Family Money: Strengthening
currency lowers returns
By Leslie Wright
I was recently having a chat with a sophisticated
investor who spends considerable time tracking his investments and market
performance. I really had to be on my toes to keep up with him!
However, even this very knowledgeable man (who from my
experience is more familiar with market trends and portfolio management
than many so-called professional advisors) showed an all-too-common
misunderstanding about the effects of exchange rates on his investments.
For those of us living in Thailand, watching exchange
rates fluctuate between sterling and the US dollar is not the end of the
Nor even how the Thai baht (or “bath” as some
prefer to spell it - perhaps having taken one in that bubbly currency) is
moving relative to sterling or the US dollar.
While most Brits still think in sterling terms and
Americans in dollars (and others in their home countries’ currencies),
this predisposition can be misleading.
What’s your base?
For those of us who have settled here more or less
permanently, there is a strong argument that our base currency is no
longer the pound sterling or US dollar (or whatever), but the Thai baht.
This is because one’s base currency is the one one thinks in and spends
most money in.
On the other hand, there is always the tendency to
argue that if a lump sum of capital has been invested offshore, perhaps
from savings accumulated “back home” or from a pension gratuity, the
currency it was received in - say, sterling - is the currency to watch.
This scenario becomes even more complicated when your
capital was accumulated in sterling, is invested into dollar-denominated
unit trusts or mutual funds, which are themselves investing in regional
equities (such as Asia, Europe, or even globally - as opposed to a single
country), and you’re drawing down an income from that investment to
cover local expenditure here in Thailand.
Which currency or currencies do you watch then? Or
doesn’t it matter?
Well, yes it does. But perhaps not quite in the way
most people think it does.
When down is good
Most people are well aware that if sterling (or the US
dollar or deutschmark) strengthens against the Thai baht, their remittance
of foreign currency will get more baht when exchanged at their local bank.
Conversely, a purchase of foreign exchange - say to pay
for a mortgage or school fees - will cost them more baht if the transfer
is going the other way.
When applied to investments, however, the fluctuations
in relative exchange rates are not so clearly understood.
If your base currency is sterling (i.e., you think in
terms of pounds sterling rather than baht), and sterling depreciates
against another currency, this would have a positive impact on the returns
(in sterling terms) from an overseas investment made in that other
Conversely, if sterling strengthens against another
currency, this would have a negative impact on the returns (in sterling
terms) from an overseas investment made in that other currency.
As an example, let’s say a sterling-orientated
investor buys Thai shares costing THB 60 each while the exchange rate for
ฃ1 = THB 60.
The share price does not move, so the investor sells
for THB 60. Ignoring any brokerage commission that might apply on the
transaction, he gets back the same as he started with.
But let’s say that in the meantime, sterling has
weakened (or the Thai Baht has strengthened) to ฃ1 = THB 55 - i.e.,
our investor needs only THB 55 to “buy back” the ฃ1.
Our investor has THB 60, which divided by the exchange
rate of ฃ1/THB 55, gives ฃ1.09.
In sterling terms he has made a profit of 9%, even
though he was in exactly the same position as when he started in terms of
When up is bad
The corollary of this scenario is if sterling had
strengthened (or the Thai Baht weakened) to ฃ1 = THB 65 - i.e., our
investor now needs THB 65 to “buy back” the ฃ1.
He has THB 60, which divided by the exchange rate of
ฃ1/THB 65, gives 92p. So although he made neither a profit nor a
loss in Thai baht, he has lost money in sterling terms.
Hence if the view for Thailand equities is positive and
outlook for the ฃ/THB is also positive, then the overall outlook for
a sterling-orientated investor into Thailand would be positive. In our
example the positive currency outlook increases the returns to the
investor from the equity investment.
However, if the view for Thai equities were positive,
but the outlook for the ฃ/THB were negative - i.e., it is considered
likely that sterling would strengthen against the baht, or the baht would
weaken against the pound - then a sterling-orientated investor into
Thailand should exercise a degree of caution, since positive equity
returns may be adversely affected by the currency movements.
This same scenario applies to any other two currencies
you may care to choose.
But when it comes to considering three or more
currencies - as in the scenario cited earlier of a sterling-orientated
investor investing into dollar- or yen- or Euro-denominated funds and
drawing down an income in Thai baht - things become rather more complex.
So I’ll leave that discussion until next week...
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 protected].
Further details and back articles can be accessed on his firm’s website
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.
The Computer Doctor
by Richard Bunch
From Garrie Cox, Houston, Texas: I will be travelling to
Thailand next month for business for about 6 months. My home office would
like to have Internet access from Thailand for e-mail, etc. We will be
working outside of Bangkok on the PTT pipeline project. We plan to rent a
large apartment or house to use as an office and residence. My question is
how difficult will it be to gain access to the Internet? Is it costly and/or
time consuming? On prior visits, getting landline telephones was slow. If
you were trying to get set up, how would you go about it? What is our best
bet for getting online? Any help you can provide would be appreciated.
