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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
 
Family Money: Looking forward
 
The Computer Doctor

Successfully Yours: Stephen Pennington
 
Snap Shots: Eisenstaedt - the photojournalists’ memtor
   
Modern Medicine: On the Receiving End!

Heart to Heart with Hillary
 
Grapevine

Dining Out: Café Kronborg - and Hornbill Stew!
  
Animal Cracker: Help me I'm hurt!
  
Auto Mania: Are we breeding “wimpy” drivers?
 
Down The Iron Road: Inside the Steam Railway Locomotive (Part 1)
  
Coins of the Realm : A rare find indeed
 
Fitness Tips: Rebound & Regain

Family Money: Looking forward

By Leslie Wright

(continued from last week)

Following on from last week’s offering of what I believe might happen in certain markets during this year, here are the remainder of my forecasts for 2000.

#9: In 1999 a few Asian markets showed renewed vigour (with some notable exceptions), but whether that growth is sustainable going forward is more difficult to forecast. Indonesia’s major domestic problems are far from resolved; Malaysia’s internal political squabbles are detracting from the economic focus; Korea’s rebound last year seems to have run out of steam; Taiwan is still recovering from last year’s earthquake; and it’s about time another major earthquake, volcanic eruption or super-typhoon came along to dampen the Philippines’ ever-erratic economy (as these Acts of God seem to do every time the Philippines starts to show any improvement.) I would therefore advocate only a limited exposure to the emerging markets of Asia, and keeping a wary eye on individual market movements.

#10: Hong Kong, although in terms of capitalisation the world’s sixth largest stock market, is driven more by sentiment than by fundamentals, so is always a tough one to call.

Now that it has become clear that Hong Kong is less independent of Beijing than its populace thought (although most don’t care so long as they are allowed to get on with making money), its fortunes are even more tied up with China’s than prior to Handover. Despite what some analysts have said with regard to the devaluation of the Chinese Yuan, they seem to have forgotten that face is at least as important in Chinese decision-making as economics, and the Chinese leadership have several times stated that they will not devalue their currency "for at least five years", which means not this year at least. And since Hong Kong’s economy depends so heavily on international trade carried out with long-term letters of credit, the peg to the US dollar is vital to the stability of the HK dollar, which is fundamentally important to continuing this system of 180-day L/Cs. Neither the Chinese leadership (who are not so daft as some people think) nor Hong Kong’s billionaire entrepreneurs want to rock the boat that has carried them to prosperity for several decades past.

However, China is busy developing its own direct trading links now it is entering the WTO fold, sending its officials to school to learn English (something Hong Kongers have resisted for years), and redeveloping Shanghai as a more centralised entry port than Hong Kong - despite the former colony’s super-efficient British-run container terminals. As a result, I believe Hong Kong will gradually lose its status as the principal entrepôt for China. But that is still some years into the future, and Hong Kong in the meantime retains its importance as a major trading and financial centre.

For this year, then, I believe that there will be no revaluation nor removal of the HK$ peg to the US$; that HK property will show a steady but modest rise; that barring unforeseen disasters, there will be somewhat volatile but relatively unspectacular growth in the economy, with the Hang Seng Index perhaps rising to breech the magic 20,000 figure by year’s end.

#11: Bonds, in a climate of rising interest rates and euphoric stock markets, are perceived by most investors as unexciting, and the international community is taking a neutral stance to both international bonds (which means predominantly US Treasury notes) and gilts (which means UK Government bonds.) However, if the US market does suffer a significant correction (i.e., a drop of more than 10%), then bonds will be seen as a ‘safe-haven’ alternative, and may then perform better than they have over the past year.

Personally, I am anticipating the US will have a soft rather than hard landing, resulting in bonds showing a poor result again this year. (Use limited-risk and/or guaranteed equity funds instead.)

#12: The conjunction of five planets which will take place in May this year is predicted to cause extra high tides around the world (good for you surfers!) as well as many minor earthquakes and a few significant ones in susceptible areas.

Italy is one such, with Vesuvius especially having given seismologists cause for concern recently. There seems to be a real possibility of a major eruption occurring in the not too distant future, similar to that which buried Pompeii in 79 AD. The exacerbating gravitational effects of May’s planetary conjunction may release the strain already built up there (and elsewhere), and the results of such an explosive eruption to Naples - and Italy’s economy as a result - could be catastrophic. I sincerely hope this one does not happen.

#13: On the local scene, the various ‘illegal’ structures along Beach Road will still not have been removed by year’s end, resulting in yet more deliberations and delays to the construction of the new jetty.

#14: The rest of the new beachfront will be nearly finished by the end of the year, except for the south end of Jomtien, where the road will still be under construction and a frequent bottleneck. However, no proper public toilets will have been built, and local vendors will continue to use the sidewalk, sand, or nearest coconut tree to relieve themselves, which all adds spice to tourists’ stories (or letters to the Pattaya Mail) about Amazing Thailand.

#15: Despite the local authorities’ pledge to eliminate the burgeoning population of stray dogs throughout Pattaya, these will still be around wherever people take sympathy on their plight and persist in providing them food. They will continue to hound unwitting motorcyclists, and so will the stray dogs.

#15: The long-awaited water treatment plant will have run over budget and the city won’t have enough money to pay the contractors, so it still won’t be operational by year’s end, and a request for yet another year’s extension will have to be filed. To help speed things up, the resident population will be asked to foot the bill, even if your house is not connected to the sewage treatment system.

On the bright side, the diggings will have been completed and the dug-up roads will have been resurfaced (for the third or fourth time); but new bumps and potholes will have appeared by year’s end, due to the resurfacing having shrewdly been laid during the rainy season, and not quite as sturdily as the old one...

#16: The even longer-awaited public bus system (which was supposed to have been implemented more than two years ago, to replace the baht buses) will still not be beyond the discussion stage by the end of the year, so the baht buses will still be plying their routes, their drivers totally ignoring other motorists and continuing with impunity to intimidate tourists and occasionally molesting those who have the nerve to object - which is unwise since these guys are a law unto themselves.

#17: As happens every year, lots of bar-girls will fall madly in love with ageing farangs, who will then take them out of that life to set up house together (in her name, of course, since the proposed bill to permit foreigners to own land has not yet passed into law) with the plan of living out their Golden Years together in blissful contentment.

