediaFire

    mediafire.com

    MediaFire is the simplest way for businesses, professionals, and individuals to host files and share them with others.


  15. exteen

    exteen.com

    ให้บริการพื้นที่พร้อมเครื่องมือในการทำบล๊อก


  16. ผู้จัดการออนไลน์

    manager.co.th

    เสนอข่าวการเมือง เศรษฐกิจ การตลาด การอุตสาหกรรม ข่าวภูมิภาค และบันเทิง


  17. 4shared

    4shared.com

    A simple and easy-to-use service offering free online files storage and sharing accessible worldwide.


  18. Wikipedia

    wikipedia.org

    An online collaborative encyclopedia.


  19. teenee.com

    teenee.com

    One Stop of Thailand. Teenee.com is the top4 of website in Thailand.




Questions about Top Sites? Visit the Forums.

Google dominates the Thai webspace with its local search engine (co.th) sitting top of the pile while the main Google search page (.com) takes third place. Microsoft also enjoys a strong presence in Thailand with its Windows Live portal separating the Google's sites in second place, while MSN sits eighth on the list.

Interestingly third placed Hi5 remains Thailand most visited social networking site one place ahead of Facebook. Given the enormous surge of Facebook users in Thailand this year (user numbers rose 588%, to 1,160,980, between January and September) it appears to be a case of when not if Facebook topples incumbent leader Hi5.

YouTube is the highest place video site in sixth place while dedicate Thai sites Sanook and Pantip, both of which run popular forums, occupy seventh and ninth place respectively.

Also ran search engine Yahoo rounds off the top ten list while notable websites further down the order include blogging platforms Blogger (11th) and Wordpress (28th) and Live Journal (96th), search engine Bing (59th), news site Manager (17th), Thai blogging platform Bloggang (22nd), Amazon (.com) (27th), Flickr (69th) and CNET (.com) (96th).

Twitter ranks 30th although this does not reflect its userbase in Thailand as Alexa's rank accounts for traffic to Twitter.com only ignoring those that use third party Twitter applications and services without visiting Twitter's website.

Posted via web from Loose Ends Thai'd Up

Pork penang curry

แกงแพนงหมู or "gaeng penang moo"

Walk around the neighbourhood

Chris made a good point that I should post more pictures from life in Thailand. Guilty as charged.

With that in mind, here are a few shots from around my neighbourhood taken the daily morning walk with my little one.

Thanks to knowing some of the friendly neighbour we are allowed to go into the neighbouring private housing estate, here's the entrance.


The combination of a lot of grass/greenery with friendly neighbours makes it a great place to stretch his legs in the morning or evening.


He loves the chickens in the garden although he's yet to catch one, not for want of trying.



There are even a few well groomed peacocks strutting their stuff.


This is one of the main houses owned by a successful lawyer who is also a local politician - a handy person to know.


We stop by the Pasak River for some views and scenery.



Here's the Pasak looking East...



And West...


Back to the road we go, next stop home.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Goal of the season - Manny Figueroa, Wigan



Wigan Athletico's Honduran international Maynor Figueroa has been wanted by his old boss Steve Bruce for a while. The full back's price tag and media profile are likely to rise a few notches after this wonder strike against Stoke this weekend.

Brilliant stuff.

Is anyone else interested in a B-side collection of people messing these up?

Monday, 7 December 2009

A major incident

A lot of neighbours have been talking about an incident last night.

Saturday was, of course, the King of Thailand's birthday, a date which also serves as Father's Day given that the King is the father of Thailand, yet this incident seems to have stood out the highlight of the weekend.

The incident involves a foreigner (not me, by the way), a lot of alcohol, a notorious local chap and a sizeable dose of misunderstanding.

What could it be?

Late last night, a locals chap came by the house half-cut asking for The Missus - an interesting start to this story, no?

As she was already asleep with The Not So Little Monster, I was summoned instead.

I was taken to the local shop, which doubles as a pub, where, I had been told, there was a farang (foreigner in Thai) who need help but couldn't speak English.

With a matter of seconds, it was apparent this girl - who was staying with a friend in town - had taken a wrong turn and was looking for the main road. I pointed it out and off she went - well, she would have gone then but for ten minutes of heavily intoxicated local men who, having clearly taken a shine to this young, fairly attractive female, asked a load of questions about what was going on.

Locals enlightened and issue resolved, the reluctant centre of attention went off somewhat embarrassed to the main road while I returned home to find half a dozen people excitedly asking me where I'd been and what had happened.

It doesn't take much to spark excitement in a quiet Thai neighbourhood.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The Not So Little Monster

Now that he can walk and talk (albeit in gibberish) it is high time to upgrade his status to Not So Little Monster.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am now the proud owner of a fourteen month toddler. It's a heck of a lot more work and worry but it's definitely worth it - plus the in-laws are incredibly supportive too.

A few pics to mark the occasion.





Friday, 4 December 2009

Android over iPhone

I've never been an iPhone man. Having once owned a BlackBerry, the thought of losing the physical keyboard plus the hype and commercialisation of it all puts me off.

I'm one of those who doesn't bow down to the Almightly Apple Empire - though I do have the token iPod, of course.

Short sighted? Perhaps I am yes, but Android is much more my kind of thing.

Proof is the latest Droid ad from the US below - I love it, no Tiara wearing iPhone beauty for me please.



[via Mashable]

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Heavy Twitter cloud no rain

Twitter is going mad for tweet cloud, chirpy looking bubble diagrams with lots of nice words are sprouting up everywhere - just like the one below, which is mine.

The clouds are made from the most commonly used words on Twitter from each user.

A few stand out from mine giving a few clues as to what topics I regularly discuss, although disappointly there are no Thai phrases - must tweet more in Thai.


Here's the shameless plug for my Thailand Twitter list (if you're an expat and don't know what Twitter is click here quick as you can) which is a compilation of the most active and interesting English-language Twitter users in/around Thailand.

The Twitter Thailand List

Follow the list if you're looking to follow new people from Thailand or want to keep up with what is being discussed. You can even embed the list on a blog or website as I've done **nods in the direction of a magnificent widget on the right hand side**

And if you're not on the list, my apologies, drop me a note with your details.

