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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
 
Family Money: Japan and the Dollar
 
The Computer Doctor

Successfully Yours: Stéphane Bringer
 
Snap Shots: School’s In!
   
Modern Medicine: GRRRRR - Rabies!

Heart to Heart with Hillary
 
Grapevine

Dining Out: PS Sharkfin Soup - the world’s best kept secret!
  
Animal Cracker: Asian Sun Bears
  
Auto Mania: Anyone for Yunnan?

Down The Iron Road: Inside the Steam Railway Locomotive (Part 2)
 
Coins of the Realm: Beware of fakes
 
Fitness Tips: Top 10 Tips

Family Money: Japan and the Dollar

By Leslie Wright

Many investors are confused by what they hear and read about Japan, and specifically, what is likely to happen this year to the Japanese stock market.

One commentator says money is pouring back into Asia and the Nikkei is going to rise strongly, and the next day another says there’s no real strength to sustain the tentative recovery we saw last year.

Who do you believe? And anyway, does it matter?

Well, it matters a lot. Because Japan is the second largest stock market in the world in terms of capitalisation, what happens there will inevitably have an effect on the rest of the world’s economy - just as events in the United States do. And sooner or later these effects will filter down to you and me here in Pattaya.

Last week and the week before, I offered my views on what I believe may happen in various markets during this year. But since in the case of Japan this opinion differs from that of many mainstream analysts, some readers have asked me to explain my rationale for holding that view.

Burnt hedges

Huge losses were suffered last year by hedge funds in their futile attempt to sell the U.S. dollar against the Japanese yen.

Most took this stance based upon the narrow interpretation of the trade numbers, citing that the U.S. trade deficit with Japan was on the rise. It makes some sense to expect that a rising trade deficit means that the U.S. is sending more dollars to Japan and therefore they in turn will be selling more dollars.

However, global trade is less than 10% of GDP and trade itself is less than 13% of the entire U.S. GDP.

In other words, trying to forecast the fate of the dollar based solely upon trade statistics is not merely dangerous to one’s financial survival, it also illustrates one’s ignorance of the facts at hand.

It was this fundamentalist (and erroneous) view that led to losses on the part of the hedge funds in excess of $2 billion in the first half of 1999 - and they seem set on course to take another serious loss in the months ahead, along with the equity funds that have been rushing into Japan and Asia.

Balancing the accounts

The world has changed considerably since 1971 and the birth of the floating exchange rate system. The old fundamentalist theories must simply be thrown out the window. Not only are they dangerous, they often reflect what in fact is the opposite reality.

The two main accounts that all governments keep are known as the “current” and “capital” accounts. These two accounts balance so that when one moves into a deficit, the other moves into an equal surplus.

Many people wrongly refer to the “current” account as the “trade” account. This perhaps was a definition of pre-1971 global trends, but it certainly does not fit our modern economic situation.

The current account includes not merely trade but also all transfer payments, which includes dividends and interest.

Prior to 1971, 90% of global capital flows were trade related, and investment tended to remain very much at home.

In the post-1971 period, the fluctuations in currency values (which are inherent within a floating exchange rate system) have created the appearance of profit and loss when converted back to the base currency.

For example, in 1985 a major U.S. insurance company purchased a British insurance company when the pound was worth only $1.03. By 1987, the pound had recovered, rising to $1.90.

This fluctuation in the dollar/pound exchange rate resulted in a paper profit of 84% on their investment when the assets were shown on their books in dollars. However, the pound then fell back to $1.40, which produced a 26% loss on the very same assets. (And this same confusing profit/loss scenario equally applies to individuals’ investments denominated in currencies other than their base currency.)

Currency fluctuations nowadays can be as much as 40% over a two-year period, and have a significant impact upon all government statistics - including trade. What may appear to be a trade surplus is often a trade deficit.

In the case of Japan, if you subtract the rise in the value of the yen you will see that Japan is actually selling fewer goods - not more. Japanese manufacturers will quickly tell you that sales have declined, not risen. If Japan were enjoying a real rise in their trade exports, then why is the economy still in recession and unemployment rising?

In addition to the distortion that currency movements has added to the current account we also have the issue of globalisation within the investment community.

If we look at the current account closely, it becomes clear that the bulk of this statistic is transfer payments. In other words, accumulated buying of U.S. bonds produces an interest income that is then paid to the Japanese through the current account.

Because of this factor, a current account deficit no longer means what it once did prior to 1971.

Today, as foreign capital continues to pour into the United States to capture the huge interest rate differential (nearly twice that of Europe and ten times that of Japan), the greater the deficit becomes in the current account as the U.S. pays out more in interest.

The investment is reflected through the capital account (purchase of bonds, stocks, real estate, etc.), while the income on those investments then moves back through the current account.

Thus as more capital flows into the U.S., the dollar strengthens; but this inflow also tends to expand the current account deficit. Those who rush out to short the dollar simply because the current account deficit is rising fail to understand how these two accounts work under a floating exchange rate system.

Some analysts believe the dollar is poised to rise to at least 200 yen by 2003 due to the fact that the Japanese economy is not recovering. The extremely low levels of interest rates that have been the core policy of the Japanese government are in fact undermining the entire economy.

Japanese banks, pensions in trouble

While low interest rates were hoped to be the answer to the Japanese banking crisis, after more than five years of such a policy, the long-term damage to pension funds, life companies and the Postal Savings System are becoming incalculable.

The extremely low interest rate policy has now taken the banking crisis and spread it into virtually every sector within Japan. There is little hope for recovery when consumers live in fear of both their jobs and pensions.

All savings and pension funds need a base income of about 4% in order to meet future obligations. The primary concern in Japan now is that the pension funds are insolvent. Consumer confidence is starting to hit all-time lows in Japan and there is no hope in sight for the short-term.

Currently, Japan still represents 40% of total world cash savings. There has been no banking panic up till now because the government has stated that they will guarantee all deposits in Japan 100%.

However, the Japanese government announced last year that by April 1st 2001 all deposits in Japan would be insured only for the equivalent of $100,000. This move has already caused considerable alarm, so the Japanese government recently announced it plans to shelve this move, at least for the time being. (Sounds reminiscent of politically-motivated moving of goalposts somewhat closer to home, doesn’t it?)

However, if and when that plan does come into effect big-name Japanese corporations and high-net-worth private citizens will start pulling their cash out of the banks, to limit their risk.

In other words, the sizeable deposits in Japanese banks that once made them the largest institutions in the world will be forced into a consolidation phase. This may well start a banking panic in Japan, which will have a ripple effect throughout the world.

