Family Money: Sufficient for today
By Leslie Wright
Last week we looked at a few of the reasons why some people resist starting regular savings plans. This week were going to look at a couple more.
Some people dont want to start any sort of regular saving program because they want total flexibility with their money - which usually translates to mean they dont like the idea of financial discipline but prefer to have their money accessible for spending on enjoyable leisure activities as and when they feel like it.
After all, life is for living and enjoying! Live life to the full today and never mind about tomorrow - itll take care of itself! Wont it?
We all need a certain amount of discipline in our lives. A lack of training in this regard, or a lack of regard for training, leads to the sort of chaotic conditions we see every day on the roads in Thailand.
The same applies to financial matters. Why do you think you have to pay your international phone bill every fifteen days, rather than monthly as in most other countries?
Why did the local financial institutions get into such deep trouble last year? Primarily because they were unable to collect on loans from people who dont like to pay their bills on time or at all, and their collateral couldnt be collected on either - if there even was any in the first place.
But to be fair, international banks have got themselves into an even bigger mess lending money to unworthy borrowers - but a country which is unable to meet its obligations can "renegotiate" an enormous loan easier than most individuals can. It cant just flee from the scene.
(Although in certain countries officials who are belatedly discovered to be the perpetrators of financial debacles and are too visible to flee the scene are rewarded for their creativity in providing employment to legions of additional civil servants to quadruple-check and shuffle even more official forms, and members of multi-tiered committees to debate endlessly on whether and how those worthies did what they allegedly did, and ensure that next time its done better, by being transferred to inactive posts...)
Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, self-discipline. Let me give you a true-life example of this.Fond memories they cant remember
As a Financial Consultant of a leading firm in Hong Kong I had (and indeed, still have) a number of clients who were expatriate civil servants and police officers. These were typically on three-year contracts, and in many cases earning more money (legitimately, I hasten to add) than theyd ever earnt before. At the end of their contract they would also receive a handsome lump-sum gratuity, and if they had done their jobs effectively and passed their exams, another contract.
When these clients first came to me, almost all of them were on their second or third contract.
All the money theyd earned on their first tour had gone on having a wonderful time (although in most cases they couldnt remember how wonderful; only the bar owners could), and their substantial gratuity typically disappeared on a two-month vacation with locally-acquired girlfriends (Filipinas were especially popular) in exotic spots like Bali or Tahiti.
These guys, often in their early twenties, had had a unique opportunity to salt away a nice nest-egg, and freely admitted theyd blown it all on instant gratification like kids in a candy store.
Almost without exception, one of the important criteria they were looking for in their future savings plans was discipline.
They had come to realise that they might not get a third let alone a fourth such lucrative contract, and theyd better make the most of the opportunity while they had the chance.
Reaping the fruits
I will never forget one of these coming in to redeem the savings plan Id set up for him some five years earlier.
I pointed out that the plan hadnt yet come to maturity, and there would be some penalties levied on the redemption, and suggested that he would be better off leaving it until it reached its maturity date, especially since the markets were a bit off at the time.
He told me he knew thered be some penalties (because Id made this very clear when we set up the plan), and indeed, that this built-in discipline was one of the factors hed recognised hed needed, to help him build up some capital during his second tour while at the same time deterring him from just taking out the money and, to use his own words, "pissing it up against a wall."
He told me that he was leaving the police force and needed the money to set up a small business with a colleague (who happened also to be my client and came in a few days later to redeem a similar savings plan for the same reason.)
He then went on to thank me for having recommended this particular plan, because, he said, he was sure he wouldnt otherwise have built up sufficient capital to start this new business venture.
He then surprised me by saying that even if he didnt get back as much as hed put into the plan (although that wasnt the case; hed actually done quite well by continuing to contribute when the markets were down, and reaping the benefits from these "cheap" units when the markets came back up again), it would still be more than if hed tried to save money in the bank or buy some unit trusts by himself.
"Theres always the temptation to take it out and tell yourself youll put away extra next month," he told me. "But in fact you never do!"
Truer words Ive rarely heard from a client. Its usually me telling them that!
After taking care of the paperwork, this hard-nosed, rather cynical young policeman grabbed my hand with both of his, thanked me again for the help and advice Id given him over the years, and promised that as soon as the business was making a profit, he wanted to start up another similar plan, if Id still be willing to accept him as a client.