I thought posting this here rather than on Twitter might be interesting, then when I saw (the legend that is) Tim Footman post his (first) I knew it would be. Curse my lazy disposition and self-inflicted workload which stopped me posting anything at the weekend. This could've been original.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Earn $1 million in a day in Thailand, Kanye-style

Cost of living is one of the most attractive reasons for living in Thailand - many expats live comfortably on little more than 40,000 baht (roughly $1,000 dollars or £700) a month.

The cost of living is music to the ears of serials visitors in Thailand, who find their hard earned money going further than they could ever imagine here in LOS.

For resident expats, however, the low cost of living in the country is tempered by wages which are comparatively lower than at home. But spare a thought for native Thais, many of whom are lucky to earn more than 10,00 baht (circa $300 or £180) in a month - making the cost living far from low.

One man who had no problems making ends meet in Thailand recently is rapper Kanye West who, according to the Phuket Insider, made a million dollars (or 33,150,324.64 baht) in just one day thanks to a private gig in Phuket, Thailand.

Stacking up the baht, Kanye West

Last week West performed at the wedding of a wealthy Indian business man who, having already booked out the entire Banyan Tree hotel in Phuket, paid more than US$1 million for a one hour performance from the star.

West didn't hang around and flew straight out of the country having only arrived earlier that day.

Kanye West is a millionaire which makes the idea of him flying halfway round the world just to simply add another load of sixes to his bank account bizarre. Until, that is, you consider his ego and desire to succeed.

Still, the irony of a superstar earning such a staggering amount of money in a country with huge areas of poverty and struggling is not lost on me.

Kanye, imma let you finish but...if you need some help spending the cash you know where I am.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Ten tips to creating a successful blog for your company

[Originally posted on the Director Thailand blog here.]

I can't say I follow all of these, been especially inactive of late.

We’ve discussed social media in detail but have yet to touch on blogging – perhaps the original social media platform – in any detail.

Here we present ten essential tips for developing a successful blog for your business.

1. Think it all over first

Blogging isn’t for everyone so, before you launch your company’s blog take a little time think and plan exactly what you are looking to get from blogging.

Keep your goals and aims in mind every time new content is posted or the site is edited. This way content will be consistent and more appealing to potential new readers.

2. Write regularly

If a blog does not contain new content regularly readers will begin to lose interest and visitor numbers will decrease. Posting new content daily, or every day, gives regular viewers reasons to return to your blog meaning increased levels of traffic.

3. Use (a little) SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the art of positioning a website well within search engines. SEO pays homage to the power of Google which will can, when done well, generate a large amount of traffic for your blog – Google, SEO and other search engines cannot be ignored.

SEO techniques vary but, in terms of blog content, a website which regularly uses key words (words which relate to the company’s business) will feature higher in Google searches and drive more traffic from search engines.

Despite the positives key words only work to an extent and should not be abused. SEO done badly, with too many keywords repetitively positioned, makes a blog sound unoriginal and too focused on driving traffic, making it less attractive for readers looking for interesting content.

4. Sprinkle social media dust

Social media, like SEO, is a popular and effective way of generating traffic to a site.

Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Hi5 or LinkedIn, posting snippets of content alongside a link can significantly boost visitor numbers to your blog.

Equally, posting information about social networking, for example details of a company’s Facebook group or presence on Twitter, can generate interest in the company’s social media presence(s) which may in turn lead users to recommend, visit or link to your blog or social media profile.

Social media buttons, which allow content to easily be posted to websites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook and more, can be installed and will spread blog content virally over social networks.

5.Engage with the community

Networks of bloggers who cover similar topics exist across the web. Engaging with and entering a community is an effective way to get noticed, generate traffic and discuss topics close to your business.

The first step is always to monitor conservations and track other blogs that relate to you business/keywords – which are the influencer? Which generate the most traffic/comments, etc?

These are the influential blogs that can boost your blog.

There are many ways to engage. Linking to other blogs and websites in posts is a simple way of alerting other blogs to your presence and encouraging link reciprocation, and consequently, traffic to your blog.

Most blogs have a blog roll, a list of blogs that the blog owner reads or recommends to their visitors, which generate visitors to the blogs listed on them. Creating and displaying a blog roll on your blog encourages other bloggers to include you on their blog rolls which, in turn, encourages more traffic to your blog.

Commenting on other blogs will also help increase our visibility in the blogosphere. This will encourage blog owners to list your blog on their blog rolls and post comments on your blog and discuss ideas and topics you raise on their blog.

6. List contact details

Blogging is about communication so providing contact details is essential yet still many bloggers do not do so.

If a visitor reads an interesting post or is interested in your business and wanting to find more information listing contact details will allow them to get in touch with you directly.

On a more principled level, blogging is about breaking communication barriers and transparency, listing contact details will help your blog achieve these goals.

7. Use multiple authors

With a need to post regularly and insightfully, the job of blogging is made easier when shared.

Using multiple authors will give a variety of insights, experiences and knowledge which may make your blog a more interesting read for visitors.

8. Be creative

A blog is more than just pages of text, it is a medium to entertain and interest. Adopting a creative approach will sustain visitors interest, maintain traffic levels and generate interest and buzz in the blogosphere.

For example, why not run surveys, regular features, interviews, guest posts, pictures and special offers in addition to regular blog posts. The variety and different angles will generate a greater level of interest and interaction with readers.

9. Have patience

Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither will your blog be. It may take anything from one month to one year before you start seeing regular numbers of comments and visitor numbers – persistence and patience are key virtues which pay off in the long run.

10. Monitor, monitor, monitor

There are scores of web analytics and monitoring tools which provide insightful data about your blog, its readership and how it is used.

Free services such as Google Analytics, Alexa, Technorati and others will help you understand more about your blog and how you can better use it as a resource. For example, which blog posts pull in the most visitors, which keywords generate search engine traffic and which websites are sending traffic to your blog.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Back up your hard drive...NOW

Just do it.

Take it from.

Today I lost all the data from my laptop which caught a virus after I borrowed a USB to help print a document.

Silly move.

Of course the work I have written is replacable with a little effort but, as I only backed up a small number of the near 1,000 pictures taken of the little one since his birth, I'm going to be missing lot of baby photos from my son's first year.

