Saturday, 29 August 2009

Thai film industry

I recently had the pleasure of writing a piece about the Thai film industry for the September-October issue of the mag.

Research and interviews were really quite like any other piece. With my background I'm pretty used to speaking to, and getting excited about, techy companies, geek products, social media gurus or internet trends.

This article however, was an opportunity to learn about a totally new topic and, an interesting one at that.

From my research and interviews it seems that the Thai film industry was not as successful as I had initially thought.

In a nutshell: the industry is badly in need of investment, big budgets film are not using Thailand and, with little signs that the Thai government or Board Of Investment (BOI) are promoting to international film communities, many are sceptical that change will come any time soon.

Private developments look the most likely way for the film industry to progress with the most notable project being a $264 million project in Chiang Mai, aka CNXWOOD (see this preview video for more). There are also whispers of a Chonburi-based initiative, backed by a number of investors which allegedly include Hollywood big shot Oliver Stone.

This aerial shot shows the impressive blueprint for Chiang Mai Wood. Photo courtesy of Creative Kingdom Studios.

My print article on the Thai film industry is in the September-October issue of Director (out this week) but you can catch a preview of it on the Director blog here.

Fascinating stuff.

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If you're on Twitter, I recommend following the following people who regularly cover Thai film industry news, views and updates.

- [Anonymous film blogger Wise Kwai]
- [Noted film industry analyst-cum-journalist, Scott Rosenberg]

Monday, 24 August 2009

Recent work

Here's a look at a few pieces I've written for Director lately:
Plus, I have an interesting piece on the Thai film industry in the September-October print edition, which is out next week.

I post details of my latest work, amongst other things, on Twitter - follow me for updates at

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The locals in Lopburi

I stumbled on this interesting blog written by Paul, an Irish guy living in Lopburi - the town I first worked last year - and it got me thinking about Lopburi.

Although I never really warmed to the place (blame the one hour commute each way) it is a popular stop for tourists, both Thai and foreign, who seek a glimpse of the town's picturesque Khymer-ruins, historic temples and population of street-roaming monkeys - crab-eating macaques, to be precise.

The town recently announced a birth control plan to control the town's famous but rapidly-growing monkey population. Cute though they look the monkeys are a nuisance in the town. Not afraid of people, they regularly steal anything and everything they can get their hands on from locals and tourists.

All this talk of Lopburi is the perfect excuse to show a few of my snaps from my time in the town.

Can anyone else genuinely say they've worked in a town full of monkeys?

I like this blog template but it is no good with images. For full resolution versions of these photos visit my flickr stream using the widget on the blog below or this link.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

If websites were people

Love this - one to be appreciated by fellow social media users/addicts/geeks out there.

[From Digg via 5ummer - image modified for a better fit with blog template]

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Not just an English thing

Surprising though it may sound, Thailand produces good quality pork scratchings.

I really couldn't believe this at first but, as pork is arguably the most popular meat out here, it makes some sense.

Combine a generously sized packet of scratchings (check) with an ice cold beer (check) and we have a line-up as good as any equivilent from home - trust me on this one.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Learn to read Thai: the basics

It has been a while since my first ‘learning Thai’ post, it's definitely time for a follow-up - this post looks at the basics of reading Thai.

Learning Thai is hard enough without allowing for differing spelling and pronunciation in Roman script. As has been raised by the likes of Rikker and Catherine, even just basic understanding of Thai will massively aid learning – I can vouch for this.

Now before any scholars or native speakers begin to correct my work, I want to point out that this is a basic look at interpreting Thai and should, by no means, be considered to be ‘by the book’. My advice is based on my experience learning from my own observations, talking with natives and a little research.

Although it may look difficult, learning to read the basics is not as hard as you’d imagine, particularly for anyone who lives in Thailand where the words are all around you.
First of all, two tips for those living in Thailand, these were the first two steps I took to learning to read basic Thai –before I even opened a book to learn to read.
  • Spend a decent amount of time (was about two/three months in my case) looking at, and remembering, the shapes of Thai characters you see around for you. For example at shops, on car registration plates, newspapers headlines, anything anywhere. Don’t put any pressure or timescale on learning as this step helps to gently ease you into remembering common Thai characters.
  • Buy a Thai keyboard, or multi-lingual stickers for your laptop or existing keyboard. Again, this is about familiarisation and, if you spend a lot of time using a PC, this is a great way to familiarise yourself.
Before starting it is important to remember that there are more letters in the Thai alphabet. This includes some sounds that we don’t have in Roman script, it omits some we do have (such as ‘X’ and ‘Z’) and includes a variety of Thai characters which represent one Roman letters.