Computer Doctor replies: You haven’t said exactly where
you will be located, so it is difficult for me to recommend a Internet
provider to you. You can find a complete list of Thai providers at www.thnic.net. It is normally possible to have a telephone connected in
about two weeks, but as you will be renting, I suggest you specify this as a
pre-requisite. If you don’t do this, then as a non-Thai you will need the
landlord’s Tabien and ID card to apply at the telephone company. I really
wouldn’t recommend this route. With the completion of the Chonburi-Bangkok
motorway people are now finding living in Pattaya and commuting to Bangkok a
viable option. It is probably worth you contacting a real estate company in
advance, a reputable local company is Northern Thai Group e-mail, [email protected].
Connection to the Internet itself is neither costly nor
time consuming. I am assuming you will be putting the connection in your own
name. If this is the case the only formality other than completing the
appropriate agreement is to furnish the provider with a certified copy of
your passport. If you are registering it in a company name then you will
need to provide a certified copy of the company papers and the application
will need to be signed and the company stamp affixed by an authorised
company signatory. Assuming you don’t use the connection excessively, i.e.
mostly for e-mail, then budget for about 1,000 Baht/month.
From: Johannes Kern, Philippines: Thailand as the
Philippines has a cable TV network, certainly a heavy investment in cabling.
In the Philippines, somebody came up with the idea to make better use of
those cables. Now you can have internet access via these cables. At
fantastic speed and at a price (at least in the Philippines which is more
then affordable/reasonable). Do you see any chance this happening in
Computer Doctor replies: All Internet providers are
governed by the Communications Authority of Thailand which takes a levy from
their earnings. Whilst in theory what you suggest is possible, the
underlying infrastructure would find the traffic difficult to handle. Cable
Internet connections are now commonplace in many parts of the world.
Personally, I cannot see them appearing in Thailand for some time, of course
I may be proved wrong. Incidentally, I gave up on the website you suggested,
whilst they may be a good provider for you, they have a lot to learn about
web design and hosting!
Send your questions or comments to the Pattaya Mail at 370/7-8 Pattaya
Second Road, Pattaya City, 20260 or Fax to 038 427 596 or E-mail to [email protected].
Successfully Yours: Dr.
by Mirin MacCarthy
The young, handsome and hardworking Director of the
Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital, Dr. Pichit Kangwolkit, has had his career mapped out
from an early age.
Born in Bambung province, Chonburi, to a family of seven,
he completed all his primary and secondary schooling in Bangkok. Like many
others before him he studied hard to pass the entrance exams to Mahidol
University. Medicine was his objective because, “It is the most popular
career choice in Thailand. It is a well respected profession.”
It was the correct choice for him. Even as a student Dr.
Pichit showed a compassion for his compatriots and was an activist for the
rural poor, helping other students to find ways to improve the health, hygiene
and education for the needy. This gave him much experience in rural community
medicine that he was to practise later.
As a Post graduate student he studied Health and Economics
for six months and Private Hospital Administration for three months. He chose
to do his internship in Ubon Ratchathani for the wide experience it afforded.
Then his life changed radically from studying every day to working every day
and night, seven days a week.
He was later appointed as the Doctor in charge of the
Chanuman Community Hospital in Isaan. It was a ten bed, forty staff hospital
and community practice with an immense work load. As Dr Pichit was the only
doctor in the area he was responsible for everything: medicine, pharmacy,
operations, deliveries, plus community visits. He then spent a year in the
Srimuang community hospital.
In 1988 he married his girlfriend Bunsri whom he had met
when she was studying nursing at Mahidol, and the doctor and nurse moved to
the Nong Yai community hospital in Chonburi. They worked there for three years
and then Dr. Pichit was chosen by the Ministry of Public Health to be the
Director of the 30 bed Aoudon Hospital for the Laem Chabang Industrial Estate.
Now very used to the hard working life of a doctor, he
additionally had his own private clinic which he ran in the evenings, being by
now a specialist in clinical Preventive Medicine.
Dr Pichit smilingly dismisses the fact that he is young to
be a Director of Pattaya’s biggest private Hospital. “It is just a
coincidence that when I met the Managing Director and Deputy Director of the
Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital six years ago, they were young too. They invited me
to join them because they wanted someone who was interested in social security
programmes and a medical marketing programme, two very new areas for private
hospitals. I started as Assistant Director, then Deputy Director and I have
been Director for the past two years. If I had chosen to stay with the
government hospitals I would have had to continually move to further my
Under his guiding hand, it is notable that the
Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital is not only surviving financially but even planning
expansion in these critical economic times.
As to how he achieved this, Dr Pichit relied, “There are
two main factors. We have the Bangkok General Hospital for back up - they are
the leader for private hospitals in Thailand. We follow their standards in
building and staff training, so naturally we take their reputation. Secondly,
although we are the newcomers here, we are bigger than the other two older
private hospitals in the district and so we can be the best. We also slot our
pricing into the middle income range.”
At this stage of his life it is all hard work and very
little play for Dr Pichit. He works full time at the hospital and seven
evenings a week at his own clinic. “Sometimes I go swimming in my free time
or to the cinema with my family, but only occasionally. Maybe I will close my
clinic when I am forty-five. Then I would like to travel overseas and to
remote areas of Thailand as a tourist.”
Dr. Pichit values family above all aspects of his life.