I'm not one to be overly sentiment but I was looking forward to going through them with him when he is older. Digital camera and seemingly endless digital storage enables parents to keep all kind of photos and videos of children - something that I can say, at the grand old age of 27, "didn't happen in my day".

This may in fact be music to his ear's as the by spearing him hours of agony as his dad goes through seemingly endless baby snaps which are a little over indulgent for him.

Either way I've learn the hard way and will be investigating back-up options. Expect to read something about that sometime soon.

Ironically I'm working on a cloud computing article, a concept of storing documents online - a concept which leaves documents unaffected by virus on computers.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

That Man and That Article

Note: I've waited a while before posting as other bloggers' posts has drawn a line of acceptability for reporting this news.

That said, the goverment has blocked certain links to the article in question, as well as threatening legal action on anyone reporting it, so you will find no outgoing links here.

If you wish to read the article, please Google for it yourself, at your own risk.

Here's to freedom of speech.

Thaksin Shinawatra's interview with The Times has been talk of Thailand with blogs, Twitter and the web in general abuzz with discussion of the fall-out from the piece.

The article is likely to bring charges of lese majeste, a law which prevents criticism of the monarchy, brought against the exiled former Prime Minister who was already in the news for accepting an economic advisor position with Thailand's hostile neighbour Cambodia.

From reviewing both the article and the full interview (in fact an "edited transcript") the article's headline appears to be the primary offending element.

There is also likely to be controversy over the suggestion that Thaksin endorses reform of the monarchy and the fact that he openly talks about the King's death - despite both topics having validity and relevance to the future of Thailand.

Referring to the transcript, however, it is clear that the headline and many quotes attributed to Thaksin have been taken out of context and are not reflective of the entire interview.

At no point is Thaksin critical of the King or the Thai monarchy.

Instead, he criticises the "royal institution" - advisers and consorts who work with, and around, the monarchy.

Yet he is likely to fall foul of the law.

There are two schools of thought.

From a Western perspective it is crazy that one headline can be responsible for this level of chaos. Particularly when it is clear Thaksin has gone to great and careful lengths to voice support for the monarchy (regardless of whether it is believed it or not) and brought up the very relevant issue of succession and modernisation of the monarchy.

The headline used for the article does not fit with the context of the interview. It is deliberately controversial to stoke interest in the story/newspaper/journalist (successfully achieved) though, as Asia Editor, Lloyd Parry would have been aware of lese majeste laws in Thailand and the impact the story/headline could have.

Should the article have carried a more suitable, less controversial, headline in line with the gist of the interview?

Another perspective, accepting (but not agreeing with) the workings of the media and laws in Thailand, is to criticise Thaksin's naivety for openly discussing contentious and controversial issues with a foreign journalist.

Foreign media do not adhere to the local rules and specifics of the Thai press, they have no allegiance and will publish content regardless of any waves subsequently generated in Thailand.

Either way lese majeste charges, which carry a maximum 15 year prison sentence, are likely to have little impact on a man already in exile (the fate of some lese majeste authors) from existing criminal charges.

The danger for Thaksin is that his comments, unlikely to affect ardent Red Shirts, may turn sympathisers of his cause against him.

On the other, as one leading blogger argued yesterday, with Thai translations of the article circulating across the country, many of the natives will read Thaksin's open and honest comments.

In a land where discussion of certain subjects is taboo, Thaksin's comments on controversial but increasingly pressing matters, which his foes cannot discuss, is unlikely to win supporters but it may help him begin to re-establish his credibility.

Then again, this is Thailand, anything could happen next.

There are a host of bloggers whose takes on this development are interesting - worth digging around for as I won't publish links.

Baby moonwalker

This has to be the best value baby product we've bought to date - beating more than a few worthy contenders.


It comes at a time when The Little One has just turned one - an age at which he has the energy and desire to rush around the place, sadly this isn't matched by his legs which allow half a dozen or so steps before sending him crashing down to earth.

The moonwalker (not a tribute to MJ) supports his weight, unlike reigns, allowing him to practice and train to wreak havoc and terror by walking completely unassisted - where the fun starts.

It is really simple to use too, it's wearable like a set of pants, with secure clicks providing safety and the puppet like strings to control and prevent tumbles and keep him on the straight, and hopefully, narrow.

Best part, The Missus found it on a Thai website for less than 300 baht (£6). Highly recommended, a true bargain and, most importantly, one happy little punter.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Bump

I suffered my first car accident a month or so ago, which is quite something as I've been driving for nine and a half years.

Ironically it came minutes after I'd been talking to a family friend, over from Switzerland, about the standard of driving in Thailand.

As it happened, the incident was the perfect example for my Swiss friend, who, as a former expatriate in Singapore, was interested to learn "how it all works with accident insurance" in Thailand.

My answer?

It doesn't.

The lady who drive into the back of me (the red/burgundy car) whilst I waited for at a red light was pretty shell-shocked, even more so on seeing a couple of foreigner step out of the vehicle.


"I'm so sorry, I didn't see you" she kept repeating in Thai.

The damage to my car was minimal, she bore the brunt of the spare tyre into her bonnet, but we took her number and some photos just to be sure.

After a chat with her, The Missus quickly found that, like all too many motorists in Thailand, the lady had neither insurance nor a license to drive - a combination with severe consequences back in Blighty, but pretty standard here.

The woman was so shocked by it all that she nearly reversed into the central reservation when my Swiss friend and began pushing her non-starting motor to a safer place. I did feel sorry for her but that feeling was nothing compared to the relief that our car was not damaged.

Lesson learnt, never tempt fate discussing car accidents whilst driving a car.

Particularly in Thailand.

I got off pretty lightly.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Thailand Twitter List

Decided to practice my preachings about Twitter Lists.

I've created a list, @jonrussell/thailand, for English-language Twitter users in Thailand - both Thai and non-Thai - which is pretty comprehensive.

You can access it at by clicking here or browsing the widget near the top of the blog's right sidebar.

Whilst it is unlikely to deliver breaking news like other lists, it's a neat way of seeing what people are talking about in the Thai Twitter community and may help you find new people to follow.

