Family Money: Short-Time
In case you thought this was going to be a discussion
of the relative costs of the personnel working in Boystown, I’m sorry to
disappoint you. (But the title got your attention, didn’t it!?)
This article is in fact aimed towards those readers who
are working here on contract terms.
The days of the long-term employment contract - what
Orientals traditionally term the Iron Rice Bowl - seem to have passed into
history, along with flared trousers and 45 rpm singles (although many
readers will have fond recollections and maybe even collections of both).
Expatriates are especially vulnerable to the vagaries
of short-term or open-ended contracts that can be terminated at any time,
leaving you without work and without income.
Typically, short-term working contracts pay very well -
and expatriates on such contracts should be making the most of the
opportunities these present. But there may be intervals in between them
when cash flow becomes tight.
When planning for such an eventuality, flexibility is
an important consideration.
So is keeping a readily accessible ‘cash cushion’
in your bank accounts.
Over the years I have met innumerable people who are on
short-term contracts, but who have failed to plan effectively either for
the periods in between or for the longer term.
But time passes faster each year, it seems. A typical
three-year contract soon comes up for renewal or replacement with another
Without sound financial planning, these intervals can
pass without any real long-term benefits having been accrued.
How many readers on short-term employment contracts
have made sensible arrangements to save some excess income and put it to
work for them, both to provide an income between contracts, and for when
they eventually stop working? In my professional experience, very few.
Okay, most working people put something aside for a
rainy day - but I’m talking about sound financial planning, not just
what you feel comfortable keeping in the bank.
When considering starting up any sort of investment
savings plan, certain important criteria should be borne in mind.
First, how much commitment will you be able to make to
keep it going? If you’re at all unsure about “keeping regular” come
what may, it would be better to use a plan which permits a high degree of
What this means in practical terms is one which allows
you to reduce or suspend contributions should you be out of work for some
time - and preferably without penalty.
Another criterion is accessibility. Can you withdraw
money from your plan if the need arises? And if so, without heavy charges
or penalties being applied?
Third is portability. Can you take your plan with you
wherever you might be transferred? I have known cases where someone
started up a regular savings plan and just a few months later got
transferred to the other side of the world.
One such had to stop his plan because local exchange
control regulations prevented him from remitting his contributions
overseas - thus not only did his plan not achieve the objective for which
it was set up, but he suffered heavy penalties as a result.
Had his financial adviser addressed this possibility
before signing him up for what turned out to be an inappropriate plan for
his circumstances, the client would have been far better off.
The tax aspect
Tax efficiency is always a consideration. After all,
why pay tax if you don’t have to?
This aspect should be addressed by your financial
adviser not just for the regime where you are currently located, but where
you are likely to be when you draw down the benefits of the plan.
For instance, if you were sure you were going to be in
Thailand when you draw down some money from your plan, you don’t need to
be concerned about having to pay tax on monies remitted from an offshore
But if you were in UK, Germany, or France, different
rules would apply, depending on how long the plan had been going, and how
it was structured.
If you are Australian, and plan eventually to return
there, you would be obliged upon your return to report to the tax
authorities that you were holding an offshore investment program, and pay
tax on the theoretical growth - even if you hadn’t drawn down a single
cent from the plan.
In that case, you’d probably be better off encashing
it (without penalty, of course) before your return home.
Most financial consultants will ask you how much you
can “comfortably” put aside, and suggest a plan which will accommodate
this in a cost-effective manner.
That keeps things simple both for the client and the
consultant. But that’s not the end of the story - or at least, it
In my view, not only all the criteria discussed earlier
should be taken into consideration, but both his or her short-term needs
and longer-term requirements as well.
Most expatriates on contract terms can afford to save
quite substantial amounts, and this opens up more possibilities than most
Many lack a pension, and have given this little if any
consideration in their overall financing planning.
However, most cost-effective offshore ‘pension’
plans require long-term commitments which someone on a short-term contract
may be unwilling to consider. This is being short-sighted, in my opinion.