#18: As somewhat more experienced (or cynical) residents know only too well, you can take the girl out of the bar, but you can’t take the bar out of the girl. So I predict that again this year, lots of former bar-girls will split up with their farang husbands or boyfriends and return to the bar trade, but many will now own the bar.

#19: And there will be lots of bars, hotels and restaurants for sale in Pattaya - all ‘guaranteed’ by their present owners to make the new owners a small fortune (but better start with a big one).

#20: And last but not least, in every street where there is now one laundry, hairdressing salon or travel agency, three more will open up within the year. Then none of them will make any money, and the owners will while away their time cursing the others.

But remember that these forecasts are only for fun. We’ll see at year’s end how many (if any!) came true, and how many missed the mark.

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. If you have any comments or queries on this article, or about other topics concerning investment matters, contact Leslie directly by fax on (038) 232522 or e-mail [email protected]. Further details and back articles can be accessed on his firm’s website on www.westminsterthailand.com.

Editor’s note: Leslie sometimes receives e-mails to which he is unable to respond due to the sender’s automatic return address being incorrect. If you have sent him an e-mail to which you have not received a reply, this may be why. To ensure his prompt response to your enquiry, please include your complete return e-mail address, or a contact phone/fax number.

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The Computer Doctor

by Richard Bunch

Well, so far as I am aware, the Y2K disasters in the area have not been too significant and have been more of annoyance rather than total disasters. So altogether, not too bad a start to the Year 2000.

From Victor Moore: I have four, 5" floppy discs from which I would like to transfer the data to 3.5" discs. As my 5" slot is now defunct, can you recommend someone who would undertake the task for me?

Computer Doctor replies: This is a real trip down memory lane! Unfortunately, I am not aware of anyone who has a 5" floppy drive but I am sure there must be someone out there, so if any reader has one and can help Victor, please let me know and I will pass your information on.

From R. B. Pattaya: As a regular user of the Internet in Pattaya I’m looking for the best (cheapest) Internet-Provider Service here. Is it possible that you can tell me which ISP are available here? I hear that there must be one, which just charges 12 Baht an hour. The WEB-Kits I bought till now (Loxinfo, CSN-Internet) were all without the Newsgroups Service, what I want, as I find this interesting. Can you please help me with my questions? Thanks in advance.

Computer Doctor replies: There are many ISP’s now within the local area, some I hear very negative reports of, others I get varying feedback on. The rationale for this seems to be the location of the house/office which tends to place the problems at the feet of the telephone providers. With regards to pricing/costs some providers have recently reduced their charges. The only ISP whose services I sell and therefore have the greatest knowledge on is Internet Thailand and with INET Access their charges are as low as 17 Baht/hour at the moment. That is not to say it is either the best or the cheapest but I think it is good value and you can receive the Newsgroups. Ask around, and try small amounts from various providers until you find one that works best for you.

From Rich Fife, USA: We are planning to move to Pattaya for a 3-month stay in May. I am hoping that there are Internet Service Providers that serve Pattaya. If so, is it possible to get unlimited time for a set fee per month as is the custom here in the US? If not, what is their pricing structure and is there much of a lag time between ordering service and actually getting it? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer what are most probably pretty stupid questions.

Computer Doctor replies: Firstly, there are many ISP’s serving the Pattaya area, so there is choice for you. They do not provide unlimited access and all have different pricing structures, some offer a fixed number of hours per month for a pre-determined fee with excess hours then being charged, others offer a kit with provided hours of access time which carries forward. With them all, it is possible to be connected very quickly, with the case of kits, after paying your money at a retailer, you validate it yourself on-line and the whole process should take less than 10 minutes. The best advice really is wait until you get here and see what is available at the time and best suits your requirements.

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]

Richard Bunch is Managing Director of Action Computer Technologies Co., Ltd.

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Successfully Yours: Stephen Pennington

by Mirin MacCartthy

Stephen Pennington, the General Manager of Guardforce, is an American, born in Kentucky to a family of six.

His attorney father was disappointed when he didn’t take up an athletic scholarship he had won but instead, athletically ran away from home to join the Coast Guard, but then Stephen Pennington has always been a person to follow his own direction.

How did a boy in a landlocked blue grass town in the Midwest become captivated with sailing before he ever saw the sea? "A big influence on my life was the 1950s TV show ‘Adventures in Paradise’ by James A Mitchener about a man with a schooner who sailed the South Pacific."

Apart from recreational sailing there were two other big influences for Stephen, flying and security, and these all evolved from his time in the Coast Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard is part of the armed services. "I was interested in security and police work so I became a member of the Provost element. I was only an enlisted man and I thought that security work would be better than painting boats! Fortunately I was a decent tennis player and played doubles with the Commodore. He arranged for me to work as personal escort and protection for the Assistant Commandant of the Coast Guard."

"Aviation developed because a young ensign, a flying instructor, got me interested. He would give me flying lessons for nothing if I just paid for his beer and the fuel. Before I got out of the Coast Guard I had my private pilots license."

However, when Stephen left in the1970s he knew he wasn’t going to make a career in commercial flying because there were so many qualified jet pilots returned from Vietnam, but being eligible for the GI Bill he chose to study Aviation management at the University of Florida.

He graduated three and a half years later and found a job calling for aviation and police background (an unusual combination) to start a police unit at the Sarasota Airport.

Later he went to become operations and security manager at Daytona Airport. Stephen’s eyes twinkle as he recalls, "The biggest thing that happened to me in my career was that I was hired by Bozo, Allen and Hamilton, the second largest aviation management consultant firm in the States. It was 1979, the time of a lot of hijacking to Cuba and the FAA was ordered by congress to address the lack of airport security. I was only 27 and my salary more than doubled. I went abroad and worked out of the Athens office, and spent time doing marketing assignments through the Middle East and Europe."

He went on, "In 1983 I resigned to do things on my own. I had the money to do it from overseas and I just felt if I never did it I would never know. I made investments in a restaurant and bar business, got into the used specialty foreign car market, old Jags, Porsches and Mercedes. I wrote a screenplay, a Rocky series on Skiing. I had a condo in Aspen, Colorado and skiing was one of my favorite activities. There were some successes and some failures, but in the end, it was academic. At the end of the day I had a failed marriage and a costly divorce."

