Family Money: Currencies
are not Stocks
It seems that many investors think of currencies as if
they were stocks, and despite my having touched on this topic before, many
otherwise shrewd investors seem utterly confused on this issue.
Any particular currency simply reflects the value of
assets held in that currency.
For instance, if you’re holding cash (whether in a
bank account or greasy bits of paper) those are simply assets valued in a
local currency, which you may translate on your portfolio tracking system
into your base currency - the currency you think in.
Your base currency may be a different currency from
that in which you hold most of your investments or spend most of your
money - and then currency movements become important. (Perhaps this is why
many Pattaya residents so avidly follow the exchange rate of the baht
against whatever currency their overseas bank accounts or investment
holdings are denominated in.)
Similarly if you are a direct investor and hold shares
in one or several markets. You have to track not only the share movements,
but also the exchange rates of the various currencies they’re traded in.
If the share price rises by 5% but the currency in
which the shares are traded drops by 5% against your base currency, your
potential profits are wiped out.
Many investors think it’s just the same using a
collective investment instrument such as a mutual fund or unit trust.
To a certain extent it is - if their unit trust is
investing only in the home market of the denominated currency. (E.g., a
Sterling-denominated UK Stock market or Gilt fund or a Dollar-denominated
US Stock market or Bond fund.)
But since the term “denomination” confuses some
investors, let’s define what this term really means.
When you invest capital into some form of collective
investment - a mutual fund or unit trust for example - its current price
will be in quoted in one currency or another. This is known as the
fund’s ‘denomination’: for instance, US Dollars.
It could just as well have been denominated in
Sterling, or Deutschmarks, or Euros, or Yen, or Dongs (the Vietnamese
currency in case you didn’t know), or even Ogles (the much-vaunted
newly-floated currency of Oglingland which I am reliably informed is one
of the newly-independent Central European States and not to be confused
with Pattayaland, although the activities in both seem somewhat similar:
turning old men’s dreams into reality. But I digress.)
The fund’s price in, say, US Dollars represents the
aggregate value of its individual components divided by the number of
units currently held by investors. If the fund in point is an equity fund,
those components will be shares in a multiplicity of publicly traded
If all those shares are in US-based firms, then their
value will not be affected by any fluctuation in international exchange
rates. (Unless of course the firm is a multinational, when its
international holdings have to be converted into US-Dollar value to
establish the true worth of the company in US Dollar terms.)
However, if the fund is a globally-diversified fund,
its component stocks may well be spread all over the world, and hence will
themselves be bought, sold, and valued in a multiplicity of international
Thus, to make things simple and enable unit-holders in
that fund to know at a glance what their units are worth, the value - and
hence the price - of the fund is quoted in just one currency. This seems
and indeed is somewhat arbitrary.
If you stop to think about it, that fund could equally
well have been priced in US Dollars or Ogles, because the real value - the
value of its component stock-holdings - remains the same no matter what
currency the fund is priced or valued in.
The denomination of any particular fund is therefore
only for convenience of evaluation and reflects the worth of that fund in
just that one currency.
If you are a dollar-orientated investor (that is, you
generally think in terms of US Dollars), and all your portfolio’s
holdings are denominated in US Dollars, it’s easy for you to work out
what your real net worth is.
Similarly, if you’re a Sterling-orientated investor,
it’s equally easy if all your portfolio’s holdings are denominated in
But if you’re a Sterling-orientated investor (or a
Dollar-orientated investor or an Ogle-orientated investor) holding some
fund units denominated in Sterling, some in Dollars, some in Deutschemarks
and some in Euros, it becomes slightly - but only slightly - more
You simply find out what the prevailing exchange rate
is between those various currencies and your base currency - the one you
tend to think in - and divide the price in the other currencies by the
exchange rate to your base currency to determine your net asset value
(NAV) in your base currency. Simple as shelling peas, and most investors
will be familiar with this exercise so far.
Betting on currency gains
But now things tend to move off the path of simple
logic and into the realm of foreign exchange (or ‘forex’) speculation.
For instance, some investors think that because the
Euro is currently weak against the Dollar, if they buy into a
Euro-denominated fund (rather than a similar one denominated in Dollars)
when the Euro gains in value against the Dollar (as they expect will
happen, although when this may come to pass is anyone’s guess), they
will make a windfall capital gain by reason of the higher exchange rate.
Smart, aren’t they?
No! Theirs is a totally fallacious argument, resulting
from a fundamental misunderstanding.
So let me explain how it really works.
The single country scenario
To illustrate the mechanics in its simplest form, you
might for instance be investing your Pounds Sterling into a
Dollar-denominated Thailand Stock market fund, which as can easily be
surmised from its name, is holding a basket of shares bought on the SET in
In this scenario the movement of the Dollar against the
Thai Baht is cancelled out, and the significant currencies (as far as you
are concerned) are just Sterling and Baht.
If the SET goes up (or rather, the fund’s component
shares do) and the exchange rate remains the same, you make a profit in
both Sterling and/or Baht.
Similarly, if the fund’s price remains the same but
the Thai Baht strengthens against Sterling you still make a profit in
Sterling terms - although not in Baht should you then remit your Sterling
‘gains’ over here: again, the currency movement has been cancelled
Thus if you were investing Sterling or Dollars or Ogles
or whatever into a Thailand fund and then remitting the proceeds back into
Thailand, the currency movements have all been cancelled out in local
terms, and the amount of Baht you receive would approximate to the
movement of the local investment.
But this is a unique situation.
The multi-currency scenario
Things become rather more complex (and hence more
difficult to grasp) when you invest capital accumulated in one currency
into an institutional fund denominated (i.e., priced) in a second
currency, which itself is dealing in bonds or equities in a country which
uses a third currency, and you need to draw down an income from that
investment to cover local expenditure in yet a fourth currency - say, Thai
If you had similarly invested Pounds Sterling into a
Dollar-denominated Japanese equity fund, and planned to remit the proceeds
of selling your units over to Thailand, you’d have to consider not only
the price movement of the fund (which would inherently reflect both the
rise or fall of the underlying Japanese equities and movement of the Yen
against the Dollar), but also the relative strength of $/? and ?/Baht.