Who says you have to take out only one plan when
considering your savings program? (The financial consultant who has his
eye on the commission he will earn rather than the needs of the client is,
sadly, the usual answer.)
In most cases, contract-working expatriates can afford
to set up not only a highly cost-effective long-term savings program
designed to provide them with an adequate (and perhaps tax-efficient)
pension, but also a totally flexible (but admittedly somewhat less
cost-effective) open-ended plan which can be stopped at any time without
penalty, and could even be drawn down from in times of need, also without
This two-pronged strategic planning will put your
excess income to work for you far more effectively than just sitting in a
bank account, while meeting both your shorter- and longer-term needs and
Nowadays there is a wide variety of both types of plan
- as well as some that are a compromise of both for those with more modest
disposable income - and most have various additional features that can be
included to cater to special needs and circumstances.
It is in your own best interests to take advantage of
your expatriate status, and find out how best to make the most of your
unique opportunities - while you still have the chance.
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 number.
The Computer Doctor
by Richard Bunch
From Jez Hewitt, Philippines: Hi there, I have a Kodak
digital camera that I bought a couple of years ago. Whilst I know digital
camera technology has advanced since my purchase, this camera was top of
the line when I bought it and still gives me results that I am more than
pleased with. In the past I only used it for pleasure, but I have recently
started a new job and am using it on a daily basis, taking on average 70
to 100 shots. I am finding it increasingly irksome to have to connect the
serial cable to it and download the shots to the PC; this process is
taking a considerable amount of time, several hours and ties up the PC for
other things. I am sure there must be an easier and faster way to do this;
any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. One final thing, I have a
limited budget so...
Computer Doctor replies: Oddly enough, this is not
something I have been asked before, but I can sympathise with you. The
good news is there are several solutions to your predicament. The first is
to purchase a new camera, say one of the Sony Mavica range. These take the
pictures in a JPG format on a standard 3.5" floppy disk. This means
they can be accessed directly from any PC that has a 3.5" floppy
drive and some software that can read the JPG format, most PC’s will
satisfy both these requirements. The drawback with these is that floppy
disks can prove unreliable, they are susceptible to dust, moisture, etc.;
not good if you are on location, also copying from the floppy or even
opening them directly from the floppy can be slow.
Another solution is to use what are called “compact
flash card readers” these are small devices, which accept the flash card
(memory module) from the camera. They appear as a hard disk, and can be
accessed directly; they are extremely quick in operation and are probably
a better option. They are generally priced around $75-$100 so hopefully
will be within your budget. These come with various interfaces, parallel
port, USB and combo, i.e. both parallel and USB. The model you use will
depend on the computer you are interfacing with; however, most computers
over the last few years will have USB ports and this includes many
laptops. Personally I prefer USB devices as they can be plugged in and out
with the PC still running and are automatically detected. That’s not to
say that the parallel port models are not good, they are, but tend to be a
little more cumbersome when it comes to connecting them up; most of them
take the power from the keyboard socket whereas the USB models do not
require an external power source. Two manufacturers who you may wish to
consider are Datawise and DataFab, check out their websites at www.datawise-online.com
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.
The views and comments expressed within this column are not necessarily
those of the writer or Pattaya Mail Publishing.
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: Anupong
Prathompatama (AKA “Od” Carabao)
Anupong Prathompatama, better known as “Od” Carabao, is
twinkling eyed, happy and handsome Thai father of three boys aged four to
twelve. He is in fact so youthful looking, I was surprised to find he was just
celebrating his forty something birthday. How does he manage to look so young?