In 1987 Stephen took a job as operations and security manager at Denver Airport. Denver is a very popular ski resort with six runways to keep open and there was always tremendous pressure on him not to close the airport. "One day I lost an argument whether to close a runway immediately for clearance or keep it open for another twenty minutes. I decided then, that I was not going to do another winter there, so in ’92 I resigned, but then took a position as a consultant for an aviation company.

Stephen is proud of his record in the aviation consultancy business. "People have a very narrow concept of someone who works as an aviation consultant, thinking you only deal with airlines. When in reality, it would make property management of a shopping mall look small time. You are involved in the management of personnel, finance, property, and transportation, in addition to operations, maintenance and security. How to handle emergency response, how to speak to the public to frame hazardous situations, how to market your services and negotiate labor contracts. If you can manage a large airport you can manage anything." (Denver was equivalent to the 17th largest city in the U.S.)

After that pressure cooker environment, Stephen took it a little easier, helping his three nephews establish a restaurant and pub in Seattle. But in 1995 British Airways asked him to go to Kuala Lumpur to design security plans for the new airport, where he worked till 1998.

It was at this time he came in contact with Thailand. Like many who live here, he holidayed in Thailand and fell in love with climate, the people and the sport, sailing and tennis. When a short term consultancy became available with PB Asia Parsons Aviation he took it. He was here!

His next move was for the long haul. "I read that a GM was needed for a large security company, and I met the people from Guardforce and was impressed with the Managing Director’s commitment to provide quality service. I have been here ever since."

Would Stephen do it all again? In a word, "Yes!" However, he added quickly, "Although I would have liked to have put more emphasis on family than work and leisure. But I do think the most important thing in life is to be true to yourself."

Asked about his advice to other expats, he came out with some interesting angles. "I think that farangs have had too much impact on the culture and society here. I am wholeheartedly against people being here a short time then wanting to have laws passed to make this in line with their own country. One of the reasons I am happy to live here is that the States are so over regulated." Sentiments echoed by many long term residents here.

Stephen has no plans to leave Thailand in the near future. "Here people smile and enjoy a quality of life, without the need for more and more possessions - possessions that we not only want but become desperate over."

Success to him is, "A state of mind. If you are happy then you are successful. I know some people who have status, position and wealth but who are not necessarily happy. And I know some very poor people who are happy. I am content here on a standard of living that I would never of thought possible before. I guess your values change over the years."

Stephen Pennington is someone who has taken a very tortuous route to get here, but he is here and he is obviously very happy.

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Snap Shots: Eisenstaedt - the photojournalists’ mentor

Alfred Eisenstaedt was born December 6, 1898 in Dirschau, West Prussia, son of a merchant, but his turning point towards photography came after an uncle gave him an Eastman Kodak No. 3 folding camera when he was 14 years old. His interest was born.

The second factor was being wounded in WWI. During a year’s recuperation, his interest and knowledge of photography blossomed, but Eisenstaedt was 29 years old before he took his first famous photograph. This shot was a woman playing tennis, but was taken from 50 metres away, so the image was rather small. A friend showed him an enlarger and Eisenstaedt was enthralled. "When I saw that one could enlarge and eliminate unnecessary details, the photo bug bit me and I saw enormous possibilities."

That shot sold for 3 marks and he was a professional. The world’s pre-eminent photojournalist was away and running.

He began working for an agency in Europe and used, at that time, the innovative Leica. He had a confrontational style that would see him march right in, get the shot and get out, while others were still wondering how to do it. One of these was the historic first meeting of Hitler and Mussolini that Eisenstaedt took in 1933.

However, when Hitler came to power, Eisenstaedt left and emigrated to America. He became one of the photographic contributors for the new LIFE magazine which came out in 1936 and by the second week was shooting the covers.

He also shot assignments all over the US showing the recovery of America as the country pulled out of the Depression. He travelled his new homeland sending back images of shacks and abandoned cars in Oregon and skid row derelicts in Los Angeles. Because he was not yet a citizen, Eisenstaedt could not be sent to cover the war, and so landed a good deal of celebrity coverage instead.

One of his most famous images has been dubbed "The Kiss". On VJ Day (Victory Japan) he shot a sailor kissing a nurse. Even when 92 years old he remembered that the exposure of that victory kiss was 1/125th at 5.6 and he shot it on Kodak Super Double X film! (The real identities of the sailor and the nurse were never known, though several have in later years claimed to be the subjects of that photograph.)

When not recording life in the real world, he would return to celebrity portraiture. Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Albert Einstein, J.F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Norman Rockwell, Henry Kissinger and Ernest Hemingway all presented themselves willingly before his lens.

But LIFE magazine and Eisenstaedt were inseparable. Another photographer, and later LIFE’s director of photography, John Loengard explained Eisenstaedt’s enduring success. "He never tries to please editors. He only makes pictures that please him." In total, he shot nearly 100 covers for the magazine and some 10,000 prints.

Even in his 90’s he would appear at 9 a.m. for work in the TIME-LIFE building. There he would supervise the printing of his photographs for the next book or photographic project.

In 1979, at age 81, Eisenstaedt returned to Germany for the first time and he presented an exhibition of 93 photographs of German life from the 1930’s. Remarkably, Eisenstaedt’s first major retrospective show did not come until age 88 when the International Center of Photography presented 125 of his prints. Another of his exhibitions was called 95 for 95, which comprised 95 images in a show for his 95th birthday, which was exhibited all over America.

The indefatigable photojournalist was recognised with many awards. The city of New York proclaimed an Alfred Eisenstaedt Day in his honour. President Bush bestowed him with the Presidential Medal of Arts and the ICP recognized Eisenstaedt with its Master of Photography award in 1988.

But the greatest reward for any photographer is to see his pictures endure. Eisenstaedt’s have.

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Modern Medicine: On the Receiving End!

by Dr Iain Corness

The last time I stayed in hospital, while not on duty wearing a white coat and stethoscope, was in 1975 after breaking my leg. I stayed one night and discharged myself the next morning. Since then I have stayed well away - till last week when I found myself on the receiving end!