As we all like happy endings, Im glad to report that these two clients business is doing well, and so are their renewed savings plans.
If only all my clients were as self-aware!
A calculated gamble?
Some investors like to place their money directly into the markets as the fancy takes them - a few stocks here, a few there - hoping their investments will grow like mushrooms overnight.
This simile is particularly apt for some short-term speculators. Their forays into the markets are fed on rumour, the value of which is often equivalent to manure; and having access to insufficient pertinent information to make a judicious let alone diversified portfolio selection on fundamentals means its growing in the dark.
These conditions may be fine for raising mushrooms, but are not very conducive to sound financial planning or investment management.
Unfortunately, the financial world hasnt yet come up with the honest equivalent of the Philippines Miracle Rice which can produce three crops a year and yield up to five times the harvest of ordinary rice (although the Miracle variety doesnt seem to taste as good).
Any portfolio is limited in its growth by the movements of the markets in which its invested, and by the risk profile of the investor.
Take on inordinately higher risk to get rich quicker, and you might win - or you might lose more heavily.
Personally Id rather bet on getting a reasonable return from a regularly topped-up, actively managed, diversified portfolio, carefully constructed from internationally renowned funds which have a proven track record than some horse in the third race at Happy Valley or Epsom.
But thats just me. I dont get a thrill out of gambling like some people evidently do.
Of course, at the end of the day its your money and its entirely up to you what you do with it.
However, in my professional experience, the people who have built substantial amounts of capital usually started amassing it early, imposed self discipline on their capital accumulation program, and are acutely aware of the heavy cost of delay.
In my view everyone needs some sort of saving program. Even if its only for a rainy day. And even if you start modestly. After all, you can never have too much money - ask Bill Gates!
If you have any comments or queries on this article, or about other topics concerning investment matters, write to Leslie Wright, c/o Family Money, Pattaya Mail, or fax him directly on (038) 232522 or e-mail him at email@example.com. Further details and back articles can be accessed on his firms website on www.westminsterthailand.com.
Leslie Wright is Managing Director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd., a firm of independent financial advisors providing advice to expatriate residents of the Eastern Seaboard on personal financial planning and international investments.
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Successfully Yours: Murray Maunder
By Mirin MacCARTHY
Murray Maunder has been in Thailand for seven years. Now he is the manager of Thai Gammon; a construction company in Bangkok and the Eastern Seaboard. An overview of Murray is, briefly, - windsurfer, sailor, engineer, saxophonist, husband, father, internet surfer, mountain biker, outdoors man, well spoken British Chamber of Commerce fellow, reserved, witty, committed and intelligent.
So many positives are probably explained by Murrays idyllic New Zealand childhood. Stratford N.Z. is on the north island with a unique climate that allows skiing in the winter mornings and surfing in the afternoons. No wonder he became fascinated with the outdoors and "building things".
Thailand is where Murray wants to be and he is here for the long haul. "My family are just as happy here as I am." His advice for would be business people here is, "Show long term commitment. This is not a get rich quick country. Be prepared for the ups and downs."
Murray chose to transfer to Pattaya from Bangkok because he wanted to be closer to the water and easy sailing. In Bangkok Murray was the construction engineer for the Sofitel Hotel. "I was proud to have built that hotel." However, after bicycling to work wearing a cartridge mask for five years, Bangkok paled even with a view of the river.
"I used to be a competition Hobie Cat sailor. On my day off in Bangkok I would load up my windsurfer and trundle down to Pattaya, sleep in a ditch beside the Cozy Beach hotel here, windsurf all day, then drive back at night. It is much better to be down here by the sea and to be a member of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club. I even represented Thailand once in the International Hobie 16s, I think I came 84th," he said with a wry grin.
Murray Maunder is basically a reserved man with a twinkle in his eye. You may not guess, on first meeting, he is an adventurer at heart. Half way through his career he spent a two-year stint in Colorado, America. No sailing there guys, so what did he do? He had a fun time building ski lifts in the summers and being a snow mobile tour guide during winters!
Two years later an expired work permit made him choose the U.K as his next port of call. Landing topside again, it was there he met his British wife Rachel. Murray then spent five years working in the City of London (the actual square mile city center) building high rises.
No, he did not go rowing on the river Thames, instead he competed in the U.K. sailing competition which had the Greek Islands, Turkey or Barbados as yearly venues. What is more, Murray won and still holds the speed event. At 70 KPH, he is the fastest man ever with the wind at his back at Kefalonia.