“That is why I work so hard for my wife and my daughters.” Success means
to him, “Taking care of my family and being successful in my career. The
most important objectives to me are to be a good director and administrator
and tomorrow to be better than today. If possible to be the best in our group
and to have this hospital achieve the highest standard of treatment and
reputation. That is the goal.”
In his life so far, Dr. Pichit has shown he is an achiever. I am sure he
will do just that for his hospital too.
Snap Shots: Unlock
by Harry Flashman
A good title to this week’s column, but we are going to do
more than just “Unlock your mind!” This concept was brought home to Harry
Flashman the other day when looking at the work of one of his favourite
photographers, Larry Dale Gordon.
Even the words on the cover are uplifting - “Using your
vision and experience to make better photographs.” It is an old adage in
journalism to write about what you know, not about what you think you know! You
can apply that equally to photography. This weekend photograph the subjects you
So what subjects do you really know well? Undoubtedly one of
the front runners has to be your job. You know it better than anyone. Why not
photograph it? Even your office as a photographic record is important. Try
shooting your desk from the side your clients see it, for example. Hold the
tools of your trade (be they hammers, pencils or scalpels) and photograph them
in your hand as your eyes see them. In a small way, that is unlocking your mind.
You have started to think creatively.
But back to Larry Dale Gordon. In the book he has published
some great aerial shots. Mountains, sunsets, dawn, deserts, snowfields - they
are all there. LDG calls them his “porthole” shots. Porthole, because he has
taken every one of them out of the window of a commercial airliner. Now I must
admit that Harry here has not taken many shots on TG, QF, BA, SQ whatever and he
hangs his head in shame. Even through two layers of airplane glass, these shots
in the book are magnificent. LDG even admits, “I never know exactly what I’m
going to get. That’s part of the excitement.” He finishes by saying, “I
just like taking pictures and this is one more opportunity.” He is a true
photographer. On your next trip, go for that ultimate aerial shot.
One tip, by the way. When taking porthole shots, turn the
flash off or all you get is flare across the glass. Also walk around the plane
and look through some of the other observation portholes, they might have a
better view, or less direct sunlight on them. The concept here is “Look”.
See, you have already started to take creative control of your own photographs.
One phrase that LDG uses is “Expand your creative
horizons.” One very quick way to do this is to never take landscapes (or
seascapes) in the middle of the day, but take them at sunrise or sundown. The
colour shifts at those times of day will create new hues in your horizons. In
fact, try this for unlocking the creative self. Park yourself on your favourite
bit of beach and watch the sun go down. When the sun is almost on the horizon
take one shot and then every 5 minutes afterwards take another for up to 30
minutes after sundown. One of those shots will be average, two others will be
good and one fantastic. That’s a promise!
According to LDG, to unlock your mind you have to be versatile. That means
looking at life from more than one approach. See, it’s that “looking”
thing again. LDG documents his own awakening as follows, “The US Army sent me
to Germany as a young (very young) boy of 18. Imagine a na๏ve kid, just
out of high school, being dropped into an endless parade of voluptuous blond
women (all older at 20!), great beer, schnapps and cities and castles older than
America. It was incredible. I began to see. Not only the countryside, but a
different way of life; different attitudes, styles, food and humour. I knew then
how diversified the world really is.” What is more, LDG then went ahead and
photographed it. We should all take a leaf out of his book.
Modern Medicine: Malaria!
by Dr Iain Corness
We have had a few mosquitoes around recently and the
other evening it was even necessary to burn a mosquito coil while we ate
out under the stars. Everyone has heard of Malaria, so how much of a
threat is it to us here in Pattaya?
According to the good books there are 100
countries/regions carrying malarial mozzies and somewhere between 300 and
500 million people are infected. Of all those, some 1.5 to 2.7 million
people actually die of the disease.
SE Asia is one of those areas where the Plasmodium
falciparum mosquito is known to be prevalent, and that little fellow is
the nasty one. That same “good book” also suggests that in Thailand
the cities and main resorts are malaria free, including island resorts.
This is not quite correct. While I do feel that Pattaya is malaria free,
the same cannot be said for some of the island resorts, especially as you
go down closer to the Cambodian border. Trat itself has been implicated in
Since we are a highly mobile society and places like
the Cambodian border are only three hours away, we should not forget the
dangers of malaria. Real dangers when you remember that 1-2% of returned
travellers who are incubating falciparum malaria do actually die.
The key to keeping malaria down is three pronged. You
do not have to rush out and begin gobbling down expensive medicines as the
first reaction. The most important defence is to avoid being bitten in the
first place. The mosquito involved is a nocturnal beastie so try to limit
your outdoors activities between dusk and dawn. Long sleeved shirts and
long pants are also a good idea. If you are in a high density mosquito
area then look at screens on the windows or even nets for the beds. (These
are also not a bad plan for babies, as the mozzies seem to like their
Next move is to use mosquito repellent at night. The
magic name here is DEET, a chemical that is very effective against the
nocturnal blood suckers. Finally, a mosquito coil at night is also another
If you are venturing into known malarial areas for a
period of time, then look at taking preventatives yourself - we call this
“prophylaxis”. Chloroquine used to be the drug of choice, but the
mosquitoes are now mainly resistant to that drug. Round Thailand, Cambodia
and Burma, the drug of choice is Doxycycline (unless you are a pregnant
lady or child under 10 years old). You start these 2 days before going
into the malarious area and continue on for 4 weeks after leaving.