So just how did such an epitome of glowing health end up incarcerated with a drip hanging off one hand? It actually was not difficult. It began at 2.30 in the morning with an urgent trip to the toilet and a bowel motion the next best thing to the explosion from Mt. Vesuvius.

This trip to the throne was repeated several times through the early hours, but being of strong stoic heritage I went to work, anal sphincter biting the buttons off the upholstery as I drove along Beach Road.

After making the work loo uninhabitable I was driven home after one hour, as I was too weak to drive. Taking to my bed, my (ex-nurse) wife tried to get me to drink some fluid, but by then I was so nauseated and exhausted I couldn’t and didn’t.

12 hours after the onset I was just out of it. Dehydrated, confused, with a nether region best described by that Johnny Cash number "Ring of Fire".

It was then that Sister Corness drew upon her years of nursing authority and I was forcibly taken to Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital. For only the second time in my life, I was admitted!

I must say, I had never realised just how much time patients spend lying on their backs, staring at the ceilings. We put pretty pictures and notices on the walls - but nothing on the ceilings. It doesn’t need to be a Sistine Chapel, but even a few words of encouragement like "Don’t worry, you’ll be better soon" would be nice. I’d even settle for just a picture.

Even in the comfort of one’s private room it’s the same blank ceilings. When you’re too sick to look at the telly - what’s left? The ceiling. Come back Michael Angelo, all is forgiven!

The next item I had no conception about was just how damn hard those hospital trolleys are. And when they wheel you down the tiled corridors, the solid tyres go ka-lunk ka-lunk ka-lunk over the grouting - it’s the train ride to hell!

Actually there are so many things that patients must endure, about which we doctors are totally ignorant, that I think it should be made a compulsory part of the medical course that all "doctors in the making" have to become an in-patient for at least three days and have every investigation performed upon them that we doctors can devise. Rectal examinations would be the easy ones and not half as embarrassing as the "bed bath" might be!

So what did I think of my stay? Well, I did get better, and it did take three days (even if I did talk my way out after two)! Without wishing to appear obsequious, the standard of nursing care was just exemplary - in fact, the best I have seen anywhere. Friendly, caring and totally efficient. I was most impressed - even though (hopefully) I won’t be back! Let me assure you, I am not in the habit of throwing compliments around, just for appearances sake. Those girls were excellent.

No, being on the receiving end does at least remind us doctors to keep our feet on the ground - or at least our backs on the bed! Thanks for your help, Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital!

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Hillary wishes all her adorable fans a happy, healthy and hillarious Year 2000! A Thousand Thanks and the Best of Both Worlds to the Miserleys who are contemplating retiring to Majorca with what they made from following my advice! The chocolates were scrumptious darlings, thank you!

Dear Hillary,

With the hotel re-opening in Jomtien where the fire was a couple of years back, did they have any exorcism necessary before people could move in again? I know I would not be too happy to stay there, but maybe I am too superstitious. What do you think?

Superstitious Sally

Dear Sally

Ooooooo! Hillary would cross her fingers before she crossed that threshold! I am not sure if the monks did the chanting and things. But you can safely hazard a bet that no matter how big the new spirit house is, the Thai guests will be few and far between!

Dear Hillary,

My wife and I are over here on holidays. We are having a wonderful, relaxing time at the beach, but we notice everyone seems to be late. Is this what the local’s here call "Thai time"? The clock seems to confuse us as well. Can you help us ignorant tourists?

Rolex

Dear Rolex,

My dears, you are observant, no one is ever on time and this is indeed called Thai time. To overcome confusion of the actual time of day point to your watch and say ten nal-i-ga, that means 10 by the watch. If they do not understand, then don’t be like the Brits and shout louder! Better yet do not arrange to meet any locals at a particular time. They are just as likely not to appear. Do things the Thai way, forget the watch, relax and have fun, Sanuk as they say.

Dear Hillary,

I notice that the Thai people seem to dislike the sun. They shield themselves from the sun, even crossing the road! Sunbathing is done under beach umbrellas! This appears rather strange to me, as they all have such beautiful natural sun tans, something that we Europeans try very hard to achieve. Why is this?

Margarethe

Dear Margarethe,

As you see no one is ever satisfied. Europeans try to become tanned and Asians all want to be whiter! Michael Jackson is a remarkable example of a chameleon! Thais all equate beauty with whiteness! They say the most beautiful girls come from Chiang Mai because they have the lightest skins! Perhaps they all subscribe to the theory that beauty is only skin deep! They certainly haven’t heard that "black is beautiful". Mind you, red isn’t beautiful - it’s painful. The dermatologists would say that the Thais have the right attitude. Sun exposure is very aging and does produce skin cancer.

Dear Hillary,

People have told me I have to be wary of the Baht Bus drivers in Pattaya. Is this so? Can you give me some hints to make sure that I am safe while travelling around?

Worried passenger

Dear Worried,

No problems at all. Just do not get in the front cab with them. Know where you are going and the approximate fare. Don’t expect change, and always have the right money. Approximately 10 to 20 baht around town. Longer distances and after midnight trips to be negotiated first. If you don’t like what he is asking, get another baht bus, there are plenty around. If you are alone and there are two men in the front cab then just don’t hire that baht bus. Pretty simple natural precautions to ensure safe travel most anywhere.

Dear Hillary,

Reading the Pattaya Mail on the net I notice that a lot of farangs seem to be complaining about being asked for money by their Thai girlfriends or whatever. Is it really that bad? Or is this an exaggeration. I ask you, Hillary, as you seem to be the only truthful person around.

John Wintergreen

Dear John,

Thank you for that, Hillary just tells it as Hillary sees it. May we take it that you have never had a Thai girlfriend? You do seem a little "green" by name and "green" by nature, perhaps.

Dear Hillary,

Is it possible to really get to know a Thai girl? I have been dating this girl from the local bar in Jomtien for almost three weeks now and we get along fantastically well. However, the other night she said that she was going to go to Sweden in March as her "Sweden boyfriend" was sending her a ticket and she had her visa to go. She never said anything about this bloke from Sweden before. How can you ever trust them? I am shattered, as I thought we had a good future together. Is it finished or what?