If you're not on the list my apologies, it's not easy to go through 400 plus contacts. Just drop me an email or find me on Twitter, I'm @jonrussell, to remind me.

If you don't know what Twitter is and you live in, or have an interest in, Thailand, read this post and come back to this page.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Loy Krathong in Saraburi 2009

Last year's Loy Krathong fell a few weeks after I'd arrived in Thailand making it a great, first insight into Thai culture and tradition. We went to a beautiful local river, taking some amazing photos and videos in the process.

A year on and it is still my favourite Thai festival.

Most people probably prefer Songkran, with its week-long, never-ending water fights, but Loy Kratong has the (enjoyably mild) weather and amazing sight of Kratong (boats made from leaves and, well, anything) sailing down the river with candles alight in the dark of the night. That's not even including the legions of Khom lanterns which float away with candles ablaze.

Add to that the traditional Thai costumes, dancing, festivities, etc and you have a truly spectacular time of the year.

So how did I spend Loy Kratong?

Erm, with an impromptu booze up - rare if you know me here in Thailand.

Yep, we left The Little One at home and headed out with a few Thai peeps.

I was sad to have missed the ceremony but I did manage to grab a couples of snaps during the day though they don't rival the sadly grainy night pics from last year.

At least I can say that my Thai is decent enough to allow me to go out for drinks with only the occasional use of English.





DISQUS

I'm putting DISQUS on gardening leave whilst the rest of the world, and my small portion of readers, catch up with the service and start using it.

I think the service is top notch in putting all of a person comments together, and other elements which seem obvious but no one else is doing. Alas precious few seeming to use it, it's coming down for the moment to be replaced by the bog standard Google comment machine.

As Charles said recently "management reserves the right" blah blah blah.

Bye bye DISQUS, see you soon I hope.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Twitter Lists

Another new service has come my way - sadly not as ground-breaking as Google Wave but Twitter Lists, a new beta feature in Twitter described below, is going to be interesting.
Lists are timelines you build yourself, consisting of friends, family, co-workers, sports teams, you name it.


The feature is inspired by Twitter clients which use it as a way of organising users being followed to help manage updates and digest increasing amounts of information.

Lists has a couple of difference on the usual management listings of Twitter clients like Twirl, Brizzly and countless others.

--- Lists can be made private or publicly available for others to see and follow (at this stage this applies to List beta users only)

--- Users included in lists are notified and given a tally (in the same way that a user has follower numbers, there are now list numbers).

--- Users in lists do not need to be followed by the list creator.

Lists are live and can be edited and updated in real-time.

Why Lists are important?

Since Twitter changed the @reply, meaning you only see conversations between users you follow. This means if you want to know what is being talked about by a group of people, say for example Twitters in Thailand, you must follow the vocal members.

Lists is a way of helping people identify people within a network, to keep up with discussions.

It also bypasses the @reply block and allows users to view in on conversations which take place between people they are not necessarily following.

Lists have the potential to tweak the way we use Twitter, sorting through the noise with more organisation.

Google fake highlights issues with online news

Today's announcement of the 'new' Chrome OS showed why relying on the web for news has its problems.

First off, the news was fake - hats of to TechRadar, if its article wasn't, as it appears to be, the first to call it out, TR was certainly the most vociferous voice spreading the reality.

The story, which was run on a "major website" (despite not appearing on Google's own blog) before being subsequently pulled, exemplifies a growing trend of online news sites failing to research before publishing - such is the race to get the news out first and gain momentum on services that drive web traffic, like Twitter, Digg, Google News, etc.

With media and news now emanating almost entirely from the web, it is worrying to see onlines being fooled as they put SEO and web traffic before the accuracy of reporting.

Secondly, away from the news gathers, is the news spreaders. News of the fake launch was all over Twitter, marketing as a huge announcement, when in fact it was anything but significant.

Being viral doesn't make facts or stories true - why do people continue to blindly circulates link without at least visiting, or reading the articles in full first? Many will forward a link through Twitter, Digg, Stumble Upon, etc just because it is interesting at face value.

Part of the TechRadar story is below, it is in full here.
Reports of Chrome OS arriving for the masses look to be premature, with the site that is being pushed containing a proviso that the content is nothing to do with Google.

A report went up on a major website which sparked a Twitter furore, but the article is now gone and only the echoes remain.

The facts certainly stack up; the site at http://sites.google.com/site/chromeoslinux/download is not what you would expect an official release to be hosted on for one thing.

Clincher

The lack of an official post from Google announcing the build is a second, but the real clincher comes on the very page itself

"Chrome OS is not related to Google," says a footer on the page "Service provided by SUSE Studio. See the license."
Update - Google has now blocked the download page which was available through a site hosted by Google (this was not the Google website).

Back

And yes, I'm back.

Coming back in to Thailand this evening was a little strange, so far everything seems fresher. We definitely picked the right time for a break.

Usually we'd fly direct but, with the recent one year old birthday boy in tow, we decided a two legged approach may help break up the flight for him, making it easier for us. That was pretty much the case although the outbound flight proved difficult to satisfy the typical all-action, exploring needs of said one year old in the cramped environment of a plane.

The return leg was far easier being as it was around The Little One's bedtime meaning he spent a lot of the time sleeping and being pretty relaxed. Result.

One early observation of the trip is a renewed memory of why I hate so many of my fellow Brits. Much of the conversation and general rudeness and poor attitude of the flight was too much for me to bear.

Brits abroad.

Sadly I'm hitting the ground running this week so don't expect masses of updates (been a week already, after all) right away.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

UK politics heats up

Thai politics is a subject I've written about partly because, as a politics graduate living in Thailand, it is of natural interest and, secondly, it's quite a unique and interesting system.

For once though, I find UK politics to be a little more interesting (probably because I'm currently in London) - of particular interest is the coming appearance of the far-right British National (BNP) leader Nick Griffin on leading political show Question Time


Griffin's appearance on the show tomorrow (Thursday) evening has certainly ignited a few arguments with many calling for him to be barred from the show. Griffin himself, no stranger to absurd lines (for example Churchill would have been a BNP member), has claimed the publicity as a major boost, even saying thank you to the BBC for the opportunity.