U.S. seen as safe haven

In order for Japan to recover, the dollar must strengthen - not weaken! A weak dollar raises the cost of production in Japan while a strong dollar lowers the cost structure in Japan, allowing corporate profits to rise. The market traders that have been rushing to buy Japanese stocks are doing so because they are looking at the currency as if it were a stock.

A strong economy is normally associated with a weak currency, while a strong currency produces deflation. The U.S. economy is strong, but corporate profits are starting to weaken due to the strong currency. While analysts expect the dollar to rise into 2003, the U.S. economy is likely to decline gradually and corporate profits will sink along with that trend.

The strong dollar in this case is a reflection that the balance of the world - Asia and Europe - are both in economic downward spirals.

This has resulted in the U.S. becoming the safe haven for capital for several years past, and it is this capital inflow that is pushing the dollar - and the stock market - higher. Ultimately, the upward pressure on the dollar is the mechanism that may finally cause a recession to be imported into the United States.

Political cross holdings

Many equity investors in Europe are not involved in the U.S. market. Value-seeking fundamentalists bypassed the U.S., opting since 1994 to invest in the Euro, Russia and Southeast Asia - and many got their fingers badly burned in the past couple of years by so doing. They missed the entire U.S. move and are not about to buy now.

Instead, they are rushing back to Asia and Japan looking for value. But just as their “value” interpretation of Russia failed, their bias against the U.S. is perhaps leading them once again to another huge loss in Asia and Japan.

About 40% of the Japanese market is held in what is known as “political cross holdings” of shares. Following World War II, the industrial corporations of Japan were unable to raise needed capital on their own. The Japanese banks were in a position to raise capital and they lent it to the corporations. In turn, cross-ownership of stocks between the banks and the corporations became the hallmark of the Japanese marketplace.

Today, this is seen as a major weakness because it has impacted the banks’ balance sheets on a market-to-market basis. The more the Nikkei declined, the more the banks lost and hence the less they lent, setting off a spiral of collapsing economic activity.

The government has been forced to set up loan programs for small businesses because they are unable to borrow from the banks. The stated policies amongst Japanese banks and corporations indicate they have resigned themselves to unwinding these cross-share holdings, which means that there is an overhead supply of shares that need to be sold. Hence the likelihood of a sustainable bull market emerging at this time is not very good.

Add to this the fact that analysts’ models reflect that a true recovery in Japan will not materialise for about another two years and the long-term trend is neutral at best. Even the IMF concluded last year that recovery in Japan is nearly two years away, while a former board member of the Federal Reserve has stated that the yen/dollar exchange rate should be at about 140 based upon current economic conditions.

No Asian recovery just yet

When the facts are looked at objectively, the optimistic analysis that has been used by the trading community as the reason to sell dollars against the yen doesn’t make sense, and it threatens any recovery by causing a further collapse in Japanese corporate earnings.

In turn this only increases unemployment and dampens any hope of recovery. In short, there is no indication of a real sustainable recovery in Japan or Asia, only short-term rallies driven more by speculative sentiment than fundamental economic principles. And reaction rallies within a broader bear market are always commonplace.

Last but not least, some analysts expect China to devalue the yuan no later than the end of this quarter - despite the Chinese leadership having stated several times that they won’t do so. This would have a serious impact both directly and indirectly, not only on the whole of Southeast Asia in terms of export competitiveness, but on Japan and in turn the rest of the world.

So in the end, a dollar rally into 2003 may keep the U.S. share market alive while it helps repair the damage in Japan and the third world by increasing their domestic profits. But a weaker dollar will undermine the entire world economy and threaten the U.S. bull market like no other event possible.

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

From Richard Lee Montgomery: In your reply to Simon Smith, Muang, http://www.pattayamail.com/336/columns.htm#hd2 you said go to http://thaigate.rd.nac sis.ac.jp/refer/thaiio.html for Thai Fonts. This site says its fonts are for Win3.x/95. Can they be downloaded and installed on a computer running Win98 (Western)? You also recommended going to Microsoft’s website. I for one am totally unable either to Navigate or to Explore Bill’s web; I get stuck on a wrong strand every time.

Thailand’s D.C. Embassy “What’s New” index http://www.thaiembdc.org/whatsnew/index.htm gives a shortcut to Internet Thai’s “How to Use Thai Fonts” http://www.inet.co.th/www/thai/thai_font.html which only gives instructions for Win98 Thai. INET then gives the same shortcut you did http://thaigate.rd.nacsis.ac.jp/refer/thaiio.html. The D.C. Embassy used to give a shortcut to Microsoft’s Thai Fonts page which I can’t find on my own, but that page explicitly stated it is not for Win98.

I went to your A.C.T. page http://www.act.co.th and clicked on your Get Internet Explorer 5.01 Now! shortcut and went to bed. Next morning, I installed IE5 and got a Welcome to Internet Explorer 5, Let’s Take a Tour, or words to that effect page; but did not have time to take that tour! Now I don’t know how to get that page back, do you?

This evening while viewing your pcdoctor column, I went to the IE5 toolbar, scrolled down from View to Encoding/More/Thai (Windows), and clicked. I also went to Tools, scrolled down to Internet Options/General/ Fonts, set for [Latin Based] Web [Times New Roman], Plain text [Courier New]; and for [Thai] Web [Cordia New], Plain text [-blank-].

Next, from Internet options General/Languages, I found both “English (United States)[en-us]” and “Thai>[th]” displayed in that window.

I checked http://www.ch7 .com for a Happy Thai New Year’s Greeting and to .../buddhism.htm for more Thai than I can handle right now as I only read at a 4th grade level, but at lest my computer seems able to read Thai on a page, although not on the placards that show when a page is ‘minimized.’

So, how do I get my computer to write Thai? I really don’t need an overlay, a keyboard map would do and I’d learn to touch-type.

Computer Doctor replies: To take your points one at a time as you appear to have been rather busy! The original site I quoted http://thaigate.rd.nacsis.ac.jp/refer/thaiio.html although saying for Win95 will quite happily run on Win98 and is by far the best solution for typing Thai I have come across. I recommend you take this route, you only need the small executable which is a TSR (Terminate and Stay Ready) program, the .DLL and DB fonts. A Thai/English keyboard will make the job of typing much easier.

I am sure Mr. Gates will be mortified that you find his website difficult to navigate, in any event I am glad you managed to download and install IE5. With regards to taking the tour, from within IE5, Tour is located on the Help menu.

With regards to reading Thai on web sites, you have followed the correct procedure, whether the language displays correctly though is to a certain extent governed by the web site itself, if this is note coded correctly then it will not display correctly on your system. It does seem that these sites are becoming fewer as web sites are revised. Notably, I find some of the government sites to be the worst offenders.