Murray chose construction engineering as a career because, "Ive always enjoyed building things and I love the sea." He completed his engineering apprenticeship in New Zealand, then studied and later taught technical construction engineering. Moving on, he then worked building petro-chemical plants on and off shore.
As usual it was not all work and no play even there for Murray. He just had to join a semi pro rock band playing tenor sax and flute. Later, an 18 piece big band playing, "The old standards like Glen Miller." His favorite music is still Jazz.
His views on success are in two words, "Achieving goals." His own goals, reluctantly prized out of him are, "To do the best I can, not to accept second best ever." The most important quality Murray adheres to is, "Honesty. I believe in saying what is correct, not what you think the other person wants to hear."
His plans for a perfect retirement is to spend six months every winter skiing the Colorado mountains and the summer six months sailing the Greek Islands. Murray Maunder has it all charted out.
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Snap Shots: Man on the Moon
By Harry Flashman
With the Americans having successfully sent John Glenn up into space again at the ripe old age of 77 years, it is probably time to think about how they managed to capture some of those spectacular photographic images we have seen over the years.
Well, they took cameras up into space, much the same as we take them on family picnics. The concept was to record what life was like for our early space travelers and in fact some of these images were artistically so good that the pictures became a photography exhibition that toured the world in 1984.
The first space walk for Edward H White II in 1965.
Unfortunately, they left quite a few of these cameras on the moons surface - so if youre looking for a cheap Hasselblad its there for the asking. The trip could be a little expensive however! Hell, if youd thought about it you could have asked John Glenn to bring you one back. Would have been duty free too!
Yes, the cameras they took to the moon were mainly Hasselblads - legendary cameras used by most professional photographers the world over. The moon cameras had titanium bodies as well! (Titanium is the second most expensive metal after Unobtanium.) Harry Flashman here had two Hasselblad ELMs and a 500 CM for back-up when he was heavily involved in commercial photography. And it was ELMs the spacewalkers left behind. Weep!
Those cameras are notable in the fact that the back is removable and holds the film inside it. You can shoot one roll and just clip on another back and keep on shooting. You can also rip off a shot on colour film and then take the same picture with a different back loaded with Black & White for example.
The lenses are among some of the very best in the world. Great big hunks of optically perfect glass, which can cost well over 200,000 Baht in some cases. Hasselblads are no "point and shoot" cameras, but very serious instruments to record life on earth (and in outer space) for ever.
Interestingly, professional photographers are not in the habit of running "automatic" cameras, and some of the Hasselblads are totally "manual" cameras. In this way you can set any of the parameters of shutter speed or aperture size independently.
Another very different aspect of Hasselblad photography is the size of the negatives. Instead of the usual small rectangular 35 mm negs that we have come to accept as "normal", Hasselblads produce a square negative 6 cm by 6 cm. The advantage here is when making enlargements. You can blow up a 6 x 6 negative to the size of the side of a house before you lose sharpness. Thats more than you can do with 35 mm ones! A lot of advertising agencies will only accept the larger negative format for commercial photography for that reason.
But back to the moon. If you can ever get hold of one, try and grab a copy of the book called "Sightseeing A Space Panorama" with the ISBN number 0-394-54243-6. Published in 1985, it has 84 of the most stunning space photographs you will ever see. Shots of life in space for the astronauts, views of our world as the space shuttle passed many miles above us, views of the moon. All of them pin-sharp pictorial documents of our exploration of space. The final shots should, in my opinion, be made compulsory study for all of our children and our childrens children. They record the milestones we, as a species of life, passed on our way to hereafter. And whats more they did it on Kodak film and Hasselblad cameras! A triumph for photography.
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Modern Medicine: Torticollis
Presented by Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital
by Dr. Iain Corness
Whats Torticollis I hear you ask? Well, its extremely painful, disabling, often recurrent, and you dont want it. Its other non-medical name is "Wry Neck".
In this condition, you wake up one morning and you cannot move your neck to one side or another. If you do you get a blinding flash of pain which leaves you breathless!
So what causes this? What has happened is that you are trapping a nerve in the neck, which reacts acutely to any pressure on it when you turn your head. Now the nerve doesnt actually get stuck between the bones of the neck (your cervical vertebrae) but gets trapped by soft tissue swelling where the nerve comes out from between the bones.