The appearance certainly raises an interesting issue.

In the UK, more than Thailand (which sits 130th on the World Free Press index), there is universal freedom of speech .

However should this extent to the leader of a racist, fascist party whose appearance on a respected program may make his party all the more credible?

Many have argued that BNP views are such that the party is likely to be shown for exactly what it is on live TV, suggesting Griffin's self-proclaimed boost in the spotlight will ultimately be his downfall.

I agree with this line of thought although there is no doubting that, for the BNP's cause, "any news is good news".

The BNP may get a membership spike but it is likely to lose what little mainstream credibility it has and the new members, with such extreme views, would have joined regardless of Griffin's spot on Question Time, which will hasten their arrival rather than cause it.

The show is likely to receive higher than usual viewing figures and I'll be one watching as British politics will rival the craziness of Thailand - just for a night and no longer, we hope.

Photo credit BBC

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Surfin' the Google Wave

I'm now on Google Wave which I'm pretty chuffed about as it is brand-spankingly new, will doubtless become very important and, for now at least, it's something new for me to geek out on and get to grips with.

As we're still on holiday in the UK I'll resist giving the service a thorough run-out until I'm back in Thailand. Rest assured though that there will be plenty of details from me in the not too distant future.

And if you're lucky enough to already be on Wave, get in touch with your details.

For more info on Google Wave check out this recent post or the very geeky video below which gives an overview.



Big thanks to Chinarut aka Dancin Forever for setting me up on Wave.

UPDATE - It's a double-dose of tech as I'm trialling comments via DISQUS because, quite frankly, it's a pretty cool way of threading and story comments and discussions across the web/blogosphere together.

If you're a regular reader, should any of those actually exist here, I encourage/recommend you sign up as this is a shape of the future, I believe.

DISQUS certainly works well for some bloggers, though I'm not sure if Thailand blogs are ready for it just yet - we'll see.

Monday, 19 October 2009

With Great Grandpa

This photo alone makes the 24 hours plus of travel time, jet lag, (many) tears and lack of sleep from our Thailand-UK roundtrip worthwhile.


For the record, that's an 86 year age gap - quite amazing.

Top 100 Thai blogs

It was recently brought to my attention that this blog had entered the hallowed halls of the top 100 hundred Thai blogs charting in at number 49.

The site, devised by Thailand's Lost Boy, aka journalist and one-time Thailand resident Matt Crook, is a list of the most popular/well-read Thai blogs - an idea that, with hindsight, seems painfully obvious yet is incredibly useful and well crafted.

Whilst I'm a fan of such lists - the easiest way to find new content and blogs, for one - I always steered clear of listing in them. After all, Jonny Foreigner is not a glammed up SEO-show pony, despite the journalist/social media consultant day job.

However, after careful reflection (and a quick squint of Google Analytics) it isn't so bad after all, perhaps the plans for an all-singing-all-dancing, fanciful, new blogging project might involve this blog after all.

So, if you're a blogger or enjoy reading about Thailand and you are not familiar with the list, I recommend you take a look here.

PS: a quick glance before putting this post together and I'm shocked to see JF clock in at number 25

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

I miss London

After a day hitting the shops, museums, parks and strolling the Thames it's clear the Missus and I still massively miss living in London.

Sure there are elements to dislike, the people are generally ruder than in Thailand, prices are higher, taxes are higher, rent is more expensive...the list goes on...but a day shopping here compared to Thailand wins hands done, particularly with a 1 year old in tow.

I love living in Thailand, yes, but massively miss living in London too.

Friday, 9 October 2009

UK bound

After months of planning, our trip to the UK was confirmed this week. Just in time, this coming weekend has been the estimated arrival date the folks at home have used to book various time off work and other activities.

Why the hold up?

The Missus, being the only member of our merry-3-man-band without a UK passport, requires a visa to return to the UK. We left it late but the process was almost single handily responsible for us booking the flights less than a week before we fly -- not to mention my nails are a little shorter than usual.

To explain why I feel like we pulled off a major coup in getting a visa, despite the fact our trip is 100% legit, here is an example.

I met the wonderful Missus whilst she was studying in the UK.

In order of action her processes were: arranging university course, booking halls and, last of all, applying for visa. With all the studying arrangements confirmed, getting a visa would be a doddle, right?

WRONG

The visa was rejected in one day (back when the process was a day rather than this "up to a month" malarkey we have now) yet when she reapplied, as a family friend in the immigration service advised, using the same docs it was approved.

Right, ok...any logic there?

Well, bizarrely yes there is. A visa application boils down to the person who is processing it.

How do they feel?

Are they having a good day?

Is your name too long?

Did they have an argument with the other half over breakfast this morning?

Office vending machine run out of Kit-Kats?

Wrong type of leaves on the tracks delay their train and get them a bollocking for being late to work?

You'd better hope the answers to these questions, and more, is no or you could have a problem... and an accompanying rejection stamp.

Absurd? Yes, but I can vouch for the authenticity of this astonishing dynamic, I've seen with my own eyes. The braincells left discarded in the Home Office from my post-uni stint data-entering are my proof.

I digress, back to the trip... we fly off in the early hours of Saturday morning, not returning for more than two weeks. During that period expect my updates to be less regular than usual.

La gone na, Thailand, catch you later.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Google Wave

I don't often cross-post my work from Director but I'm going to shamelessly pimp out today's piece on Google Wave - a name that will become familiar with over time, if not already.

Google Wave is likely to be a major part of how we communicate and use the internet in the future

Check out the official Wave website for more info.

Why Your Business Should Care About Google Wave

Since its preview release at the end of September, Google Wave has barely been out of the headlines, being regularly touted as the future of internet communications.

Yet despite the hype only 100,000 people, worldwide, are invited to use its preview version, leaving the rest of us with a lot of questions.

What is Google Wave? How will it change the way we communicate and why should businesses be interested at this stage?

This week, the Business 2.0 column will take a look at Google Wave and why businesses, and others, should take an interest in its progress.

Internet Communications Born Today

Put simply, Wave has the potential to be a ‘game changer’ in the same way that MSN Messenger, Skype, email, Google Search, YouTube, eBay and others have shaped the state of the web and consumer habits today.

