Are the Media Reporting Fairly on Thailand? What’s your view? | Media

Prime Minister Prayuth’s Friday Broadcast


Why are the mainline newspapers in the West and social media, particularly Facebook, not covering or commenting on these weekly broadcasts? One doesn’t expect full reportage. But there’s never a murmur. I don’t think that shows we have Freedom of the Press if the media itself is so selective.

What we do get are snippets of what the government is supposedly doing which are either out of context or plain inaccurate. The limit on the number of people gathering for political purposes is not always strictly enforced. It’s a feature of Thai life that law enforcement is rather weak, and not just in traffic situations. (It’s the “Mai Pen Rai – it doesn’t matter lay back lifestyle of Thailand). The few arrests that are made hit the headlines; releases of the same people do not.

Lack of freedom of speech is raised by the media. Most cases brought are actually for libel and slander. And I hope no one is suggesting that freedom of speech means you can libel and slander at will.

But let’s look at some of the key points he made.

Yesterday, 22 July, Prayuth talked of changing the law so that beggars who perform by singing in public will be allowed to do so without facing criminal charges. Giving them a chance to earn money. Some are now on their way to becoming professional performers. They will earn instead of receiving charity.

He spoke of the efforts being made to investigate illegal land grabs where land designated for poor farmers had been “acquired” by those not entitled. Dhammakaya Temple is one example.

He talked of discussions and meetings on Free Trade with Europe. The government is at least communicating their ideas and policies where there was no transparency from previous governments.

Prayuth went on, as all western politician do also, of planning for a better standard of living and more equality, improved education.

There are 700000 disabled people in Thailand. 200000 of them are now in supervised work programs. Surely a better policy than that previously undertaken.

He referred to Thais responding well to donations to the wat (temple) thus spending money in the economy as well as gaining merit.

Politicians the world over, not just Thailand, are expert at propaganda and spin. What concerns me is how the items of non-spin and genuine government actions are not reported. Why?





I think not.

This is an unedited post made early June by a foreign lecturer who teaches at a Thai university.

“Almost two years since Thailand’s military overthrew what anti-Thaksin, mostly urban Thais described as a corrupt regime which was abusing power, Thailand is today under the boot of a dictatorship which is stifling human rights and political freedoms while driving the economy into the ground. For those who are now having second thoughts about their previous support for the coup, well, you reap what you sow.”

Not all coups are the same. The 2114 coup saw no violent opposition

Coup – old style

These photos were not in the original article. And I accept that, longer term, the present coup may not have the support it currently has. The topic of this blog however is how the media are reporting events.


Note the inciting and provocative language. And this was written by someone with a PhD qualification which should, in my view, require less bigoted and one-sided writing with a closer resemblance to the facts. Not only are his followers on Facebook and elsewhere being misguided and misinformed because the facts are selective and distorted but also he is seeking to influence those students to whom he has a responsibility to impart unbiased impartial knowledge. That suggests a disdain for true democracy and discourages students and others to debate freely. What a blow for free speech.


“mostly urban Thais”

That’s either a guess or a myth. There is support for dealing with corruption throughout Thailand. Best current example is Dhammakaya where the Abbot has only a minority of followers supporting him.

“overthrew a corrupt regime”

The military overthrew BOTH political parties because neither were prepared to deal with the issues confronting the country but were engaged in street violence. Along with most Thais I would have preferred for the solution not to have involved a coup and a cessation of elections. But what was being achieved by the elected parties?  (leaving aside the question of how fair those elections – for both parties – were.)

“under the boot of a dictatorship”

For an academic to use such words instead of, say, “under an unelected government” shows he has totally prejudged the position and is showing his personal politics

“driving the economy into the ground”

Given the worldwide economic situation, this is merely a throw-away line. What countries are not having difficulties combating the present set of circumstances?

I give below an article he copied and pasted on Facebook and the replies from readers and followers.


University warns lecturers not to criticise junta-sponsored draft charter | Prachatai English

A public university has notified its lecturers not to criticise the junta-sponsored draft constitution, saying public institutions have to support the government.



Jenjit Gasigijtamrong I don’t think that’s what it says in the letter attached. The newspaper exaggerates it, especially the word “junta-sponsored draft constitution” is nowhere to be found in that letter.

Matthew Phillips I can’t see what is misrepresented in the article. The Constitution is Junta sponsored so that isn’t an addition to the letter, that is just a statement of fact – or am I missing something?


Jenjit Gasigijtamrong Matthew Phillips I meant the letter from the university that is attached in the post. If you can read Thai, you will understand what I meant

Matthew Phillips I can read Thai, and was saying that I can’t see what is misrepresented in the article. To repeat my point, the fact (regardless of the letter) is that the constitution is sponsored by the Junta so that is just basic reportage? No?



Matt Owens Rees The message is merely to tread carefully, these are difficult times – a valid and typical Thai response from the university. No-one wants excuses for incitement. The way the Thai government is dealing with Dhammakaya shows it’s a correct Thai approach given the powerful forces in the background. Most Thais are supporting Prayuth in Dhammakaya and this anti-coup propaganda is not helping to keep a situation calm.

Crimson Courage Constanza The Military and its supporters have no shame to stage the coup and tear the constitution ever again, and in that breaching other international obligations that guarantee civil and political rights. However, they are far too sensitive (even insecure) to admit or being pointed out that their presence is illegitimate and thus fragile – esp. in the wake of strong resistance from the majority Thais and international community.

The very broad terms stipulated in the letter (in Thai) which can include practically anything that challenges the Junta’s stability including the criticism of the draft constitution, explain the fear of the Junta without having to literally specify the act.


Matt Owens Rees The military is insensitive and insecure? I doubt even Paul Chambers, who opened this debate and has written volumes on Thai military history would agree. And strong resistance from the majority of Thais? I don’t think so. Look at what’s happening with Dhammakaya where (the government) has support on anti-corruption.


Kai Chiang Mai Tours For Universities’ Consideration Krub.

There were a few posts by someone who I had to block for flaming individuals. These were my replies before he disappeared..

Matt Owens Rees ” there are farangs who publish in the internet about their adopted home write books and write in some columns of free copy magazines, who have their intel of their friends who eventually belong to the higher middle class of Thailand or even upper class. And they think different. But they have no proof – they just write something for community amusement, off topic -” Frankly, Dirk, you have no proof of that at all. You also say that all have only “higher middle class of Thailand or even upper class”.     I don’t know who you refer to but I doubt you have proof of that either. The reference to Dhammakaya showed how there is popular support for the way the government is handling this given the power politics of Thailand. You do realise I suppose if you re=read your comment, that you haven’t contributed one iota to the debate Paul started. Merely attacking messengers and not messages is frowned upon in Social Media.


Matt Owens Rees Berk??? Is that a Freudian slip? You still aren’t debating, Dirk. And I’m surprised Paul supports attacks on those who are messengers rather than encouraging comment on what is being said. Duncan McCargo for example gives balanced views, both sides of an argument and welcomes debate whether agreeing with him or not. That is how academics should operate. Probably the best examples of “academics” betraying their calling are the two guys (with English PhDs !!) behind the left wing New Mandala. They engage in spin and delete and edit posts. They would certainly not be granted PhDs today by any decent British university if they submitted a thesis showing bigotry and bias.



The last comment is my reply to a poster named Dirk who did nothing but flame and attack. None of his posts debated the topic and strangely the academic who originally posted the piece supported him with a “like”. You will all have noted that, having pasted the article on Facebook, his only contribution to the debate was to incite others to comment.


So, are foreigners being well served by commentators and academics in Thailand? I think they are not but you must decide. Take a look at what people like McCargo are saying: he is a Leeds university professor who frequently visits and researches in Thailand and has a broad range of contacts here. He does not, as a researcher, seem to show any particular bias: which is of course as it should be. Harlan Wolff  is a long-term expat who passes on his knowledge and experiences of Thai life without beating about the bush. And Andrew Drummond, now exiled from Thailand, who showed how foreigners were as guilty of corruptly cheating fellow countrymen as the Thais that they associated with and who protected them.

Maybe Thais could do more to communicate with those who come to live here  and explain the realities that farangs are often unaware of through no fault of their own but simply because social and mainline media do not appear to have an honest agenda of presenting unbiased facts.


Not only are there fake Book Reviews on the Internet, your dream holiday may be affected too. | Reviews

Disturbing proof the online review that made you book your holiday may be FAKE: Investigation reveals an entire industry is dedicated to generating bogus appraisals for cash

  • Critics claim website TripAdvisor allows clearly false reviews to be posted
  • Restaurants and hotels have become increasingly reliant on good feedback
  • Every year, £23billion of UK consumer spending is influenced by reviews
  • Industry experts say market for fake reviews is booming across the world
Undercover: Hotels and restaurants are becoming increasingly dependent on online review sites such as TripAdvisor, but an investigation has unearthed the flourishing market in fake feedback

Undercover: Hotels and restaurants are becoming increasingly dependent on online review sites such as TripAdvisor, but an investigation has unearthed the flourishing market in fake feedback

Having spent 25 years ensuring his restaurant was regarded as one of the best Indians in Oxford, Aziz Rahman was understandably proud of its reputation.

So when he learned someone had described the establishment as serving ‘tasteless food’ in a ‘cold’ atmosphere, he was determined to get to the bottom of the complaint.

And he wasn’t alone. Because, as it transpired, the same mystery ‘diner’ had bones to pick with no fewer than four other curry houses in the city.

In reviews posted online, all were lambasted for their bog-standard biryanis and sloppy service and given one star out of a possible five on influential travel website TripAdvisor.

Knowing how important good customer ratings are to attracting business, Mr Rahman, who runs the Aziz restaurant with his son Abdul, was immediately suspicious. Not only were all the reviews posted on the same day in August but all also recommended a rival establishment as better.

Complaints were lodged with TripAdvisor who, after an investigation, pulled the reviews.

But Mr Rahman, 50, remains unhappy. He says he does not blame the rival restaurant for what happened (it insists it had nothing to do with the posts) — but he is critical of TripAdvisor for allowing such blatantly false reviews to be posted in the first place.

‘Like all restaurants, we have become more reliant on these reviews than ever,’ said Mr Rahman. ‘In a city like Oxford that has lots of tourists, people want to find a good place to eat. They rely on these reviews and their ratings. But there is no accountability for anyone making these reports. They could be anyone — whether they have dined with you or not. It is a huge problem.’

And it is a problem that touches just about every aspect of modern life. Today, log on to the internet and it is possible to find reviews for everything from hotels to hospitals, from tradesmen to teachers.

Websites invite members of the public to submit their opinions and their ratings, which can then be viewed by other potential customers.

Booming business: Critics claim that online review sites have no accountability, and allow blatantly false reviews to be posted (file image)  

Booming business: Critics claim that online review sites have no accountability, and allow blatantly false reviews to be posted (file image)

And, make no mistake, their influence is enormous. Every year a staggering £23 billion of UK consumer spending is influenced by online reviews, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the independent non-ministerial department whose aim is to promote competition for the benefit of consumers.

Half of all adults in the UK — some 25 million people — use them. The younger the person, the more important the reviews are to their buying decisions. Furthermore, reviews directly affect where a business will be listed on search engines like Google. Put simply, the more reviews there are, the higher up it will appear.


Thailand’s “Love Hotels”, the Bar Scene, and the “Goldfish Bowls” | Sex in Thailand

I try always to give balanced accounts of life in Thailand. I don’t pretend that all is rosy in the Land of Smiles and I attempt to post and inform accurately. I am no “Thai Basher” – I write only from observations and proven sources. The media – both Thai and foreign – tend to put a slant or spin on reporting events, as do the Thai forums run by extremist farangs.

There is a chapter in “Thailand Take Two” called Sun, Sand, Sea, and Sex in which I expose some of the myths of the Thai sex scene and put the matter in a more accurate perspective. There is an extract on my blog at

I also of course post on many other aspects of Thai culture and lifestyle: Thai festivals such as Songkran, the Thai class system, social events at temples, Thai motoring and riding habits,  and the importance in Thailand of family and community. My blog now has over 70 posts from which you may select any of particular interest to you. There are also two pages with around 40 gossipy type articles and which also have archived  posts from the main blog.

This blog post is about Thailand’s maan root or love hotels, the bar scene, and the “goldfish bowls” where prostitutes ply their trade.


Selling sex is a world-wide business, technically illegal in most countries; but with blind eyes always turned. It is certainly not a purely Thai phenomenon, however much the media try to proclaim.

Maan root means closed curtain and is so called because a client drives in with a girl and pulls a curtain across so that his car or bike can no longer be seen. They then enter the motel-like room unobserved. Discretion is of the essence. Rates are hourly and the rooms can be either basic or, more usually, romantically themed. Not regularly used by tourists or foreigners.