The swelling (or inflammation) can come from twisting the neck or quick movements, lifting weights or bumping your head. Those are the types of movements that strain the soft tissues between the bones, and like any strain or "sprain" the body reacts with swelling of the affected area. Just like when you twisted and sprained your ankle - remember the swelling that came up so quickly?
Now with your ankle, you strapped it up with a firm crepe bandage to compress the swelling and you slowly got better. With your Torticollis you cant very well wind a crepe bandage around your neck and pull tight, so the treatment has to be different in this area.
Remember that it is swelling and inflammation that is trapping the nerve, so by reversing the inflammation process you should get better. This is where "anti-inflammatory" medication comes in which chemically can reduce the swelling, rather than by direct pressure.
While you are waiting for the anti-inflammatories to take effect it is best to take some good strong pain killers as well. This has a double advantage in that you are more comfortable with less pain but the pain killer (analgesic) also assists the anti-inflammatory work quicker. The only other problem is that the anti-inflammatory medication very often can produce acute indigestion! The answer here is to take a Proton Pump Inhibitor to stop the acid production.
That is the treatment of choice recommended by this physician. Exactly what I took last week to get over my own Torticollis! Took a little over 24 hours, but painful while it lasted. Now I know that there are those who swear by manipulations for this type of condition - but since some sort of movement caused the condition, I personally am not in favour of further manipulation as a form of treatment.
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A couple of years ago I married a beautiful Thai woman who, although younger than I, still seems devoted to me. We get along great, that is not the problem. The problem is a bit complex. Along with her striking beauty, she is also quite outgoing. That in itself is not a problem, but the fact that Im an expat from Europe and that all my friends here are also expats from Europe, sometimes my friends interpret her outward friendliness as flirting or coming on to them. She has never worked in a bar; in fact I was introduced to her by her family to keep her from working in a bar. I think that because of this, she is a bit naive to the reactions her outward behavior causes. Part of her inner beauty comes from her openness and genuine friendliness towards others. However, on occasion she has told me that "people I know" have come on to her and that their behavior embarrasses and upsets her. I enjoy being with her and we do almost everything together. I do not want to lock her away so that she isnt subject to unwanted advances from the males of our species. My question to you is: How do I get the point across to these other "people I know" that she does not want them groping her?
Trying to overcome my friends
It is indeed trying, trying to overcome friends such as these. I would seriously consider if they are really worth keeping as friends.
Taking your situation at face value, this seems to be a case of stereotyping and racism by people of little sensitivity. I think your friends may have automatically assumed that your wife, being Thai and younger than you, was a bar girl. Even if this were true, what kind of people would think they could grope their friends wife? This behavior shows that they obviously have no respect for her and none for you.
I dont think the fact that your wife is outgoing and friendly gives them an excuse for their boorish behavior. I dont think they would do this if your wife were a young European woman.
I may be mistaken but may I ask if you got to know these people as casual acquaintances at a bar? This sounds like a pattern Hillary has seen before.
You should not explain anything to them either. People who try to molest your wife are not worthy of it.
I think its time you found new friends.
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Khun Ochas Cookbook: Soleros Mango Mousse
A few weeks ago, Khun Ocha had the pleasure of meeting up with the famous Colombian chef, Arturo Boada, who was over from Texas to be at the Royal Garden, giving some new recipes to the chefs there.
Arturo Boada, the wild Colombian Chef.
After a riotous evening with this guy (hes a wild chef and a wild man!) I managed to extract a great recipe for Mango Mousse. This one is served at his restaurant in downtown Houston called "Solero". This Tapas dining house was given the award last year as one of Americas best new restaurants. Arturo himself has also been the recipient of some prestigious awards for his cooking. Here is Arturos Mango Mousse (but you can substitute other fruits if mango is not to your taste, says Arturo).The Taste Test
Unflavoured gelatin 1 1/2 envelopes
Whipping cream (chilled) 1 cup
Sugar 1/4 cup
Mango puree 1 cup
Water (cold) 1/4 cup
Fresh fruit or berries as garnish Preparation Method
In a large bowl, dissolve the gelatin in water. In a separate bowl, beat the cream adding sugar gradually until stiff. (Arturo recommends that the bowl and beaters be thoroughly chilled as well as the cream.) Now fold in the mango puree and the dissolved gelatin with the cream and pour into individual moulds. (Arturo lightly sprays the moulds with non-stick vegetable oil spray.)
