Monday, 22 February 2010

Thai football violence

Thais are renowned for living life at a relaxed pace.

The popular phrase 'jai yen' (cool heart) symbolises this calm demeanour and, as Buddhists, Thais are generally known for being well mannered.

Football is a different beast however as the video below from a recent game between Thai Port and Muang Thong United shows.

Hat tip to Jakarta Casual for the vid.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Guardian: Thailand "blank and unwelcoming"

Stumbled upon this interesting piece from (UK) Guardian online promoting Burma as underestimated tourist spot.

I've long been tempted to take a better look at the country know as Myanmar ever since my brother spent a week there in between a couple of stays with us last year.

He was full of praise of the country, particularly its temples, beautiful countryside, friendly locals and value for money (even cheaper than Thailand) prices.

Burma can sell itself based on its merits, so why on earth writer Jonathan Steele feels the need to jab at Thailand in the process is beyond me.

In the piece Steele writes:
In contrast to Thailand, where linguistic communication is a struggle and faces in public transport are blank and unwelcoming, Burmese friendliness is a delight. Burma is multi-ethnic and, until the military coup of 1962, was open to the world. For decades its elite spoke good English and even today most people in Rangoon and Mandalay have a smattering. Keenness for contact with foreigners is strong, for its own sake and as resistance to enforced isolation.
It is clearly a case of whacking the popular kid.

Yes, Thailand is more popular than Burma. It has been a long established holiday destination, one of the world's favourites (give or take the ebb/flow of holiday makers put off by political issues.)

Thailand isn't prefect but why Steele highlights faces on public transport I'll never know?!

Most Londoners are less than sociable on the tube or train but that doesn't make London any less of a destination for tourists, and so it shouldn't.

Thailand is know as the land of the smiles and, whilst I don't often agree with this (in time I've found Thais are smiley and be friendly once you engage first) it gets in name for a reason and - if we're going to dish out generalisations - Thais are incredibly friendly.

As for linguistic issues, sure if you venture off the beaten track English is not widely spoken but many locals are keen to practice and in general being understood is not a problem. As for the tourist destinations (where one finds locals are unfriendly on public transport) is English not only widely spoken, but locals will often approach foreigners to practice their English speaking skills.

So I'm sorry Mr Steele, whilst I am keen to visit Burma (mainly from my brother's recommendation) I think you're chatting utter rubbish. Then again, that can probably be down to the blank and unwelcoming demeanour I've inherited from Thailand.

For more on Thais smiles check out this post from a fellow Thai blogger.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Thailand Voice

While I've blogged about the use of Thailand blogs before (see here) I'm yet to mention Thailand Voice, an incredibly useful site which I stumbled upon last year.

The website aggregates (posts) content from Thai blogs making it a one-stop-shop for finding content and information about Thailand on the web. Blogs range from Politic sites like Bangkok Pundit, Absolutely Bangkok and New Mandala to expat blogs like this one of others listed in the blogroll on the left hand side.

As well as finding the latest posts, the search feature can be used to find information about Thailand from the site's archieve which is rapidly approaching 6,000 posts.

For example, I was interviewed by students from Singapore Management University as part of their research into the social media landscape in Thailand. I was flattered to be interviewed by wondered how they had found me, turns out they searched Thailand Voice and stumbled upon an entry of mine before reading more at the blog.

In practical terms, if you're looking to holiday in Phuket, for example, you can search the term on Thailand Voice and a range of content relating to Phuket. It may not all be relevent but it provides an excellent, local angle in addition to the traditional Google search.

For those of us blogging in Thailand, Thailand Voice does a great job of spreading our content. It uses just the first paragraph to preview posts, providing a link to the original content which in turn encourages new visitors to your site.

If you're not already on the list I suggest you contact them through the site by clicking here.

As if that wasn't enough, Thailand Voice just got even better by joining Twitter (@thailandvoice).

Now I can keep up with new content from the Thai blogosphere without racking up hundreds of unread posts on Google Reader. I definitely recommend following.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Chinese New Year 2010

Today is Chinese new year, a big deal in Thailand where everyone seems to have Chinese blood in the family. The Missus's maternal grandfather is the China-link in the family, so I'm told.

For our little circle, Chinese New Year meant a visit to the local temple, noisey firecrackers (with subsequent tears from a 15 month old), a lot of delicious food and said 15 month old dressed in Chinese robes for large parts of the day.

That's two new years done, one more to go - Songkran, Thai New Year, runs 13-15 April. This year I'll be posting lots more photos and a write-up. I don't think I managed anything in 2009, was too busy having fun and water fighting.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Teaching in Thailand

Teaching is an incredibly popular profession for expats out in Thailand while many travels often opt to teach in Thailand in order to prolong their stay (with a visa) and make some money in the country.

[Image via]

While there is a lot of information about how to get into teaching or what to expect there are precious few warts 'n' all accounts of what teaching is like.

Until now that is.

On The Lam: Escape From Thailand is one of those blogs which you stumble upon all too infrequently.

Witty, sarcastic, self-depreciating and unashamedly honest, it is all about 'Loki', a teacher in Thailand for whom "two years teaching in Thailand has deteriorated my work ethic and steeled my resolve to escape".

It is thoroughly worthy of a read, better yet a RSS subscription, for anyone in Thailand, particularly those that teach or are considering doing so.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Queen's Cup football coming to Saraburi

Thailand's Queen's Cup football competition is coming to Saraburi next week with six matches taking place at the Osotspa Saraburi stadium.

[Click to enlarge fixtures list]

The matches are being promoted around the stadium (in Thai) but there's no mention around town (details confirmed in English at the ever reliable Thai Football News blog) so it will be interesting to see how many turn out. Presumably the Sunday games will get the largest audience.

I'm planning to take in all the games, meaning a footie report might finally make it to the blog...can sense Martyn's excitement already.

There is no real parallel for the Queen's Cup back in England, it appears to be hosted by the clubs themselves, Chonburi this year, with competition on a invitation basis only.

This year's is the 34th competition (according to Wikipedia) which sees 12 teams battle it out in four knock-out groups hosted in Rayong, Chonburi, Pattaya and Saraburi: congrats to Thai Port, Samut Songkhram and Army (and home team Osotspa Saraburi, of course) all of whom miss out on a trip to the cost in favour of the glamour of Saraburi. Or not.

More to details to follow.