Drive in, pull the curtain, and enter through the door on the right.

There are many different themes

and tastes


The bar scene is more open and “in your face”. No attempts to hide the establishment and what it is offering

Clients can “select” a girl by calling out her number



If a client “rings the bell” he is showing he’s going to buy the ladies a drink

The prices are always inflated and some drinks are coloured water or in reality non alcoholic.

Not all farangs are with Thai girls. Foreigners take their western girlfriends or wives to these bars too.

They’d be unlikely to do that in similar bars in their own countries.

Men often play pool with the girls as well as buying them drinks


An old-style Traditional Wedding in Northern Thailand | Weddings

Traditions vary throughout Thailand.  Weddings, funerals, monk ordinations: few will be exactly the same. The wealth and status of the family often determines the style of the ceremony. The province in which the family lives is also an important factor since traditions are handed down from generation to generation in Thai communities.

Guests are greeted by smiling musicians on arrival. Thais rarely stop smiling: they were born with smiles on their faces.



The groom and the two families await the bride. The pillow on the right not yet occupied


A view from the wedding hall. A small lunch was provided here later.




The “Master of Ceremonies” explains the various stages of the ceremony


A floral tribute is passed among family members


The bride’s mother takes the groom to a small ante-chamber where the bride awaits, and then leads them both back to the wedding hall.








Each member of the two families sprinkles flowers and rice on the ceremonial dish as it is passed around.




The bride’s mother gathers the wedding gifts and places them in a special sack

Gifts included wads of new notes, property deeds (chanotes), and jewelry






Only the wedding rings remain


The exchange of rings









The traditional act of obeisance








The couple pay their respects to the parents of the bride and groom and are blessed by them


A very touching moment. The bride’s father














Constant attention to dress detail


An elder marks each forehead with three symbolic spots




And starts the ceremony. The time was 9.09am, the time deemed the most propitious








Tying the sai sin on the wrists. Family first, then friends.






The sai sin is tied on the groom’s right wrist but on the bride’s left


Everyone blesses the couple and wishes them good fortune. Sometimes using traditional words








The bride’s mother helping the father.


The groom’s parents






By tradition, the sai sin are not destroyed but kept and put inside the pillows of the bridal bed


Lunch is served to guests while they wait their turn in the sai sin ceremony.




Feeding each other sweets and delicacies




Leaving at the end of the ceremony


Rice or confetti is thrown








The bride throws her bouquet over her shoulder to the single girls present.








The evening reception. The couple arrive last and went straight on stage.

Some good guitar playing accompanied an extremely fine voice




A member of the hotel staff asked the bride and groom questions; where they met, key points in their lives etc.

Usually photos are put up on a screen and videos shown but this “interview” approach was a nice original touch




Lighting the candles near the cake




Cutting the cake with a sword




The bride and groom serve their parents with slices of cake




Young ladies waiting for the bride to throw her bouquet.





Not all Lanna weddings are this lavish. The first that I attended was held in the garden of the groom’s parents but guests still mingled among themselves.

Family and community are important to the Thai. Sharing the couple’s happiness as well as enjoying a social event that enables everyone to meet and talk with one another.







A Young Man Becomes a Monk in Thailand | Monk Ordination

There are not only differences in rituals and procedures between provinces in Thailand but also within local communities. Weddings, funerals, and monk ordinations can and do vary. The family of this young man run a successful business and are certainly not short of money. Food and drink were free flowing for four days with music filling the air from 6 in the morning till very late at night. More usually, the festivities last one day. But here, no expense was spared. Everyone in the community – this hamlet and the adjoining two villages – attended on one or more of the days. During the first day friends and neighbours helped setup the tables, chairs, and platforms. Awnings and decorations were put up. As tradition dictates, all meals are provided and there is non-stop music and drinking throughout the day. The work still gets done.



The powerful music system and speakers were making nearby houses vibrate. No-one objected for the first two days but there was some gossip about it on the third and fourth days.



The ritual starts with family and friends taking a scissors to the young man’s hair


The initiate remains quite still with a solemn face and his hands in the wai position. I didn’t see him smile once.

His sister collects the token cuts of hair as people place his locks in the silver bowl. His younger sister, hidden in this photo, hands out a pair of scissors.


Each family member or friend wais before cutting the hair and also after placing it in the bowl.



The parents are on the far left.

20160209_092016 .01

A full shaving of the head then takes place away from the platform








The young man then pays his respects to his family, including his deceased grandparents






A village elder reads out the words he has to use during this part of the ceremony and the young man repeats them


He symbolically washes the feet of the senior members of his family.


Then comes the “striptease”.




The next part of the ritual is pouring water down his neck. Some poured water on his hands too


The “ceremonial” vessel was dispensed with!


When this was finished some of the young teenagers present did the same but with more water and with less propriety. They were there to enjoy the occasion and were not bothered by his discomfort or embarrassment. Time then to proceed to the wat (temple). Some villagers stayed at the home to continue eating and drinking and did not go to the temple. A bit unusual but Thais accept that people are free to do as they wish.


Paying respect to the Buddha. Again the village elder is prompting him with the words to use.


The ceremony of initiation by the Abbot begins. Most people stayed outside the hall. I was surprised at that. At other ceremonies I have attended everyone comes inside to witness and join in the responses.


Leading the procession back to the family home, about a quarter of an hour away.



The last part of the rituals with the close family. A senior member of the community takes the microphone and music is playing


A village elder conducting the responses



This lady sang some of the words. She had an excellent voice.





The saffron coloured baskets will be taken to the wat later




There were more people seated away from the main platform No-one minded they were eating and drinking but not actually watching the ceremony.

The “party” lasted two more days to take down the awnings and clear up. More music from the loud speakers, meals and drinks all day long.


What I found interesting was that this community activity was taking place at the same time as two threads appeared on Facebook on a police raid on a bridge club in Pattaya. On those threads expats were complaining about the strong police action and continuing their usual Thai Bashing. They got their facts wrong completely as there were legitimate reasons for the police presence. That did not stop them ignoring those reasons as if they did not exist. The flaming and xenophobia continued.

It’s a side of farangs (foreigners) that Thais dislike – though they never show it. And there was I, enjoying socialising with a Thai community and being fully accepted. As indeed occurs with the majority of expats here. A pity that a small minority on Facebook and the Thai forums give us all a bad name. (I wrote a blog post on the incident, it appears just before this blog: Facebook and Foreigners)


Facebook and Foreigners in Thailand | Expats



It’s not just Facebook. There’s a lot of misinformation and mischievous comment being posted on Social Media in Thailand by posters that seem to have their own secret or not so secret agendas.

New Mandala is read widely in Thailand but most people realise it has a left wing agenda and a reputation of reporting articles without fair balance or constructive comment. The owners, two men with PhD degrees,  encourage the flaming of posters who do not subscribe to their own views. I have nothing against left wing views. But I abhor completely the one -sided slants they give on issues and events in Thailand (and other countries in the Far East). They even orchestrated negative comments on an article, giving some unbiased, factual, and reasoned comments on the 2014 coup, written by a fellow colleague at their university. He has not written since. So much for allowing free speech and opinion on their site. They take out posts not supportive of their agenda though they are clever and devious enough to allow a few token comments from readers arguing logically against their ideas to stand. My postbag is full of complaints of their bias, far outnumbering the posts that they do allow to be published.

Thaivisa has a mix of Thai Bashers, who always take a negative view of events here, and Thai Apologists, who can only ever see the smiling and beautiful side of Thailand. Neither seem able to observe realities or think for themselves. Most posts are regurgitations of what posters have read online, heard in the bars, or seen in newspapers. The reality of course is that there is both good and bad here. There is cheating and corruption. There is a caring and helpful attitude from most of the Thai people. There is dual pricing of foreigners in tourist areas. But in non-touristy places it is either less prevalent or non-existent. Always best to be cautious and not accept everything at face value. Posters do not need to act as sheep.

There are other forums in Thailand. Teakdoor (mischievous, but doesn’t seek to be serious and is not known to block users), Farangtalk, a site that has become a clique and prone to flaming, and a few others.

The best advice is probably to read them but, to avoid not starting or promoting a flame war, to avoid replying. You get some good and well-thought comments sometimes. I had extremely good advice on visiting Singapore from a Teakdoor poster. On the other hand, a comment I made on a travel blogging site, with tens of thousands of followers, that there was a month-long backlog of mail from the UK at the main Bangkok sorting office was rubbished by the site owner. He didn’t comment or apologise when I posted a copy of a Royal Mail advisory confirming there were long delays caused by a blockading of that particular sorting office by protesters. He took the post out. Little wonder then that foreigners in Thailand, relying on what they believe are trusted forums, websites, and newspapers, can often get the “wrong end of the stick” and be misinformed.


Judge for yourself how this phenomenon works in Thailand from the unedited transcripts of 2 recent threads on Facebook. They concern the arrest of some people by police following a tip-off given to the police of a possible mafia corruption racket. My comments are in italics. 

This was the opening post.

“Our police force made headlines worldwide, for their dramatic military-police light(n)ing raid on a bridge tournament in Pattaya. They fined 32 elderly foreign players for possessing more than 120 playing cards without excise stamps. Pattaya police chief Pol Col. Sukthat Pumphanmuang insists that the archaeic (sic) law must be enforced — while jet ski scams and assorted underworld activities abound literally at his doorstep. (There were no fines, they were bailed. It didn’t hit world headlines). Our police are again the world’s laughing stock, and we are rightfully ashamed of them.

But, you and I, dear reader, should also be ashamed of ourselves for letting the situation deteriorate this far. “In the long run, every Government is the exact symbol of its People, with their wisdom and unwisdom; we have to say, Like People like Government” (Thomas Carlyle).

Public surveys have regularly ranked our police as a leading corrupt public agency. Motorbikes and cars break traffic laws with impunity. The Red Bull heir who admitted to hitting and killing a cop with his Ferrari remains free. The Koh Tao defendants were sentenced to death on the basis of DNA analysis by a police lab not accredited to do DNA analysis. (The DNA analysis was not the only evidence and UK’s Scotland Yard were satisfied with the verdict. Personally I’m unhappy with it but who am I to go against Scotland Yard who have seen evidence to which I am not privy.)

Yet, few, if any, voices have been raised to insist that PM Prayut reform the cops — and, in fact, he’s explicitly placed such reform off the agenda. (actually he has never said that) If we don’t insist that our leaders do their job in accordance with our needs, who will? If not now, when?

Our cops are ourselves, for we tolerate them when we shouldn’t.



Don Wasantapruek Any suggestions on how to reform police?

 Don Wasantapruek Cannot find English news for this.

Peter Kullavanijaya Back home in the States we would say to the COPs, “don’t you have real crimes to solve and real criminals to catch?”