The third prong in the attack is rapid diagnosis and effective
treatment. This you must leave to the professionals, and doctors in this
country are well versed in this particular disease. Remember that the
incubation period is around a week, so those ‘chills’ you get a few
days after leaving Cambodia just could relate to some mosquito bites on
the other side of the border!
I am a very new employee in a foreign run business in Jomtien. I have not
been here very long and I cannot speak Thai. My problem is with the Thai
secretary. She seems to be very moody and I am sure is making fun of me to
the other Thai people in the office. She does not carry on like this with
the other farangs in the office. How can I stop this?
Easy, just ignore her and her behavior. Thais cannot bear to be ostracized
and ignored. She will get the message fast.
Can you help a friend of mine? She is an honest working Thai woman, who
has supported her family through thick and thin. She has scrimped and
saved and done without, just to make sure her children were brought up
correctly. Her “husband” lives in Bangkok (where he has his major
wife) and he has been coming down to Pattaya recently and physically
abusing this woman. She would not go to the police and I doubt if they
would even do anything in this domestic problem. What can she do?
This is a sad story. The lady in question has to decide if she wishes to
keep living in these circumstances. No amount of money or accommodation is
worth tolerating abuse, to my mind. Maybe it is not so with her. Just
giving her a chance to talk and consider her alternatives would be a start
in the right direction. Perhaps staying with relatives may be an option
for her to consider. She is the one who has to make the decision.
Do you have to have a residency visa to be able to own a car in Pattaya?
Some people tell me that you can buy one with just a tourist visa, and
others say you have to have a non-immigrant B. I get a different story
from everyone I ask. My situation is that I come over here regularly and
would like to have a car, but I travel on a tourist visa only. Can you put
It is correct, you must have a non immigrant B Visa to buy a car. You only
need a drivers license and a credit card to rent a car.
My Thai girlfriend is wonderful. I have no doubts that she is honest and
is not like the terrible tales you hear with foreigners being ripped off
all the time. We have been seeing each other every time I come over from
Bahrain (every six weeks) and I am going to put her into a condo this next
time. My worry is not her, but her mother. She always seems to be asking
my girlfriend for money and I am sure she thinks I can always pay up. What
should I do to make sure that when I put my girlfriend into a condo, that
mother doesn’t come along too?
This is a frequent problem with Thai families. The parents always expect
farang boyfriends and husbands to pay and pay heavily. May I suggest that
you stop giving your girlfriend lots of cash. Also, are you able to
discuss matters with her and explain that you are not prepared to live
with her family or have them live with you? If you explain gently that
this is not the farang custom, she may be able to accept. There are no
I have an embarrassing problem. Bad breath. I’ve really had this for
quite some time and just learned to live with it I guess. Recently I have
met this really nice lady and before we get any closer I need to fix the
breath problem. What suggestions do you have?
It is said that the most self defeating thing you can do for bad breath is
to use mouthwashes. As soon as the astringency wears off your mouth feels
worse than ever. Good oral hygiene, regular teeth cleaning and dental
check-ups are important. Eating plain yogurt or acidophilus yogurt is said
to help. So is drinking peppermint or rosemary tea. Perhaps breath fresh
sprays from the pharmacy may be of some help occasionally.
A troubled Pattaya farang, whose new wife
yawned with bored indifference throughout their nightly marital
encounters, is furious after dialing an intimate help line. He first
called up How To Satisfy Your Woman One where a recorded message
reeled off such self evident advice as buying brightly colored pajamas
and not eating too big a supper beforehand. He then dialed How To
Satisfy Your Woman Two which was exactly the same word for word. When
he complained to the company about this obnoxious rip off, he was told
that the two lines were valuable in case you had difficulty getting
through the first time.
Peace at lastAlbert Norris, 81, a retired cobbler from
Newcastle on Tyne and a self made man if ever there was, has had
better luck with his particular recurring problem. His continuous
snoring throughout the hours of darkness has been driving his nubile
companion, 23, to absolute distraction in their modest hotel in
downtown Soi 17. Not even herbal treatments nor a special face mask
could stop the aggravating nightly cacophony. Unusually, local doctors
were clueless what to suggest next. “Then I suddenly realized what
to do,” exclaimed a joyful Albert. “I moved into another guest
house without telling the wife.”
Television upgradeIn spite of all the criticism, UBC
subscription satellite TV is recovering fast. The company is well on
the way, Grapevine hears, to doubling the number of its subscribers
compared with the pits at the bottom of the recession. The latest
English language addition is X-Zyte (channel 37), a most entertaining
24 hour review of ghosts, magic, mysteries and light entertainment
madness. If you are a UBC subscriber but fail to receive their monthly
magazine, it’s probably because your name and address are not on
that separately held computer file. Visit your local operator or the
UBC headquarters in Ban Saen to check. But take with you your smart
card number and the receipt for your subscription.
Pedophile arrestsIn spite of continued sensationalism in the
international media about child prostitution and Thailand, Pattaya
offers no refuge for pedophiles. Whilst undercover police continue to
patrol likely haunts and hotel receptionists mostly know the score,
suspicious neighbors in housing estates are reporting instances of
young children apparently living “off the scene” with single men.