Od laughed, “Because I play music it keeps me young, and I am happy.”
certainly is music that has made Od’s world go round. As an important part
of the Carabao Band, Od plays Thai Latino sounding songs mixed with a little
bit of rock on Thai classical instruments. The band is famous throughout
Thailand because the lyrics, which are in Thai (naturally), are concerned with
the government and Thai society, pinning social conscience like a butterfly to
a wall. This band is no part-time weekend guitar strummers either. The band
has just held it’s fifteenth anniversary, and has now cut 48 albums and has
three sound recording studios. And where does Anupong Prathompatama alias
“Od” Carabao fit in? He has been the band’s mainstay bass player and
sound recording technician ever since the Carabao band cut their second album.
Od was not someone who imagined he would make a career out
of music. He only started playing a guitar and bass in his college years while
studying architecture. “I worked with an architectural company for two
years, though I think of myself as a musician. I’ve forgotten everything I
ever learned about construction.” However, he certainly has not forgotten
About thirty years ago Od teamed up with a friend and
played for the GI’s at army and air force bases here for about four years.
Then it was back to Bangkok, but not to the building industry, playing with
the President Band for 6 years. He ended up playing bass “because nobody
else wanted to,” he laughed.
Od was always interested in electronics and took on being a
trainee in the renowned Sirkrung sound studio in Bangkok. Now he does all the
sound mixing for the group and in 1986 the Carabao band built their own
recording studio at a cost of 10 million baht. Definitely no backyard band!
They now have three recording studios and as mentioned
before, have cut close to fifty albums. Successful you would say, but Od does
not think so. “Some people tell me I am very successful, now we are famous
with 3 studios. I would have to look into that because success means something
else to me. I am very serious about the Buddha, I pray and I live my life by
the Buddhist rules, so my family is most important to me, as is keeping other
people happy. Do you know ‘sabai jai’? It means easy living, good heart
and make the family strong. That is what is important to me.”
Although he rejected architecture, music is not the only
string to Od’s bow, as eight months ago, together with Carabao band partner
Kio, he opened a restaurant called Steak Lao on Pattaya Beach Road. It was his
partner Kio’s concept and has turned out to be extremely popular. Between
them, the band already has opened four more branches since they opened in
Bangkok and one of their restaurants there seats 1000. By the way, they serve
brilliant Thai food with the chilli level moderated for farang tastes if you
If all this is not enough to keep him busy, Od has recently
commenced a cosmetic company with his brother. They have been developing the
products for a year, with recipes consisting of all natural herbal ingredients
which his brother brought back from China. They will have four products, a
hair restorer, anti wrinkle and acne preparations and skin rejuvenation cream.
Perhaps this is the secret to Od’s looks? Od will be responsible for
production and marketing and they will be ready to launch their products on to
the market in 2 to 3 months. I asked Od if I could be the first customer. Od
replied with that happy, twinkling laugh again.
Od’s plans for the future are focused mainly on his
restaurant, proudly saying that even just the day before he had signed a
contract with Dove, a German beer. He believes that in that business, the key
to success lies in keeping his customers happy and he has instructed his
managers to ensure that this happens.
To the disappointment of his fans, he remains happily
married to Joy, his Thai wife of 14 years. Indeed, the most important values
to him in life are family. Eyes twinkling, he said proudly, “It’s my
birthday today and even my mother came down from Surin. It is the first time
she has been to Pattaya. My family are very important to me.” In fact, when
I spoke with Od he was playing with his sons, the four year old on his lap
proudly giving him the painting he had made for his father’s birthday.
Od’s advice to the youngsters out there about to begin their business
life is simply to remember to keep Sabai Jai, a good heart. There is a more
than passing chance that this is the secret of Od’s success too!
Snap Shots: Time
by Harry Flashman
The camera is one of the most fantastic pieces of
equipment to record change. A tangible, visible record of something caught
suspended in time forever. With its (and our) unique abilities, we can
then repeat that record of the same “something” at regular intervals.
That is simply known as time lapse photography. I am sure that everyone
has seen the sequences of a flower opening, or a caterpillar turning into
a butterfly. Those of you who may have seen a rather avant-garde movie
called “A Zed and two naughts” will remember the time lapse work that
was done there.