 Don Wasantapruek Now the cops propose car owners of cars over 7 years should pay same tax rate for new cars to be eligible to use in Bangkok, to lower traffic congestion.
(Then it goes off topic. Not for the first time)
Burin Kantabutra How about enforcing the “no parking” signs, laws on drunk driving, etc.?
Don Wasantapruek They are consistent in chosing (sic) alternatives that we would consider as worst choices.
Peter Brongers Not a bad suggestion, old cars should be taxed the same, they are usually more polluting, less fuel efficient and less safe
Don Wasantapruek Agreed. 7 year old S class Mercedes’ are definitely a problem.
Ajarn Don P There are 250 k police in Thailand. They are the front line in Thailand’s control of its people. You feel so secure now?
Dominique Blum Law enforcement whether by the police or by any other government agency is the root problem of Thailand. It has caused military coups and poverty among the population, 20,000 deaths on the roads, and corruption. It is the No. 1 reason for Thailand’s bad ranking in human trafficking, civil aviation safety, IP violation etc etc.
We should take a look at how Georgia did it (the ex Soviet state). Fire them ALL and hire new ones with strict rules.Law enforcement whether by the police or by any other government agency is the root problem of Thailand. It has caused military coups and poverty among the population, 20,000 deaths on the roads, and corruption. 
Burin Kantabutra Robert Holmes Yes, it is pernicious, but I would not say that it’s insurmountable. Look at progress elsewhere, e.g., Singapore, HK. Here, there’s been some progress made, e.g., the integrity pacts promoted by the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand, whereby companies for public projects agree to third-party inspections — though here, so much more needs to be done.
 Matt Owens Rees  The police have fined nobody. They were arrested after a tip off from a disgruntled girlfriend who claimed there was a mafia link and were bailed to appear in court. I understand the court are not pursuing the case so the bail will be returned.
(That has since been confirmed by the Courts)
 In the West the girlfriend would be arrested for wasting police time. Facebookers should check the facts before airing preconceived views. And law enforcement, though not that effective in Thailand, is the job of the police and not the military or the courts. The courts deal with cases presented to them. They uphold the law, technically, but do not enforce it.
Burin Kantabutra The Post reports fines of B5,000 each and that the police are pursuing the case. I don’t know about the others, but all of my FB comments are made on the basis of published articles, usually from the BP
Uwe Unverzagt Matt please give us some suggestions where we uninformed facebookers should check the facts before posting a personal view.
(Not all Facebookers are uninformed, Uwe. But you do seem – from your sarcastic and flaming remarks – to be unable to gather facts for yourself from reliable sources. What about your local pooyaibaan or Thais that you can trust to give you unbiased information. And of course there’s Google, so long as you don’t believe all you read)
 Steve Weissman According to a report, the police at first refused to follow up. Then, for some reason, it was elevated to one of the DPM’s, so the police had to follow up.
Graham Catterwell Uwe Unverzagt Try the Bangkok Post and Nation websites for a start.
Steve Weissman The article I’m reading is from VOA and said it was a disagreement with the owner of the building and was elevated to the PM’s office. It doesn’t mention how the card game was involved.
Uwe Unverzagt Thanks Graham but I have the feeling Matt is not referring to these websites. It is always good to be better informed than the rest. (more sarcasm. not much on his profile but his posts are, shall we say, “interesting”) 
Uwe Unverzagt Steve Weissman thanks for this reference. Voa also wrote that bridge is in fact legal and the offence was against a law that no individual may possess more than 120 playing cards at any time. Now bridge is played with 52 cards and 4 people so this “crime” doesn’t exist either.
Graham Catterwell But there were eight sets. so a lot more than 120 cards (plus a bunch of spare packs in the cupboard). This would not have been an issue had the cards been stamped by the Excise Department. Anyway the fine for such an offence is four times the value of the cards (using the Excise Department’s retail price for cards, which is quite low). So if the AG sticks to the only offence that was actually committed, it should not be to big a deal. However, instead of a fine the court may impose a prison sentence of up to three months on the owner of those untaxed cards.
Steve Weissman Only one was running the games and owned the cards. 31 people were hauled in who were not doing anything illegal.
Graham Catterwell Probably so, yes.
 Dominique Blum Oh… poor police, totally at the merci (sic) of tip-offs. No authority to check first? Oh come on!
Vera Comerford Pathetic!
Matt Owens Rees They did check first. They had the complaint from the girl which they followed through. The courts are now not pursuing but the police had to act. Take the case of a rape. Are you suggesting police should do nothing until they have checked out a girl who alleges rape. No. they arrest the suspect first. To use your words “Oh come on” You aren’t thinking straight. Believe everything the media tells you if you like but maybe better to get the actual facts. There were also no fines. The comments about pro junta and policemen’s narks show this story has got politically motivated by people who can’t think or debate, can’t check the facts for themselves but merely flame to fit their own prejudices.
Burin Kantabutra So, according to you, the police did check first, so they knew that bridge-playing didn’t involve gambling or money, and still they raided the place — to enforce a law on owning cards on which excise tax hadn’t been paid, when there were much more serious crimes to be solved? That’s worse than saying that they were ignorant.
Dominique Blum The comparison with a rape is not fair. It was a card game for heaven’s sake. The only victims possible was (sic) the excise department. Does that really call for 12 SWAT like policeman and mass arrest?

Please apply the fundamental principle of proportionality also to police response.

 Matt Owens Rees No Burin . They checked because of the complaint and I’ve given details of that which you conveniently ignore for political reasons. It was not a question of not paying excise tax. And I suspect you know the real reason but it’s not convenient to admit it. Nowhere on this thread is anyone admitting the girl involved because it destroys your argument. I’m not impressed by posters on your thread that can only resort to personal flames. It rather destroys your argument that they can’t respond in any other way.
Uwe Unverzagt If you’re so well informed please tell us what the complaint was about. Did this mysterious girl claim they were gambling or did she claim they were possessing untaxed playing cards? (Read the thread, Uwe and start thinking before you jump in typing)
Graham Catterwell Uwe Unverzagt I think she just wanted to stir up trouble for some other reason, and had the connections at DOPA Banglamung so to do. DOPA led the raid, followed by the press, and the police and army joined in only later.
Peter Brongers Shakespeare in Julius Caesar: “Cassius suggests that the people get the government they deserve…”
Ken Scott Well said Khun Burin.
Vicky Pena Yulo Saluting you Burin!
George Morgan HK was a case of a colonial police force managed by expat officers who had gone bad. This eventually became intolerable in Britain which sent out its own police to sort out corrupt HK police. But before this was accomplished expat police officers mutinied against the governor, assaulted the office of the new ICAC and destroyed all the evidence it had collected on their corruption. They were amnestied for their mutiny and for all corruption crimes before the ICAC was set up. Even in HK with the a British govt ultimately calling the shots, things didn’t go smoothly but they got things done in the end.
George Morgan Serious determination would be needed to eliminate, or even meaningfully reduce, police corruption in Thailand which is far more widespread and more deep rooted than it ever was in HK. This will never come from political or military leaders, as they always see the police as essential partners in their own corrupt structures. It will only come from the people rising up in protest against individual police corruption (and brutality) cases until police fear for their lives. I think we are a long way from this. Deliberately maintaining low standards of public education and thus stifling socio-economic development and wealth distribution is pivotal to keeping the lid on things and saving police from dangling from lamp posts. But the anger vented against police after Black May in 1992 when motor cyclists smashed virtually every police box and traffic light in the CBD and police fled their posts in terror provides an example of what can happen, if the people’s anger at corrupt and brutal police bubbles over. Recently we saw police lose control when an angry burned down a Phuket cop shop over an alleged brutality case.
Graham Catterwell But there is no serious determination. All the people can do is protest when their anger goes beyond a limit.
Suriya Sukul Indeed they became a piece of laughing stock worldwide & yet still not shame for their action, very much surprised.
Joe Bowman True and real words – thank you so much Sir!
 George Morgan  I thought a committee was set up to repeal redundant laws some years ago but many idiot laws remain on the books. The Playing Card Act was promulgated during the Japanese occupation to protect govt revenues from the Playing Cards Monopoly which harks back to the days when taxes on gambling and opium were the mainstays of fiscal revenue. Things seem to have changed to the extent that this law is no longer essential but here we see it being dusted off for sole reason of shaking down foreign senior citizens, whose sole crime was wishing to spend their pensions in Thailand. Next they should start enforcing the revolutionary decree that forbids women from being out after 10pm without a male chaperone (Thaksin tried it). That would be fitting sequel the RTP’s latest effort at becoming a global comedy act.
 Bruce Wunderlich Kuhn Burin – you are the fount of logic and rationality.

Burin Kantabutra Robert Holmes Yes, it is pernicious, but I would not say that it’s insurmountable. Look at progress elsewhere, e.g., Singapore, HK. Here, there’s been some progress made, e.g., the integrity pacts promoted by the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand, whereby companies for public projects agree to third-party inspections — though here, so much more needs to be done.

Burin Kantabutra The Post reports fines of B5,000 each and that the police are pursuing the case. I don’t know about the others, but all of my FB comments are made on the basis of published articles, usually from the BP

Yes, law enforcement is the job of the police — but which is of higher priority, enforcing those who have more than 120 cards on which excise tax hasn’t been paid or cleaning up the Pattaya Mafia, prostitutes, etc. in Pattaya?

Dominique Blum Oh… poor police, totally at the merci (sic) of tip-offs. No authority to check first? Oh come on!

Vera Comerford Pathetic!

Matt Owens Rees They did check first. They had the complaint from the girl which they followed through. The courts are now not pursuing but the police had to act. Take the case of a rape. Are you suggesting police should do nothing until they have checked out a girl who alleges rape. No. they arrest the suspect first. To use your words “Oh come on” You aren’t thinking straight. Believe everything the media tells you if you like but maybe better to get the actual facts. There were also no fines. The comments about pro junta and policemen’s narks show this story has got politically motivated by people who can’t think or debate, can’t check the facts


And on another thread.

Thanks must go to David J of Pattaya for his letter in the Bangkok Post’s Postbag yesterday listing 5 nationwide bridge tournaments in Thailand. Hopefully police forces in Khon Kaen, Suphan Buri and other towns mentioned will follow the example of the hard working Pattaya constabulary and stamp out this nefarious activity.

David’s letter carried the headline Playing Their Cards Wrong. Old Crutch in his regular Sunday column also provided some amusing insight into the Great Pattaya Bridge Bust.

Meanwhile it looks like Thailand will be off the map for a while for European bridge tourists.

Ian Cugley Do not play cards in Thailand without a Thai government seal

Ian Cugley's photo.
Matt Owens Rees He hasn’t mentioned of course that the court is not proceeding with the charges. The police were perfectly right to investigate given the information they received from the disgruntled girlfriend who claimed a mafia link. He hasn’t mentioned that either of course. This is just the media making noises. If someone had cried rape and it was later proved false would he still have said the police were wrong to investigate and make an arrest. With his logic all alleged crimes would go uninvestigated.
Michael Paul Stead I find comments by apologists for the police raid almost as funny as the fiasco itself. Your post, Matt, reminds me of Lincoln’s famous quote about it’s better to remain silent…
 Tony Wilson Michael Paul Stead Methinks Mr Rees is one of those Thai police narks I have read about who love to trap farangs.
Michael Paul Stead Tony Wilson I’m also getting that impression given his pro-junta comments
Matt Owens Rees  They did check first. They had the complaint from the girl which they followed through. The courts are now not pursuing but the police had to act. Take the case of a rape. Are you suggesting police should do nothing until they have checked out a girl who alleges rape. No. they arrest the suspect first. Believe everything the media tells you if you like but maybe better to get the actual facts. There were also no fines. The comments about pro junta and policemen’s narks show this story has got politically motivated by people who can’t think or debate, can’t check the facts for themselves but merely flame to fit their own prejudices.m not pro-junta. And how am I “trapping farangs” I’m reporting what happened. The police acted on a tip off. Before flaming me, I suggest you find out who the disgruntled girlfriend is that made the police act. And you ignore the fact that neither the court nor the police have fined anybody.
Matt Owens Rees Thanks for the like, Gerald Campeau  Some people just don’t read explanations and don’t accept the facts. They flame away but no mention of the reason for the police action, the court’s action, and the girlfriend who shopped them.
Michael Paul Stead Matt Owens Rees but you have made yourself a figure of fun by defending the authorities rather than criticising the detention of elderly bridge players locked up in a police cell for 12 hours, with some denied their medications.
Michael Paul Stead Matt Owens Rees and while I’m on the subject, in the West, these “criminals” would be suing the shit out of the police and provincial officials and demanding compensation.
Michael Paul Stead Tony Wilson one blogger just removed from my FB friends list. No prizes for guessing who that is.
Michael Paul Stead The former British honorary consul in Pattaya was also netted in the bridge raid. His account appeared in yesterday’s Nation letter page.

 Tony Wilson BUT given the obvious intelligence of the players I am astounded that such an esteemed gathering actually signed something which could be used against them not to mention parting with 5k each when they weren’t even bailed (but maybe I have misunderstood)
Matt Owens Rees They were bailed Tony – standard procedure. As the court is not proceeding it will be returned.
 Michael Paul Stead Tony, this story explains everything. It appears they only signed the false confession after being told it was the only way to get out of jail (something that also happens in western countries but usually not at police stations). Their lawyer also advised them that they could retract the confession in court. (a confusing comment and seems to be hearsay. The point about false confessions in courts but not police stations in western countries appears to be a bit of muddled thinking. if it occurs in the West and I’m sure it does, then it would happen before a court appearance not in court) 
 Matt Owens Rees They were never criminals. I’ve already explained why they were arrested. There was no wrongful arrest, the police had grounds from the complaint from the girl. In the West too there would be no grounds for wrongful arrest given the evidence and suing would not succeed. You seem to have little understanding of legal or police procedures in any country let alone Thailand..On the evidence, a UK court would probably have held for around 24 hours at least..If u disagree please give us a note of your legal experience or qualifications. Either way, flaming is not an answer to debate on social media.
 Michael Paul Stead As someone with 35 years experience in Thailand and 20 years experience as a journalist in the UK, Middle East, HK and Bangkok, I’m sure I have a lot more understanding of police procedures than you do. Anyway keep writing your blog, Matt. You may even get a few likes from some uninformed followers. I won’t be reading it in the future. BTW, I note that comprehension of irony is not your strong point.
 Michael Paul Stead Former British honorary consul to Pattaya, Barry Kenyon, provides some interesting insights into the infamous bridge club raid in a letter to the Bangkok Post.
(But then goes on to qualify his remarks – those of course are not quoted by Michael Stead, giving a totally wrong impression to those posters who have not read the full post)

“Thank you for your excellent editorial about the Pattaya bridge club raid. However, one or two…”


Roundabouts in Thailand. | Driving

We think about Thailand but the West has some crazy driving systems too.