The excuse, sometimes used by the men, that they have the parents’
permission to bring up the child simply doesn’t wash any more. These
days, imprisonment, huge fines and exposure are the price to be paid.
If you are the prudent type, it pays to
check out costs in leading supermarkets and stores rather carefully at
the moment. Gordon’s Gin (1.125 litre size) varies from 480 to 590
baht a bottle and Schweppes canned tonic weighs in anywhere from 11 to
14 baht. Readers report similar huge differences in local beers,
coffee, cartons of cigarettes, imported whiskey and most goodies
likely to be bought by high living expat community. Unlike in Europe
and the States, some of the best buys are in corner shops, well away
from the city center, even though choice there will be restricted.
Power to the peopleSingapore’s Films Appeals Board has
reversed a previous ruling of the censors and has allowed Austin
Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me to be promoted as it (or he) stands. At
first, it had been decided that the title be changed to The Spy Who
Shoiked Me, employing a “Singlish” term to replace what was seen
as crude English debauchery. Interestingly, here in Thailand, the
censors’ act of 1940 was not invoked to try and ban a movie which
many say is indifferent anyway. A wise non move, that was.
Car finesThe police are particularly active along
Second Road at the moment towing away illegally parked motor vehicles
to the pound across from Soi 7. If your car is missing, best to go and
check there first. The procedure, passport or Thai driving license in
hand, is to pay 800 baht to the fines clerk in the main police station
and then go to the pound to collect your vehicle. If, on the other
hand, the vehicle has been stolen, the registered owner needs to take
the log book to the police in order to spark any interest in official
Pattaya perspectivesReader RB shares with you his latest
conclusions about Pattaya expat life. “How many Pattaya drunks does
it take to change a light bulb?” - None, they just sit there in the
dark and complain. “Why is it so difficult for local girls to find a
farang who is kind, sensitive and caring?” - Because they already
Dining Out: A surprising
by Miss Terry Diner
Funny how life can catch you out some days. The world changes
and evolves around you and unless you keep your eyes open, you can miss these
new developments. This happened last week while driving up Soi 8. The Dining Out
Team suddenly found a new restaurant had miraculously popped up at the front of
the Sunbeam Hotel! Bright, shiny and inviting, like the smiles from the
waitresses. We made a note to come back and try this new venture from the very
progressive Sunbeam people, called Caf้ and Gateaux
The concept of the new bistro style eatery, according to K.
Rungthip, the Managing Director of the Sunbeam Hotel, is to appeal to the farang
population who would like a no-fuss meal in an outside environment, as well as
provide an additional outlet for the increasing numbers of international guests
in the hotel.
The area is in the forecourt of the hotel and is built up
above the street level. A huge blue and white sun shade covers the restaurant,
wooden furniture, cushions on the chairs and the atmosphere is open and clean.
The menu is multi page and begins with breakfasts for the
hotel guests and then runs into a la carte suggestions. These are very extensive
and cover steak, pork, fish and chicken dishes. The price range is around
120-180 Baht. Included in these are such favourites Chicken Maryland, Pork
Cordon Bleu and Pepper Steak. Soups, and there are eight choices of all the
usuals, are all 80 Baht. Salads are next in the menu (80-120 Baht) and cover
Tuna, Smoked Chicken, Beef, Shrimp and Crab. Next up are the quick bites -
sandwiches and burgers (80-100 Baht) and then on to a section called a la carte
favourites that has many stir fries and curries, all around 80 Baht. From there
it is a true Thai food section with soups and curries, generally around 80-150
Baht depending on serving size. If that is not enough, there is a separate
section for omelettes and vegetarian dishes, noodles and ice creams and fruits.
As its name suggests, there are good choices of coffee and
cakes in a separate menu as well.
For our evening we both began with Tom Kha Gai, the famous
chicken in coconut milk soup. So often we are presented with a thin, soapy
watery concoction far removed from the original recipe. This was not one of
those. A large bowl of good thick hot soup. Not too chilli hot (we asked for mai
pet) and decent sized pieces of chicken. So far, top marks.
For mains, madame chose an interesting dish - a Chicken Gumbo
with French Fries, while I stayed with the Thai side and ordered a Thai pork
stuffed omelette (Kai Yat Sai). The chicken was in two large drumsticks with a
lovely loaded garlic and tartar sauce accompaniment. I must admit to purloining
some of her chips and dipping furiously!
My Thai omelette was done perfectly. A thin light egg parcel
with plenty of pork inside. I must admit to being very partial to Kai Yat Sai
and this was one of the better ones. Nice fluffy white rice too.
We were too full to try their coffee and cakes, the servings
of the food we had eaten being more than adequate, but the cakes all looked
mouth-watering and not for the calorie counters.
Our impression of Caf้ and Gateaux was that this is a worthy addition
to our bistro style restaurants. A new place to drop in for a good bite to eat,
without it biting a hole in your wallet at the same time.
Animal Crackers: Blue
by Mirin MacCarthy
Skinks are very secretive lizards and are found
throughout most of the world. As opposed to the geckos you see here with
the “sucker” pads on the feet, skinks have sharp pointed “fingers”
and cannot walk up smooth surfaces like geckos can.