Shattered

Dear Shattered,

I would say your relationship is finished. Though take heart, three weeks is not long to base a future on. Start again and next time ask first, "Do you have boyfriend, do you have husband, do you have sick buffalo?" Don’t become disillusioned if the answer is "No" to all three, but things change in the following three weeks. Nothing is permanent in Pattaya (or even Jomtien) - not even Hillary’s hair colour.

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GRAPEVINE

Left right left
A leading local store is offering a bonanza sale after discovering this week that 846 shoes had been stolen in an overnight raid. The total value lost is believed to be in the region of 700,000 baht. As luck would have it, the burglars got away with shoes for right feet only as the left ones were held in an impregnable locked store. The store’s incurably optimistic press officer said, "We believe there is a market for selling left shoes only, especially to farangs. Some of them are handicapped, whilst others on a restricted budget may not mind wearing a pair of flip flops both pointing in the same direction." It was stressed that the sale would end immediately after all the left leaning shoes had been sold.

Hammer head
A reconvened coroner’s court has just ordered the reopening of the peculiar case of Marcus Phelps, 41, believed to have been a Viennese pastry cook, who committed suicide whilst on holiday last March. The coroner announced to a hushed gathering of officials that he had now had time to read the four page dossier of medical and autopsy reports. Consequently, he was not altogether convinced that thirty three hammer blows to the head were entirely consistent with the supposition of self inflicted wounds. It had earlier been argued that Mr Phelps may have begun hitting himself very gently which would certainly explain the unusually large number of dents. Unfortunately the hammer itself, which might have been decisive in deciding what actually happened, did not turn up in court and was said to have disappeared without trace.

Temper temper
In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, farang resident Frederick Alcock from Newton le Willows in UK has issued a civil writ against a Pattaya based professional who has a row of impressive university qualifications from various countries, including a PhD from the Middle East. Mr Alcock said he had been beaten almost senseless by a man posing as a competent doctor who had offered to help him overcome his mental problems which were many and varied. The doctor, who cannot actually be presented with the writ as he has fled to Oman, was stated to be Mr Alcock’s Anger Management Counsellor.

Living in Thailand
Since well before Christmas, Immigration Bureau leaflets have been available at airports and at local offices informing farangs on the regulations about "living" in Thailand without the need to go on periodic visa runs. Basically, the best route for farangs aged 55 and over is to apply for a one year retirement visa which requires a bank balance in the kingdom of at least 800,000 baht. Men and women under 55 can apply for a one year residence permit for which the minimum balance in cash or kind is 3,000,000 baht. Neither route allows farangs to "work" in Thailand which remains strictly illegal without Labor Office approval. Both retirement and residence permits have a number of small print regulations, so make sure you check them out.

Legal eagle
Reader WR asks about the legal position if a farang is unable to pay his bar bill of, say, 500 baht. If the bar is not willing to allow you to fall into arrears, the manager will most likely summon the police who have the right to detain you in the cells for forty eight hours before ferrying you to Chonburi court. If the cash appears during the interim period, you will most likely be freed without charge once the bar has been reimbursed. If not, the court may dismiss the charge or imprison you for about a week. Deportation is likely to follow as any offence automatically voids your visa under Royal Thai law. Farangs who run out of money are not popular in our fair city.

Another legal eagle
Reader TY asks whether visa overstayers are sentenced in court according to the length of time spent too long in the kingdom. Oddly enough, the usual answer is "no". There seems to be standard sentence of 3,000 baht or a month in jail, followed by deportation. This seems to apply if the overstay is one week or several. Either way round, though, it’s not worth the experience of finding out. Visa overstayers who are not found out locally and manage to arrive at Bangkok airport, may be able to pay a fine of 200 baht a day on the spot. But, as This Is Thailand, the golden rule is never exceed your entitlement on the visa.

Best foot forward
The scam of telling your fortune by examining the contours of your feet and assembled corns has finally spread to Pattaya, or more precisely to Jomtien Beach. Housewife Mrs Pearl Sotherby, 50, from Accrington, near Blackburn, was shocked to be told from the state of her ankles that she would have many more years of married bliss. In reality, she had divorced her husband last August. Friends immediately pointed out that the fortune teller may have mistaken happiness lines for Mrs Sotherby’s troublesome varicose veins. Realizing his mistake, the fortune teller then offered to examine the bumps on Pearl’s head and shoulders at a 50% discount of his normal rate. The reply cannot be printed in a family newspaper.

Teethgrinder
Pattaya’s trivial pursuits fanatics are agog at the latest revelation about the Mona Lisa. Apparently, that enigmatic smile is a result of a compulsive gnashing of teeth known as bruxism. Normally associated with sleep or periods of stress, Mona’s own problem may have resulted from the strain of sitting too long in the same position. Pattaya’s arm benders in the bars please note.

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Dining Out: Café Kronborg - and Hornbill Stew!

by Miss Terry Diner

How do you describe dining out in a Pattaya institution? Café Kronborg is the second home of the Pattaya Sports Club and one of the centres of Pattaya golf. Judging by the number of golf bags lined up outside the loo it is THE centre. Run by Bjarne Neilsen and his wife, everyone knows Café Kronborg. For those who don’t, it is on Soi Diana Inn on the left heading towards Soi Bua Khaow.

We were invited for one of Bjarne’s famous Saturday afternoon smorgasbords - a cosmopolitan late lunch, set around a large circular table, with the food in the centre on a carousel, Chinese banquet style. The food on offer was certainly no Chinese titbits, however. It was good solid food, prepared by the good solid hands of Bjarne himself.

On offer were such amazing dishes as smoked reindeer (if Santa was a little late, you now know why), Australian sausage, salmon roe caviar on boiled eggs, chicken salad, ham, roast potato slices, Australian lamb chops in red wine sauce, Danish pork and the biggest cheese platter with many different styles of cheese. The carousel was groaning.

When asked where he got such items as reindeer and Aussie lamb chops, Bjarne was his usual reticent self saying, "Aw, some friends just bring them over for me, so I cook them!" A master of the understatement, our Bjarne.

The reindeer was actually an interesting cold meat, like a proscuitto ham, but slightly more substance than pork, while the Aussie sausages were good meaty bangers. Being rather partial to late lunches, the Dining Out Team took its time, engaging in the happy banter at Bjarne’s round table. The carousel whizzed around as we all found items to our liking. Horseradish sauce was added to several dishes, Danish and American mustard likewise and the pepper grinder worked overtime for Madame and myself.