All countries have different rules and regulations on driving. Thailand is certainly no exception.

What makes the Land of Smiles stand out though is the lack of law enforcement (other than at police checkpoints where the purpose is largely one of revenue collection) and a more relaxed and unconcerned attitude to safety. The Thais are famous for their lay-back, “it doesn’t matter” lifestyle. It’s called Mai Bhen Rai in Thai.

The country also has one of the highest road accident and fatality rates in the world. Many Thais and foreigners are working hard to improve safety standards. There are some excellent commentaries and videos that are posted regularly on Carol Jadzia’s Facebook page and the associated site,

This short piece will discuss roundabouts and junctions in Thailand.  We will discuss the other main differences in techniques and driving styles between the West and Thailand in an updated blog post. But let’s deal with roundabouts and how Thais react to them first.


Firstly, Thais are no respecters of rules. They will tell you that Thailand means Land of the Free. Their definition of “free” however is sometimes akin to anarchy or doing what one wants. The best example that comes to mind is of a friend who was stopped by a police officer for riding her motorbike without wearing a safety helmet. She slowed and explained that she was late for work. He waved her on. She had no intention of stopping. I doubt she’d have got away with that in a western country. The officer would have pointed out that being late and hurrying to work was actually a rather good reason for wearing the helmet before starting her journey. He would not have been so charitable in letting her off.

Second, the rules are sometimes vague and subject to individual interpretation. A Thai asking a police officer the question, “who has to give way at a roundabout” would not get a straight answer. He would be very non-committal: in true Thai style. His view, even if not specifically expressed, would be to do as you think best. Land of the Free again. Just ease your way forward.

But you’ll notice few roundabouts in Thailand. Thais prefer U-turns. You won’t see anything like this Swindon sign in Thailand.

Third, Thais are by nature conservative and cautious. They avoid conflict wherever they can if they can get away with it. That is why they are sometimes reluctant to move forward despite their thinking someone is giving way. That makes driving difficult on roundabouts: sometimes they’ll ease or force their way in; more often they’ll hold back.

And fourth. Thais have a different concept of fairness and equality from us Westerners. To them, some people are more important than others. On the roads they will not push in front of an expensive car, they’ll assume the driver or passenger is important. Heavy vehicles are given precedence for more pragmatic reasons.

You will therefore see vehicles filtering into a roundabout only to yield to a car waiting to join the roundabout. That can be caution. Or rather over-caution. Given the paucity of roundabouts in their country, Thais are not familiar with them. It could, on the other hand, be observance of their inbred view of other motorists being “more equal“ than they are.

Rather than thinking of what the rules are or should be it is, therefore, probably better to remember that Thailand is a very different country culturally. For many reasons – some quoted above – they don’t think as we do. As in all counties, observing how the locals drive will indicate how you should adapt to their style of driving.

I believe the answer is to drive defensively, allow for the unexpected, and be prepared for them to drive or ride in their customary way, never expecting them to drive in a style which we see as being more logical.




How Thais deal with Some Customer Complaints | Thailand

Have you ever worked with senior managers in the West? Have you noticed that they invariably have very small ears? I often wondered why. Then I stumbled on something Charles Darwin wrote about how different species modify and adapt. Giraffes have long necks because, over thousands of years, only those with long necks could reach food on higher branches and survive. Those with short necks died through not making use of their ability to stretch up and find the food.

A similar reasoning applies to senior managers. They rarely use their ears to listen to others, are seldom concerned about what their employees and subordinates are saying to them. Never taking what could be very sound and knowledgeable advice from those who actually know how to do the job. Because managers never listen (or want to listen), their ears never develop to their correct size. Hence they all have small ears. Many army generals and politicians have small ears too – but that’s another story.

Thais have very small ears. They don’t want to listen to valid complaints (from Thais or farangs). There must be no hint of conflict between one person and another. No criticism. No voicing of a complaint. Problems will go away if left unaddressed – that’s the Thai mantra it seems. Sometimes a predicament will resolve itself, more often it will not. This is not a criticism of Thais; more of an observation. To try to resolve an issue may involve accepting ownership of the problem and having to deal with it. And then Face will be lost. Blaming the issue on someone else is also not acceptable because then that person is made to lose Face and a conflict situation will develop. Carol Hollinger wrote a great book on Thai culture – Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind – which captured precisely the Thais’ inclination to treat nothing too seriously, to avoid conflict, and to not take individual responsibility. Such a lay-back attitude can result in a very comfortable existence and a stress-free lifestyle. Tourists see this from the first moment they set foot in the Land of Smiles. What they don’t see is the negative side of mai pen rai. Problem situations don’t get addressed for fear of upsetting someone.

It can be frustrating when a Thai just “turns off” and won’t listen to what may be a very valid comment or complaint. The difference in the above picture, however, is that a Thai would be smiling while ignoring you. Thinking of how to resolve the problem may have been better and is a better business model if a business wants to keep customers happy and loyal. They may even tell their friends of the excellent service received from the company. But Thais don’t seem too bothered about repeat business. They’d rather make one sale, bank the cash, and make 1000 baht profit on a single transaction than make two sales with a profit of 700 baht each – even though the total profit of 1400 baht is more than the single profit of 1000 baht. Business models and the way entrepreneurs think differ between the West and the East. I’ve seen market traders who have made no sales of fresh vegetables that day, keep their prices unchanged even at the end of trading when they are about to pack up. No stall holder trader wants to establish a reputation for reducing prices at close of business as then customers will wait for that opportunity every day. But never reducing a price, making no sales, and suffering a loss if stock then has to be written off taking a loss does not make sense. You can observe this yourself if you watch carefully.


I had bought a water filter from a well-known store and had been told fitting was free. The staff, at one point four of them, stressed the job would be done by one of their qualified installers and that he would come around to inspect the site. The sales girl drew a diagram of how the three items, filter, tank, and pump would be connected together. The installer arrived the next day, took measurements, and drew a site plan showing where he would place the equipment. He said he would also connect to the electricity supply and fully test the system.

The pump and filter were delivered the same afternoon but the tank was on order and would not arrive for a week. No problem. We had a water supply, albeit with very low pressure and unfiltered, and a week’s delay would not matter a great deal.

The store then rang and said there would be a 2000 baht fitting charge for the whole system. I went to the store and they said that the free fitting only included connecting the water supply into the filter and out into the tank. They didn’t want to talk about the previous plan they had drawn.  I decided that I would prefer to fit the electrics myself. That way, I could be sure the pump was earthed and there would be a switch and circuit breaker. The installer would probably not have done that. The connections from the tank to the pump and from the pump to the supply into the house could be done by a local plumber. The cost would be nowhere near 2000 baht and I would have the satisfaction of knowing that the job was done properly and safely. I would hold the store to their “revised” agreement to connect the water supply into the filter and out of the filter into the tank. Just two connections. The whole job should take around two hours.




Due to arrive at 1 o’clock the guy arrived at 2pm. Not the chap that came earlier but an apprentice who spent most of the time looking at the fitting instructions and scratching his head. My plumber of course had to wait while he connected the water supply from the mains to the filter. He wanted to connect it at the point where the water would enter the house – leaving no room for my plumber to connect from the tank to the pipe leading into the house. We stayed watching him and made him connect it correctly but he really wanted to do it his way. I suspected he’d been told to fix the pipe near the inlet into the house and couldn’t challenge his boss’s instructions. The original installer was obviously not happy about losing 2000 baht for a job that was supposedly free but would anyway take only a few hours. The apprentice left after fitting the inwards connection saying his instructions didn’t include connecting to the tank. It was pointless showing him the diagram we had from the store. We rang the store but the sales girl was not interested.   She was not going to get her “commission” on the 2000 baht that was meant to be free. So both she and the installer were losing out. My plumber finished the job after flushing out the filter to get rid of the sediment inside. A job the young guy should have done. That was all part of the signed written deal.

I went to the store to complain but knowing I would get nowhere. I just intended making the point that they had lied and cheated in collaboration with the installer (who would have been paid a fitting fee by the store). The staff were not going to admit trying to cheat a customer out of something that was free and they didn’t comment when shown the agreement. They’d been caught out. The sales manager arrived but said his responsibility was sales not installation. The general manager was in Bangkok. The girl who had signed the agreement was having a day off. Two customer care girls were called over but were not able to say anything or resolve the issue. Younger or more junior members of staff in Thailand can’t get involved if saying something is contrary to what the senior man says. Similarly students in universities don’t feel comfortable contradicting a lecturer or teacher. In my view, this is holding the country back from improving the economy and being competitive in a global economy.

Plenty of smiles and everyone making the customary Thai “wai” of respect.




Rather a lot of staff gathered but I only saw two customers in the entire store. Thailand normally has a high staff / customer ratio but this was a bizarre experience. This was being played out in a basically empty store.




By this time two security guys had also arrived, making our “group” seven in number. I kept asking why the job had not been done. They kept saying nothing. Just smiling. So I went to find some other member of staff that might help. Security followed me. Quite what they thought one solitary customer was going to do I know not. I then remembered a scene in Crocodile Dundee where Mick Dundee is followed by a CIA agent but is out-smarted by Dundee who doubles back and waves at the luckless agent whose surveillance tactics had been so ineffective. I did the same. Moving round the aisles so that I was behind them and whistling to get their attention and giving them a wave and making them turn round and retrace their steps. I had thought of riding up an escalator and leading them on a wild goose chase but decided to have a coffee instead. They came over and I asked if they’d both like a drink. Politely refusing, they both gave me a smart salute. This was getting surreal. I’d read on Thaivisa of expats being followed around a store by sales staff and doubling back just to embarrass them. I always thought that that was pointless and childish but here was I doing exactly the same thing. There will always be “Thai bashers” on social media forums but I can see why frustrations can get the better of foreigners here when the Thais act in this way. Normal for them but alien to western thinking.

The staff could see I was now playing a game with them but had no idea how to counter it. Maybe they’ll get the point and not be so keen to repeat their cheating in future with other customers. Maybe they won’t. The long established habits of a culture, particularly in a poor nation, will not be easy for the Thais to change








Thais Love Dressing Up in Uniforms | Thailand

But the police often sing and dance too. My local traffic cop relieves the boredom (his and drivers) when on point duty.

All schools in Thailand have a uniform code. Usually black and white. Universities also have strict rules on dress

At a graduation, receiving a degree from a royal princess

Government officers wear uniforms. Brown for ordinary dress, white for ceremonial occasions.

And they smile even when in mourning

Lots of braid and ribbon

More government employees at an event.

Thai Scouting. Thursday is “Scout Day”in Thailand. Many teachers and children are in scout uniform

Monks in traditional robes. Young boys are called “naen” but dress in similar saffron style

At a ceremony. Notice the”sai sin“, the white thread linking all the monks.

The daily alms round

Giving a blessing after receiving food from a local Thai

Monks without cellphones

Monks with cellphones

Hotel reception staff

Bank staff

Guards uniforms

Security staff. Often seen in shopping malls and outside banks

Even car park attendants are in uniform

There are over 63 blog posts on Thailand and the Thais on the Matt Owens Rees site as well as excerpts from his books and two gossipy blog pages.

Readers are always welcome to comment and surf the blog for items of interest.



The Koh Tao murders and how the Thais see it | Murder

The murders of David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on Koh Tao island in Thailand took the world and social media by storm. A great deal of speculation took place, particularly on Facebook and the Thai internet forums. Some comments were balanced, truthful, and respectful; some were not. Social media can be a force for good informative comment and debate. It can also be a forum for trolls and armchair detectives. It’s not always easy to sort out the true and helpful posts from those that are mischievous and totally inaccurate.

Hannah’s sister posted the following comment and I quote it below unedited and in its entirety.  A comment on a forum suggesting Thailand was really “the most beautiful place on earth” and down-playing its less pleasant side triggered her to write the piece. It is perceptive and passionate. It is lengthy but to précis it would be to miss out on much that she validly has to say.

The words in italics are mine and I have commented on the points that they raise at the end of this blog post. Skip to those comments if you want but I would recommend reading the full quote.

Here is what Hannah’s sister said.


“So, as some of you may have already seen- there has been another death of yet another British National on Koh Tao. I wasn’t going to post anything, not until I logged on here this morning to see that a friend had shared the link warning people not to go there… it wasn’t the sharing of the link or the warning that triggered this lengthy status, as I hope people do share these things and try and warn people not to go… it was the ignorant comment someone had made about how Thailand is ‘the most beautiful place in the world’ that frustrated me this morning. Aesthetically, on a postcard or photograph, maybe… However, literally… I have to disagree. Lots of things ‘look’ beautiful. You only have to consider a lion, or tiger… beautiful to look at, yes… but get too close and they will tear you apart and feed you to their young. My point being that aesthetic beauty can lure you into a very dangerous trap.