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: Stéphane Bringer

by Mirin MacCartthy

Quietly smiling and almost shy, St้phane Bringer, the General Manager of the Woodlands Resort, is actually a very well-travelled young man.

Born in Rouen, France, he moved to Paris but later spent four years in Hong Kong with his family. Next it was off to Belgium where he finished school and university.

However, after two years in the cloistered halls, St้phane decided he was wasting his time studying science and the experience of summer jobs in hotels led him to change his career to hotelier.

He went to Switzerland for three years to study hotel management, and after his graduation in 1995 he applied to the Intercontinental Hotel chain for a management trainee programme. He was accepted and sent to the Siam Intercontinental in Bangkok. That was a concentrated year’s learning experience as he was rotated throughout every position in the hotel.

With that experience under his belt, the Intercontinental group then sent him to Cambodia to be part of the pre-opening team for their first five star hotel in Phnom Penh. St้phane recalls, “That was the most amazing experience I ever had. We had to start from the very beginning, for example the Cambodians didn’t even know what chips were. We had to teach them everything from service to food to cleaning, even personal hygiene. At that time I was twenty four and had a team of fifty people to manage. It was a very interesting experience!”

Then the Raffles Hotel Group invested $US40 million in the Grand Hotel D’Ankor in Cambodia and St้phane moved there with them. “My position there was exactly the same: pre-opening training, but this time it was even more of a challenge. There was nothing at all there, no supermarket, just a dirt road. Even the telecommunications wouldn’t work, so we were all using mobile phones. Every single thing for the hotel had to come by boat and then by buffalo cart.”

St้phane continued, “I stayed another year but after two years in Cambodia I had enough of that challenge. It was then I heard that the Woodlands Resort was looking for a manager and doing a renovation project and I knew I could bring my experience here.”

St้phane arrived at Woodlands in October 1998 and plans to stay at least another two years here. He likes the contrasts of Thailand. “You can see two very different ways of life beside each other, Western and Thai. There’s also some very rich and very poor people. And Pattaya is a very cosmopolitan city, there really is something here for everyone.”

In his rare, spare time off, St้phane enjoys the physical side of life, jogging and water-skiing. In Belgium, in fact, he used to run in marathons. He also participated in the Tour de Belgium marathon relay race, a four day stint.

However, his life now revolves mainly around his work. He starts every day at 6 a.m. and finishes at 9 p.m. “Every morning I am happy just to be going to work. If there ever were a day that I didn’t want to, then I would know there was a problem. As long as I am happy what I am doing then life is great. I think this is especially true in the hotel business - if you are happy then your staff are happy and your guests are happy also. At the end of the day, when I go home and I have had a wonderful day and I learnt a lot and am looking forward to the next day - then that is success.”

St้phane’s advice to other expats who want to follow a career of hotelier here in Thailand is: “Come here with a low profile and adapt yourself to the environment and what people need. I think the most important qualities to have are to be yourself and believe in what you are doing. Never underestimate others - you can always learn something from other people. Every day I am learning something.”

Young St้phane has obviously learned a lot with all his travelling. A very wise head on his youthful shoulders.

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Snap Shots: School’s In!

Harry Flashman would like to thank all those keen photographers who contacted him during 1999 and expressed their interest in the weekly photography column. Thank you - it certainly gives a columnist the enthusiasm to carry on. Which leads Harry here on to the next stage - how many of you would be interested in a day’s “Hands On” photography class?

What is in mind, for the first course, would be a full day on portrait photography. After all, the most photographed subjects in the world are other human beings. The first half of the day would be devoted to the theory of lighting and photography, with the second half being practical application of the theories. I would expect to cover both artificial light sources, as well as ambient (sun) light. It would not be an expensive “high tech” course, but would utilise simple and inexpensive equipment (some of which you will make yourself) and learn some easily applied “pro” techniques.

Whilst there would undoubtedly be advantages for all photographers with all types of equipment, it would be necessary to limit a course of this type to SLR cameras. Much of the work would be using the camera in Manual mode and demonstrating the different effects that the photographer can produce. This includes deliberate over and under-exposure techniques, something you cannot easily do with a fully automatic point and shooter.

The pre-course level of photography knowledge required would not be, however, all that high. The idea of the exercise is to teach such things as Lens selection, Back lighting exposure techniques, Depth of Field, Selective focus, etc., as well as How to Pose the model and How to Light the model. All that really is a pre-requisite is that you have an SLR and you know where the various knobs and twiddly bits are. Bring your camera manual if you are at all unsure.

What Harry would provide would be a suitable venue where we could work both in and out of doors, a happy model, one who would sit there and not complain too much while we set up lights and diffusers, etc., as well as providing all the necessary know-how and lectures and throw in the processing of a couple of rolls of film for good measure.

What you would provide are yourselves as eager students, with an SLR and a couple of rolls of film. We would break for lunch as Harry gets irritable if he doesn’t eat. The concept would be that after all the lectures and then practical application we would finish the day with a critique of your final shots. (thank goodness for one hour processors!)

Now, how much for all this? Provided there are enough people who want this type of course (and it will be on a Sunday, too) it should be possible to do all this for around 1000 baht per head (which includes the D&P for your two rolls of film).

So just how many of you would like to do this next month? Let’s set the date as February 27th and the venue will be somewhere central in town. Please fax your expressions of interest to 427 596 or email [email protected] Include your contact phone or fax number. If there are enough of you out there then we will do it.

Photoprocessing

My favourite photoprocessor girls are on the move again - The Royal Express on Beach Road (next to McDonalds) is moving to Second Road down near the “Made in Thailand” centre and the Golden Beach Hotel and next to an Internet cafe. I have had consistently good results from them - both in the processing and the sharpness of the prints, and their cheery faces brighten up any dull day. If you have found a good place for D&P then stick to them, but if you are not really satisfied and are looking, Harry can highly recommend this place. You never know, you could always bump into Harry as he flashes by in his trench coat!

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Modern Medicine: GRRRRR - Rabies!

by Dr Iain Corness

The other night I managed to get bitten by a dog. This was unfortunately not a well cared for canis domesticus, but one not very well kempt street dog ordinaricus snarlicus aggressivus.

Not that I totally blame the dog. At the time of my meeting with it, it had just been bowled over by a baht bus and had fractured its pelvis and one of its hind legs. It was in no mood for human intervention, no matter how “well meaning” that intervention might have been.