What you thought was a profit may in fact be a loss
masked by relative currency movements.
In our example, if the fund’s component stocks move
sideways (i.e., the Nikkei neither rises nor falls), and the denominated
currency of the fund (US Dollars) doesn’t move against the trading
currency (Yen), you only stand to make a profit in your base currency
(Sterling) if that currency depreciates against either the fund’s
denominated currency (US$) or the single-country fund’s local trading
currency - in this case Yen.
(To make it simple to understand, your units are worth
the same in Dollars as last week, but Sterling has dropped in the
meantime, so your Dollar-denominated units are now worth more Sterling.
It’s as simple as that.)
On the other hand, if the Nikkei rose by 2% and the Yen
concurrently weakened against the Dollar by 2%, the price in US Dollars of
the fund’s units would remain almost the same - despite the underlying
assets having increased in local value terms.
Then, if Sterling and the Dollar had moved parallel to
each other, when you convert the units’ value back to Sterling, your
holdings in Sterling would also appear to have remained the same as before
the rise of the Nikkei.
But if Sterling had weakened against the Dollar by the
same amount as the Yen had (2%), then your sideways movement in Dollars
would translate into a 2% rise in your Sterling value - because Sterling
has moved parallel to the Yen, and thus reflects the movement of the
underlying assets, not the denominated currency of the fund.
The Dollar pricing dog-leg has been effectively
cancelled out. And this scenario equally applies to the Euro, as I’ll
Gains from the weak Euro?
Many people imagine that it’s a very complex exercise
if your chosen fund invests throughout a region such as Asia, Europe, or
even globally, where a multiplicity of currencies may be involved.
How many currencies would you need to watch then?
In fact, the answer is really the same as for the
rather simpler Japanese Equity fund (i.e., a single-country fund) in the
The movements of individual component stocks and the
movements of the various currencies involved will be reflected in the
overall price movement of the fund in question, expressed in a single
For instance, a Euro-denominated European stock market
fund will in fact be holding a basket of shares in various countries of
Europe, all bought on the local bourses in the local currency.
For simplicity, the aggregate value of those shares is
translated into Euros (which remember is still an artificial currency),
and the price of units in the fund calculated accordingly in Euros.
If our Sterling-orientated investor bought those units
originally with Sterling, and Sterling had moved parallel with the Euro,
his value in Sterling would directly reflect the movements of the
underlying assets in their local currency terms.
However, if the various European stock markets were to
remain stagnant (i.e., the various local share prices hadn’t changed),
but the Euro appreciated against the Dollar and Sterling (which have
remained relatively stable against each other for some time), the unit
price of the fund in Euros is likely to drop, not rise.
(This is because the price simply reflects the
underlying value of the component stockholdings, which remember have not
changed in local currency terms, but are now worth less ‘expensive’
Euros than before the currency appreciation.)
Converting that price into Sterling one then finds (to
many investors’ surprise) that the Sterling value is virtually the same
as before the currency movement, and the currency movement has effectively
One must remember that a currency simply reflects a
value of assets held in that currency, and is not a stock - and should not
be regarded as if it were. Unless of course you have joined the highly
speculative and risky game of currency speculation known as forex trading
- which is another subject for another day...
(to be continued next week)
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
Further details and back articles can be accessed on his firm’s website
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
The Computer Doctor
by Richard Bunch
From Michael Breeze: I have
purchased a new notebook from Hong Kong. It contains a modem card made by
Compact Flash Technology CFT56K MDC Modem (SIL-22/Sec on Banister).
Connection to CS Internet is extremely slow by comparison with my desktop,
as is connection to web sites once connected (I can compare connection
times almost instantly so the problem appears to be with my modem and not
with the ISP). I have double checked configuration settings and am at a
loss to know what the problem is. I conclude either the modem is defective
or CS Internet doesn’t like my kind of modem. How can I fix this
problem? Many thanks for any help you can give.
Computer Doctor replies: I am assuming that the
modem you are referring to is a PMCIA one (credit card size). If as you
say you can connect, but the speed is very slow, I feel it is unlikely the
modem card itself is at fault, although this could not be totally ruled
out. Although you say that you have already checked the configuration it
is far more likely that this is the cause of the problem. Did you just
check the modem settings? Or did you go deeper? Often conflicts occur with
other devices, which prevent it from functioning correctly, if at all.
There are really too many options and possibilities to go into in this
column, so I suggest that you have the problem investigated by a competent
From: Peter (London, UK): I read your column and
indeed the Pattaya Mail every week and have been a past and recent
frequent visitor to Pattaya. I have a very simple question, which I’m
hopeful you can advise me on. Is there any software that can be purchased
which when used can translate instantly any emails sent or received from
Thai to English and vice-versa? Thank you in anticipation
Computer Doctor replies: A simple question, eh?
This is a vast subject and I have to say one that I have not had much
contact with lately. One package I do know which may fit your requirements
is Simply Translating Deluxe from L&H software. However, I think maybe
the best solution is to throw the question open to the Pattaya Mail
readers, so if any readers have first hand experience of any of these
programs, please let me know your experiences via the contact details
below and I can pass these on to Peter.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Bunch is Managing Director of Action Computer Technologies Co.,
Ltd. Providing professional services which includes website design,
website promotion (cloaking), turnkey e-commerce solutions, website
hosting, domain name registration, computer and peripheral sales service
and repairs, networks (LAN & WAN) and IT consulting. Please telephone
038 716 816, e-mail email@example.com or see our website www.act.co.th
Successfully Yours: Gerrit
J de Nys
by Mirin MacCarthy
Gerrit J de Nys is the Chief Executive of the Unithai
Group, the Thailand arm of the IMC Pan Asia Alliance Group, a large regional
organization with primary business interests in shipping, distribution,
logistics, engineering and infrastructure.