Since Hannah was taken from us, I am continually asked whether I will warn the World about the dangers of Thailand… I am asked if I will warn people because I might just ‘save someone’s life’. This person’s comment serves as a perfect example of why I would be wasting my time. People can be ignorant and many, probably the majority, have very short memories. Countless times, I have logged in to Facebook and seen statuses made by people who know both Hannah and I, who have gone out there anyway. They think it won’t happen to them… Well, guess what? Neither did we. No one is immune. Many Thais hate Westerners and they have little to no regard for human life. I don’t say this lightly, or without reason. Let me share a few facts with you about this ‘beautiful’ place you speak of…

Many of the Thai people have no regard for human life. My evidence for this statement: firstly, some quotes of the things said to my bereaved, heart-broken family by the judges and court officials at the trial of the two Burmese migrants-

* “why are you here? Why do you care? She is dead already”
* “why are you so bothered? Just go home and make another one”
* “why are you making such a fuss, she will be back in 30 days as
something else, she may have better luck next time”

Would it surprise you if I told you that the Thais view drug possession as a more serious offence than rape or murder? Or that the vast majority of the Thai police force are corrupt? What if I told you that when we went to Thailand to bring Hannah home, we were offered the opportunity to go to the Royal Thai police headquarters for an ‘official update’… but that, on arrival, we were taken into a large room, left for 5 minutes before the door opened and around 200 journalists were allowed into the room and we were ambushed by this mob of hungry journalists shoving cameras in our faces… The Thai police chief had no intentions of giving us an update… after all, the bungled investigation meant he had nothing to tell us. The invitation was so that he could make money out of our misery. The press had paid him generously for 5 minutes to capture photographs of our family. The photograph on this post serves as evidence of this:…/we-need-digest-trial-outcome-s…

What if I told you that since we lost Hannah there have been many more suspicious deaths on Koh Tao. You probably haven’t heard of them all, as not all were British Nationals. The deaths, where possible, are covered up as suicides and accidents. This would have happened with Hannah, if it had not been for the hideous brutality of her passing. I highly suspect that with this latest tragedy, the Thais will say that it was an accidental death caused by drugs. Hiding the truth and offering a story that suits, is something that they do often… My thoughts are with Luke Miller’s family and friends.

What if I told you that I have had many death threats from Thai people since they murdered my sister? That they defaced photographs of me saying that the killers had only done ‘half the job’… what if I told you that people commented on these photographs saying things like ‘there is still time’, and ‘tick tock tick tock’. What if I told you that I have been sent crime scene photographs? What if I told you that I have been chased in my car? What if I told you that the Thais offered us ‘compensation’ to try and keep us quiet? Obviously we were absolutely appalled and told them to shove it.

What if I told you that I am now frightened of my own shadow? That I am constantly looking over my shoulder? That I am exhausted, but frightened to sleep because of the nightmares? I miss my sister desperately. My heart is heavy and my mind is tired.”


“another death of yet another British National on Koh Tao.”

Unexplained deaths are not uncommon in Thailand. 362 U.K. citizens died in Thailand in 2014, more than in France which attracts almost 20 times as many British visitors. Traffic accidents, drug overdoses and “suicides” are significantly high.


aesthetic beauty can lure you into a very dangerous trap

Most Thais are genuinely welcoming and helpful but the Thai Smile can be deceptive. Thais do not want to show their emotions and rarely do so. What they mean is often hidden behind the smile. There are certainly many foreigners here, often having been in Thailand a long time, who can’t or won’t see the reality and will only talk of the good side of the country.  I label them Thai Apologists. (It is also true that there are those who take every opportunity to denigrate or criticise the Thai and his country with little or no consideration of the truth. I have suggested reasons for this in my blogs and books. I refer to them as Thai Bashers.) Foreign embassies don’t help. They don’t like to rattle cages and upset foreign countries. There is too much diplomatic speak and not enough attention paid to accurate travel advisories.


many Thais hate Westerners and they have little to no regard for human life

Thais are extremely patriotic to the point of xenophobia. Look at the photos of the King adorning buildings and streets everywhere in Thailand. They have a high opinion of themselves and are prone not to accept western ideas or worldviews. That is not a frustration that matters when communicating with ordinary Thais who once you get to know them and you have mutual respect can be the salt of the earth.  Go to a Thai funeral and you will, observe that the ceremony is a community affair with the emphasis on praying for the deceased to be re-born in a better life. I don’t accept the low regard Thais and other peoples of the Far East have for human life; I merely try to explain it.


the Thai police force are corrupt

the press had paid him generously for 5 minutes to capture photographs of our family.

Thailand is a feudal plutocracy (whether there are elections or not) and generally accepted. Have a face to face conversation with a Thai after gaining confidence and respect and you’ll learn much of how a Thai thinks. Corruption is ingrained in the country, and not just at the top. Under the table payments (or even more openly in full view of others) are “part of the salary”. Police officers earn around 8000 baht per month. The average salary in the UK is £30810 per year (128,000 baht pr month), with overtime around £40000. Police are in the top 20% of earners in the UK. Bribery to get things done or changed happens everywhere but not on the scale of Far Eastern countries. Staged reconstructions where alleged criminals are made to re-enact their “crimes” are standard practice and the press are keen to report them. Many gory photos appear routinely on the front pages of Thai newspapers, mainly of Thais in road accidents. In this present case, there are photos on Google showing the bodies of David and Hannah and they were made public. I’m not reproducing them. It goes against western ideas of fair play and our concept of justice to put photos and unsubstantiated “evidence”  before they are presented to a court. Thailand takes a different stance.


covered up as suicides and accidents.

Tourism is an important part of the Thai economy and “bad news” is filtered out. It is also a question of not wanting to lose Face.


hiding the truth and offering a story that suits, is something that they do often

Again, an unpleasant and unworthy factor of Thai culture generated by this concept of Face.


Some other comments from the families.

“Just hours before he died David was talking to us with his usual enthusiasm, describing the beauty of Koh Tao and the friendliness of the Thai people.


and some further family comments.

“Please allow the police and the court to do their jobs during the coming weeks and months.”

“We of course want to see those responsible for the brutal murder of our precious girl brought to justice.”

Mr Miller’s father Ian said outside court: “There has been lots of chit-chat on the internet.”




A Verbal Contract’s Not Worth the Paper It’s Written On | Contracts



Although wrongly attributed to Samuel Meyer, the famous MGM film director loved that quote and often repeated it in conversation.

Whether verbal or written, contracts in Thailand often turn out to be worthless. Enforcing a breach of contract is slow and you will meet hurdles and delaying tactics all the way. If you decide to take legal action then be prepared for a long drawn out and expensive affair. The courts work very slowly and cases are usually postponed several times rather than being dealt with in one go. Lawyers are expensive with fees typically around six times what a Thai would pay. The Thai dislike of police and lawyers means they try to settle out of court. The local pooyaibaan or village headman will intervene if asked and his decision is rarely not accepted. Sweet talking and a bit of compromise from both sides is the order of the day. Thais hate conflict. Though given the number of road rage incidents when they are hidden safely behind a wheel it is sometimes difficult to comprehend that.


Frank*, a sales consultant working in Thailand for a large Dutch company, was hospitalised for three days and ordered complete rest at home after a severe stress attack. It followed a long dispute he was engaged in with a Thai company.

(*name changed)

Keen to get the 10 million baht order, Frank had worked hard to put the deal together and gave a few inducements to secure the business. Free service of the equipment at the end of the first year and a four year guarantee instead of the standard two years. The company’s buyers wanted free service for the four year period as well but Frank explained that a service team travelling from the Netherlands to Thailand each year for a three day service visit was too costly and that he had already given them a deal that was not on offer to other customers – whether in the Netherlands or abroad.



He also pointed out that his competitor’s products were more highly priced and would be unlikely to include any of the extras he was offering. They eventually signed the contract.

With the contract in his hand, he returned for a long weekend break back home in Eindhoven.


The phone calls started almost at once. Could he not include a free service for each of the first four years? They were not going to release the deposit money unless he agreed. Frank explained they had a binding contract and he had given them more than he would have given any other customer. Frank’s bosses insisted the Thai company honoured the agreement.

Cutting short his weekend, Frank returned to Thailand to try again to convince them that his company could not do any more to better the deal. They were already working on tight margins and the extras that Frank had got his bosses to agree to were based on the likelihood of future business with the Thai company.

After lengthy discussions, the buyers capitulated on their demands for the additional free service visits but demanded a price discount as an alternative.  They agreed a 1% discount and that the free service arrangement would be withdrawn. They agreed. A few days later they said they’d accept the 1% provided that the first year free service was put back in the contract.

Frank was rushed to hospital and the bosses in Eindhoven are still trying to sort it out.

Constant frustrations such as this occur regularly in business negotiations in Thailand. Frank had not experienced this in any other country. He sometimes gave way a little in negotiations in order to get the business but had never had a situation where a final contract was regarded as always open to change.


A contract to buy a house in Thailand will typically only include a one year guarantee and even that will be difficult to enforce. Both big and small building companies understand how the justice system works in their country and take full advantage of it. In the UK many developers will give (within the price) a 10 year guarantee that the building meets the high professional standards set by the NHBC. 1.6 million homes are insured in this way by “Buildmark”.

If ctrl and click won’t work just copy and paste into your browser window.


The Thai business ethic owes a lot to their concepts of mai bhen rai and greng jai. Keeping to a contact is not a serious obligation (mai bhen rai) and agreeing to something with no intention of carrying it out is governed by their desire not to upset you by saying what they really mean (greng jai).


(I’ve blogged and written on both these subjects)


Nachmann had a few problems with floor tiling in the new house he shared with his Thai wife. They had not been laid as per the contract. After a long discussion the builder agreed to come back to fix them provided he was paid the final instalment first. His wife explained that was the usual arrangement. He never came back. Cause a few relationship problems with his wife.


Foreigners can’t own houses directly in Thailand. Lawyers will sometimes suggest taking out a “30+30” lease. A farang can therefore, in theory, freely occupy his home for 60 years. Lawyers also suggest he can sell the lease in that period. The clause has never been tested in court so the legal beavers can effectively claim whatever they want and insert into the contract. Official at my local land department smile when I talk to them about these devious practices. They let the clauses stand so as not to annoy the lawyers and their clients. But they know they are worthless.


There is no WYSIWYG in Thailand. What you see is certainly NOT what you get.





How Reliable are Posts on Social Media | Social Media

I try to see both sides of a story and, when I observe something interesting in Thailand, I always check sources and try to present a balanced view. As you can see from my profile at I have several Thais in my Thai Focus Group and bounce ideas and comments off them before I post. I certainly don’t just regurgitate comments I see on Facebook and Twitter. I always suggest my readers to check out for themselves anything they read or hear about Thailand. Although there are some good posts and genuine posters on Facebook and Twitter, there are also the mischief makers that peddle their one -sided views. The newspapers available in Thailand (and elsewhere in the world for that matter) are often not better options despite the efforts of a few journalists who have the professional integrity to report accurately what they see. The problem, of course, is that biased news spun to a specific agenda sells newsprint better than giving the general public a true account of events. The BBC’s initial coverage of the bomb at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok was a good example of “knee jerk” reporting before marshaling all the facts.

Talk to a broad range of Thais on a one-to-one basis. After gaining their respect and trust they will open up to you. The more you listen, observe, and question; the more you will learn what is really going on in the Land of Smiles.

Many foreigners will say they know many Thais but how well do they know them? Are they in reality only acquaintances of their Thai wives, girlfriends, or partners. They are unlikely to tell you anything other than what they think you want to hear. Thais do not want to offend and sometimes that means they will lie to you.

Margaret Mead’s work on attitudes to sex in the South Pacific, which culminated in her book “Coming of Age in Samoa”  is a good example of why one should not routinely accept what one is told without question. Anthropologists are divided on the accuracy of Mead’s work and her methods of getting information from the people she was studying. But the most recent consensus agrees with the following comment.

“While Mead was careful to shield the identity of all her subjects for confidentiality one participant in her study was found and interviewed and she said that she and her friends were having fun with Mead and telling her stories.”

I agree with David Attenborough’s analysis that she failed to carry out sufficient checks on the data she and her assistants were receiving. As an anthropologist specialising in natural history and animal life it would have been automatic for Sir David to be very careful in his observations and to check them out by further observations and experimentation. As animals don’t talk he didn’t fall into Mead’s trap of believing everything he was told.