One of the most easily tamed skinks are the Blue
Tongues. They are quite common in Australia and America and are a
territorial lizard. Quite often you will find a Blue Tongue will live in
your garden for many years. If you have a dog or cat, you may even see the
lizard eating from the pet’s dinner bowls.
The different species of Blue Tongue all have heavily
built, broad bodies set on small legs with delicate toes and have the
broad, blunt triangular head typical of skinks. Their deep blue tongue
vividly contrasts against the deep pink interior of the mouth.
The Common/Eastern Blue-Tongued Skinks grow to around
60 cm in length, so they are not small lizards.
Many people keep the Blue Tongues as pets, and they are
quite easily tamed, as are any territorial animal. You will need a large
enclosure for them, adults requiring at least 40-55 gal tanks. Substrate
can be pine shavings, aspen shavings or cypress mulch. They also need a
hide box. They are ground dwellers and so do not need tall branches or
rocks for climbing, but they can climb, however, so top-opening tanks do
need to be securely fastened. One area of slightly damp substrate should
be kept, or a humidity retreat box (into which they can freely climb in
and out, filled with damp sphagnum moss, for use during skin shedding
They should have a bowl of water available at all
times. The bowl should be big enough for them to climb easily in and out
of as it is used by the Blue Tongues for bathing.
They are also omnivores, eating a mixture of plant and
animal life. Their diet should be 60% plant, 40% animal. Frozen mixed
vegetables (carrots and peas mixture) can be ground up in a food process
and a calcium supplement added. This can be refrozen in serving sized
blocks, or kept refrigerated for a week. Serve with a low fat canned dog
food. Start with 1/2 teaspoon for a hatchling, working up to a tablespoon
for adults. Mealworms, killed Zoophorba worms, and pre-killed baby mice
(larger mice for adults) should be offered at meals 2-3 times a week in
place of the dog food.
Blue Tongue skinks are very docile, curious lizards, but like many
omnivorous and carnivorous lizards, wriggling human fingers look very much
like small wriggling mice...and may try to eat one if they are hungry. You
have been warned!
Find me some Water?
Divining for water, called “Dowsing”, has been
around for centuries. Like any aspect in our lives where we appear to be
using paranormal powers, there are those who will vigorously deny and
decry this form of divination. If science cannot explain it, then it must
be wrong say the technocrats. If their god doesn’t mention it in their
religious dogma then the churches will say it is wrong. From that
background of distrust it becomes easy to see why persecution of people
with “paranormal” abilities has occurred throughout the ages and in
fact still occurs.
Dowsing is actually a form of divination that allows
you to find things that you cannot detect with your ordinary five senses.
Whilst the best known form is water divining, dowsing can be used to find
metals, missing persons or even the car keys.
To dowse for anything you do need some tools, and for
the dowser these are ‘Y’ rods, ‘L’ rods and pendulums. ‘Y’
rods are green sticks freshly cut, in the shape of a Y - a central branch
with two side branches - although these days they can also be made of
plastic. This is the traditional form of dowsing tool and is easily
obtained from any handy small tree. Hazel is traditionally used in the UK,
due it’s ability to retain it’s springiness. My husband, who can
dowse, claims the best way is to hold the two side branches in the small
finger of each hand and rotate the hands inwards to then have the central
stem pointing forwards. The two side branches are then held under tension
and the evoked response is the stem of the Y moving sharply up or down.
‘L’ rods are two pieces of metal rod bent into L
shapes - these are easily made from wire coat hangers for example. They
are held like pistols, with your elbows in at waist height, balanced in
the hand rather than gripped, and the response is for the two long ends to
swing apart or to cross over each other.
Pendulums, or plumb bobs, can be made from any small
weight suspended on a string or fine chain. They are held with the weight
hanging freely and the response is for it to swing clockwise, anti
clockwise, back and forth or side to side. Traditionally, pregnant women
used a pendulum made of their wedding ring to determine the sex of their
unborn child. Is this a form of water divining perhaps - checking to see
if there is a “spout” on it!
Pendulums are best used for map dowsing - finding the
location of something or someone on a map. ‘Y’ and ‘L’ rods are
best used for field dowsing outdoors, such as searching for water pipes,
electric cables or buried treasure.
The principle behind dowsing is the same, no matter
which tool is used. The dowser must hold a mental image of what must be
located and then commence the search and wait for the dowsing rod to give
a response. You need to almost not care what the answer will be, but to be
totally open to the truth. As with all things, it takes practise before
you can be confident that you are obtaining an objective response.
Many people explain dowsing by working out how the tool
moves, which is almost certainly by unconscious muscle movements. That is,
however, irrelevant. The real key to dowsing is how does your body know
how to twitch at the right time? This is what makes dowsing a form of
divination. The dowser must have that ability to tap into a source of
knowledge or energy which is not known to all.
The results of dowsing can be spectacular, and have
been able to be proven. In the early 50s, a geo-chemist, metallurgist,
mining engineer and dowser named Stephan Riess predicted that a vast
supply of water ran under the Mojave Desert. Riess’s conclusions were
corroborated by a study done by civil engineers. Their findings revealed
that there was, as Riess called it, primary water travelling in the deep
rock fault system under the desert.