But you do not need to restrict yourself to doing
serial shots (that is not pictures of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes!) at one
second intervals, or even hourly intervals. There is one famous
photographer who has now been doing serial nude self portraits on her
birthday for the past thirty years. The results, that some people might
find depressing, are actually now being studied by the medical profession,
being the only “scientific” study of aging that has ever been done.
Harry believes that this is truly a work of art, never mind the medical
So what sort of work can you do for a time lapse
photography project? While the annual shot approach is very commendable,
Harry does not have the patience to take one shot and wait twelve months
to take the next one! Short attention span is a family trait! No, pick
something that can allow you to produce a finished product in the sort of
time frame that you could sit comfortably with.
Here is one suggestion - buy a rose (they sell them in
all bars every night) and place it in a vase by the window and shoot it at
lunchtime. Leave it exactly where it is, and take one lunchtime shot every
day for the next week. In that time, it will have spread its petals, begin
to die, the petals will shrink up, the stem will bend over, the water will
have gone cloudy and other attributes that will only become obvious when
you study the shots. However, to capitalise on this you must mount the
shots, side by side, in order from the left. You have just produced a work
of art in a week!
So you haven’t got the stamina for a week. What else
can you do? Well, there is always the record of one object in daylight.
Take six shots, one every two hours, of your house, for example, starting
at 6 a.m. You will see how the different time of day produces different
light, the sun’s movement produces different shadows and again, by
mounting them side by side, in order from the left, you will have produced
a work of art in one day!
By the way, the reason that they must be mounted in
order from the left is that the eye is trained to scan from the left, not
from the right (unless you come from some of the Arabic countries)!
So you don’t want to spend a day getting your
definitive time lapse shots (you’re getting close to Harry’s ideas
now), so look at taking one hour. In that time you can document the
progress of a snail along a wall, or serial shots of people walking down
the street, your son painting a wall or the way your beer glass empties.
The last one sounds the best I think. Just light it from behind with
natural lighting to get the best effect. Probably Harry would suggest that
you repeat this a few times over a Sunday afternoon, just to make sure
you’ve really got all the shots correct. Wouldn’t want to miss one.
The next day, take a shot of two aspirins before you
swallow them with a glass of water and mount the serial beer glass shots
side by side and then the two aspirins as the final one. Now that really
is a work of art!
Modern Medicine: Some
by Dr Iain Corness
One of the biggest problems, from the doctor’s
viewpoint, is the current surfeit of what I call “Two bob
psychologists.” Everybody these days feels as if they are entitled to
voice their opinion as to the psychological “wholeness” of everyone
else. Never mind all the amateur psych’s, there are bookshelves now
crammed with paperbacks of psychological advice for every problem the
world could ever have. Unfortunately, many of them should only be used for
holding doors open or throwing at predatory animals.
You see, what many forget is that the whole range of
human emotions is part of our “normal” selves. Anger, hurt, elation,
depression, sadness, grief, despair, dejection, rejection, joy, excitement
or desolation are all very normal human emotions. If you take these away,
you are left with a “zombie” - an unfeeling being that is unable to
express real emotion.
Now why is this a problem to us doctors? It becomes a
problem because people begin to believe that somehow it is “wrong” to
feel sad when, for example, one of life’s calamities strikes. Instead of
working through the grief or despair, the patient is encouraged by family
and friends to go and see the doctor and ask for some Prozac, or other
“wonder drug.” In this country, with powerful medications being
available over the counter without prescription, this poses an even
greater threat to normal reactions and normal recoveries.
There is nothing wrong with showing normal emotions.
Goodness me, even my cat lets me know when it is displeased with something
I have done (generally given it some cat food it doesn’t particularly
like) and it expresses true emotion. It does not need a magic tablet. It
will get over it.
And so it is with people too. The reason for the
depression, or elation, eventually becomes accepted by your emotional self
and the middle of the road “normalcy” returns. You don’t need a
magic tablet either.