Don’t let the same happen to you when you read or hear things about Thailand and the Thais on social media or in the press. It’s not easy to connect with a Thai and get real and accurate information on events and attitudes, but it can be done. Just keep your wits about you.

In my experience the majority of expats who live in Thailand integrate and fit in to Thai lifestyle without forfeiting the morals and standards with which they have been brought up. It is a talkative minority that frequent the internet that seem keen to reinforce (and regurgitate is a word I’ve often used)  some of the inaccurate comments and news items that get reported on social media. There are the Thai Bashers who see only the bad side of Thailand – the corruption, the cheating, the scams, and the frauds. They turn a blind eye to the efforts being made to alleviate and control these problems. And I’d be the first to admit that Thailand’s reputation in dealing with these inherent features of Thai lifestyle over the years has been extremely poor and half-hearted. There’s nothing wrong with always seeing the bright side of life but the Thai Apologists, on the other hand, appear to studiously avoid any form of criticising the Thai or his country. There are travel bloggers with thousands of Facebook followers – mainly residing outside Thailand – who fall into that category. Both “types” (Bashers and Apologists) are doing a disservice to the reporting of the truth and you can see them everyday on the Thai internet forums.

Academics are not immune from this phenomenon of biased reporting on social media. Some tend to selectively report events in order to promote their own agendas. Normally it is a leftist agenda. Nothing wrong with expressing one’s own political views of course but professors and PhDs owe it to readers to keep their writings balanced and truthful, avoiding selectivity and spin. Take a look at New Mandala for yourself and form your own view. Run by two university guys, one of whom claimed extensive experience of Thai affairs but has now curiously omitted it from his profile, the site is an excellent example of how social media is not always a force for good.

They allowed a balanced piece on the reasons for the latest coup written by one of their university colleagues. It was neither pro-coup or anti-coup. Within minutes it was rubbished and the “dislike” button pressed by many followers. There was no constructive comment. He was clearly being set up for a fall and has not written any articles since. That’s hardly the way a university should encourage free speech and informed debate.

For comparison, read some of Duncan McCargo’s work. I have no idea what his personal political views are but they quite properly do not enter into his very extensive and balanced writings on the aspects of Thailand in which he specialises.

Of course there are trolls on social media who disagree with whatever a poster may write irrespective of what they may really think of that poster’s argument. Always taking a contrarian position. Sometimes they can contradict themselves in the same thread. Attacking one poster for, say, supporting a government policy; then attacking a different poster making the opposite view.

One travel blogger claimed not to have seen any soldiers when he drove around Bangkok the day of the coup. As Andrew Drummond, a journalist not afraid to say what he thinks,  commented, he probably did not see any military because he choose his route to ensure he went only to areas where he knew there would be no need for soldiers to be present.

The same blogger claimed there was no problem with mail deliveries from abroad. He wanted to pretend everything was rosy with no disruption to services following unrest in Bangkok. In fact, the largest sorting office for incoming mail was blockaded as it was right next door to government offices. He made no comment on his site when I sent him a copy of an announcement from UK Royal Mail confirming that that office was closed and was the reason for mail delays. How’s that for reporting facts accurately. And he has several thousand followers.

So, enjoy the advantages Social Media has to offer while keeping an open mind and carefully checking what you read. It is a Thai trait to be initially distrustful. Perhaps as Westerners we should be the same.




Be Careful how you Complain in Thailand | Complaining

Parked my car on some waste land on the left hand side of a soi today. It was not causing any obstruction and was not on public land. Today parking is allowed only on the right hand side of the soi, the rule alternates each day. That did not stop it being clamped for being on the left side of the soi. 

It would have been pointless arguing that the car was not on the roadway, and pointless pointing out that parking on the other side of the small soi would have been more disruptive of traffic flow.

Mine was not the only car clamped (though others were actually on the roadway so were indeed committing an offence). But – no problem -a fleet of tuk tuks was patiently waiting to take the wrongdoers to the nearest police station to pay the fine of 200 baht. Normally you can’t find a tuk tuk in that area for love or money.

The station address on the ticket was the other side of town. The driver knew precisely where it was and got there in a quarter of an hour. I don’t think I was the first customer he had had that day. His charge was 250 baht to take me there, wait, and return me to my car. He was quite happy I am sure on what he was making that day. Whether he shared his good fortune with the guys doing the clamping I know not.

I made the mistake of not giving him the fine money and asking him to go in and pay the fine for me. He would have done so if I had asked. I ended up paying 400 baht (the farang rate). Won’t make that mistake again. As soon as I had  paid the officer he rang the clamper, I jumped back in the tuk tuk, and half an hour later I was reunited with my car.



Always be careful where you park in Thailand.

You can easily get blocked in


Over the last few months my mail deliveries have been spasmodic. Instead of a daily delivery it seemed the mail was being stacked up and delivered just once a week. Not unusual now to get 15 items with varying date stamps put in my letter box on the same day. Complaining would only result in loss of face for the local postmen. It would not result in any change of delivery times and none of my neighbours, who admittedly receive less mail, are bothered. That’s mai bhen rai for you.The problem may well be in Bangkok anyway. Most of my mail comes from Bangkok businesses or is routed there from abroad.

Strange it did not happen before though.


A lot of comments at the moment on how foreigners, at least in Pattaya, are complaining and being rude in restaurants. There are 3 blog posts on my website on the subject. The view from posters and readers is that, although this involves a minority of farangs, their behaviour reflects badly on the rest of us who live here.


Thais would certainly agree with this. Though they would phrase it differently and say that the farang is losing face by loosing his cool and getting angry.


Some of the examples from Pattaya reflect this view of the way some expats are snobbish and obnoxious in restaurants. Being civil and polite costs nothing. It’s not a problem with tourists:  it seems to be the”dyed in the wool’ colonial types with superiority complexes.


Perhaps a spell working in a restaurant would have changed the attitude of this minority group of expats. I’ve waited at table and in the kitchens and can confirm this can happen as revenge against rudeness and unreasonable behaviour. I have no reason to suppose it would happen in Thailand.




Some follow up comments on the 2-part blog “Foreigners in Thailand” | Expats

“Cultural erosion” in Thailand is not solely caused by some of the foreigners who live here. Take a look at the fad for skin whitening practiced by Thais who clamour for the western look.  Thai magazines, written in Thai, often have English titles or captions on the front page. Thais want to show off  this westernisation.

The following is a comment on a foreigner’s gripe on visa regulations. Relevant to my blog article as it shows another type of foreigner – the one with Westerner Entitlement Syndrome. An almost colonial “I am better than you” attitude. Doesn’t apply only to Chiangmai of course.

Thailand is doing nothing different from most countries – people are not entitled to stay long term in any country they choose, just because they want to. Thailand’s visa conditions are a lot more generous than many others – try being Thai and mooching around in Europe, the USA, Australia etc for months on end without a valid reason. Does the money that long stayers spend compensate for the negative effects like culture erosion and increasing rental rates in places like Chiang Mai? That’s for Thailand to determine. Looking at the ridiculous number of foreigners in Chiang Mai, I’m not surprised if the government doesn’t think so. The author seems to be a) suffering from a bad case of Westerner Entitlement Syndrome and b) hankering after a time when corruption was even worse, because it benefited him personally. Selfish, much? I doubt Thailand will miss him when he leaves.

It’s not just restaurant dining that can bring out the worst in some expats. But why? Is it because they’re harbouring a grudge against Thais or Thailand? Many foreigners have been scammed here. The justice system is hardly unbiased and farang friendly.  But that’s no reason for behaving badly, surely. Agatha Christie makes the point well.

Maybe this should be posted wherever these supposedly better class and “hi-so” farangs frequent. The Thais certainly think so.


I’ve had many comments and reactions, none particularly negative, from the two part blog on “Foreigners in Thailand.” It’s a long post: 4500 words (in 2 parts) with about 30 photos. Well worth a read to understand why there is so much comment now being made. Both blog posts can be seen on the site

It’s useful to stress again that the demographic of expats in this country given in the blog is just one way of trying to categorise those foreigners who live here. It does not purport to be the only way of doing this and I don’t pretend it is the best. I welcome other views.

A useful category may be how expats mix or integrate with a new culture or country. Although observations suggest that most do in fact “fit in”, many don’t. And like all minorities they are the ones that make the most noise. The “silent majority” don’t get a look in. The result being that the wrong impression is given of expats in Thailand, as seen by both Thais and the world at large. Mention Thailand as a holiday or retirement destination and most people think of sex tourism and expats taking advantage of a cheap economy and being able to live a colonial lifestyle that they could never have attained at home. That can translate into Thais thinking of foreigners as rude and snobbish. While this phenomenon can happen in all countries where there are expats, it is particularly prevalent in Thailand. And that aspect is discussed in the blog with suggested reasons why it happens.

Most expats in France, for example, join in local community affairs – they would find it odd to be living in a country and not being part of it. Some like the company of their own nationality but not to the exclusion of integrating and respecting the local French community. In Thailand there are those who won’t speak a word of Thai, shun Thai food, and adopt a superior attitude in their contact with Thais. A “better than thou” approach to life. Why is there such a different attitude in France?

Age could be a factor.  Because there are no work restrictions for émigrés from EU countries and it is not difficult for other westerners to get jobs, foreigners are able to find suitable occupations in France and make friends within their work and wider community. In Thailand getting a work permit can involve going through many hoops and many occupations are on a forbidden list.  The average age of an expat in France is, therefore, much lower than in Thailand and there is a therefore higher proportion of working age expats than retirees. They are less likely to be fixed in their ways and more open to accepting cultural differences. That’s not to say that all old folks can’t or won’t adapt to change but it is true that as one gets older one becomes a little more cautious of new ideas and cultures. And a tendency to stick with what one knows and to rely on one’s past experiences takes precedence over accepting new ideas and lifestyles. But western experiences can be a little irrelevant in Thailand with its different culture. Hence the problems that arise in Thai restaurants with how expats treat staff. It’s interesting that tourists don’t exhibit that trait so much even if they are of the same nationality.

If you ask an expat in Thailand how many real Thai friends he or she has (excluding friends of your Thai partner) they would have to say very few. Ask the same question in France and you’d get a very different answer. Most expats have more French friends than friends from their own countries. French is probably an easier language to learn than Thai, and that could be a factor

And what of the “grumpiness” factor, I’ll let you look for yourselves at expat forums in Thailand and France so that you can see the difference for yourselves. Age can influence grumpiness. Whether or not one wants to join in local community events is another.

Victor Meldrew springs to mind.

France is expensive for a UK or other EU citizen moving to France but there are not the problems of frozen state pensions and the exclusion from national health schemes. That is another reason why French expats are more content than those who live in Thailand.

Most of those who move abroad would have sold their property in the UK and bought a property in France. You can’t own property in Thailand (other than a condominium and then only if there are a majority of Thais in the block). All the expats I spoke to in France said they would not consider moving to a country where they could not own their home. That may well be another reason for expats in Thailand to be a little sour in their feelings towards the country. Again, look at the forums (Thaivisa, Farangtalk, Teakdoor, New Mandala) and you can see some of this antagonism and “Thai bashing” creeping in. The comments on the “Restaurant” thread fell into that category. It is a pity that such forums are not better controlled. One can have free speech and civility without the necessity to “flame” those who have a view different from one’s own. To be fair, an admin on the restaurant group did try to make the debate more civilised. .

This is one of the comments I received following my blog post.  “I guess people don’t like having a mirror held up to their bad behaviour.”

Bigots will never accept there are other points of view other than their own. And it’s more prevalent in Thailand than elsewhere. Again. Look at the comments posted on Thai forums and compare them with forums in other parts of the world, France for example.

Education is another factor. There are some bright and well educated expats in Thailand but look at the standard of English in most of the posts in this country compared with their French counterparts.

Thailand does seem to have a lot of ex-SAS and ex-Seals posting on the forums.



And this, from Stickman in Bangkok

“Chiefly, it’s a hard look at the questionable calibre of Westerners living in this fine city:

“You see, there are some people who had no life at home, before they came to Thailand, for whatever reason. Maybe they were unpopular, or never got ahead in life, were career criminals, or whatever. Despite problems at home, their lives in the Land of Smiles are the complete opposite. In Thailand, the locals smile at them and treat them nicely. In return, these questionable farangs will defend the Thais to the hilt, even if it involves something very clearly questionable or downright wrong. This drives me crazy and is one of the reasons I seldom read the local internet discussion forums these days.

“There are some Westerners who find Thailand to be their personal paradise and are prepared to overlook anything, even things that border on a minor atrocity – and they will vociferously criticise anyone who questions their idea of paradise. This is one of the huge unspoken shortcomings of life in this part of the world – the calibre of the Westerners here.”