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When fully set upend the moulds just before serving and present on dessert plates with sliced fruit (even mango) accompaniment.
This dish was reviewed by one of the top foodies in America who declared it as just the best ending for her Tapas dinner at Solero. Cleansing and succulent with a lingering after-taste of the fruit.
Thanks, Arturo. It was fun!
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Travel Well: Downtown Dartmouth
By Mary Mac
A large number of the Pattaya Mails readers will have connections with the "Old Dart" if they didnt actually come directly from there themselves. Mother England is indeed home for hundreds of residents in Pattaya, and during the high season you will hear even more British voices in the shops here. The Brits are truly prolific travelers, but lets reverse the trend and look at what it is like going to the UK for a vacation.
Hound of the Basketballs (Illustrations by kind permission of Simon Drew)
The first warning is to take lots of warm clothes - a rarity here in sunny Thailand. I ended up in desperation buying jumpers and a coat in the Oxfam recycled clothes shops. Secondly, be aware that the UK is expensive. To fill the average fuel tank with petrol is around 3000 Baht and a counter lunch in a country pub will set you back close to 500 Baht per person with one beer to wash it down. Take lots of money! Or better still, put your Visa card "in credit" and draw on it from the ATMs over there. Just dont lose it (or forget your PIN).
Dartmouth from the harbour
One of the nicest areas we found was Devon, one of the most temperate counties in England. On the recent trip it was grey and raining everywhere else, but we definitely did see the sun while in Devon. In fact, the Torbay seaside area is even called the "Riviera of England".
The principal city in Devon is Exeter, around three and a half hours and 300 kms by road from London. Take the M4 motorway and then swing left on to the M5 at Bristol and just follow the signs to Exeter. While the UK may have all sorts of peculiarities and pitfalls, the road system is just fabulous. The main arterials and motorways are super smooth and high speed touring is the name of the game - just watch out for the patrolling "Panda" cars, although I think they are more interested in you if you are traveling too slowly, rather than the opposite situation! A word of warning here about the petrol stops - crowded, dirty and super expensive nosh. You wouldnt mind if it was good fare - itll keep you alive (or rather, wont actually kill you), but thats all!
There are plenty of small, clean B&Bs dotted all over the countryside, but again, even they are not cheap. Be prepared to lash out 50 expensive British pounds for accommodation most nights (3000 Baht).
There are lots of small towns and hamlets abounding with history, possessing romantic names like the village which has one of my favourite pubs - the V&A (Victoria and Albert) at Stoke Gabriel. A truly Victorian hostelry. You can still imagine the highwaymen calling "Stand and deliver" at places like these.
A most picturesque port in Devon is Dartmouth, a town absolutely steeped in history. This was the stepping off point for the Crusades in the 12th Century. Practically "modern" by comparison are some of the buildings close to the wharves which are 16th Century half-timbered taverns. The Cherub, pictured here, lays claim to be one of the oldest pubs in England.
Places like Dartmouth just breed all sorts of interesting characters too. Like Simon Drew, an artist who has been running a small studio one street back from the water for the past eighteen years. Simon is a larger than life person who, on the day I met him, was wearing green hair "... to annoy my mother," a bow tie and an ear ring. Not only does he do fabulous drawings, but his humour just keeps "exploding" out of him. He has that ability to see the funny or droll things in life and extract a laugh from it. With his green hair, he is naturally a greenie with affiliations to the Greenpeace movement and proud of it. But even when being serious and passionate, the funny side breaks through again.
He claims, for example, to have taught Biology in Sussex at a school called Manhood High (not another Viagra joke)! Trained as a Zoologist, he translates this into some of the funniest animal pictures you will ever see. Describing himself as "... married with one dog," he admits he has never owned a cat but loves birds. Pointing to a picture of an oyster catcher he said "Look at it, its really strange. Birds are animals with their arms chopped off!" His works can be found as prints, cards, tea towels and T shirts. He has also published his art in book form, with his 14th about to be released called "The Duck Stops Here".
It is worth the trip to Dartmouth just to meet this amazingly funny man, who, like all comedians, has his serious side as well. He says he conducts his life according to the epitaph on the gravestone of Mervyn Peake which states "To live at all is miracle enough." And then he goes on to drop out of the blue, "Penguins are quite daft, you know." Put Simon Drew on your "must see" list!