A youthful looking man in his mid-fifties, he seems young
to be the driving force of such a diverse corporation. Gerrit does not agree,
as he sees himself as a builder of businesses.
Twinkling eyed, sharp humoured and handsome, his educated
accent does not give away his background. His parents emigrated from Holland
to Australia for a new life when he was twelve. His childhood must have then
been tough, having to start a new life? Gerrit laughs then says frankly,
“No! It was tough on my father at age 48 with eight kids to begin again.”
He dismisses the influence of having to adjust to a new
land and a new people might have had on him as a teenager and suddenly you
understand he was born a survivor. Gerrit laughed again and said, “Kids are
buggers, they tease like hell. We were so desperate to assimilate, arriving
not speaking the language but by the end of the first year I was top of my
class in English. That might tell you a bit about me.”
Gerrit now speaks and writes six languages, Dutch, Hebrew,
“Because of my time in Israel although I am not Jewish, French although I am
rusty, English, Thai passably, a bit of Cantonese and if you think Thai is
difficult, Cantonese has 10 tones!”
Following his secondary education in Australia, Gerrit
trained and worked in civil engineering for a year before taking his new wife
Barbara and 5 week old baby to Hong Kong, a city which became their life for
the next twenty years. “My forte is building businesses. I was the
production manager but with no management training. It was a natural
progression. I was a born leader, as a kid I was a top Boy Scout always
shouting at the others.” This was said with a disarming frankness.
Gerrit was head of Pioneer concrete in Hong Kong for four
years, then was transferred to Israel and ran Pioneer in Israel for three
years. After this, he then went back to Hong Kong and set up a concrete
company in opposition to Pioneer, involved in quarrying, civil engineering and
testing. Then Gerrit set up a construction and construction materials group
chain called Shui-On and was Group Chief Executive.
It seemed as if there was no end to his meteoric rise, but
political unrest became a factor in his life. “I was at the height of my
career in 1989 when the Tiannaman Square massacre happened in China and I
decided to give twelve months notice and went back to Australia. It was the
first down turn in my life, as previously my personal and business life had
been on the rise. I guess you have to have at least one set back to make you
develop.” In Australia, he developed two businesses, one a kit home
construction firm with forty employees and one a leisure car hire firm with a
fleet of Mustang convertibles on the Gold Coast.
“One night, after endless fighting with the bureaucracy
there I decided to sell up and called in the liquidators. It was an expensive
exercise; it cost me close to a million dollars. I kept the Mustangs, though I
closed that business down just nine months ago.”
After that, Gerrit and his wife came to Thailand in 1994.
His daughter was married and in Australia and his son in the U.K. “Through
my contacts in Hong Kong I was asked to head the Unithai group here. It is
very much a Thai company but it is Hong Kong financed. I took over as managing
director of the shipyard and commuted here three times a week. In ’97 I
became chief executive. It is the hardest job I ever imagined having,
especially in Thailand. We came here to set up a business with no shipyard
skills and managerial skills very weak. It was a time when you couldn’t get
local people for love or money.” He sat back, with an obvious pride. “My
hobby is my work. I get a kick out of achieving even though it is as hard as
Making a success of your life means to Gerrit, “Doing
something where you achieve, you build. By co-incidence, I consider myself a
builder of companies. The experience in Australia knocked the rough edges off
me. Being a personal success is being happy and at ease with yourself and
everything you are doing. Having your kids grow up to be decent citizens with
their own principles and values.”
The qualities that Gerrit holds as most important values
are hard work, commitment and personal integrity. “Loyalty is important too,
but it is difficult to define; it takes time to build.”
What motivates Gerrit is accomplishment and challenge. He
laughs again and says, “I’m a pusher. I don’t give up. I’ll probably
die with my boots on. Some people say that may be sooner rather than later.
Working gives me an adrenaline rush. I can’t imagine retiring. I’d be so
Whatever, or wherever, Gerrit de Nys will undoubtedly be beavering away,
getting his kicks out of building anything, anywhere.
Life Force: Young
* Keep sugary foods to mealtimes and clean your teeth regularly
by Tracy Murdoch
Starting school can mean exciting new foods for some
children. They may also rebel against the usual family foods in favour of
what their friends are eating. We should embrace this rather than view it
as a problem. Although food is for nourishment and growth of the body it
also plays a key role in our social development. If you have been working
hard to help your under 5 to develop the taste for wholesome food, then
perhaps you can relax a little when they start to experiment. They may be
more inclined to “bargain” with you if you allow them to have the
foods they want.
Food is used to communicate, to show affection, to
reward and provide a feeling of security. When children first go to school
it can be a difficult period of adjustment so maybe meal times can be used
for more than just nutrition. Young children have increasing control over
what they eat and develop a thirst for knowledge, so this is a good
opportunity to teach them that there is a wide variety of foods and what
they are for. This is really important for youngsters to make informed
choices. Try to encourage children to help prepare and cook foods. Allow
them to develop a liking for eating with other people and sharing food.
These are just as important as the healthy eating guidelines below:
* Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups
* Enjoy your food
* Eat plenty to grow and be active
* Don’t skip meals
Snap Shots: Filter
by Harry Flashman
Last week Harry here spoke about using soft focus
filters to enhance and produce a pleasing portrait, and this produced
enough interest for us to devote some space to making your own range of
interesting filters. The entire project will only take a few hours and you
will end up with some photographic accessories you can use for years.
starting off point for the majority of all filters is some optical plastic
sheet. You can get this at optical stores, or even at hardware stores. It
does not have to be 100% flaw free, just like a window glass is fine. In
fact, try the framing shops as well. The plastic “glass” they use will
work just as well too. In desperation, you can even use very thin glass
sheet, but beware, as it does not travel so well, and cut fingers can
result if you do not watch. Cut the sheet into squares about
3"x3" (or about the size of a computer floppy disk).