Of course, it would be unfair to tar all Westerners with the same brush, but it’s undeniable that there is a certain subsection of the Bangkok expat population where quality of character is seriously lacking.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at some of the shady expat characters you can expect to meet during your time in Bangkok.

The Rude P****s

This may be the Land of Smiles, but it can also be the Land of Intolerable Dinosaurs.

There’s a certain type of Westerner who reaches the gate at Suvarnabhumi, puts on his wife-beater, and slips in to an immediate mid-life crisis.

Thailand has a reputation as something of a boys’ playground; the untamed Vegas of the east. Except it’s much cheaper and, generally, much friendlier.

You’d think this would earn some goodwill from expats and tourists but sadly, it often encourages the opposite.

Good ol’ Western Privilege kicks in.

There are some who think that a ฿20 tip buys five star service — or the right to admonish performance at will.

Signs of Western Privilege:

  • Instinctively talks down to native Thais
  • Gets increasingly agitated at the first sound of broken English
  • Solicits sex from any woman who happens to be within 1 mile of Nana BTS
  • Gawps at students – and occasionally photographs them – on the BTS as if he’s entered a third world candy store

The Retired Keyboard Warrior Brigade

There is no finer example of this contempt than the ThaiVisa forum; a place where tribal snobbery knows no bounds.

Where those who have married into Thai families, or landed a retirement visa, will lampoon and mock the Tourist Visa Peasants simply trying to find a solution that works for them within the bounds of complex immigration law.


The Different Types of Foreigner Living in Thailand and How they are Perceived by Thais. PART TWO | Thailand

Part One of this blog was written after receiving an invitation from a Thai Food Group on Facebook to post an article concerning rudeness and complaining attitudes among foreigners when they visit Thai restaurants.  To bluntly give examples and comment on the reservations that many Thais have with their foreign customers without relating to the different cultural backgrounds of the East and the West would, I thought, have been the wrong approach. It would have got many people’s backs up.

However, I could not have been more wrong. It got their backs up anyway and a Thaivisa type “flame war” quickly developed. I suspect few actually read the article in its entirety and thought about its implications for both the Thais who work in restaurants and the foreigners who live here.  I initially did not react to the responses, allowing everyone to have their say whether positively or negatively. Hardly any of the comments were relevant to the piece I had written.

Being civil and polite in restaurants is not an impossible act to achieve. Most people do conduct themselves with dignity but a snobbish “I’m better than you” attitude does  creep in from time to time. And it’s a minority of expats rather than tourists who are the main culprits. The following notice for a French café makes the point that being polite does not cost anything and in fact can prove beneficial.

Is Jealousy a factor?

It has been suggested that foreigners being subjected to dual pricing, financial scams, not being able to obtain a work permit, not being able to own land here can be reasons for some farangs to be jealous of Thais.


Coincidentally, the day after I posted on the Food group’s blog I attended a wedding in Tak, northern Thailand. Lots of eating, drinking, and talking of course during the celebrations. I was the only farang present and several Thais came over and joined the group I was with. The conversation moved towards why foreigners spoke so loud and were often quite rude in conversation. Actually I was surprised as Thais are not usually so direct and rarely if ever say anything which they believe people will not agree with. But I guess they were intrigued with having a foreigner in their midst and curious what his answer might be. I pulled out my Galaxy and showed them the blog post I had made to the Food Group. What really sparked their interest were the responses made by some of the members of that group. I explained that they should not take too much note of the views of a minority. (The group has 3500 members) but the damage had been done. It’s a sad fact but the behaviour and attitudes of a minority can ultimately affect how the 800,000 expats and visitors in Thailand are perceived. I deleted the post there and then. Later, a member of the group’s admin agreed I had made the right decision following so many trollish comments.

A give a link to the post below in case you have not read Part One.

The Different Types of Foreigner Living in Thailand and How they are Perceived by Thais. PART ONE | Foreigners


I reposted my original blog post later on their site but with a caveat that it was not a food review but a commentary on the expat and visitor demographic of Thailand with reference to how rudeness and complaining is seen differently by people of dissimilar cultures. Regrettably, that didn’t stop some of their members throwing their weight around – effectively spoiling the post for those who might have been interested in discussing these cultural aspects, whether agreeing or not. Why people who are clearly not interested in a topic still persist in making irrelevant or mischievous comments on social media escapes me.

Some of the responses from group members are reprinted, unedited,  at the end of this blog post. You can make your own judgment.


In Part One we saw that there were 5 main reasons why foreigners come to Thailand. The sunshine, the lay-back lifestyle, the friendliness, the generally caring nature of the Thai, and its relative cheapness.

We read too that there are many different “types” of foreigner here. The holiday-maker, the health tourist, the foreign employee on a work permit, sex tourists, the “ghetto” farang, and the destitute. Not all make attempts to fit into the culture and lifestyle. Most expats understand and respect the culture. A small minority seem to take a patronising colonial attitude towards Thais. Like all minorities they can be boisterous and insistent on compelling attention to themselves. The majority of foreigners and visitors are then tarred with the same brush which leaves an unwarranted impression on Thais.

The Thais are fully aware of this diversity though often are reluctant to talk about it. There’s a great deal of money made in the sex trade and, particularly with their dual pricing policy, pickings from foreigners can be high. The country needs the skills and experience that many foreigners can provide (but only in certain professions, work permits are closely controlled). They play down the number of destitute farangs  who have fallen on hard times  – often through scams perpetrated by both Thais and their own countrymen. The “ghetto” farang gains little respect if they adopt a colonial or patronising attitude and makes little or no effort in integrating into the culture and lifestyle of Thailand.

Complaining loudly in a restaurant will get you nowhere and lose you respect. The staff will still smile at you but deep inside they feel you have lost face by displaying what is to them rudeness and bad manners. Sadly, many foreigners don’t realise that the smile is not one of approval. Far from it.

I gave the example of calling out “garçon” in a French restaurant to get a waiter’s attention.  That way of addressing staff went out years ago. You would now say ‘monsieur” or “s’il vous plaît” but never “garçon”. That did not stop some Food group member violently disagreeing. I later learned  he had not been to France for over 9 years and was regarded as Pattaya’s “Mr Know It All” by his expat friends.

It is acceptable and common in Thailand to call out “nawng” (means younger) but never to shout out “nawng, nawng” as one Pattaya member did, explaining it was the only way to get attention.  A smile and eye contact would have worked better and not caused offence. Best to learn the culture.

When Thais complain they smile and explain the problem rationally and in a long-winded way. As Westerners we are born to be more direct and “in your face” but that won’t work in Thailand, or indeed in any country in the Far East. You’ll often hear Thais comment that foreigners are too serious.  Get to know some Thais and ask them for yourself.


This picture sums up the Thai view rather well.



Westerners are more serious during meals.


And many prefer western food. Maybe that is why some of them don’t really fit in to establishments where the staff are Thai.


Telephoning to complain about a take-away meal is not the way to go.


I recall, when I was doing temp work in a restaurant to help pay my way through college, a waiter being shouted at by a customer because his soup was cold. He took the dish back to the kitchens, spat in it, heated it up a little, and  put it is a fresh bowl. He took it back to the customer and apologised.   I never did anything like that when I was working there and I doubt any Thai would resort to such revenge. But it’s probably best not to be rude and make condescending remarks in restaurants when you’re complaining.



But how do you communicate. That’s the point. Getting angry and shouting will not work in Thailand.




This is the unedited screenshot I referred to earlier. I did not take copies of the entire thread where in fact the comments were even more sarcastic and  vitriolic. Given the caveat that preceded my post that is was a commentary on foreigner demographics in Thailand and concerned cultural aspects, the only reason why this minority engaged in their keyboard activities must have been purely out of mischief tinged with a little patronising “Thai bashing”. It does of course confirm unfortunately the views many Thais have of foreigners. And that is not helpful to the majority of expats and visitors who are in Thailand and are properly polite and respectful to Thais and their culture.

It has been subsequently suggested to me that the attitudes of this minority are common where there are relatively large populations of expats. To some extent I accept that though it is not particularly true of Bangkok and Chiangmai, the two largest cities in Thailand. It does have some relevance in places such as Pattaya and Phuket.

Even though I disagreed, I let the comments stand until the “goading” became in my view unacceptable and when I saw the site owner joining in. That is not unusual in Thai forums but I expected better from a mature group of expats. As Caroline Worthington says below, responses should be: “for mature discussion no negativity required”. But obviously not a strong enough warning; the tirade went on unabated. You will understand why the reactions from the Thais whom I met at the wedding were so strong.


Shaun Houlding You should put your name in the hat for next ambassador!!!

Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Barry Connor Well said Matt. When in Rome do what the Romans do. Unless you are experienced in employing thai Staff, you will not know some of the mannerisms they display . A good case scenario would be Farang with limited Thai Language Ability working in a Thai Restaurant and serving Thais with Thai Food in a renowned Thai Restaurant. Afterall Thailand is not the UK and many so called Farang Eateries are honing in on the Expat Community in several areas and they don’t and will not always get it right with Thai Staff. I stand corrected as to how many Michelin Star Restaurants are in Thailand.

Like · Reply · 1 hr

Chris Clegg If you are a ” farang” eatery, catering for farangs, and generally charging higher than farang prices, wouldn’t you expect the same standard of service you would expect from the model it’s trying to emulate?

(note: standards of service were not mentioned; the point was how to interface with Thais particularly when trying to gain their attention or complaining)

Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Barry Connor Higher than Farang Prices in Thailand? So in your concept you Pay Thai Nationals the same award rate as the “model” your emulating !!! When the law for Business in Thailand clearly states for Every Foreign Owner that 4 Thais have to be Employed.

(note: I don’t understand this bit of rambling at all)

Like · Reply · 1 hr

Chris Clegg What the staff are being paid should have nothing to do with the customers experience, that’s like saying a Toyota car built in Thailand will be rubbish as it was built by a poorly paid workforce.

Like · Reply · 1 hr · Edited

Barry Connor A Toyota car bought in Thailand is about $25000 AUD. the same Model in Australia is $50000 AUD. so let’s open a UK restaurant in Thailand with UK prices then. See how many people frequent it.

Like · Reply · 58 mins

Chris Clegg Barry you are totally missing the point, the price wasn’t really the point it was the expectation level of service, by the way regarding cars, if you was (sic) to buy an imported car it would cost you twice the amount as the same model in UK, and the after sales servicing is generally worse…do you see the similar trend here.

Like · Reply · 50 mins · Edited

Chris Clegg So to recap on original posters point, and when in Rome do as the Romans do, yes if I am in a standard Thai restaurant eating standard Thai food for standard prices, fully agree and will go with the flow , after all it’s their cuisine and their style how to serve it and as long I get treated the same as the other customers great…but if you are going to a restaurant be it a steakhouse or a high end place, I would like the food and service to be at the same level as you would expect if you was at eating in your home country , I am sorry serving wine in a coffee mug doesn’t work for me…I know it’s not cool to complain, and it upsets Thais when it is done, however the only other choice is to walk away and not go there again, generally find most business owners would prefer you do the former rather than not dine there again

Like · Reply · 1 · 40 mins · Edited

Matt Owens Rees. Thais don’t mind complaints. The problem is the way some farangs do it.

Robert Cameron I’ve read that somewhere else recently, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Chris Clegg Yes it was in this site, however he has reposted whilst removing people’s comments, that differed from his point of view.

(note: selective comments were removed by the group admin not by me. I have no connection with this group other than having been invited to post an article)

Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Matt Owens Rees I did not delete any comments. I deleted the entire post because of trollish comments.

Like · Reply · 3 mins

Caroline Worthington Matt has no permissions to delete comments, it s a revised post for mature discussion no negativity required

Like · Reply · Just now

Chris Clegg Are you going to post this on this site every week?

Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Peter Garwood smile emoticon Chris

(note: this is the group site owner)

Like · Reply · 1 hr

Matt Owens Rees No. It was posted because I deleted the last post because of trollish and inaccurate comments. And I’ll delete this post again if these sarcastic Thaivisa type comments persist. If you have nothing constructive to say, probably best not to say anything.

Like · Reply · 24 mins

Chris Clegg So disagreeing with your point of view is inaccurate is it, I don’t think you know enough about Thailand it’s (sic) people or its restaurants to make some of the wide sweeping comments you are making…. And I think they are inaccurate, so delete away….. Next you will be saying if you don’t like it go home 555

Like · Reply · 1 · 18 mins

Peter Garwood Matt. From memory of the previous thread it was absolutely nothing like you describe.

Sorry but you are out of order, and I say that as a fellow scribe, professionally speaking.