The principle belief behind Wave is to update internet communications. The founders saw that, whilst instant messaging and email are successful and popular, they were designed a long time ago and therefore to do not make the most of the web as it is today.

Wave is a difficult concept to grasp let alone explain but leading web technology blog Mashable succinctly described it as:
“A real-time communication platform. It combines aspects of email, instant messaging, wikis, web chat, social networking, and project management to build one elegant, in-browser communication client.“
Read this rest here on the Director blog.

Note the absence of lines like "Ride the Google Wave" or "Surf's Up as Google Wave comes in", tempting though they were.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Thai pop music - คนบ้านเดียวกัน (Neighbour)

I first showcased Thai pop music way back in June when I promised to "regularly" feature a more songs. I guess two in three months isn't particularly regular but here is the next offering.

This track is called คนบ้านเดียวกัน (kun-ban-dieuw-gan) aka neighbour in English.

It's not a song I like but it is massively popular in Thailand, played at weddings, celebratory events, karaoke parties and even on buses across the country.

Lots of songs include sing-along lyrics in Thai just like this one, such is the love of karaoke.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Tragedy in Saraburi

This weekend has been a sombre one as we have mourned the tragic and senseless death of a family friend killed in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Although I didn't know him well Khun Arom was well know to my in-laws, and most of town, as both a local politician and the owner of White Room, a restaurant-cum-bars in the city where my sister-in-law once worked.

Below is the news taken from this Bangkok Post article, one of media outlets to have covered it.
Five people - including two local politicians - have been killed in a shooting spree at a house in Saraburi.

Chawalit Thipsawet and Arom Udomsan, local politicians in Muang Saraburi municipality, were among the five bodies found in the single storey house located in a 10-rai compound in tambon Phukhae, Chalerm Prakiat district.
What the article doesn't state is some of victims were gunned down as they slept. Utter cowardice.

So who did this awful crime?

The murderer is, at this stage unknown. Media report across Thailand, in both English and Thai, have suggested the attack came after a Friday night out but the local perspective is somewhat different.

From what I've heard, a number of army officers that regularly visit the bar had racked up a sizeable tab. During one visit, a few weeks ago, the officers were confronted about the debt and, upon refusing to settle it, fighting ensued with several officers hospitalised from their injuries.

There is speculation that the murders were revenge for the events of that evening.

Many are quick to blame the army although it remains to be seen exactly what did happen.

I sincerely hope the culprit is caught and brought to justice quickly. There is absolutely no justification for killing five men is cold blood.

It's hard to believe that in a country known as 'The Land of Smiles', where Buddhism preaches tolerance and patience, there are individuals with such callous disregard for human life.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Microsoft tackles piracy in Thailand

You know piracy is a problem when a company produces a press release (in the loosest sense of the word) like this.

I've heard a few illogically thought-up ideas for fighting piracy in Thailand but found the press release from Microsoft to be perhaps the most toothless. See excerpt below.
With many people around the world keen to get their hands on Windows 7 as soon as possible, some consumers may have been tempted to purchase what they believe to be a genuine copy of Windows 7 from IT malls in Thailand.

Microsoft Thailand would like to alert consumers that the new operating system - Windows 7 - will not be officially launched in Thailand until October 31st, 2009. As such, any copies of Windows 7 currently for sale at IT malls and resellers or for download online will not be the genuine Ready to Manufacture (RTM) and could expose the owner’s PC to security risks.
I could summarise in a few words - "go get a cheap copy at Pantip Plaza".

I'm not sure this will do any good Mr Gates, and by the way I disagree with the idea that W7 is highly sort after.

Apple Snow Leopard and Google's Android OS are the sexy, desireable operating systems. People with Windows just seem to inherit it on a new purchase, I'd love to know just how many people "around the world" are keen to get their hands on W7?

Incidentally, The Missus recently took her laptop to be seen to at our local IT mall - it was overheating and prone to spontaneously rebooting without reason.

A week and around 1,000 Baht (£25) lighter, said laptop was healed, returned and found to be running Windows 7, long with the latest Adobe Photoshop, which the Mr PC Healer kindly installed without extra charge or request from us.

We got the laptop back last week, you can do the Math re the version of Windows 7 my missus is now using.

Piracy is so ingrained into Thai society, I very much doubt it will ever retreat with any significance.

Online advertising's UK milestone

Yesterday was a big day in the history of the web.

Findings from a PWC report for the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) found that online advertising spend in the UK had overtaken TV advertising spend for the first time.

Online has long been heralded as the future for, well, pretty much everything, advertising included. The online ad industry has been growingly steadily though many will be shocked that the balance of spending has tipped so quickly, and without warning, in the UK.

Economic conditions have undoubtedly played a part in hastening this event. The smaller, customisable nature of online advertising allows advertisers to stretch their budget further and be more targeted in their outreach of customers.

For example. The budget for one TV advert can be spread across a number of websites, to target either one specific demographic (for example mothers, by targeting baby and shopping websites). Whereas a TV ad will run to a limited schedule, perhaps twice an evening, or once a day, the online ad is permanent.

Online ad networks are pushing advertisers online too.

Using ad networks, companies can rotate their advert across a series of websites that cater to a particular audience demographic. Sophisticated networks can even recognise a visitor, see that he/she has read the advert already and instead provide an alternative ad to maintain their interest. This has given ad networks the opportunity to produce "serial" adverts, which run like a story (particularly effective when using video).

This news is a message that online is beginning to fulfill its potential in the West. As for Thailand, online advertising's share of the total revenue spent on advertising remains around 1.5%.

Thailand can blame a number of issues - including lack of widespread broadband, lack of widespread 3G, less mature consumer habits, language barrier issues, et al - but the fact remains that the day online overtakes TV ad spend is a far, far off...*if* it ever happens, that is.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

An evening with the Red Shirts

A couple of weeks ago, I got word of an event from Thailand's UDD political party, referred to as the Red Shirts, that was taking place in Saraburi that Friday evening.

My keen interest in Thailand politics, coupled with the mother-in-law’s passion for the Red cause, saw us take a family outing to the event (cladding The Little One in red was not my idea, honest).