Sailing ship in the historic harbour
Return air fares to the UK range between 20,000 Baht to 30,000 Baht depending upon the season and the airline deals available. We flew Gulf Air on which we had some good sectors and some dreadful ones. With two touchdowns on the way back it was a long trip. I would recommend trying to restrict any touch-downs to one only.
Cheapest car rental at Heathrow airport was from the Sixt company. You ring them from their unmanned desk and they come and collect you from the terminal. Good service! Just remember to pack warm clothes and a sack full of cash!
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makes the world
And if youre sick
Passports to fulfillment
A matter of carats
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Animal Crackers: Creepy Crawlies
By Mirin MacCarthy
Many people think of snakes as deadly, disgusting and loathsome. There are useful and interesting facts about the critters, however, even some that may save your life.
Friends or Foe?It may surprise to learn that most snakes, with a few exceptions such as pit vipers, are afraid of people. Snakes sense vibration and usually disappear long before you see them. Simply tapping a stick on the ground as you walk will cause them to slither off.
Behaviour Snakes only bite people when they are hurt, frightened, attacked, or their territory is invaded. The answer here is to leave them alone. If a snake has young and or you are between the snake and a possible escape route then it will bite if you get too close. Snakes have poor eyesight and sense vibration and movement so stand still and it will pass. Remember to run is to risk your life. Do we need them? Yes farmers certainly do for rat control. The rest of us benefit in the spin off in their biological rodent control. Snakes do keep all sorts of rodents out of the picture. A major benefit, as rodents harbour many diseases such as the plague, leptospirosis, dengue, yellow fever, rabies and other nasties. Poisonous or not? There are two types of snakes, poisonous and non-poisonous. Of the 163 snake species in Thailand only 48 are venomous. Only an expert can distinguish between them. However, if you couldnt leave well enough alone and got bitten assume it did inject poison. Immediately take the simple first aid steps below. First aid
The first rule is do not panic. Stay calm and still in an attempt to limit the spread of venom throughout the body. Do not attempt to kill or catch the snake. You are most likely to have been bitten on the leg or arm. Do not remove clothing. Do not try to wash, suck or cut the bite area. Simply immediately bandage the area over the bite, as firmly as you would for a sprained ankle. If you do not have a 3-inch crepe or elastic bandage, then tear strips of cloth off a shirt and use that. Do not take alcohol, aspirin or food, though water is fine. Splint the limb if at all possible and ideally get carried to the nearest hospital. You have a half an hour to make it if it was a king cobra and several hours with other types. Go slowly and calmly to the nearest radio or telephone contact. All park rangers have radios. Best of luck.
Next week more exciting info about snakes and even keeping them as pets.
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Auto Mania: Silverstone Trans-Asia Trophy 98
By Dr. Iain CornessAutotrivia Quiz
Nobody got the free beer for correctly answering the competition from last week. This is probably because I didnt put a question in the column. However, I do have an interesting one for this week!
Jaguars were originally known as "SS" but after WWII they changed the name to Jaguar because of the association with the German Secret Police. The pre-war SS 100 remains a classic in the eyes of all serious collectors, a really beautiful motor car. I even met a wealthy gentleman in England with an SS 100 who, in 1966, bought a brand new 3.8 S Jaguar and had the body taken off and a replica SS 100 body built on the mechanicals. This was so he had an "SS 100" to drive every day and the real (and expensive one) could stay in the garage!
Navigating flooded rivers.
Jaguar cars built various other models around and after WW II and a well loved one was the Mk V. The curly question for this week is - in what year did Jaguar sell the Mk IV model from their showrooms? Think hard - there could be an element of surprise here!Silverstone Trans-Asia Trophy 98 As mentioned last week, the final details have now all been ironed out as regards the Silverstone Trans-Asia Trophy for this year. The event has been designed to challenge the Camel Trophy as an off-road competition and the organizers even state that it is not for the faint hearted.
The Pattaya Mail is, however, noted for its fearless approach to journalism, and that same approach has been adopted by the Automania column. We will be running in the competition right the way through from the start in Bangkok on the 26th of December, returning (hopefully) on January 2nd. At this stage, we are the only Press group who immediately rose to and accepted the challenge within two minutes of the offer being made!
Event director Thomas Foo, who successfully organized the Silverstone Inner Mongolia Expedition, the Silverstone Trans-Africa Expedition and the Silverstone Borneo 4x4 Endurance Rally, claims that the Thailand event will have the steepest hill climb, the deepest river crossing and the most unforgiving weather in the heart of our nations rain forest. "Grit and determination may not be the only recipe needed to see one through the event," he said.