Being just outside a bar in Jomtien helped, as immediate first aid was necessary. This took the form of a nip of whiskey poured over the bites and a beer poured down my throat to calm my insides. In the meantime, Mrs. Doc (also bitten) had mustered slave labour and said dog was now on a mat in the back of the car, to be taken to the vet’s if it survived the night. It did.

The vet was very helpful the next morning, confirming the injuries and adding that he also thought the dog had rabies. Rabies! Thank you very much, Dr. Vet. This is a lovely disease, which my good book told me is “invariably fatal once clinical symptoms develop, therefore prevention is of paramount importance.” Another reference source added the comforting news that the initial symptoms included pain at the site of the bite, proceeding to headache, fever, spreading paralysis with episodes of confusion, aggression, hallucinations and hydrophobia. I already had symptom number one and I wasn’t thirsty. A chill wind blew around me.

That morning I stood there before the mirror, foaming at the mouth while cleaning my teeth, and wondered if I should bite the boy at work as recompense for his terminal laziness.

Of course I had had all my rabies vaccinations. Had I thump. Like many things that doctors tell you, sometimes they are a tad too busy to follow the advice themselves. Guilty as charged, your honour!

I rang the vet again. “Can you test the dog for rabies please and let me know?” His reply was as cheerful as his initial news. “Any tests are inconclusive and even examination of the brain post mortem is not 100% certain.”

So it was off to hospital, with the attendant mutterings as to why I had not been vaccinated before, head hanging in shame and all the rest of it. Post exposure immunization schedule was of course necessary, and that is a course of five injections (after the initial dose, you get more at days 3, 7, 14 and 30).

The injections are not painful, it is the dragging backwards and forwards to the hospital Outpatient clinic that is a pain. But you do get to meet some lovely nurses.

Only one more to go and so far no frothing at the mouth, other than at toothbrush time, but the message is there for everyone. Get yourself vaccinated as a PRE-exposure preventive item. It does make sense. And while you are at it, how is your Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis A and Hep B? Even if you have had the primary course, boosters are also necessary. See you at the Outpatient’s clinic!

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Dear Hillary,

I must take exception to your response to Frances about driving in Pattaya (7 Jan). Almost all “educated” Thais I socialize and do business with are embarrassed by the poor drivers in Pattaya and the even poorer enforcement of the traffic laws. Your apparent “My Pen Rai” attitude in your response is part of the problem here. Seven years ago, the VP of the company I then worked for dismissed Thailand as quote, “Have you seen a Thai behind the wheel; they’re barbarians.” When a foreigner gets hurt on the streets of Pattaya, he goes home and tells his friends - possibly a million baht loss in tourist income. A foreigner gets killed and it makes the Western Papers - maybe a hundred million baht impact to Thailand.

As for “If you weren’t there in the first place the accident wouldn’t have happened” - if the Thai wasn’t acting like a two year old half-wit and showed some sense of social responsibility consistent with that of an emerging industrialized nation, the accident probably wouldn’t have happened either!

I, like most people, came to Pattaya for the climate and relaxation, not to be run down by some socially irresponsible idiot with a fourth world mentality. Overall, I enjoy living in Pattaya, but a more civilized attitude behind the wheel would go a long way to changing the backward, third world country image many westerners have of Thailand. In the future, I think that you should take this issue more seriously!

Most sincerely,
Mark

Dear Mark,

Did you honestly expect Hillary to change the driving standards here? Be real! Frances wanted to know “why”, not “how”. My Pen Rai is part of the “why” surely. However, Mark, there are people who do take this seriously - for example, the Jomtien-Pattaya Rotary Club and the Ge Laurent Foundation are sponsoring Driver Education in the schools - surely the best way to change the attitude of tomorrow’s drivers. Quite frankly, I do not think that your calling Thais “two year old half wits” or “socially irresponsible idiots” helps the problem much either. In the meantime, take a leaf out of Alan’s response and just walk everywhere, you’re safe 90% of the time on the footpaths.

Dear Hillary,

Reading the letter about traffic rules from ‘Francis’ in last Pattaya Mail reminds me of my first trip to Thailand, in 1990. I am a professional driver/rider having spent 15 years in the Sydney Highway Patrol, driving high-speed cars and motorcycles, and I thought I could handle anything, anywhere, until I arrived in Bangkok. What a lesson in life, the traffic terrified me, the taxi ride down to Pattaya was a nightmare. I kept my hands over my eyes and prayed to that great Motorcyclist in the sky to keep me safe. (You know the prayer you say when you get into one of those situations, “Please? If I get out of this one I will never speed again!”)

It was not until a couple of further experiences in the traffic that I realized a Great Truth, you grow up in the culture and conditions you are born into, and learn to cope with them. With great relief I found after a while, the perceived traffic chaos was in fact well ordered chaos. Most of the drivers and riders seemed to know what they were doing and appeared to avoid each other, most of the time. So I have now accepted, that in Thailand, the Thai drivers are much better at it than I am. As for the comment about the “Farang” always being in the wrong, it works both ways. I know that when an Asian driver is involved in a collision here in Auz they always cop the blame. I suppose it is easy to blame someone who doesn’t have a good command of the local language. I still don’t drive or ride in Pattaya. I am happy to pay the locals to do it for me, or walk (and that’s another story).

Alan

Dear Alan,

You got the picture! Hillary, too, has been known to utter that prayer on Sukhumvit Highway. Though the local traffic around Pattaya is a relative hay ride compared to Bangers you must admit.

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GRAPEVINE

Police blotter
Pattaya’s first case of mobile phone madness occurred this week when German tourist Arthur Funk was hit by a beer bottle. He refused to stop using his mobile in a Soi Yamato bar, famed for its rowdiness, and was assaulted by a non intellectual British youth who was exasperated by the loud conversations going on in a foreign tongue. In the ensuing fight, which was won by England, the mobile phone was stolen by a silent bystander. Fighting fit, nineteen year old Kevin Plummer from Leeds said it was worth a night in the cells to see justice done. “I’m not anti German,” he stressed, “I just hate Crouts.”

Quite fruity
A famished GEOC (Grapevine Eating Out Collective) recently paid an incognito visit to The Wild Mango restaurant in Soi Six. The premises have been substantially refurbished and the tables are set adjacent to a mini garden. We tried mee grob and some particularly tasty prawn toast for starters, followed by four Thai dishes washed down with several beers. The coconut milk based curries are particularly to be recommended. The very reasonable bill for four was just under 900 baht. Ample parking at the rear. The Wild Mango merits a visit soon.