Let’s do a Central Spot soft focus filter first. In
the centre of the sheet place a 50 Satang coin. Now take an aerosol can of
hair spray lacquer and wave it a few times over the sheet. Wait a couple
of minutes till it is dry, shake the coin off and you have your first
home-made filter. This will give you normal focus in the middle of the
print and a “foggy” area around the outside. The more hair spray - the
greater the fog. This is best used with an f-stop of around f4.
Now we’ll make a true graduated fog filter, or
“grad fog”. Take another square of plastic or glass and the hair
spray. The idea is to evenly spray over the filter and then build up more
along the top half. With a little practice you will get quite good at this
“spray painting” technique and you should end up with a heavy coat
along the top and then gradually clearing by the bottom of the square.
With this filter you can take shots on a cloudy day and get very
“atmospheric early morning” shots (even though you do it a 4:30 in the
The next filter is incredibly easy to make and yet
produces some incredible results. Start off with the 3" square and a
pot of Vaseline (petroleum jelly). Now with your finger, lightly smear the
surface of the square. Rub diagonally to leave a pattern on the surface.
Now use this filter, shooting into the light, and you will get light
trails diagonally across the photograph.
The last filter uses the same optical technique, but is
slightly more difficult to produce. If the square is plastic, with a very
sharp knife and a steel rule make around ten diagonal scores across the
surface. Now make another ten in the opposite diagonal which means you now
have a criss-cross effect. If you have to use glass squares, then you can
do this by using a glass cutting wheel hand tool to make the scores. Now
if you use this filter and photograph street lights, or have any strong
light source in the shot, you will get cross stars of light coming from
Those four filters will work for even the most humble
point and shooter. The hardest part is merely holding them up in front of
the lens. With an SLR you do look through the lens so you have an idea of
what you are going to get - but believe Harry that it still works with the
With this not being what you could call an “exact”
science, there is a little trial and error to be done in using these
filters. Shoot plenty of film (it’s the cheapest thing in photography)
and remember how you ended up with certain effects so that you can
reproduce it next time. Happy snapping!
Modern Medicine: Sprains
by Dr Iain Corness
Sprains are not fun. How many times have you “gone
over” your ankle and ended up with a huge fat swollen ankle the next
morning which has made it almost impossible for you to walk upon? Lots,
I’m sure, in your lifetime.
A “sprain” is just a partial tear of the ligaments
and protective capsule around any joint and is very easy to do. A quick
overextension or wrenching of the joint and it has happened in a split
second. And that can be any joint, not just the ankle. It can happen with
simple manoeuvres like backing the car and getting your thumb caught in
the steering wheel. Going to open the gate and bending your finger back as
you catch it in the wrought ironwork. It is very easy to do.
The problems associated with sprains are three: pain,
dysfunction and time.
Pain from a sprain is immediate, as you could imagine,
after partially tearing fibres around the joint. However, the result of
the tearing is then swelling into the tissues which in turn makes the pain
even more acute! The effect is bad enough when it happens, but it then
With the joint now swollen, you cannot bend it. This is
fine in the early stages of the condition, as it stops you moving the torn
tissues, but the secret of early recovery is a return to functional
movement - something you cannot do with the joint surrounded by firm
The third element is Time. That’s time with a capital
“T”. Sprains seem to take forever to get better. In fact, sprains in a
finger take longer to return to normal than a fracture. That’s right! A
sprained joint can take anything up to six to twelve months to get better,
while a simple fracture is healing at three weeks and completely better by
six weeks. A big difference!
So what should you do next time you sprain a joint?
It’s the I.C.E. treatment as much as possible. That’s Ice around the
joint, Compression of the joint with bandages and Elevation of the joint,
where feasible. By controlling the swelling, you will reduce pain, and by
wrapping the joint with bandages you are supporting and immobilizing the
After a few days you can gradually decrease the amount
of strapping to the joint and begin passive movement. Stop if it’s too
painful, as there is no need to aggravate the problem. Try again a few
days later and slowly and gradually begin active movement, but still with
some degree of support from bandaging.
If the sprain is in a finger, it also helps if you
strap the injured finger to the next larger finger to it. This supports
and yet allows for passive movement following the movement in the
Of course, if the pain does not settle, it might be
wise to pop up to see my colleagues at the Bangkok Pattaya Hospital just
to make sure you haven’t got a little fracture around the joint itself.
One simple X-Ray is generally enough.
The other night I saw my boss’s wife, who is Thai, at
a Boys Town club. She was there with another woman and they bought a
couple of drinks for some of the dancers (boys). They were laughing and
having a good time it seemed. Should I tell him, or should I just leave
him an anonymous note to check on what she is doing?
Dear Vigilant (or is that Vigilante?),
Are you serious and do you seriously wish to remain
employed? I suggest you mind your own business. What were you doing there
anyway? Everyone is entitled to have some fun in their lives. Time you did
too! Haven’t you heard that Pattaya is “Fun City by the Sea”? Nasty
Is there some reason the phone bills seem to come every
two weeks? I am worried that they might cut the phone off, so I am always
anxiously looking in the letter box. Also the electricity bill comes and
you only get about three days to pay locally, otherwise you have to go to
Naklua and stand and wait in a queue for hours. Why can’t they
standardise things and let you pay at the banks or somewhere?
Bills, bills, bills!
Have you ever heard the expression TIT - This is
Thailand? Well, part of the charm and infuriation of living here is that
it is not the same as back home. I do not think it would be possible to
standardize telephone bills, do you? Anyway, you should personally check
your phone bills to make sure you actually did make those trunk line calls
to Finland. However, you can make arrangements to pay your electricity and
water bills through the bank. Meanwhile keep up your vigilance at the
There does not appear to be any “wholesalers” here
as there is in the UK. I notice that the restaurant owners all shop for
their meat and other supplies at the same supermarkets I go to. Is this
the reason why the meals in restaurants are so expensive?
Which restaurants are you going to? Even the most
expensive here are very much cheaper than your U.K. prices. If you are on
a budget, try out the local markets. There is one in town on Pattaya Tai
opposite Wat Chaiyamongkol, where you can buy meat and vegetables cheaply.