In the UK and the West, political parties keep in touch with their core supporters at grass-roots level using meetings, luncheons, newsletters and drop-in surgeries – here in Thailand it’s a whole different ball game.

The best way to describe a Thai political event is 'roadshow', it's an event geared towards entertaining whilst party officials, discuss and debate their key topics.

The event included a busy market, selling all things red, many things Thaksin and the usual market goods - food, drink, etc.


The main event was the on stage speeches from a host of senior (so I’m told) Red Shirt officials – although I don't know their idenitifes - props to anyone who can identify them below.


There was, of course, the obligatory sing-song which saw most party official take to the stage in song. I’d pay good money to see British MPs singing on stage – perhaps there's potential for a horrendous, car-crash celebrity talent show: Westminster Idol.

Unsurprisingly I was the only foreigner there. Not wearing red, along with The Missus, I stuck out like a sore. I need not have worried though.

Despite initial thoughts that I’d be instantly disliked for being a foreigner who was photographing and videoing his way through an event designed for Thais, those I came into contact with were friendly and welcoming.


Political rallies are not renowned for being interesting and well attended at home, unlike the Red rally in Saraburi. The sizeable audience was comprised mainly of families and groups of friends who sat eating and drinking whilst watching the events and speeches on stage.

Though everyone was wearing red, I noticed that many were not supporting official UDD wear, some to have just threw on something red - take for example the woman wearing a Rooney 10 Manchester United shirt.


In one respect it is refreshing that so many people take an active interest in politics; however, from what I know about the types of speeches and rhetoric from both the Reds (UDD) and Yellows (PAD) the content is heavily slanted and rarely objective.


Unfortunately my level of Thai is not sufficient for me to translate the content and my translator, The Missus, has no interested in helping out on this one, alas.

My biggest complaint was the location of the event, which required navigating an dangerously busy dual carriage way route. That said, hardened expats will be used to this sort of thing.

A couple of videos I took from the evening are below.





Apologies for the somewhat jittery video quality. This is down to a combination of unsteady hands, the sound and using my Sony Ericsson as my interim-camera while I wait to get a new one.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Economist: Did you know?

A week or so back the Economist posted the below video on YouTube. I'm shocked it has only received 26,000 odd views (particularly when Five Little Monkeys has more than 10 million views, albeit over 2 years) as it is insightful and fascinating - all in all highly recommended.

The video, which was developed by information design consultancy XPLANE, looks at the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology.

So if you are into the internet, social media, technology (esp mobile phones), traditional media, interesting stats and future trends then this is right up your street.

I originally posted it on Twitter but, upon reflection, decided it deserved a little more exposure.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Role reversal

Living in Thailand is considerably easier when your partner is Thai.

Having a native partners helps overcome most of the issues which arise from the language and cultural barriers here in Thailand. A prime example being my visa applications issues, which would have be hell without The Missus.

It's pretty rare for an expat to help their Thai partner in a meaningful way beyond perhaps learning English or technology issues.

Well, I managed to show my value to The Missus this weekend.

The Missus has recently begun working part-time at a foreign-run business (contrary to my own opinion they do exist here in Saraburi) - first time since The Little One was born last October. Friday was her day off but we headed into the office to get her wage, in process of doing so she was bitten by the "friendly" (now past tense) soi (stray) dog that has adopted the office garden as home.

After cleaning the bites, yes there were two, we headed to our regular hospital for a quick check and precautionary vaccination.

A combination of twenty minutes of being ignored and the potential of paying up to 4,000 Baht (around £80) for this 'premium service' saw us swap the private clinic for the town's main public hospital instead.

Contrary to any hospital in London, at 7pm on a Friday night there were no drunks in Saraburi City hospital. In fact, there were far fewer patients than I expected. Most patients were old and seemingly pretty sick, a number of them lay flat in trolleys, waiting to be seen - it was certainly depressing (photos seemed inappropriate, so you just have my word on this.)

Ten minutes after registering we were waiting, again, in a room with no doctors, no nurses, no receptionists, none of the infirm patients, there were barely even seats - just us, there, still waiting.

Had we been forgotten, again?

I decided to see if I could speed things up.

Barely seconds after closing the door I was surrounded by a doctor and trainees. After impressing myself, and my audience, with my Thai we switch to England and I had found a nurse to take of the problem.

When I was asked to show the bites, I disappeared into the chairless waiting room , returning with The Missus.

The nurse wasn't too happy with my tactic but job never mind, you have to do what you do. Besides, we only needed a Nurse and we were all finished and gone within twenty minutes with The Missus safe from rabies and other soi dog nasties.

The less said about the organisation and staff the better - it was almost like watching Thai shop staff - they were laughing, chatting and hanging around while patients waited...'patiently'. On the balance of it, we'll stick with the private hospital but this trip was certainly insightful.

Friday, 25 September 2009

The social media makeover

Found this quite magnificent social media scribble via Charles Frith.

I write a fair bit about social media and in particular how businesses and companies can use it.

It's a hugely important topic. Social media has the potential to be "game changing", as the Yanks say.

All consumer communication will be turned on its head. The boot is on the other foot, consumers are enfranchised with potential to stick-it to major companies. Suddenly every poor customer experience has the potential to generate poor PR via online, viral, word of mouth.

What used to be a customer complaint letter read by a handful is now something with the power to influence, persuade, dissuade, promote, reject and hold companyies to account.

Check out the Debtors Revolt on YouTube, United Airlines breaks guitars or, on a wider but more shallow scale, there is Facebook. With more 256 million users pouring their thoughts, good/bad experiences onto the web for friends to see.

But, before we get carried away, the great 'socialist web' revolution is yet to occur. In today's market, precious few are getting close to turning this potential into value.

All too often business are misfiring and misusing social media.

They just don't get it, yet...

Monday, 21 September 2009

Earning and losing respect in Thailand

Was at the sports centre the other day when a chap pulled up in this Harley. I was pretty impressed, who wouldn't be.

"Wait. That's not a parking space, sir..."

My initial warmth for driver quickly diminished when he rode round in cycles, literally, revving the engine before parking the 'beast' slap, bang in front of the gym - well away from the designated, and empty, parking area.