The event has attracted a star studded entry, headed by Vivat Aieolek, winner of the Singha SEA Rally last year and recently the Silverstone Asian Rally, Kok Tsin Yee of Malaysia and T. Urabe of Japan, a two times finalist in the Camel Trophy plus other international drivers from South Korea and Hong Kong. Add to that list, the Pattaya Mails Dr. Iain Corness, winner of the Queensland (Australia) Sports Sedan 2 litre Trophy in 1996 and who has only driven in the dirt when he fell off the bitumen!
In actual fact I have done it in the dirt. I did drive the Australian Rally Championship Mazda 323 Turbo in a Special Stage through the Aussie forests. At the time I wrote, "Rally drivers are either insane, harbour a death wish, or both." In the years following I have seen no reason to change my ideas - and here we are, lining up for the toughest event in Thailand. I think insanity must have caught up with me.
The event, which is being promoted in association with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, is part of the Amazing Thailand 1998 - 1999 campaign. Five Trophies of Excellence are being presented - the Overall Winner, Team Spirit, Jungleman, Environment and Clubman. I will be speaking to Thomas Foo as regarding offering a Geriatric Award, which the Pattaya Mail entry should win hands down!
Just in case any of you think this will be a typical journos junket, local Silverstone representative Captain Sitthichoke Adinan tells me we will be sleeping in tents in the jungle. The brochure states "Seven nights of camping out in the wildness amidst the calling cries of the jungle sound." A five star tent I hope! With ensuite!
The special stages in Thailand jungle includes Mae Sot, Khun Yuam, Mae Chaem, Omkoi, Doi Tao and Mae Phrik. The fact that I have never heard of many of these places, let alone know where they are, is somewhat worrying. If in five years time the Pattaya Mail has a front page story of "Crazed Farang found in jungle living in tattered pup tent" then youll know its me. My wife, of course, thinks I am totally bonkers, but Ive always risen to challenges (even before Viagra!).
We will be returning to Bangers to a Ceremonial finish at 4:30 in the afternoon on the 2nd of January and I will ship the trophies down to Pattaya later.Driven Round the Bend A new chauffeur driven travel service will be opening up in Pattaya next week. Called Image Car Travel, Managing Director Brett Seagrott promises to "Move you around in style at amazingly affordable prices."
The vehicles are all red and are in 2 levels - "Standard" with Corolla/Coronas and "Luxury" with Volvos. Bretts red cars are fitted with some of lifes little luxuries such as drinks, perfumes, lotions, stationery, magazines and cold towels.
One difference between Image Car Travel and the usual taxi service is in the standard of the drivers. Some have worked overseas and all have been carefully selected. In addition to the usual driving skills they have been schooled in English language expression and in guest relations. Tourists and locals should be able to converse easily with the drivers, who will be able to give commentary on Thailands history and culture. Brett even runs daily English language classes for his drivers to keep their skills up to date.
As part of the overall thought that has gone into this new company, Brett has even had the cars speed-limited, so there will never be nightmare hi-speed drives to the airport. Prices for the 5 star service begin at B1500 for the Standard level up to B1700 for the luxury Volvo for the one way trip to Bangkok Airport.
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Fitness Tips: Get a flying start on the holidays
By David Garred,
Club Manager Dusit Resort Sports Club
Gday Pattaya, I trust all is well on the Eastern Seaboard and that you are keeping yourself active.
Speaking of being active, you now have 5 weeks before Christmas and 6 weeks before the end of the year. As a result this is your last chance to get yourself into any sort of shape to be able to cope with those special functions that we all go to.
If you are planning to take up a health and fitness programme as part of your New Years resolutions (who doesnt), let me suggest that you get a flying start now.
Now because this is the right time to give yourself a chance to get some good results before "Party Time".
Within 2 weeks you will notice that you are sleeping better, feel more relaxed, whilst being more alert. Your breathing will improve as well as feeling happier about yourself in general.
Around about the time Christmas arrives, the speed at which your body works (metabolism) will have elevated for several reasons.
One of the big benefits of this is that your body requires more energy to get through the day.
As a result fats and alcohol will be burnt off faster. At this time of year that in itself is motivation enough to get into exercise.
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Created by Andy Gombaz, assisted by Chinnaporn Sangwanlek.