However, the meat is locally butchered, un-refrigerated chicken, pork and
duck as well as fish. It is not for the squeamish and certainly not export
quality fillet. This may explain why many restaurateurs prefer the
supermarkets - perhaps they want to keep the quality up and the people to
keep coming back?
With the mad social rounds that my husband has to do
with his job, there is always alcohol involved somewhere. It was the same
in America, before we were transferred over here. I am worried that he is
going to turn into an alcoholic. What should he do?
Have you spoken to your husband about this? Does he
think he is overdoing it? Or is it you that is going overboard? It takes
more than just available alcohol to turn people into demon drink
devourers, you know. If he managed to contain it all in the States and has
held a responsible position for all those years, he doesn’t sound like
an alcoholic to me.
I am a reasonably handsome bloke and nice natured, but
when I asked a girl in the bar the other night if she would like to go out
with me she said no. I like her a lot and this surprised me. Should I risk
asking her again or just forget her?
Risk what? Damaging your pride, you vain beast! She is
just as entitled to her decision as you are. Ask her again if you must,
but there’s plenty more fish in the sea.
The lads at work all love your column, but why are you
so “bitchy” some days?
What do you want? Sweetness and roses every day. Wake
up to yourselves and get back to work before I let your boss know what you
do with company stationery. Anyway, I’m a woman and I’m allowed to be!
My girlfriend’s sister has no husband, and has moved
in with us from Petchabun. While this would not be too bad, she has
brought her three kids with her. We’ve got two already so that makes 8
people in a small town house. There’s another sister who is also talking
about coming down to Pattaya. I’m a little worried that I’m being used
as I end up with all the bills for the very large household. Any advice
for me, Hillary?
Simple, Bernie, get a bigger house and a bigger income.
If this is not possible, then it’s time you put your foot down and took
charge of the household. Thais do live in the extended family scene, but
you have to say where the limits are. Lots of luck.
Reformed sex tourist and born again
Christian Leon Justin claims to have just spent a month in Pattaya
without touching alcohol or indulging in sins of the flesh. 54 year
old Leon said his personal pilgrimage was proof that you can enjoy
Pattaya whilst remaining true to your religious convictions. He
explained he had had a wonderful holiday visiting the resort’s
second hand bookshops and listening to classical music in his room
virtually round the clock. However, some doubt was cast on Leon’s
claims after police were summoned by an angry hotel management. The
hotel said the Englishman had run out of cash to pay them 38,000 baht.
This amount was needed to cover constant restocking of his mini bar
and unpaid bar fines from the go go club in the basement.
Shanghai has further simplified visa
requirements for short term visitors. Air passengers from most
European countries and USA can now obtain a temporary permit which
allows them to remain in the city for 48 hours even if they arrived
without a Chinese visa. Obviously, you must have a return airticket
and a valid passport to show immigration authorities. The new
discretion could be useful for farangs who are leaving Thailand
briefly, who want to use the second entry on their Thai visa or who
are merely seeking a thirty days on arrival stamp on their return to
Bangkok. Currently, only Shanghai is offering this opportunity to
First class grub
Plenty of English homely fare at the
Rose Garden Hotel and Restaurant which is on the right hand side as
you proceed up the hill to the Fitness Park. Their sausages and mash
are among the best in town, but they wisely purchase their bangers
from Yorkie’s Pork Platter in Jomtien. The Manchester born member of
GEOC (Grapevine Eating Out Collective) thought the mince and tatties
were absolutely spot on. Beer prices are reasonable in a spacious
lounge that appears to be frequented by sociable Brits. Another plus
is the easy parking, no small bonus in our increasingly congested
Breaking world news
Glasgow: Hackers have managed to
break into the telephone system of a Weight Watchers group whose
answer phone message now reads, “Hello, you fat bastard”...
Manila: Suspected drug dealer Alfredo Laurel tried to evade police
capture by running into a wood. Officers had no trouble locating him
as he was wearing a pair of trainers with battery powered lights which
flash on and off... Phnom Penh: The defence in a grisly murder trial
hung on whether the accused could draw a gun from his pocket without
shooting himself in the foot. He proved that he could manage that but
then fired on two lawyers and the judge before escaping through a
AH asks why she has had no problem
paying her water and electric bills by bank direct debit but keeps
getting warning letters from the international phone company. These
state that there is no money in her account and that the line will be
disconnected. The answer probably lies in the major banks’ debit
procedures. Water and electric debits are handled directly by your
local Pattaya branch. But telephone debits are organized centrally
from the Bangkok headquarters of your bank, which happens to be Siam
Commercial. Ask your local branch to check that head office has your
correct account number and that your debit authorization form has been
forwarded to the right section.
Credit card woes
An increasing number of readers
complain that overseas companies in USA and Europe won’t accept Visa
and Amex card numbers for payment of goods on the Internet. The
problem arises when they are asked to type in their full shipping
address on the secure server only to discover that Thailand is not
listed as a country in the destinations’ scroll down. The overseas
companies reply that there are so many thefts of cards in this part of
the world that payment to them from the credit card people takes six
months or is never approved at all. Another case of TIT (This Is
Thailand) about which nothing can be done. Or so we’re told.
That’s media life
From The Churchdown Parish Magazine:
Would the congregation please note that the bowl at the back of the
church labelled “For The Sick” is for monetary donations only.
From The Times: A young girl, who
was blown out to sea on a set of inflatable teeth, was rescued by a
man on an inflatable lobster. A spokesman for the coast guard
commented, “This sort of thing is all too common these days.”
From The Daily Telegraph: Brussels
is to pay 500,000 euros to save prostitutes. The money will be going
directly into the prostitutes’ pockets, but will be used to
encourage them to lead a better life. We will be training them for new
positions in hotels.