Frying tonight
The local fire brigade is warning drunken farangs to be more careful after a nasty blaze in a Central Park Estate. Eric Lowens, father of two from Sunderland, returned home after a particularly heavy night on the town and was disheartened to see that the snack contents of the freezer were limited to an opened tin of cat food and a milk carton which had turned sour. In a drunken haze, he lit the gas stove and attempted to convert three unpeeled potatoes into a portion of chips. The resulting kitchen fire very nearly converted him into a crisp. Statistics show that kitchen fires in Pattaya have soared since retirement visas became easier to obtain.

Complimentary yours
A passenger wrote to Lao Aviation to thank them for a punctual and splendid journey, including the delicious ham sandwich and small packet of nuts, but has received three letters of apology. The first offered sincere regrets for the plane being several hours late and the second apologized that his complaint had not yet been dealt with. Officials then sent a third letter apologizing for the confusion and thanking him for his custom. Tourist Sean Michaels later confessed that he routinely wrote appreciative letters to airlines in the hope of being upgraded to business class on his next holiday.

Internet advertising
A local seminar has been told that Thailand is falling behind in the race to use the Internet as a marketing tool to promote tourism. Although many countries recognize the Internet as a medium to provide one stop booking services for air tickets, hotel rooms and tour packages, Thailand has hardly begun to exploit the potential. It was stated that there are about 3,000 websites in the country, but only 9% are used commercially. Only a tiny handful of Pattaya hotels actually promote themselves on line, it was claimed. The conference was organized by the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center.

Undercare
Pattaya’s aging farang population is being targeted by an American inventor who has come up with a novel way of helping elderly people from breaking their bones in a nasty fall. Stan Sessions from Detroit has adopted the principle of the inflatable airbag used in cars, only this time a much smaller version is attached to the person’s underwear and inflates on impact, thus saving hip bones from certain damage. The invention, selling at 2000 baht per bag, is said to be being studied most seriously by men without medical insurance.

Resort statistics
A reader with lots of time on his hands has sent us his objective summary research of where Pattaya stands at the moment in the scheme of things. Apparently, there are 2662 places within the city limits, including Jomtien, where you can get a snack or a meal. And just over 4000 if you include drinks only establishments. He has counted 870 night clubs of one sort and another, with a small Singha beer ranging in price from 40 to 180 baht (presumably assuming you get the right change). Anyone thinking of sinking their life savings in a bar or restaurant in our proud city may care to bear in mind the stiff competition around.

Coming soon
Here are ten tourist attractions Pattaya does not have on offer. Well, not yet.

A Mozart fan club.
Cat racing on Beach Road.
Watered beer.
Sex changes on the National Health.
A burned out ferris wheel.
A branch of the Samaritans.
Pigeon fanciers anonymous.
President Yelsin face masks.
A branch of Gamblers’ Anonymous.
Roman remains.

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Dining Out: PS Sharkfin Soup - the world’s best kept secret!

by Miss Terry Diner

Some days you can be incredibly lucky. You have done nothing to deserve it, and a gem just falls in your lap. This week, that gem was called PS Sharkfin Soup.

The Dining Out Team was intending having a social (non working) evening with Khun Neera from the Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital. “Where shall we eat?” was the first question, and we began mentally running through all the places the three of us might enjoy. Suddenly Neera said, “Do you like shark fin?” and the decision was made. Now I must admit that my experience of shark fin is not great, and I had an impression somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind that it was expensive. “Not at this place,” said Neera as we headed to Pattaya 3rd Road.

PS Sharkfin Soup

You are going to have to look carefully to find this restaurant. It is about 200 metres from the North Road intersection on the left side of Pattaya 3, heading towards Pattaya Klang. Blink twice and you will miss it. A single shop-house with a noodle cooker outside, with some sharkfin hanging up inside. There is a small sign saying PS Sharkfin Soup and that is it.

Inside, the place is spotless. Light coloured wooden topped tables and chrome furniture sitting on shiny maroon coloured tiles. On the walls are some photographs of a young girl.

The next surprise - the owner is Payon Chaihuadjaroen, a career tourism professional who had spent 18 years in Japan with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and finished his TAT life as the Director of Division 3 here in Pattaya. His partner, Sirirat, is the chef and it is her photographs that are on the wall. It feels and is a true “family” restaurant.

Unlike the Chinese restaurants with 300 item menus, PS Sharkfin’s menu is very modest - eight items only, so it is not too difficult to choose! It begins with Sharkfin soup, three sizes, 200, 300 and 500 baht. Next up is fish maw soup at 50 and 100 baht. Four stir fries - sharkfin at 300 and 500 baht or fish maw at 150 and 250 baht and kale with Chinese mushrooms at 80 and 100 baht and finally stir fried morning glory at 30 and 50 baht. Three sizes of fried rice with crabmeat - 50, 80 and 100 baht, then jade noodles at 35 baht. Drinks are on the reverse side of the laminated one page menu and includes hot or cold tea and coffee, lemon juice and orange juice, soft drinks and a choice of Singha, Heineken or Kloster beer, all very inexpensively priced.

We began with a plate of sharkfin soup each. This came with a side plate of coriander and fresh bean sprouts, which you add to the soup. The soup itself was thick and tangy, with large mushrooms and plenty of sharkfin. Really delicious and Neera beamed!

We followed that up with the jade noodles. These are a green coloured egg noodle in a large bowl with fish balls. It was quite unlike any noodle dish we have tried before, and again was fantastic! My personal pick of the evening.

Our finale was to share a large plate of a very delicate fried rice with the crabmeat through it. Another beautifully cooked dish, but we were beaten by that stage and had to ask for a “doggy bag” to take the rest home.

Quite frankly, if you enjoy sharkfin - or would like to try - the Dining Out Team has no hesitation in recommending PS Sharkfin soup. It has only been open for six months and has been one of Pattaya’s better kept secrets. This will change with publication of this review! Try it - you will not be disappointed.

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Animal Crackers: Asian Sun Bears

by Mirin MacCarthy

The Sun Bear or Malay Bear is one of the smallest bears in the world, but even so, still weighs in between 30 to 50 kgs and can be up to 1 1/2 metres in length. These bears are also called “Honey” bears, being very partial to wild honey and are found in tropical Asia.

The majority live in Thailand, Burma, the Malay Peninsula, Java, Sumatra, and Borneo. They were also recently rediscovered in India, where they had been feared extinct. While Sun Bears prefer tropical rainforest some sun bears have been reported as high as 7,500 feet on Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu.

They have a black dense fur with an orange crescent on their chests, though some also have white or yellow muzzles. With bow legs and long wickedly curved claws they actually make a very powerful package. Expert climbers, they spend much of the daylight hours sleeping and sunbathing in trees.