Chicken (Gai), ก่ is the common word associated with (Gor), the first letter of the Thai alphabet - Credit

[The below is a rough start to reading Thai, including only the most common and basic Thai characters - more complicated letters and vowels have been omitted.]

B ป is technically a ‘pb’ but Thais generally pronounce this as ‘B’

C ค is technically a ‘K’ but it is often used a hard ‘C’ (for example Coke is โคก) ช is a ‘ch’ sound

Dด is a hard sounding ‘D’

F ฟ ฝ are both ‘F’ sounds, at a basic level the difference is minimal and, for reading purposes they can be considered the same.

G ก is a ‘G’ sound, although some argue it can be used as a 'K'

H ห is sometimes used silently to accentuate other sounds but can be found as an ‘H’

J จ represents J

K ค ฅ are both hard ‘K’ sounds whereas ข ฃ are softer ‘K’s – again for basic understanding both pairs can be considered the same

L ล is the most common ‘L’ sound, not be confused with the similar looking ‘R’

M ม represents ‘M’

N น represents ‘N’ while ง represents ‘NG’, a common sound in Thai

P ผ พ ภ these three ‘P’ sounds can be considered the same whilst บ is a weaker sounds ‘P’ and ป is technically a ‘PB’ which is generally pronounced as ‘B’

Q no equivalent

R ร represents a rolling ‘R’ sound although many Thais will pronounce the letter ‘R’ as ‘L’ – hence the word for foreigner is spoken by many as ‘falang’.

S ส ถ ษ these three ‘S’ sounds can be considered the same for reading purposes

T ท is a light sounding ‘T’ (example ‘Tea’) whereas ต is technically a ‘DT’ which is commonly pronounced as ‘T’ (example ‘Tool’)

V ว this is a ‘W’ sound which fills in for ‘V’, a sound otherwise no represented

W ว is the ‘W’ sound

X no equivalent

Y ย is the same as a Roman ‘Y’, it is often used to accentuate other vowels and letters too

Z no equivalent

So that’s a really basic run-down of Thai letters, for a more in depth look flick through a language book or search the web for pages like this.

I'll post updates to cover the rest of the alphabet in due course.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Thai Mother's Day

Mother's Day in Thailand is the birthday of the reigning Queen (just as Father's Day is the King's birthday), after all, she is the Mother of Thailand. As Queen Sirikit's birthday falls on 12 August, today was วันแม่ (wan mae), or Mother's Day in English.

As a public holiday (so no work!) the day was spent enjoying quality time with The Little One and The Missus, lunch with the family and a trip to the Pasak Jolasid Dam in Saraburi with some extended family in tow.

Slight comedy was provided when The Missus was spotted by a student she taught when working as a university lecturer a few years ago.

After a brief chat with this awkwardly gangly, overly made up, excessively feminine girl, The Missus came back telling me how her former student could not believe she was settled down with a son and a foreign man. It was "quite a surprise" to her, apparently.

"The funny thing," The Missus said, "is that I really didn't recognise her at first, she used to be a boy when I taught her."

And with that, the gaggle of katoeys (lady boys) wandered off, giggling as they passed us by.

Sometimes you just have to laugh and remind yourself, This Is Thailand.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Can Twitter-Tattle Lose Your Battle? - Director

Shameless plug for my latest piece for Director's blog - Can Twitter-Tattle Lose Your Battle? - looking at the lessons business can take from the recently announced social media policies of armed forces in the US and UK.

Read it in full here.

Plug over...

Sunday, 9 August 2009

New role

I'm back from a brief sojourn to Lao to get a new visa - the funny thing about this trip is that it could have been prevented if one person had done their job properly.

I'm not to dwell on that though as I'm, in fact, behind on my own news.

Starting last week, I've taken on a new role at Director, Thailand's bimonthly business magazine described in a recent conversation as a magazine that "does things properly." After contributing on a freelance basis for a while, I'm stepping into a permanent role as staff writer.

In my new role I'll continue to contribute articles but will also run a couple of features in the print edition whilst regularl writing for the magazine's blog.

My regular Tuesday column goes under the 'Business 2.0' banner, covering the use of technology and the internet in business today. Here's my first post from last week talking about Zappos, newly acquired by Amazon, and its successful use of Twitter.

I'll be posting the links on my Twitter feed but will post some work here too.

I'm very excited about the role and, along with the additional work, I'm going to put more into this blog too.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Quick update, I went to Laos to redeem my visa situation, returning yesterday only to find that the wonder-that-it MaxNet (TT&T) is yet to sort out my internet, so no potential to blog from home right now.

Add to that, I caught a bit of a virus on the ridiculously well air-conditioned bus, so I'm under the weather, not a great combination.

Will post updates of my visa, Laos and other news once MaxNet sorts itself out and sends an engineer over - should be today, fingers crossed.