From The Derby Abbey Community News:
We apologise for the error in the last edition which stated that Mr
Fred Nicolme is a defective in the police force. This was a
typographical error. We meant, of course, that Mr Nicolme is a
detective in the police farce.”
From The Observer: Genuine Charles The Second silver
sovereign for sale from mid Stuart period. In mint condition. Carries
the date 1977.
Dining Out: Steak
Lao - a sizzling surprise!
by Miss Terry Diner
The Steak Lao restaurant has now been open for about five
months, and this was the first visit for the Dining Out Team. This is actually
the sixth Steak Lao restaurant, with four in Bangkok and one in Sri Racha. It
is very centrally placed on Beach Road, on the corner with Soi 10 and features
an open garden setting with wooden tables and chairs, or an air-conditioned
enclosed area at the back. There are also two kitchens - one for deep fries,
stir fries, etc., and another for charcoal grills (done incidentally over a
huge dao tarn).
The menu is extensive, with around 150 items, and is mainly
Isaan and Eastern food - but with a difference, as we found out. It begins
with Special Dishes (between 80-220 Baht) and is mainly seafood (fish, prawns
but also frog legs and an interesting Sukiyaki called Suki Lao - more on this
later). Appetizers and snacks are next with Hors d’oeuvres and some deep
fried “nibbly” items (60-220 Baht). This is followed by another dedicated
Deep Fried section (80-200 Baht) with fish, chicken, spare ribs, pork, duck
and frog. The next items come under a heading of Fried and are mainly stir
fries with all the usual dishes but in addition, frog, bird, pickled eggs and
vegetables all around 90 Baht. The section called “Yum” has 20 items
covering every conceivable combination at around 80 Baht. From there it is
into Isaan Soups and Curries, Laab, Tom Yums (all about 90 Baht) and Isaan
Salads around 45 Baht. But it isn’t over yet! Thereafter come the grills and
charcoal grills, with everything from Sizzling Beef at 100 Baht, through the
Steak Lao Special (120 Baht), to T-Bones at 250 Baht or New York Cuts at 450
Baht. The last page (whew!) covers the beverages and desserts, with the usual
range of whiskeys and beers at very reasonable prices (and yes, they had
Singha Gold for Miss Terry)!
With Manager Michael assisting, we began with Poo Tanoy.
These are miniature deep sea crabs, deep fried and crispy - and you just
crunch up the lot with a spicy sauce and was wonderful! I must admit that when
the dish arrived I was a trifle apprehensive, but I had no need.
Another great feature about the Steak Lao Restaurant is
that they understand that the farang palate may not be able to handle some
Isaan items, and the “fire” is less if you request it (we did!).
We then had the Hors d’ouevres Isaan - a selection of
different pork sausage and dried pork to whet our appetite for what was to
come. I had ordered a Tom Kha Gai (chicken in coconut soup) and this arrived
in a pottery crucible, with the best Tom Kha in Pattaya. Made with proper
coconut milk (not the reconstituted stuff) it was smooth, creamy and full of
chicken. The best!
This was followed by a Steak Lao special - a hot plate with
pork pieces done in a slightly sweet (honey?) sauce, with accompanying papaya
salad and a dipping sauce. Once again, it was not too spicy hot and the papaya
salad was sensational.
By now we were starting to flag, but Michael insisted we
try the Duck Laab, a little spicy, but very nice and then came out with his
Suki Lao (seafood). This arrives on a sizzling hot plate, with prawn, squid,
crab and fish balls along with a green vegetable and a special sauce. Again an
excellent, and different dish.
The cuisine here is very distinctive - and very good! The fact that it is
prepared to your taste makes it suitable for everyone. If you are unsure of
what to order - just ask Michael, but we are sure you will not regret any
choice. Earmark this place as a “must visit”, especially if you are
entertaining overseas guests. Highly recommended.
Religions and do we need one
by Mirin MacCartry
Noted psychologist C.G. Jung is reported as having said
that Religion was the psychological crutch of the masses, a phrase that many
of those who would decry religions use as their prop! But methinks that too
much has been ascribed to those words of Jung’s. The protestors are being
just a little glib!
When you look into it more deeply, all he has said is the
equivalent of putting forward the notion that busses are the transport
medium of the masses. What is “wrong” with having a psychological
“salve” (as opposed to “saviour”)? Almost every society has had its
religion as part of its make up, so in fact, the masses have given the
concept of religion its stamp of approval. It is something we want,
something we feel comfortable with, and something which we feel helps our
society continue. Is this really a psychological “crutch” - something to
hold up an injured or lame being, or is it rather one of the integral
building blocks of a strong and healthy society?
To bolster up their arguments, the non-believers will
cite the cases of the clerics who are unfaithful to their cloth, but this
does not mean the religion is incorrect! Man is a very imperfect animal and
the fact that a man can fail to uphold the tenets of their religion cannot
be used to decry the principles of the religion itself. For example, the law
of not driving while under the influence of alcohol reflects a fundamental
truth, the fact that people do drive drunk reflects on the individual, it
does not mean the law is wrong.
Looking widely at religions, there are many similarities,
showing that perhaps there is a fundamental truth for mankind that has been
adapted by the different peoples over the ages to suit local conditions and
even local climatic events. Most adhere to the concept that there is a
“supreme” being (or beings) - that there is something higher than
Selfishness, as mooted by the once popular cult Randism
(after Ayn Rand’s books), unfortunately does not stand the test of time.
For man to work in a society and for that society to flourish, it does need
leaders and followers. And in many societies, that leader was also the
leader of the religion, or the constitutional head. However, the societal
leader also acquiesced to a “leader” even higher than he (or she) - the
This being was often given the form of a god or goddess,
but could also be embodied in the sun, moon or even the earth itself.
Primitive man felt a need to be in tune with the environment, acknowledging
that he was part of it, one part of a very large whole. In other words,
describing his part in a society - one small cog in a very large system of
wheels. That fundamental truth still exists today.