To wash all this down, there were several bottles of red or white wine, including a Seppelts Moyston and some nice drops from Lost Horizon, the South African vineyard.

Of course, Café Kronborg does have more than a smorgasbord on Saturdays. It is open for breakfasts where you can even get a hot roll with Danish cheese for 70 baht. If you are just after a snack, Bjarne has a full range of rye bread sandwiches between 60-70 baht. These include such Danish specialities as Rulle Polse and pickled herring, or the Danish cheese or salami with onion.

Main dishes are also hearty meals and range between B 60-220. Again the emphasis is on good solid food at very reasonable prices. Pork chop with fried or mashed potatoes is at 120 baht, while Danish omelette with bacon is only 100 baht. Even the hamburger with fried egg and potato is only 90 baht. The most expensive item is the pepper steak.

There is also a full Thai menu with such favourites as Pad Thai and Tom Kha Gai. The items numbered 28 through to 33 in the Thai side are written only in Thai - so beware. They are not for the farang palate.

And the Hornbill? It is Bjarne’s pet and welcomes visitors as you approach the restaurant/pub.

If you are looking for a no frills hearty eatery with a Danish influence we suggest Café Kronborg is well worthwhile visiting.

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Animal Crackers: Help me I'm hurt!

by Mirin MacCarthy

The three month old puppy looked up, its dark lustrous brown eyes glazing over with pain. It had just been hit by a baht bus. A whimper wanted to come from its throat but it was not able to find enough air in its lungs to do it. It lay in the gutter with the blood from its shattered hind leg and pulverised hip leaving dark trails in the debris. In its own canine way lying quietly, attempting "jai yen yen" as that was all it had left, before lingering death would claim it.

Perhaps we should say, "Silly bitch, running out in front of the baht bus." You and I can take refuge in the fact that we were not responsible, we were not its owner. In fact, nobody would claim that pup - it had a mother, a street dog, and that was all. Its father was one of the hundreds of suburban strays, a bleak future to which that little pup was once the heir apparent. And now it was all taken away with terminal suffering. Suffering applied as certainly as day follows night. Suffering applied by us if even just by being too busy with everyday living to pay attention or care effectively.

Yes, although these animals are considered wretched homeless creatures, we must take some responsibility. We all have the measures between us to do something about the plight of animals in this country, in this city we live in, right here in Pattaya. All creatures are connected, how we treat our animals (and each other) reflects on our humanity and ultimately our survival.

We can ignore it as not being "our" problem, or we can do something... This is a cry for help. Can you help? How can you help? Caring for animals covers not just feed and housing for the injured and starving, but proper population control (preferably neutering rather than shooting) and planning for the future.

This responsibility belongs to us all, but we need to organise ourselves to use our abilities and facilities in the most efficient way. The concept of a Pattaya Animal Refuge Association is highly possible with the community’s combined resources. The objective being to round up stray and unwanted animals, dogs, cats, monkeys the lot, provide temporary housing and veterinary treatment, rabies inoculations and spaying before releasing them. Many of us do have something we could contribute to help; time, expertise, care, organizational ability, promotion, fund raising, sponsorship, housing, running adopt a pet programmes, writing newsletters, telephone answering, volunteering, feeding, cleaning, whatever it takes.

There are already vets and others who have pledged support for the concept of an Animal Refuge here in Pattaya. No one vet or no one individual can do it all. For it to become a reality it will need public support - both money and manpower. Do we want to do this? Are we prepared to help? I am prepared to be the co-ordination point for this proposal and look at forming a Pattaya Animal Refuge Association (PARA) to guide and see it through. Are there enough of you out there to make it possible?

Please send in your expressions of interest. To me, Mirin MacCarthy, through the Pattaya Mail at email [email protected], fax 427 596, or directly through email [email protected] Let’s see what we locals can do for our local animals - Please Help!

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Auto Mania: Are we breeding “wimpy” drivers?

by Dr. Iain Corness

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week we spoke about Prince Bira, and the question was what did Prince Bira and Lofty England, one of the most famous Jaguar mechanics of all time, have in common? The answer was easy, Lofty England was in fact Bira’s mechanic in the Team White Mouse days and prepared Bira’s ERA’s. After the war, it was Lofty England who arranged a drive for Bira in the new XK 120 Jaguar, partnering Clemente Biondetti and Leslie Johnson (again great names from the past).

Hugh McConnell, Tazio Nuvolari and Earl Howe

With Toyota now entering the Grand Prix racing scene in 2001 and Honda back in powering the BAR and Jordan teams (originally they had planned to run their own car in 2000, but shelved this when the designer Dr. Harvey Postlethwaite shot through to the great race track in the sky) it is probably time to look at Japan’s influence on the GP world. So for this week’s question, what was the first time a Japanese car won a championship GP? I want: what manufacturer and the GP and year. And to give you some assistance - it was not the 1967 Italian Grand Prix won by John Surtees in a Honda!

Be the first correct answer to fax 427 596 or email [email protected] and win the legendary Automania FREE beer of the week.

Are we breeding "wimpy" drivers?

With Schumacher M. being given practically divine status by his fans, perhaps it is time to examine what makes REAL drivers. For my money, there is more than just raw skill. There are also other requirements like guts and determination to be considered.

Last year, the "world champion elect" broke his leg at Silverstone. Many months later, if we are to believe what we read, it needed the persuasive skills of the head honcho at Ferrari, Luca De Montezemolo, to get Schumi back in the cockpit for the last two races of the season. The conversation, I would imagine, went something like, "And I pay you $30,000,000 to drive a wheel chair?"

So for anyone who was born post war, may I present to you a REAL driver, and definitely non-wimpy, Tazio Nuvolari.

This man was a race winner, with 70 under his belt, including 49 Grands Prix, so he was obviously no slouch. He was also a legend, and here’s a few reasons!

Stirling Moss

Before he took to 4 wheels, he was a star on 2. Crashing badly in practice at Monza in the 1920’s he broke both legs and his back. He was informed by the doctors he would require months in plaster and it would be some time before he could walk, and even longer before he could race. Did he take to his bed? Did he thump? He insisted that the doctors plaster him up while he was held astride his motorcycle, which they reluctantly did. The next day he had himself tied on his motorcycle and competed! He required his mechanics to hold him upright at the start of the race and to catch him at the end, but he raced. The legend of Tazio Nuvolari began that day - not only did he show guts and determination - but he won the race as well.