Now of course there can be pathological forms of
emotional disturbance too. Deep dark lingering depression, without any
real basis for it, is a pathological condition, but depression over
financial woes, personal loss or the passing of a loved one is
“normal”. This type of emotional problem only requires treatment (and
I didn’t say “tablets”) when the person involved finds they are
unable to come out over the top of it after a reasonable period of time.
Many times the only treatment necessary is a friendly ear to allow the
person to talk through their emotional responses.
No, sadness and happiness are part of our make-up and
indeed part of our life. Accept it and move on to the next day. No magic
There are two very nice girls I have met recently and I
would like to take them out. My problem is the fact that they both work in
the same office! If I take one out, I am worried the other then will not
come - and vice versa. I have no intention of settling down and my
contract runs out anyway soon. What do you advise, wise Hillary?
Why are you cluttering up your life agonising over
ridiculous decisions that don’t have to be made? You have already said
you are only here for a short time, so stop worrying! If you are desperate
to take them both out then ask them both at the same time and invite them
to go to the zoo with you. I think you should be in a cage anyway.
One of my workmates has been coming round to our house
a lot recently and I think he is keen on my wife, who is a very beautiful
Thai woman. He will come over to our condominium and ask me for advice
about things at work, when he could easily come and see me in my office
during working hours. He also looks at her a lot. I am suspicious - what
is your opinion and your advice Hillary?
Cut out this article and leave it on his desk while he
is out of the room, or you could always just refuse to entertain him at
home and tell him to see you in the morning at work. An Englishman’s
home is always his castle. Protect it.
A couple of letter writers have been critical of your
“advice” recently, but surely they must know that nobody writes into
an “agony” column in the papers hoping to get “real” advice. If
they wanted psychiatric help, as one of the writers has claimed, then you
see a psychiatrist, not Hillary. Or have I got it wrong?
Of course you haven’t got it wrong. They have.
However, Sam, just tell me when was it that you first started to hate your
horse? Just lie down on the couch here and tell Hillary everything...
I have been here for almost a year and have had a
live-in relationship with a young lady (Noi) for most of that time. I will
be leaving for a six month contract in Indonesia shortly and am wondering
whether I should keep the lease going on the condominium and keep Noi in
it, or just tell her that I will let the lease run out and she will have
to go back to live with her mother till I come back. What do you think?
What sort of Tom and Noi show are you running? If she
means a lot to you then keep the lease going, send her some money and look
forward to a very loving reception when you get back from Indo. If she
really means nothing and all you think about is yourself, which is what
Hillary suspects, then do the right thing and cut her loose now. You are
the only one who knows the answer. Do the best thing for everyone under
the circumstances. You’ll probably get dengue in Indonesia and die
I know this probably sounds funny, but we have two
children and the schooling here tends to be very expensive. Is there an
alternative to the international schools?
Dear Worried Mum,
Of course there is an alternative. It’s called
illiteracy! Hillary has said it before, children are a burden and they
last twenty years and never say thank you. However, they are yours -
Our daughter is aged 15 (going on 23) and is becoming a
real handful. She is a smarty, answers back to me (especially when her
father is not around) and exceptionally wilful. She is also bigger than
me, so I cannot really give her a well placed clip behind the ear! Her
standard of behaviour is just not acceptable as far as I am concerned and
her school work seems to be slipping as well. Is there anything that can
be done, or that I should be doing?
Worried Mum (II)
Dear second worried Mum,
It is certainly a trying time, with young teenagers.
Since the school work is slipping, I would suggest a timely and private
visit to the school counsellor is in order as well as asking around the
other mothers as to how they see your daughter’s attitude. It might just
be an attention seeking form of behaviour, or on the other hand, you might
just have a five star brat. You may need some professional help here, and
these columns are not the place for that. Contact the Pattaya
International Ladies Club who have the name of a trained psychologist on
their books. And best of luck. It might be a case of grinning and bearing
for a while, I’m afraid.