So why are there so many religions today? For the same
reasons that there are different countries, different peoples and different
societies. But while those religions may look to be very different, they are
really very much the same under the surface. Each one puts forward some
basic rules or commandments or tenets - these cover the simple rules
necessary to maintain any society - warning against killing, stealing and
actions to jeopardise the family unit such as adultery. All fairly simple
and straightforward, and with all the religions, good common sense to keep
the society whole. While the religion may have documented the rules, there
is no “magical” nonsense in the basics.
Again, the religions generally embody a “promise”.
For most, that promise is another life after this one. That may be a
reincarnation on earth, or may be life in the spirit world, be it your
heaven or your hell. But in them all, your eventual fate is decided by your
actions in the “now” world. Following the basic commandments of the
religion will get you “Brownie” points - but it is up to the individual
to do this. And there is someone in the “higher world” that keeps the
As collective peoples, the religions have then worked for
the individual societies. Certainly there has been, and unfortunately still
is, what I would call “misdirected” applications of religion, resulting
in wars, but in its pure forms, there is no doubt that religion has been
beneficial in keeping societies together, so that the individuals within
that society can enjoy their lives under the safe umbrella of that society.
Do we really need a religion then? The answer must be a resounding
“Yes” - the societies that have stood the test of time all espouse a
religion, a code of conduct prescribed by it, and its members are happy to
wear a sign or symbol of their faith. This is not a crutch, this is a
fundamental that we need to grow, and as such, all the major religions must
play their part. Hopefully in harmony!
The Iron Road:
Engines of War 4 - The Third German ‘Kriegslok’
by John D. Blyth
I see that I have been using the ‘Whyte’ formula for
the arrangement of wheels on a steam locomotive without an explanation. It
is so simple that some may have guessed how it works! Whyte was an American
railways engineer who, almost 100 years ago said, “Let’s assume that all
locomotives may have leading, driving or coupled, and trailing wheels; then
let us set down how many of each a certain locomotive has, with a dash
between and a ‘0’ where it has none; and if it is a ‘Tank’ engine
with no separate tender for fuel and water. Let us put a ‘T’ at the end.
So we may have a 4-6-2, with four leading wheels, six coupled wheels, and
two trailing wheels.”
The Third ‘Kriegslok’
There were at least nineteen designs from ten builders,
and one from a consortium, but no locomotives were ever built! In 1941 Nazi
Germany had attacked Russia with such fury that soon the fighting was well
within Russia itself. About the time that the first Class 42 2-10-0
appeared, in late 1943, the concept of a big fleet of medium sized 2-10-0s
was questioned, and the building industry was invited to submit designs for
a heavy freight locomotive, especially for the Eastern Front, where demands
were ever increasing and the supply line ever lengthening. The specification
has survived, and I set out the main points below:
To haul trains of 1700 tons on rising gradients of 1 in
125 (i.e. 1 unit vertically for every 125 units on the level), with
continuous curvature of 36m radius, at not less than 20 km/hr.
Able to run in either direction at 80km/hr
Weight per metre run not to exceed 8.18 tons
Occasional running through switches angled at 1:7,
followed by curves of 140m radius.
To be able to use turntables of 23m diameter
To have feed-water heater (for economy), and have
mechanical stoker (for heavy work)
Increased water and coal capacity, and the use of Donetz
Basin Coal (with high ash content) to be considered
Some existing types, e.g. the Class 44 2-10-0 and the
Class 45 2-10-2 could do much of the work but could not be considered as war
locomotives, as they needed skilled maintenance - but the Class 44 was built
throughout the war, many by factories in occupied France. Not all builders
approached submitted designs, but of those that did, most submitted more
than one design.
Schichau 2-14-0, a rare 2-cylinder proposal
Two features new to German steam practice were the
‘Booster’ and the combustion chamber. The first, an American feature,
was a small two-cylinder unit mounted on the frame holding the rear carrying
wheels, which could be connected to those wheels through gearing and so
drive them at speeds up to about 40 km/hr, when it would disconnect
automatically; it was useful assistance at starting and slow work on steep
grades. No drawing of a German booster has been seen. The combustion chamber
was an extension of the inner firebox into the boiler barrel, to give extra
heating surface where the heat is the greatest. The locomotives were of
2-12-0, 2-10-4, 2-12-2 and 2-10-2 wheel arrangements, those with 10-coupled
wheels having also a Booster. There were four which were not so orthodox,
one of which was a ‘ghost’, and not what it was stated to be.
of the Borsig 2-6-8-0 ‘Mallet’ proposal, by Marklin
The other three were very odd in one way or another and
these are illustrated. First is one from Schichau of Elbing (now in Poland),
for a locomotive with no less than seven pairs of wheels coupled. Never
before attempted on the 1435mm standard gauge, only in Russia had it been
tried, just once, on a huge 4-14-4, which could not be kept on the track and
did no work at all. The Schichau proposal was more sensible, with plenty of
ways of providing side-play; also the wheels were smaller than on the other
proposals, and the wheelbase was thus only one metre longer than on the
six-coupled axle designs. I would have had some doubts about those small
wheels and all that driving gear rotating rather fast at 80km/hr, especially
when running backwards!
proposed 2-6-6-2 rigid locomotive by Floridsdorf
One of the two proposals from Borsig of Berlin was the
first ‘Mallet’ locomotive to be proposed for the German 1435mm gauge.
The Mallet is an ‘articulated’ type, having its coupled wheels in two
groups, the rear eight (in this case) on a rigid frame on which the boiler
is mounted, and the leading six wheels on a truck which, also supporting the
front end of the boiler, can move from side to side, giving flexibility on
curved track. Very many Mallet locomotives have been built, including some
of the very biggest in the U.S.A., but when the drive is divided, the
adhesion, which presses the wheels down on the rails and prevents
wheel-spin, is not so effective. I do not like the unequal number of coupled
wheels on the two units, even though the smaller cylinders on the front unit
would transmit less power through the six wheels than that with which the
eight could cope with. I also have in mind that these were war engines, and
the complexity of the Mallet layout would not be an advantage! It is
interesting to note that this type did come into three dimensions, in the
form of a fine model ‘HO’ scale, made by the German Marklin firm!