As proof of his theory, Riess drilled a number of deep,
successful wells, and turned barren Californian desert land into fertile,
productive acreage. However, his discovery was ignored by the politicians
of the day. Why? It has been claimed that there was simply too much money
to be made in the water transport systems in which the politicians had a
In 1958, Riess’s work was noticed by the Israeli
government and they invited him to find water for their new city of Eliat
on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aquaba. Riess met with the then Prime Minister
David Ben-Gurion who gave the go-ahead for his search for water. On May
29, 1959, the Jerusalem Post announced that the Riess-located well was
sufficient to supply a city of more than 100,000 people including industry
and outlying villages!
In 1949 the island of Bermuda was hit by drought.
Hydrologists declared that there was little underground fresh water
available. However, Henry Gross map-dowsed from his home in Maine the
general locations of four good freshwater sources in Bermuda. Gross was
summoned to Bermuda and accurately pinpointed his locations which in turn
were drilled for water. The wells were completed in 1950, and were able to
produce 2 million gallons of fresh water per day for public consumption.
With water quality always a problem in Asia, perhaps we need a dowser
in Pattaya too!
Auto Mania: The
by Dr. Iain Corness
It is being touted round the traps that Asia is the
place to be if you are a motor manufacturer. After the downturn of a
couple of years ago (“downturn” - you like that? Dead stop more
likely!) things are on the way up. Predictions are that within 18 months
Asia will be the fastest growing vehicle market in the world.
Looking at the Eastern Seaboard, you would have to
agree that we are looking ahead to better days. The investment being put
in by BMW, Ford/Mazda and General Motors is not just a money mopping
exercise. They are investing some serious capital in this area.
The rebuilding of the local motor industry has been
fairly extensive as well as expensive. Parent manufacturers have been
“buying back” their manufacturing rights and there is also now much
more direct involvement with the overseas parent manufacturer. BMW and
Daimler-Chrysler spring to mind immediately.
On the very local front, as well as the BeeEmm, GeeEmm,
FoMoCo group, there is the VW assembly plant on the way, Nissan at Laem
Chabang and possibly even Benz as well.
The 4th Roundtable Conference on the Automotive
Industry in Asia is going to be held in Bangkok in October, and some of
the issues affecting growth and sales will be aired. It will be necessary
for Industry and Government to co-operate to ensure that Thailand gets its
fair share of the exploding cake!
After watching Mika Hakkinen’s rear tyre disintegrate
at high speed at the Grand Prix, it makes you think about the technology
necessary to keep those round black rubber things together.
If you take a look at the World Land Speed Record and
other milestones in motoring, it makes you realise what an incredible job
tyres actually do. Mind you, our Mika hasn’t been the only one to have a
sudden delamination. Back in Australia a few years back, “Our Nige”,
the whining Brummie, did a fantastic job when one of his rears let go
around 250 kph. The front-on footage of his fight with the car down the
straight is a classic.
One fellow who did not do as well as Nigel or Mika was
poor old Percy Lambert. He was the first to exceed 100 MPH for one hour,
driving a 25 HP Talbot at the Brooklands circuit in 1913. Later that year,
while trying to retake his record from Peugeot, a tyre burst and Percy was
killed when the Talbot rolled down the banking.
In 1927 Parry Thomas lost his life when the rear wheel
collapsed after a presumed tyre failure, breaking the drive chain which
decapitated the Welshman. In those days, the record on the Pendine Sands
was standing at 170 MPH.
The reliability of tyres today is also such that most
motorists never even give them a second thought. Way back at the start of
this century, a good set of tyres might last 1000 miles! It is said that
George Lanchester, while delivering a car to Rudyard Kipling, had 21
blow-outs on the 320 km drive from Birmingham to Kipling’s home.
With the Grand Prix crews now able to refuel and change
4 tyres in under 10 seconds, pity the racers at the dawn of motor sport.
The three man crews at the Gordon Bennett Trophy races in 1905 amazed
everyone with their speed in a single wheel change, getting the time down
from an agonising 15 minutes to under 5.
Of course, pneumatic tyres are not new, and the
Michelin name has been associated with competition for more than a
century. Andre Michelin’s De Dion Bouton steamer winning the first speed
hill climb in the world in 1897. His car’s victory was attributed to the
pneumatic tyres, with the runner up on a more powerful machine only having
solid tyres. The famous Michelin ‘X’ were also the first radial ply
tyres and came out in 1953. Oh gawd, was it really that long ago!
Dunlop, another stalwart of motor sport, gave the
aforementioned Parry Thomas his first record in 1924, at over 110 MPH for
one hour at Brooklands. Up till their use, he had been plagued with tyre
changes during the duration of the competition. It was Dunlop, too, who
“re-invented” the tubeless tyre in 1953, even though they had been
used (with no success) in the 1890s.
Firestone were first onto the market with the
“balloon” tyre in 1923 and the 1924 Chrysler were specially designed
Pneumatic tyres only dominated the market, however,
after 1929 as the Trojan people were still selling the XL Trojan with
solid tyres up till then. No, the pneumatic tyre has certainly gone a long
I can remember the first “real” racing tyres I ever
used. They were Dunlop R5’s which were a treaded tyre - hands up anyone
old enough to remember them? They were not new, but were hand-me-downs
from a mate, who in turn had received them as cast-offs from someone else!