(note: his Facebook profile as of today is completely blank. nothing on his education , profession, or anything else and I can’t trace any books or articles he claims to have written)

Like · Reply · 17 mins

Write a reply…

Guy Lindsay-Watson Sorry but my eyes won’t let me read a post as long as this but I get his drift!

Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Chris Clegg Matt, quick question, what is your definition of intergration? As you mentioned in your post that many expats do not or do not want to live alongside Thais?

Like · Reply · 1 · 30 mins

Matt Owens Rees My definition is the same as you’d find in any good dictionary.

Like · Reply · 22 mins

Chris Clegg In that case then none of us will ever achieve it, as we will never be classed as Thai or equal to a Thai in the current mindset of the country

(note: nobody suggested we be classed as Thai and the “current mindset” of the country sounds a tad patronising)

Like · Reply · 1 · 15 mins

Guy Lindsay-Watson I thought TW and D was supposed to be fun. I am cancelling myself tomorrow. Don’t need this stuff.

Like · Reply · 15 mins

Chris Clegg It’s supposed to be about food , not some guy who condescendingly repeats his own view on how we all should behave here.

Like · Reply · 1 · 12 mins

Matt Owens Rees My post has had a very different reception on my own site. No flames or off topic comments. No bitchiness. My post starts by saying it’s not a food review but points on culture. There are over 3500 members but the group is being sabotaged by a few reckless keyboard warriors. And Chris my views are not condescending, they are from observation. The reference to “some guy” shows a lot about your character and how to interact civilly with people.

Like · Reply · 7 mins

Mark Bowling Better off sticking to posting on your own site where you may have sheep following you.

(note: with 4800 Facebook followers, over 8000 on Twitter, and many comments and shares on my blog I think the majority of my followers,  many of whom are Thai, would not agree they are  “sheep” ? And Bowland wonders why some farangs are disliked in Thailand?)

Like · Reply · Just now

Write a reply…

Mark Bowling Chris he encourages audience participation but only if everyone agrees with him

Like · Reply · 1 · 6 mins

Guy Lindsay-Watson Will start work on “Sermon on the Mount 2” tomorrow!

Like · Reply · 4 mins

Chris Clegg And there you go again, I wouldn’t say ” some guy” is derogatory to me you are some guy I don’t know you…would you feel more comfortable if I labelled you some farang, as you addressed this group?

Like · Reply · 1 · 3 mins



Bike for Dad. A Birthday event for the King of Thailand. | Thailand

The Crown Prince, who initiated the event, leads thousands of cyclists in Bangkok. Similar processions in honour of the King took place throughout Thailand and in some European cities.



Followed by his two daughters

Many of Thailand’s  roads are a sea of yellow this Friday as the “Bike for Dad” event takes place throughout the country.  In Bangkok 600,000 cyclists, all wearing yellow,  were led by the Crown Prince as part of the celebrations for the king’s birthday and to wish him a long life.

Everywhere crowds are waving yellow flags (the king’s colour) and shouting: Long Live the King, Long Live the King.

The Prince, followed by his two daughters, acknowledging them as he passes.

Not only in Bangkok but elsewhere in Thailand the police are out in force directing traffic away from the routes closed for the processions.

It is certainly a good PR exercise with similar events being held in the UK and other countries.



Crossing Rama V bridge in Bangkok


The Different Types of Foreigner Living in Thailand and How they are Perceived by Thais. PART ONE | Foreigners

There are no totally reliable sources for the number of foreigners living in Thailand. Foreign embassies provide some figures but only for those citizens registered with them. The numbers quoted by various Thai government departments depend on the reasons why they need those figures. Definitions can include or exclude temporary residents, visitors, and in-transit arrivals. It is not clear whether those Thai hill tribe peoples who are not registered as Thais are included or not.

The best estimate is that there are about 800,000 foreigners in Thailand.  That is about 1.2 per cent of the country’s population.

As well as the difficulty of not having completely accurate information on expat and tourist numbers, it is not easy to categorise the types of foreigner who come to Thailand and stay here. However, my research and experience suggests that most of those who come to the country integrate well into their local environment and communities. My findings are based on interviews with and observations of many nationalities living in all Thailand’s provinces. And they have been discussed with my Thai Focus Group which comprises Thais from different social classes and political backgrounds. From the poor to the well-heeled rich. Male and female. Young and not so young. Those with higher degrees and those with little schooling.

I have not relied on “information” in the mainstream or social media unless the source is reliable, can be checked, and is not subject to a biased agenda.

Firstly, let’s ask ourselves why people come to The Land of Smiles.

Is it the sunshine and the lay back lifestyle? The apparently caring and friendly cultural lifestyle?

Enjoying nature and the beautiful scenery

Visiting the many tourist attractions and ornate buildings


Or just joining in the fun with the locals.

The photo above shows tourists enjoying the Thai festival of Songkran, getting into the spirit of fun (sanuk) that the Thais enjoy so much. Thais will appreciate your joining in their lifestyle and perhaps speaking a few words of their language. It is only a very very tiny minority of foreigners that spoil events such as these by behaviour unacceptable to Thais. For example, it is normal practice not to throw water at the very elderly or pregnant women on motorbikes during this festival. No Thai would do that. Sadly, some foreigners get carried away by the excitement of Songkran and don’t seem to think straight.


Are visitors and expats attracted by the low cost of living compared with that of their home countries?  That of course depends on what you spend your money on. For example, Thai food is cheap and most find it delicious, aroi mark mark in Thai. Western food is more expensive as it is priced at what the expat and tourist market can pay, though still not as highly priced as in the West. The Thais can charge higher gross margins on foreign food than on Thai food and get away with it. Fuel for your car is cheap but the car will be more expensive to buy here than abroad because of high import duties. Hospitals are clean and often staffed by western trained doctors and surgeons. Medication, treatment, and procedures are not free as Thai hospitals are run as businesses. Foreigners will be charged significantly more than Thais and bills may be inflated with the cost of unnecessary procedures and medication. But the costs may still be less than private treatment in a foreigner’s home country.  Depending on your spending patterns, Thailand is not always that cheap.


As well as holiday makers, many come as health tourists or work on short term assignments from their foreign employers. Thai hospitals attract qualified foreign medics and there is a need for good foreign teachers.


It must be accepted that many come for the vibrant and liberal sex scene. Sex tourists can turn into sexpats.


Thailand’s economy gains from the revenue from the sex trade – both visitor and foreign resident.

But the bulk of the skin trade is actually with the locals though carried out much more discretely.

Thailand has a cultural acceptance of mia noi (second “wives”), giks (non serious sexual relationships), and visits to prostitutes.

No Thai would be seen with a bar-girl or hooker as in the photo below and would not understand why foreigners behave like this.


The girls’ motive are money – it’s business – but find some types of approach by foreigners unacceptable.


Thailand has a liberal gay scene. Both Thai and farang.



Another type of foreigner is what I refer to as the “ghetto farang“. Typically living in a moobaan (estate or project) or a condo apartment.

Many of those integrate; quite a number do not.  They live a “colonial” lifestyle where they feel superior to the “natives” and try to impress with outflows of money. Thais love that but not with any sort of respect. We’ll look at that later when we describe what Thais consider as unacceptable behaviour in restaurants. My own view is that one should try to go with the flow and, without dropping one’s own standards of behaviour, integrate into the community in which one lives and try to cope with the frustrations of a different culture and lifestyle.

It’s natural for foreigners to mix with their own kind but that does not need to be to the exclusion of integrating with Thais and getting into their lifestyle and culture. When I first arrived as a permanent resident in Thailand I joined the local expats club. We met twice a month and, despite the constant attempts by fellow expats to sell financial products or rent their condos, it was an enjoyable experience.  I asked a neighbour of mine, a 25 year old Scandinavian, if he had ever thought of joining. He did not hesitate in explaining that he came to Thailand to live in this country and to be with Thais. He is married to a Thai and they have a two year old son. He runs (maybe in his wife’s name for legal reasons) a small business supplying gas bottles to the local community.  He is fully accepted and respected. I could see why he not only had no need of an expats club or contact with “ghetto farangs” but also that he was actually fully integrating into the country in which he choose to live.  Everyone to his or her choice of course. There is nothing “wrong” with foreigners being with their fellow nationals provided that that is not in conflict with Thais.  Unfortunately, as we see when we look at interactions between foreigners and Thai waiting and cooking staff in restaurants in the second part of this blog, there is a minority of farang who seem to have left their brains and manners behind when they left their departure airport to settle in Thailand.


There are also many foreigners who have lost much money in Thailand and are living hand to mouth. Their numbers are underestimated.



Thailand is a third world country. Whether under-developed or developing is questionable. Its economy suggests it is developing but its rich-poor divide, pee-nawng culture (while having some positive attributes), and political systems point to it being in the category of undeveloped.

Poverty, cultural attitudes, and survival instincts encourage a “what’s in it for me” attitude with many Thais. Their business ethic is not a western one. For those reasons many foreigners are subject to scams here and losing one’s entire life savings can result in having to beg to exist. It is more common than one is led to believe. A friend of mine told me there were around 500 men in such circumstances in Thailand. He’d probably got that figure from the Thai forums. I volunteered to drive him around Chiangmai at night and show him a few hundred foreigners who are homeless and destitute in this city alone. He really had no idea of the extent of the problem in the whole country. Gaining the confidence and respect of Thais and talking to them and he may have got a more accurate figure.

So, that’s another type of foreigner living in Thailand.


Apart from tourists and those on work permits who often intend returning to their home land once their tour of duty is over, the rest of the farang population is near or over retirement age. And when you get to a certain age you tend to become more jaundiced. This can influence your judgment. With age comes experience but it does not always transport well into another culture where attitudes may be quite different from those with which you have been brought up.

Different cultures and lifestyles; different Weltanschauung.

Sometimes foreigners can totally misunderstand the way Thais perceive them. They misinterpret the caring helpful attitude, the attempts to avoid conflict, and particularly the Thai Smile as being acceptance of their behaviour.  The expat forums in Thailand and the Thai newspapers that print in the English language for their expat readership don’t help. Farangs tend to believe everything that they write and hear.  Understandably, since most foreigners speak no or little Thai and their Thai partners are reluctant through shyness to put them right. I learned long ago to bounce ideas off my Thai Focus Group to get at the truth in Thailand. I constantly recommend others to do the same but admit it is not easy to gain the trust and respect that is needed to make such relationships with Thais.

This lady’s understanding of the background of the 2006 coup is probably very different from that of the two soldiers with whom she is being photographed. She is proudly holding a copy of one of Thailand’s English language newspapers.


I was prompted to write this piece about foreigners in Thailand after some comments appeared in a food blog about poor behaviour and bad manners from farang in Thai restaurants, particularly in relation to how they complain.

To put the behaviour of a minority – albeit a vociferous minority –into perspective I wanted to explain a little about what sort of foreigners come to Thailand and how Thais respond to them before writing about foreigners in restaurants and how Thais react to them. Within 1700 or so words I have attempted to provide that background.

Part Two will look more specifically at the issues that occurred in these restaurants and the “violent” reaction that it brought forth from that particular expat community.

















A Thai Wedding Party. Photos with a brief commentary | Weddings

Traditions vary slightly throughout Thailand and depends a little on what the family of the bride and groom want. This was a wedding in Tak province

Usually marriage registration takes place later (sometimes months later). This is the key ceremony as far as Thais are concerned.


Starting with the closer members of the family and the “great and the good”, a sai sin is tied around the couple’s wrists.

The white thread symbolises good luck and happiness for their future life together.




Lot nam sang, blessed water, is then poured gently from the base of the thumb to the tips of the fingers.

This is particularly prevalent in the Tak region. You may not see it elsewhere.




Note also the sai sin around the couple’s heads. It is one thread; the couple are thus symbolically linked together.




It’s shown more distinctly here. By the end of the afternoon the couple’s wrists were covered with over 200  sai sin

The groom put a brave face on having to smile as so many guests performed the ceremony and wished him luck.

The bride seemed to be getting rather tired, as well she might. She had been up since four in the morning at the hairdressers and beauty parlour.

Note the background sign showing the couple’s names in English script. That’s not unusual these days.




Some friends of the bride and groom in a group photo.  Most guests had their photos taken separately too, with just the couple.




A family group. The groom’s side.



Both the father of the bride and of the groom make speeches.



The “great and the good” make speeches too and are seated at the high table. (The couple eat only after all the ceremonies and photos have finished!)

Provincial governors, highly placed local dignitaries, and senior members from the couple’s employers are usually among those invited..



The couple light a candle together at the base of the wedding cake.



The bride offers a piece of cake to both sets of parents. She actually places it in their mouths.



Both then wai 



And show their affection




Apologies for some of the photo quality.


Single women waiting to catch the bridal bouquet.



And a girl at the back catches it.



Which gives rise to yet another speech.