I have sometimes wondered if the Wiener Lokomotivfabrik
in Floridsdorf, Vienna had its tongue in its cheek when designing
locomotives for their Nazi overlords, who had their country since 1938! Two
variants on a 2-6-6-2 type, one with a Brotan boiler (for which the
materials were unavailable) were said to have been the result of comparative
study with a 2-12-2 design. The cylinder, four in number, were disposed as
two as normal below the smoke box, the other two badly sited under the cab,
alongside the firebox. There was not ‘articulation’ as in the Borsig
‘Mallet’, just two groups of wheels in a rigid frame with a little
side-play. The justification for this curious layout was that although there
would be more actual parts, there was no crank axle, and the number of
different parts would be smaller, e.g. three types of wheel instead of five;
four identical sets of motion instead of three, which compared with two the
same and one different. There was more of this - I think it was all in the
And the outcome?
... was that the fortunes of war can change so fast that you finish with
scrap paper! The great Russian victory at Stalingrad changed the Eastern
front so quickly that the supply lines soon became very short indeed, and
the need for this big engine was no more. No Reichsbahn preference was ever
made known, and none of them had potential: my own preference was for the
2-12-2 by Henschel, a big but simple design, no booster or articulation,
backed up by a fine design team led by the famous Dr. Roosen. Had the need
been there, this type would have fulfilled it well.
Coins of the Realm:
1 SKILLING 1771
by Jan Olav
President House of the Golden Coin
What makes a coin valuable? A lot of people believe that
the older the coin is, the more valuable it is. This is not the case.
Often someone who has some old coins contacts me. They
want me to estimate the value. The first thing I have to explain is that to
make estimation I need to see the coins. I also warn people not to clean or
polish the coins before they show them to me. The reason for this is that a
cleaned or polished coin is worth less than half of a coin that is not
cleaned. This is hard for many to understand, but a collector prefers their
coins to look like they just came out of the minting-machine. Dark, nice
toning, called patina, also increase the value of a coin.
More than half of the calls I get in Norway about
estimations are from someone who has a very old coin. I am told it is from
1771, and I immediately know that this is a 1 skilling coin of 1771.
Inevitably, the caller is surprised that I can tell them what coin they
have. The reason for this is that the 1 skilling of 1771 is one of the most
common coins from Denmark/Norway. It was struck in Copenhagen in Denmark,
Altona in Germany and Kongsberg in Norway.
It was the only copper coin from Denmark/Norway up to
1809. It was for struck with the same date, 1771, for more than 30 years.
There are some varieties where the spelling is wrong. It should say on the
coin “1 SKILLING DANSKE K.M. 1771”, but some of the coins have spelling
mistakes like DANKSE, DANAKE or DNASKE instead of DANSKE. These varieties
can cost up to Baht 30,000.
skilling 1771 from Denmark/Norway. Value: Baht 100 to 200.
Sometimes it is very hard to explain to the caller that
if it is not one of these varieties, their coin is not worth more than Baht
100 to 200, depending of the grade. The caller argues that the coin is more
than 200 years old, and should be worth a fortune. Unfortunately the value
has nothing to do with age. Roman coins from around 300 A. D., that is to
say about 1,700-year-old coins, can be bought for Baht 200 to 300 in nice
Many people are very surprised to hear this. Some become curious and
later visit my shop to have a look at these old coins. Many become so
fascinated after seeing these old, inexpensive coins, they end up buying one
of these historically interesting objects. I always try to tell these people
to get some books about coins, and often they return after studying a little
to buy some more coins.
Eohippus, a cute little horse!
Would you like to cuddle a little horse only 300 mm
(12") tall? No, this is not the world’s smallest baby Shetland Pony;
this is the very first horse of all time. Called Eohippus, or the Dawn Horse
of evolution, this tiny horse-like creature roamed the world in the Eocene
Epoch, a scant 58 million years ago!
While the world knows this little horse as Eohippus, its
correct name is Hyracotherium, given to it by the discoverer in Europe, the
famous British anatomist and palaeontologist, Richard Owen. It was later
that remains were also found in North America, and there the creature had
been called Eohippus.
is surmised that there was actually a land bridge, in those prehistoric
times, between North America and Europe and little Eohippus migrated.
The natural habitat for Eohippus was in the damp hot
jungles and it was a herbivore, eating leaves that had fallen from the
Although there are some scientists who will debate that
Eohippus, with its four front toes and three hind toes, is not really the
evolutionary horse fore-runner, little Eohippus certainly caught the
imagination of the world, with the United States of America even having the
tiny horse commemorated on a postage stamp issued in 1996.
The next phase for horses in general came in the
Oligocene Epoch, 40 million years ago. This next horse was larger than
Eohippus and is called Mesohippus. Around this time, the boggy forests also
changed and grasslands became more prevalent. As the ground was harder,
Mesohippus developed its central toe and the side toes became smaller, as
they did little supporting function. But Mesohippus was a grazer, not a
The first hoofed galloper was Merychippus, which appeared
around 25 million years ago. This horse was now up to 1 metre tall and it
carried all its weight on the one central toe, which was now a real hoof,
with the two little side toes even smaller than those of Mesohippus. These
horses also roamed in herds, eating the dry rough grass, which developed
their teeth for specialised grinding - much as the horses’ teeth of today.
Our next stage of development was Pliohippus, which
emerged around 10 million years ago. This was much like the horse as we know
it today. One hoof only and this animal could really gallop, and it had to.
We used to hunt this horse for food. Only in the relatively recent past
(between 4,000 and 3,000 B.C.) did we domesticate the horse and begin to use
it for transportation and hunting other animals.
No, next time you see a cute little horse, spare a thought for little
Eohippus, the Dawn Horse of Evolution that ended up giving us the horse of
Copyright 2000 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated by Chinnaporn Sangwanlek, assisted by