Termites, bees, and earthworms are important sun bear food. Other food items include snails, eggs, lizards, rodents, fruit, and honey. However, like most bears, they are omnivores, meaning they will eat anything, including tigers and the odd unwary human, it has been said.

These bears have excellent eyesight and will often stand on their hind legs, just to get a better view. This erect stance is also used to threaten potential enemies.

Sun Bears have no particular mating season since there is no winter in Sun Bear territory, and Mother Bear generally has two cubs in each conception. These are normally twins and are born blind, hairless, and with nearly transparent skin. The bear cubs then stay with their mother until they are almost full grown.

Unlike the northern bears which tend to be solitary animals, Sun Bears can be seen foraging in pairs and adult males will even accompany the family group.

The largest problem for the Sun Bears is poaching by humans. Bear internal organs, such as gall bladders, are considered to be very potent in traditional Chinese medicine. Consequently hunting and killing has been very prevalent. There is also the use of bear paw in a soup provided “off the menu” in some Asian kitchens. In some countries they cruelly kill the bears by lowering the cage with the bear in it into a vat of boiling water! The bears can sense what is about to happen and cry! Add to this is the destruction of the Sun Bears natural habitat and you have the recipe for the decimation of these bears. Currently the Sun Bears are on the endangered species list. Surely there is room for us all on this planet?

The concept of a Pattaya Animal Refuge Association was proposed last week in this column. Are there enough concerned people out there to make it possible? Are we prepared to help?

The objective is to receive stray, injured and unwanted animals, dogs, cats, monkeys, birds, the lot, provide temporary housing and veterinary treatment, rabies inoculations and speying 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? 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. Please send in your expressions of interest. To Mirin MacCarthy, at email <[email protected] pattayamail.com>, fax 038- 427 596, or directly through email <[email protected] hotmail.com> Let’s see what we locals can do for our local animals - Please Help!

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Auto Mania: Anyone for Yunnan?

by Dr. Iain Corness

Fancy a little 7000 kilometre trip from KL to Bangkok? On the way, drop in to Laos and China, visiting downtown Yunnan. When? Begins 20th May and ends on the 4th of June. The longest haul is the first leg from KL to Surat Thani, being 850 clicks, but the rest are generally around 330 k’s, so there’s plenty of time for sight-seeing.

Of course it is for 4x4 vehicles (minimum engine size 2.4 litres, so the Suzuki Caribbean contingent can go home now) and you need three drivers per vehicle.

Silver Arrow W125

However, if you really are a hardy soul, there is one section for motorcycles too. Minimum 500cc so all the Suzuki Crystals can stay at home.

Amongst the list of requirements, which includes medical certification of fitness for the trip itself, is an important one called “A good sense of humour.” For the two wheeled brigade it is suggested you bring a spare set of handlebars as well as the more usual spare cables and chains.

All in all, you will spend 4 nights in Thailand, 4 nights in Laos and 8 nights in China. If you can afford the time, it sounds like a damn good way to see and experience a bit of SE Asia firsthand.

My old mate, Captain Sitthichoke of the Asia Off Road Centre Thailand is organising the Thailand end and you can chat to him on 038-431 672 or on 01-855 4858.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what was the first time a Japanese car won a championship GP? I wanted manufacturer and the GP and the year. There were those who insisted that it was the 1967 Italian, won by John Surtees in the Honda - but it wasn’t! The first championship GP won by a Japanese car was the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix - won by a Honda driven by Richie Ginther. The 1967 Surtees win was the first “grande epreuve” for the world championship, while the Mexican was a national championship. I did say it was a “championship” GP. I did not say “world” championship! So there!

So to this week - the emotive name for the Mercedes McLaren team is the Silver Arrows. However, Mercedes race cars have been called this for many years. The question for this week is then when did they get this name, and why? Here’s a clue - Manfred Von Brauhitsch!

Was Nuvolari really that good?

After my article on well-paid wimps in motor sport last week, some of you questioned me as to just how good the legendary Tazio Nuvolari really was. Let me assure you that Nuvolari WAS that good.

No physical giant, being only 5 foot 5 inches tall and 130 pounds wringing wet, he was a giant killer on the race track.

Nuvolari dominated European auto racing in the 1930s. He won the 1,000 mile Mille Miglia three times, and the 24 hours at Le Mans in 1933. The Mille Miglia of 1930 went down in history when Nuvolari caught his unsuspecting rival, Achille Varzi, by driving in the night with no headlights. Three kilometers from the finish he suddenly pulled along side, smiling at Varzi as he flicked on his headlights and powered through to victory.

In 1933 he scored many victories including going to Northern Ireland for the Tourist Trophy Race to drive a supercharged MG K3 Magnette. After totally dominating the race he was asked if he liked the MG’s brakes. Nuvolari replied he couldn’t really tell as he hadn’t used them that much!

Among his many G. P. wins was the German Grand Prix in 1935, which may have been the greatest victory of his career. The 200,000 German spectators had been sure that with Von Brauhitsch, Caracciola and Neubauer on hand, it would be a German victory; however, Nuvolari, in a very underpowered Alfa Romeo, never gave up, took the lead on the last lap and won. The officials were so taken aback it took them five minutes to find an Italian flag and then they had no recording of the Italian National Anthem. Fortunately, Nuvolari had brought one and the ceremony was concluded.

After the death of Bernd Rosemeyer in 1938, Auto Union was desperate for a driver who could master their mid-engine monster. At the insistence of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche they turned to the Italian, Nuvolari who then went on to win the British Grand Prix at Donington in one of the most difficult race cars of the era.

No, the stories about Nuvolari are the stuff of legends. Yes, he stands up there with the greats - including Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna.

The REAL Top 10

As soon as you start comparing drivers of one era with another, you are guaranteed dissension. I also agree that it would be impossible to predict just whether Alberto Ascari would handle the Ferrari race cars of today, compared to his Ferrari’s of the early 1950s. One thing is for certain - he wouldn’t fit in! Alberto was a fairly portly sort of chap.

However, since the 1950s we have kept encompassing statistics on the various drivers, and as a reasonable yard-stick you can look at the number of points a driver scored, compared to the number of starts he had to get those points. Obviously if a driver averages three points a start, he’s done better than someone only averaging two points. Agreed?

So here is the list of the top ten points scorers. The figure after the name is the average points per GP race. Be prepared for some shocks!