In 1936 he had a serious accident during practice for the Tripoli GP but escaped from the hospital and took a taxi to the race where he finished seventh in a spare car.

During his career, Nuvolari had most major bones in his body broken at least once in racing accidents, lost an index finger, and wound up with one leg an inch and a half shorter than the other. Contracting asthma from exposure to racing fuels he eventually died in 1953 from lung haemorrhage, also the result of the exposure.

No, you could never say Nuvolari was a wimp. I wonder about some of today’s lot, however. "Pass me another hanky, champ."

Impaled on his own con-rod!

Automania and its quiz was taken to task a couple of weeks ago by a reader with the resplendent nom-de-plume of "Traction Avant". Beers have been given to the wrong people, said he, and then launched forth with both barrels in a broadsided attack that left me reeling. Sydney Allard was not driving a J2, said Traction Avant, but was in a P1 saloon. If that were not enough, he went on to state that its registration was MLX 381, plus the names of the co-driver and navigator. Disappointingly, the colour of their socks was not mentioned. (He also added that Sir Stirling Moss came second in a Sunbeam Talbot, for all the true Autotrivialists, but neither registration number or sock colour was given. Actually, Traction Avant, I think it was a Sunbeam Talbot 90 and the colour was silver, from memory.)

From there, Traction Avant attacked my VW piece and revealed a rather in depth knowledge of the immediate post WWII period and the British Army involvement in the production of those early Beetles. Rather than just Major Ivan Hirst, he brings in Colonel Michael McEvoy (REME) and Colonel Charles R Radclyffe (CBE, DSO) as well. With all these heavyweights brought in, what could I do, other than fall on my own con-rod? Traction Avant, I capitulate! Please advise forwarding address and there’s a case of Chang on its way!

Stirling gets a Gong!

Stirling Moss, the best British driver never to win a world championship has finally had his contribution to world motor sport recognised by the Monarchy, having been knighted in the latest Honours. Sir Stirling joins Sir Frank Williams and Sir Jack Brabham as our third living motor sport Knight of the realm. Congratulations from Automania, Sir Stirling!

What made Moss noteworthy was his decision to run in British race cars as much as possible. This, in many ways was to prevent his achieving that ultimate goal of the world championship; however, Moss is quoted as saying, "Better to lose honourably in a British car than win in a foreign one."

Another classic Moss quote - "It’s hard to drive at your limit, but it’s harder to know where it is!"

Amongst the cars he drove for Mother England were HWM, Connaught, ERA, Cooper, Vanwall, BRM, Lotus and Ferguson.

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Down The Iron Road: Inside the Steam Railway Locomotive (Part 1)

by John D. Blyth

In his book, ‘The Railway Man’, Eric Lomax wrote, "The passion for trains and railways is I have been told, incurable." He is right! No one has ever been able to separate me from my love of railways, which followed me through my school days, to Army Railway Workshops at the end of the last war to 31 years of service on the railways of Britain and in retirement, to deep involvement with the Stephenson Locomotive Society. Pattaya is not a place to ‘watch the trains go by’ - there is normally only one per day. I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute some articles about railways at the invitation of the ‘Pattaya Mail’.

Many of us have been fascinated by the steam locomotive, now fast being phased out and absent from the rails of many countries. But few of us appear to have any idea how it worked! So I set out to be very non-technical and try to explain.

A Little History

It was not George Stephenson who invented railways, they existed long before his birth, nor did he pioneer the steam locomotive, which was first put on rail at Pen-y-Darren, in Wales, in 1804. Stephenson was an illiterate engine-minder at a colliery in Northumberland, and thought he could do better! He did, and it was one of his locomotives, ‘Locomotion’, that hauled the first train on the first steam-worked public railway in the world, The Stockton & Darlington, in 1825, and four years later his ‘Rocket’ convinced the Directors of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway that locomotives and not stationary steam engines at the line-side, showed the way forward. At the same time it provided the means for man to travel faster than a galloping horse for the first time. Stephenson, who had been the driving force for getting this going, received no reward, no titles, no letters after his name.

State Railway of Thailand steam locomotive No. 284. Built by Hitachi, Japan, in 1941. Designed by the late Takao Takada, Head of Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Photo by John D. Blyth, at Hat Yai, January 1972.

Steam traction was to rule the world’s railways for over 100 years; electricity was seen only where it was cheap and diesel and gasoline traction was rare indeed - but in old Siam the little Pak-Nam Railway had a gasoline-fuelled rail-car in 1908, and the Royal State Railway had its first diesel locomotive in 1928, long before most other countries. There is no doubt that early concern about deforestation was the reason - wood burning steam locomotives burn their fuel at an alarming rate.

Steam on schedule services finished in Britain in 1968, and in Thailand in 1976, but both countries kept a few locomotives in working order for use on special trains.

How does it Work?

The most modern steam locomotive differs in no essential respect from the manner of Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ - it is bigger and designed on far more scientific lines. But the principle of generating steam in a boiler, under pressure and using it to push pistons back and forth in two or more double-acting cylinders, is just the same. You can judge for yourself whether this shows the essential ‘rightness’ of the Stephenson ideas, or if it shows a lamentable lack of initiative over the ensuing years. I know that there were many unsuccessful attempts to break away, and how very many few more were a success, even if a limited one. Some time I may write about one or two of these.

Now, please have a look at the locomotive in the accompanying photograph, taken by your contributor at Hat Yai in 1972. The whole locomotive groups itself into three main parts: the chassis, the boiler assembly and the tender. The last named is simply the vehicle behind the locomotive which conveys the supplies of water (to make steam) and wood, which you can see (to provide the fire to heat the water). So we can pass on quickly to the other two components.

The Chassis

This comprises the two main frames which run the length of the locomotive, with the components that are attached to it: mainly the wheels, cylinders and ‘motion’, buffer beams front and rear - the front one clearly visible with the coupler on it and a ‘pilot’ below, to remove (as we hope), any obstructing objects that may be on the track ahead. In Britain, where its use was rare, it was usually called a ‘Cow-catcher’ but from what I have seen it would not push most cows out of the way.