He then proceeded to dismount the bike, very slowly in full view of everybody making sure that not one person was unaware that he was the owner of this Harley.

As an avid people watcher, I was hooked.

Thankfully my new pal, and entertainment source, didn't disappoint.

He briefly entered the gym, but rather than settling down to workout, he proceed to wai those inside before leaving very slowly.

Once outside he stood still, taking time to reflect, perhaps scheming his next move, before (slowly) getting back on to the bike and taking a very long route away from the sports centre.

I'd hazard a guess that his mission had been successful, not a sole had failed to see him and the bike.

I appreciate that, by riding in with a Harley he gains face as a man with money but, at what point does him being a total ass mean he loses any respect he gained? Surely he leaves with less respect than he had before he arrived.

I'm a little confused.

Oh, the lengths some Thais will go to to 'impress' others - pretty comical at times.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Bryan Robson set to coach Thailand

The BBC reports that former England captain Bryan Robson has "agreed in principle" to become the next manager of Thailand's national football team.

Robson would, of course, replace Peter Reid, a former England team-mate of his, who left the position to return to English football as assistant manager of Premiership side Stoke City.

Robson is an interesting choice from the Thai FA. His seven year spell in charge of Middlesbrough, which ended 2001, remains the stand-out achievement on his management CV.

Robson showed initial management potential at Boro, though the close of his time saw fans turn against him with doubts over his tactics, style of play and transfer policy.

Robson did save West Brom from relegation 2004-2005, a feat that makes him the only manager to save a team bottom of the league at Christmas from relegation, though circumstance played a major part as final game results lifted Boro from bottom place to safety.

Though I don't rate Robson as a manager, his management career hasn't hit the heights of his glittering playing career, many of his former charges rate him as an excellent coach. Perhaps then Robbo, and his practical skills, are better suited to the demands of international football..

Only time will tell, but I'd like to be the first to say 'Sawasdee Krup, Robbo'.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Big Trouble In Thailand

'Big Trouble In Thailand' is a reality TV show focusing on the tourists abroad in Thailand.

The series is currently on Bravo (a minor satellite station) in the UK, though it is getting considerably more exposure on a number of Thai blogs which are discussing some of the pertinent topics it has raised - including rip-off scams, tourist behaviour and the tourist police.

The series is available through YouTube, and other internet video sites, though I've had neither the time nor inclination to watch more than a couple of snippets.

Talen, over at the excellent ThailandofSmiles blog, is doing a first-rate job of scrutinising the series.

He has already stirred a response from a senior member of the Thai Tourist Police, following some very astute comments about the organisation. His latest insight questions the the authenticity of some of the most controversials scenes and the series itself.

I won't dwell on this too much, check out ThailandofSmiles for more, but I do want to share this nugget of Englishness below.

I've been in Thailand approaching a year now, previous to which I lived and worked in London. Pricks like the guys in this video are sadly all over London, whether it is work, rest or play you can't miss them.

Watching this video helps me appreciate one of the things I love about life here in Thailand - the lack of English twats. Thankfully I live far from the beaten track of tourists.

Sure, I feel sorry for the guy who was involved in a nasty crime but the attitude of him and his friends - stupidly drunk and self-important while girlfriend floating around a police station in a bikini top - is typical of so many people back in England.

It will be interesting to see how I find the locals when we head back home for a 2 week sojourn next month.

Anyway, check out the video below, don't worry it is short, I promise.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Just another day of news as 16 year old is burnt to death

Living in Thailand can make one immune to some shocking news stories.

Atrocities, bribery, gang wars, government coups, police brutality and more, the news in Thailand regularly produces the type of news that would hold the attention of the press. Yet here, tragic news is often just another tragic story.

Take for example this story from The Nation, a newspaper which I readily admit to having little time for, reporting that Thai soldiers shot a teenage Cambodian boy before burning him to death.

What crime could possibly produce such a 'punishment', if you can call being shot and killed in the most inhumane way, that is.

Did he kill a man? Perhaps he shot at a soldier? Maybe he was carrying a bomb, or a terrorist.

It is alleged that the boy, who was just 16 years old, was chopping down trees on the Thai side of the border with Cambodia.

The governor of the Cambodian border province has rightly asked why the boy was burnt alive when he had already been arrested?

There has been no response from the Thai embassy in Cambodia, and none is likely.

This may be news those who do not live in this part of the world but Thai society is incredibly class and race oriented. Foreigners from neighbouring states like Cambodia and Burma (Myanmar) are considered to be the lowest of the low - typified by their dark skin which, in Thailand, is a sign of poverty as it indicates the individual has had a life of working outdoors and is, therefore, poor.

Of course, immigrants from neighbouring countries are not saints. But they are humans, they come to Thailand illegally, yes, but the motive is to better their lives and the lives of their families. There is no justification for what happened to this 16 year old boy.

There should be a public investigation and punishment should be given to those responsible for this atrocity.

But this is Thailand, a country in which racially motivated killings occur almost daily on the southern border, a country which is engaged in a political civil war, a country which has failed to convict activists who sieged the country's main airport plunging the country in chaos.

This news is likely to receive little attention with the country focused on Saturday, the 3rd anniversary of the coup which ousted then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Happy birthday to me

A year is a long time, as they say, and it really is.

This time last year I was seeing my 26th birthday in with, what I can remember, a pretty brilliantly drunken night in London with a load of mates. Alas the day was without my heavily pregnant girlfriend who had arrived in Thailand having, only days before, waiting for me to finish up with my job and get on a flight out of Blighty too.

So, I'm a year older and my day has been a relaxed affair with fantastic weather, a trip to the weekend market and precious time with the family. 

Evening entertainment is remarkably more sober, watching my team, Arsenal, trying to overturn a half-time deficit against the multi-millionaires of Manchester City - two of whose players were sporting our red and white strip a year ago. 

From where I now sit: the change of scene, pace and responsibility is fantastic. I can't turn the clock back, but even if I could, I wouldn't.

So here's to another eventful twelve months, though the significance of my 27th year will take some beating.

Well, we could start with Arsenal coming out and getting the three points - perhaps things don't change so much after all?

And before I'm accused of being an old git already, my birthday bash is later this month - photos and report to follow...