1. Juan Manuel Fangio (5.43)
2. Alberto Ascari (4.54)
3. Michael Schumacher (4.48)
4. Alain Prost (4.01)
5. Giuseppe Farina (3.86)
6. Ayrton Senna (3.81)
6 = Jim Clark (3.81)
8. Jackie Stewart (3.64)
9. Damon Hill (3.16)
10. Mike Hawthorn (2.84)

So where are all the current world champs and hot shots? Well Jacques Villeneuve is on 2.81, Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard are on 2.24 and 2.23 respectively and “Fast Eddie” Irvine is on 1.77. Well in front of the last three are drivers like Mansell 2.58, Lauda 2.46, Nelson Piquet 2.38 and Jody Scheckter on 2.28.

There is a fair spread of nationalities too, with one Argentinean, one German, one Frenchman, one Brazilian, two Italians, two Scots and two English. No one has a mortgage on the world standings!

It is also interesting to note that every one of those drivers in the top ten is an ex-world champion. Number 11 on the table is the first non-champ and that is Sir Stirling Moss (2.83), still head and shoulders above the majority of today’s ilk.

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Down The Iron Road: Inside the Steam Railway Locomotive (Part 2)

by John D. Blyth

The Chassis (continued...)

To the rear of the cylinders can be seen the rods which couple the three pairs of driving wheels together and then act in unison. The piston-rod protruding from the back of the cylinder and joined to the connecting rod which, at its rear end has a bearing (the ‘big end’) on the main crank-pin on the middle pair of wheels. This is how the fore-and-aft motion of the pistons is converted into rotary motion to drive the locomotive along the track. Above all this can be seen the ‘valve-motion’, in this case of the type invented by Belgian engineer Egide Walschaerts in the 19th century. This is an excellent and widely used type, which, like all others has three main duties of admitting and exhausting steam from the cylinders, altering the point in the travel pistons from one end to the other at which the steam supply, allowing the steam to act expansively whilst its pressure is lowered, an essential feature in assuring economical and efficient function, and lastly, to admit a small amount of steam, called ‘lead steam’, to the cylinder end just as the piston approaches the end, to act as a cushion for the weight of the motion, all of which now has to reverse and move the opposite way.

I have no space this time to go into the question of brakes. The locomotive and tender are likely to have a steam-operated brake system, acting in unison with one on the train worked by the removal of air from a continuous pipe the length of the train and applied by once more admitting air into this pipe. This has been replaced for diesel worked trains by one that does almost the exact opposite, quite a high air-pressure being maintained to keep the brake ‘off’ and air being released to apply the brake.

The Boiler Assembly

Other than the driver’s cab (in which the fireman also rides - and works!) this assembly covers almost all the remainder of the locomotive. The boiler itself, the cylindrical part, is between the ‘smokebox’ at the front, on which the chimney can be seen, and the ‘firebox’ at the back. These old and very descriptive words date from the early days of steam and have never been changed.

The boiler has a ‘tubeplate’ at either end; at the front it is circular and at the back is shaped to conform to the outline of the inner ‘firebox’, in which there is a grate on which the first is built up, and below which there is the ash pan, which prevent ashes and larger, possibly burning fuel dropping through and on the track. It also provides an access for the necessary air to cause the fuel to burn at all. The inner firebox may be of an irregular shape and so has to stay to the outer firebox so that neither will distort under the pressure of the steam. It is vital that the space between the inner and outer fireboxes is full of water to at least cover the ‘crown’ (top sheet) of the former. Above this, and in the upper part of the boiler itself, there must be a ‘steam space’, where the steam formed from the boiling water can be held under pressure until it is used. A warning ‘fusible plug’ is normally fitted in the crown as an indication that the water level is too low but the crew are expected to watch the level in the gauge glass provided.

The boiler ‘barrel’ contains a large number of tubes, by which the gases from combustion will flow forward into the smoke box and out of the chimney. These tubes will be quite small in diameter but there may well also be some much larger ones, which themselves each have an element (double return tube) through which the steam is cycled again to make it hotter still. Hot steam flows better that ‘no-so-hot’ and less hot steam occupies the same space and so is more economical. This simple device is call a superheater.

At a convenient high point above the water level is the regulator valve, which admits steam to a main steam pipe carrying it forward to the smokebox and then through the superheater, and so to the cylinders. After pushing its piston the length of the cylinder, the steam is exhausted into a short upright pipe, the ‘blast pipe’ directly below the chimney through which the steam and hot gases from the fire are ejected into the air. Hence the mixture of white steam and filthy smoke emerging together! The pressure still in the steam is the reason for the puffing sound of a steam locomotive in motion, music to the ears of the likes of your writer. It serves another very important function, that of providing a strong draught on the fire and drawing air through the ash pan and grate to give more air for the burning fuel. This is a beautifully self-balancing arrangement that when the locomotive requires the most steam the draught is at its strongest and the steam is duly supplied. The credit for this must go to none other than George Stephenson.

At the back of the boiler are two upright brass columns, which are the safety valves that let out excess steam when the pressure is allowed to get too high. What they emit is pure waste and avoided as far as possible.

Water from the tank in the tender is admitted to the boiler either by pump or an injector, a crafty arrangement of cones that will move steam under pressure at a very high speed; at the right point water is mixed with this steam and all go into the boiler together through a one-way valve, the ‘clack-valve’. Pumps are more common in warm climates as the injector depends on a temperature difference, i.e. the feed water as cold as possible.

I hope some, at least, of this is of interest and clear. I shall have to use some of the terms in future contributions and you may like to keep this for reference if the need arises. You are also welcome to write to me at P.O. Box 97, in Pattaya. But remember that I am not an engineer, just a railway operator!

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Coins of the Realm: Beware of fakes

by Jan Olav Aamlid,
President House of the Golden Coin

It is not nice to disappoint people. But sometimes, in my profession I have to do it. Collectors and others come to my shop very excited about their coin collection and ask me to evaluate them. Unhappily I find a majority them to be fakes. Most holiday-makers today know that coins, antiques and other objects of fine arts offered on the streets or found in markets are counterfeits or nice imitations.

These venders are very professional in their operations. Some time ago a coin-collector came to see me. He was so eager to tell me that this time he had really hit the jackpot. He had been on vacation in Italy, and at a historical site the local guide hit a stone by accident. The collector was convinced he saw the guide picking up a handful coins appearing behind the stone. The guide looked surprised, studied the coins for a minute, put them in his pocket and continued with his duties as a guide.

The collector had seen from a distance that these had to be ancient coins. He knew from books that on this site some real numismatic treasures had been found. He approached the guide, and asked if he could have a look at what the guide just found behind the stone. He was shown the coins and recognized something he had seen in catalogues. The guide told him that in his many years as a guide, this was the first time he had seen such rarities. This afternoon he would see the curator at the museum. The guide hoped for a small reward. Anyway, according to the law, all coins found must to be handed over to the museum.