The frames may be of steel sheet about 25mm thick or of an assembly of steel bars, welded or riveted together in the form needed. British practice, other than for export, always favoured the steel sheet or plates. In either case, the maximum of precision is vital, or endless trouble will result. Into the lower part of each frame is provided an aperture to insert an axlebox for each of the driving wheels (three each side in the photograph). The axle rotates in this box and all through history there has been controversy as to how to best avoid overheating through bad lubrication and excessive wear. The last British steam locomotives had a type which was considered to overcome almost every snag; it had been developed on one railway in the world of pre-nationalisation and perfected on another. A hot axle-box might be expected about once every eight years. How many modern motorcars will only breakdown at that interval?

The cylinders, one either side, are located immediately beneath the two vertical smoke deflecting screens; each is in two parts, above is the valve chest, which contains two piston-type valves that control the emission and exhaust of the steam from the cylinders below. The four wheels below the cylinder are mounted on a separate frame and can move a few millimetres to either side to assist in rounding curves on the line. This is kept under control by strong springs which bring the assembly back to the central position again, but for this a bad phenomenon known as ‘hunting’ is likely to arise. This is a quite rapid and increasingly violent side-to-side motion of all the front of the engine which can eventually throw it off the tracks.

To be continued next week...

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Coins of the Realm: A rare find indeed

by Jan Olav Aamlid,
President House of the Golden Coin

In the early 80s, after my first trip to Thailand, Bangkok and Pattaya, I decided to start collecting Thai coins, even though my knowledge of Thai coins was not the greatest. However, I had seen some of my colleagues’ in Bangkok, and bought the Tony Oliver catalogue for Thai coins.

On the way back to Norway I had a stopover in Copenhagen. There I went to see a well-known dealer, Montstuen (The Coinroom). I asked Hans Lundin, the owner, if he had any Thai coins. He started to laugh, and said that this was the first time he had someone asking for Thai coins.

One baht 1857/8, Royal Gift, struck in 2,400 pieces.

After searching in his trays he found some coins from Southeast Asia, and I picked out the ones that were from Thailand. Altogether there were about 15 coins, most of them from King Mongkut (Rama IV) who reigned from 1851 till 1868, and King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) who reigned from 1868 till 1910. I asked for a price, and my Danish college quoted me his price. We then had our usual little discussion over the price and a deal was done.

When I got back to Norway I looked up the coins in the few books I had on Thai coins. I came to the conclusion that none of them were very valuable in terms of money. Nonetheless, I was happy with the coins.

One baht 1860 struck in large numbers.

A few years later, well-known Bangkok coin dealer Surachai Smitasin came to see me in Oslo. I showed him the little start on my Thai coin collection, and when he looked at my coins, suddenly his eyes got big. He picked up a one baht coin from King Mongkut and told me that this was a great rarity. I had thought it was the regular one baht coin, struck in great numbers in 1860, which, in the early 1980s, had a value of 250 baht.

Surachai told me that this particular coin was very rarely seen. It was the first flat Thai coin officially issued. The coins were struck in 1857/8 and went under the name Bannakan (Royal Gift) Coins. The reason for the coins being called Royal Gift is that they were struck on a hand-driven minting machine presented to King Mongkut by Queen Victoria. Only 30 chang, which is 2400 pieces, of the one baht coin were struck. Today, probably less than 50 pieces of this rare coin exist. The value today of this coin in nice condition is more than 200,000 baht.

The hand-driven machine was too slow and later replaced by a steam powered machine, which today can be seen outside The Royal Thai Mint in Bangkok.

And I am sure that my Danish college and friend Hans Lundin has been paid off in our later transactions.

Mio and Jan Olav Aamlid run the Ruen Kasap Thong Co., Ltd., The House of the Golden Coin, on South Pattaya Road opposite the International Telecom Center. Phone/Fax: 420090, email: [email protected], homepage: http://www.thaicoins.com

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Fitness Tips: Rebound & Regain

by David Garred, 
Club Manager Dusit Resort Sports Club

G’day Pattaya, this week in fitness tips I want to address an issue, which should be in the minds of quite a few of you at this time of year. Crash diets and some of the reasons why they are best avoided.

Rebound effects of weight loss are extremely strong after extreme conditions

A rebound in body fatness after weight loss is seen as the big danger for long-term weight maintenance, suggesting that prevention, in terms of obesity, is much better than cure. According to Dr. Angelo Tremblay of Laval University in Canada, such a rebound is common in many species of animals. Caribou in the Tundra in Canada for example have been found to put on more weight after a period of famine, when normal grazing conditions recur. Reported cases of, human this time, long distance athletes such as one who crossed Antarctica alone in the 1980s, have often shown that extreme weight losses from such effort are often compensated for by extra increases in weight, resulting in long-term increases in fatness. Starvation studies have shown a similar effect.

Final statistic is, 95% of regular people who take on a crash diet actually regain more weight than they originally lost within one year of finishing the diet. This bodes ill for those on crash diets and fad regimes where weight loss is large and quick. A better compromise is a slower, but healthier loss.

Implication: Go for gradual, healthy weight loss in contrast to quick, sudden losses to prevent re-bound effects. In answer to your next question, healthy weight loss, fat loss actually, is measured as around the 1kg per week.

Weight regain in women is abated by higher energy expenditure

Exercise can help prevent weight regain after weight loss. But how much is needed? Researchers at the University of Chicago tested women who had lost weight and who then carried out 45-60 minutes of exercise three times a week with those who remained sedentary. Where extra energy expenditure was around 1200 Kcals a week, weight regain could be prevented. This is generally considered to be less than that required to lose weight in the first place.

Implication: Use exercise as a means of preventing weight regain after weight loss.

Further explanation, the women in this study worked quite hard to get the weight off in the first place. They had already reduced their food intake during this time, then reduced their exercise output once reaching their desired body weight and maintained that level. You see they worked hard for a while then kept working with reduced effort to maintain the size they wanted. This answers a popular question: no you won’t have to continue to proverbially ‘flog yourself’ for the rest of your days, you can step down the effort once you get to the level at which you are happy.

Carpe’ Diem

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