There was enough rubber to last 5 laps if I was lucky, and most of them
started my races being bald to start with. When I think about it, I
probably “invented” slicks! Whatever, they were just so much better
than road tyres that I never raced on road rubber again.
Last week the quiz revolved around the 1940 Mille
Miglia. What was so special about the 1940 event was that it was run over
nine laps of a 100 mile circuit, rather than the usual “proper” route.
Never mind the fact that it was run while “hostilities” were in
progress (what a lovely term for Adolf’s bunfight)!
OK, to this week. The mid engine position is almost de rigeur for the
exotic sports car these days. Ferrari, Lamborghini and even the humble
Toyota MR2 boast this layout. For the week’s FREE beer, what was the
first production sports car with this mid engine layout? Fax to 427 596 or
email [email protected] and be first in with the correct answer.
Good luck! By the way, no trick question with this one. Hint - it was in
the 60s, so some of you are even old enough to have seen one in the flesh.
Reading Food Labels
by David Garred,
Club Manager Dusit Resort Sports Club
Further to last week’s column on grazing through
mealtime, this week I want to suggest how we select foods for optimal
benefit. It is all in the label.
An important part of choosing healthy, nutritious food
is knowing how to read food labels. Unfortunately, labels have their own
language, and it is not always easy separating fact from fiction. The Dewy
Decimal system of the supermarket can be more confusing than the on back
at University. The best starting point is learning what a manufacturer has
to tell you, as opposed to the information they volunteer in order to
convince you to buy!
In many countries of the world all manufacturers are
required to list their ingredients in descending order according to their
relative proportion by weight. Although by no means an exact measure, this
list will give you an indication of the relative amounts of the different
ingredients that make up the food. Be aware, some of the manufacturers
will use several kinds of sugar (EG, fructose, lactose, maltose, molasses,
treacle, golden syrup, icing sugar, honey) or fat (EG, shortening,
vegetable fat, vegetable oil, beef fat, butter, margarine, cocoa butter,
Canola oil, and milk solids) so that each one will be present in a smaller
proportion and will not be seen to be the major ingredient in the product.
Fat, carbohydrate and protein content determine the
energy provided by food. Food energy is measured in either kilojoules (kJ)
or calories (American usage). To change kilojoules to calories you divide
Fat provides 37 kJ per gram, carbohydrate 16 kJ, and
protein 17 kJ. You can use the nutrition panel on foods to estimate the
percentage of total kilojoules provided by each of these nutrients. Simply
multiply the above kilojoules per gram by the number of grams per serving.
Then divide this figure by the total kilojoule level of the product (see
The average person should aim for a daily energy (kJ)
intake made up of 50% to 60% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 20% protein. These
are general guidelines only and will vary between individuals, depending
on a number of factors including physical activity level, weight loss
When comparing products for energy, fat, sugar and
sodium (salt) content, be sure to check that the serving size is
consistent across all the products. Some manufacturers give smaller
serving sizes than others, so make sure you are comparing equal amounts
(i.e., look at the ‘per 100 gram’ information, rather than the per
Sugar and Salt content
The body’s needs for sodium are estimated at 920 to
2,300 milligrams per day. However, the average person takes in 10 to 20
times that amount, much of which comes from processed foods. The true name
for table salt is Sodium Chloride and ingredient lists will classify salt
under either title. If a nutrition panel is present it is possible to
estimate the amount of salt in a product by looking at the sodium content.
Be aware of hidden salts in processed foods. For example a vegemite
sandwich (the stuff that almost all Aussies are reared upon) provides 480
milligrams of sodium, of which only 150 comes from the vegemite itself,
the rest comes from the processed bread and margarine - now there is a
truly shocking example.
To find out the sugar content of a food, refer to the
‘total sugar’ figure listed on the label. Adults should aim to take in
about 5% to 10% or less of their kilojoules from sugar. For an average
female this would be approximately 25 to 45 grams, and 30 to 60 grams for
a male per day.
A food classified as low fat must not contain more than
3 grams total fat per 100 grams. If classified as fat-free the food must
not contain more than 0.15g total fat per 100g of the product. Do not be
tricked into believing that foods claiming to be low in cholesterol are
also low in fat. Cholesterol is a type of fat from animal sources such as
meat and eggs. A product such as olive oil, made from vegetable sources,
may make the claim ‘no cholesterol’ but it is still 100% fat. Also be
cautious of claims such as 95% fat free - this equates to 5 g of fat in
100g of the product, but if the actual serving size is 500g, then you are
still taking in a total of 25g of fat.
Finally, yes I understand that no foods manufactured in Thailand are
required to have this amount of information printed on the label by law.
As I mentioned at the start of the article, many foreign countries are.
I also understand that imported foods are more expensive
than locally produced foods, but don’t you think that for the sake of the
health of your family and of yourself and for your own piece of mind that the
extra expense is justified?
Copyright 1998 Pattaya Mail Publishing Co.Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596; e-mail: [email protected]
Updated by Chinnaporn Sangwanlek.