This coin is a decadrachm (ten drachma) of Syracuse in Sicily. The coin is from approx. 400B.C. and is struck in silver and the weight is about 40g. It is an unsigned work by the famous artist Euainetos. This coin is one of the masterpieces of the ancient world. On the obverse, it is a picture of a quadriga (four hours and a vessel) and the revers is a picture of the goddess Artemis-Arethusa with four dolphins around. This is a real coin and the value is about US$8,000.

The collector boasted about his collection back home, and asked if he could buy a couple of the coins. The guide gave him a lesson on morals and how he could not sell him the coins. But after reviewing the fact that he was a real collector, and the guide had a big family to support, an exception from the morals and law could be made. The coin-collector was allowed to pick out the two coins he liked the most. The deal had to be made in cash, so traveler’s checks were exchanged at a bank, and the guide paid.

After returning home, the coin-collector looked up the coins in auction-catalogues, and found that the coins had a value close to US$ 20,000. He wanted my help to put his great coins in an auction-sale to get the maximum out of his treasures.

Looking at his two coins for a moment, I had to disappoint him. The value of his two coins was worth no more than US$ 20 but that is to say if he could find someone wanting to have them. They would have made good testimonials of high-quality counterfeits in his collection. And the guide? Well, he is now placing some more coins under his lucky stone for the next tour group.

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Fitness Tips: Top 10 Tips

by David Garred, 
Club Manager Dusit Resort Sports Club

G’day Pattaya,

Last week in my Rebound and Regain article I gave you a few answers to the dilemma of rebound weight gain as a result of dieting, This week I want to go a little further and give you some tips to help you achieve your weight loss goal and make the change permanent.

1. Don’t Diet. To achieve fat loss, having a “healthy eating plan” rather than a “lose weight plan” is much more effective, less restrictive and easier to stick to. This is one of the major downfalls or restrictive dieting - basically that they are too hard to maintain. Another major drawback of low calorie diets is that they don’t work in the long term as they encourage the body’s metabolic rate to decrease (they reduce your energy burning ability so it is harder to take the fat off). Starving the body turns on the protective mechanism of fat reserve conservation (so you can’t burn it off anyway). Therefore your fat stores are protected and what you’re actually losing is muscle tissue and water.

2. Move More To Lose Fat. The largest contributor to obesity in our society is lack of physical activity and technology is largely to blame. Labor saving devices such as washing machines, remote controls, computers and power tools have not only saved us time but have prevented us from burning calories. Strangely our eating habits have not changed much tough, in fact we are now eating a little less that 30 years ago, and still we are getting fatter. According to Dr Gary Egger, Director of the Centre for Health Promotion and Research in Sydney we are burning around 500 calories a week less because of improvements in technology. Over a year this could mount up to an extra 3-4Kg of fat. The key here is to move when you can - use stairs whenever possible or walk to your corner shops instead of driving.

3. Maintain Or Build Muscle. Muscle is the engine that the body uses to burn fat, so the more muscle you have the more fat you can use. Muscle also influences metabolism. The higher the muscle mass, the higher your basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy you burn energy during rest times). In order to build or maintain muscle you need to do resistance or weight training. Diet is important too. You need protein to build and repair muscle. Protein should make up around 20% of your diet. For an average diet of 600 calories this is approximately 80 grams of protein per day.

4. Eat Smaller Meals More Often. Grazing or eating often can actually boost your metabolism. Eating smaller meals 5-6 times daily rather than 2 or 3 large meals encourages fat loss and balances blood sugar. A large meal can result in larger production of the hormone insulin. Insulin’s major role is to lower and stabilize blood sugar, but insulin can also affect the rate at which fat is stored.

5. Avoid Fruit Juices & Soft Drinks. Most people think fruit juices are healthier than soft drinks. They are because they have more vitamins but they are also high in sugars. In the preparation of fruit juices fibre is separated from the juice and many pieces of juice are needed to produce a glass. When you consume fruit juices you are basically getting a lot of calories with less nutritional value (i.e. no fibre). You’re better off eating the pieces of fruit throughout the day.

6. Eat More Protein, Less Fat. The modern western diet is different to that of the Middle Ages. Research suggests that we have a greater fat intake (35% as compared to 20%-25%) and protein intake has dropped from an estimated 37% to 15%. Carbohydrate consumption has basically remained the same while fibre intake has fallen from over 100 grams per day to less than 20 grams per day. There is growing speculation that in combination with changes to daily activity, these changes in our diet have raised the level of obesity and other problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

7. Exercise Before Breakfast. After fasting overnight the body has a low level of blood sugar and stored carbohydrate (glycogen), which are the preferred sources of fuel or energy for activity - whatever that may be. As a result, if you exercise before eating breakfast your body has no choice but to use fat from storage as fuel.

8. Eat More Fish. Fish and fish oils seem to have some benefits for those on a fat loss programme. Studies have shown that fish oils are burned or utilised more steadily than other types of fat, but not all fish have the same effect. Also some fish oil supplements can be effective. The oils that seem to oxidised fastest are the omega-3 oils found in cold seawater fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel and herring.

9. Keep Cool. Cold weather has greater effect on metabolism and there fore fat loss than warm weather or warm temperatures. The idea of ‘sweating fat away’ by heavy clothing is a myth. In fact walking or exercising in the cold has been shown to burn more energy than in warmer temperatures. It’s probably a good idea to avoid artificial heating if possible, for example heating in cars, buildings, electric blankets etc, if you are on a weight loss programme. Not that there are many of us who need those types of things in Thailand, but I am just trying to help and I wanted to try to dispel the sweat suit idea.

10. Set The Right Goals. Why you want to lose weight and whether your goals are motivating enough, may well determine how successful your attempt will be. Most people set specific goals that either aren’t really achievable or aren’t motivating enough. Something else to remember is that health and wellbeing may be actually easier to achieve than specific weight loss goals. For example you may want to aim for better energy levels, improving self-confidence or improving your mood rather than scale weight loss - all very realistic and achievable goals. Also, remember quick weight loss may actually be water and muscle loss rather than fat loss if your diet is low in calories or if you over exercise.

My final word or tip for long term fat loss concerns the investment you are willing to make when it comes to achieving your goals. It may take time, it may take effort and it may take changes to your current lifestyle. An encouraging word from those who are successful is that feeling great has been one of their major rewards and fat loss was their bonus.

Carpe’ diem.

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Copyright 1999 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, assisted by Boonsiri Suansuk.