An Asian airline has been summoned to court
after its frequent flyer program offered free plastic surgery to the
male and female passenger who could hit the longest drive at a
Japanese golf course. The airline argued that it had found a novel way
of pleasing loyalty customers. But Mr Yomoto Hasika, who managed to
hit his golf ball 310 yards, said he was extremely annoyed to receive
a letter informing him he was now eligible to have his bust size
enlarged. The winning female golfer, Mrs Toni Sashima, commented
through her lawyer she was not prepared to discuss penile enlargement
over the telephone.
American scandalDon’t believe all you hear about sleaze
and Sin City. A Republican candidate in USA who appeared in a soft
porn video says it shows he is a good communicator. The film features
naked women lathering themselves with motor oil. Titus Mason the
candidate commented, “Given that there is certainly a fair amount of
nudity, I feel that the movie is about as tasteful as it could be.”
His many political supporters who have seen the movie point out the
oil is meant for a diesel engine and is very dark, thus obscuring any
Thick as thievesTwo robbers in Phnom Penh successfully
robbed an elementary school head, but then made off with the wrong bag
of loot. The men forced themselves into the principal’s office and
held him at gunpoint while they emptied the contents of the school
safe into a briefcase. As they turned to flee, they picked up by
mistake the head’s own bag which was full of homework ready to mark.
Police said they were not following up the case as the school safe
only contained packed staff lunches.
Readers’ queriesReader CG enquires whether there is a
minimum monthly salary to be eligible for a credit card issued in
Thailand. Bank of Thailand regulations say the floor limit is 20,000
baht a month for cards issued through local banks. However, farangs
would need to have a work permit to stand much chance of a successful
application... Another reader asks what recourse he has after a garage
ripped him off for work on his car which was not done properly. It
would cost you a fortune to follow this matter in the civil courts.
The best advice is to use the repair shops only of authorized dealers.
If there isn’t an authorized dealer in your area, don’t buy the
car in the first place.
Live foreverA US based company Permanent Solution is to
open its first Asian branch in Thailand now that the alien business
law has been liberalized. It’s a mummification service, presumably
for foreigners, at a knockdown price of $65,000 and is claimed to last
longer than any pharaoh’s treatment. Also on offer are gold coffins
(are grave robbers an extinct species?), post mortem organ removal and
your very own death mask.
A farang couple who booked into a budget
South Pattaya hotel were awakened every morning at an unearthly hour
by a large pneumatic drill tearing up the pavements. They asked to be
moved to another room on the other side, but to little avail. Here
they could not get to sleep for the sound of welders putting the
finishing touches to a new condo block. Having run out of options, the
exhausted receptionist said she would refer the matter to the manager.
He duly suggested putting a TV in the room to drown out the noise, but
added there was a 100 baht a day surcharge for this additional room
facility. Case of PSA or Pattaya Strikes Again.
Words of wisdomMoney is better than poverty if only for
financial reasons. (Woody Allen)
Nouveau is better than no riche at all. (Anon)
I started out with nothing and I still have most of
it. (Jackie Mason)
Formula for success; rise early, work hard, strike
oil. (John Paul Getty)
Taxation is the art of extracting the maximum
number of feathers with the minimum amount of hissing. (Colbert, Louis
XIV’s finance minister)
What are the two worst things about Ken
Livingstone? His face. (Labour Party Headquarters)
Always be sincere, even if you don’t mean it.
Of course television is educational. Whenever
anyone switches it on, I leave the room and read a book. (Groucho
Television is an invention whereby you can be
entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your
house. (David Frost)
I was asked the other day whether I first slept with a man or a
woman. I replied I was too polite to ask. (Gore Vidal)
Dining Out: IL
Mulino - for a “real” pizza
by Miss Terry Diner
The other night, Miss Terry was coming back from Naklua on
the Naklua-Pattaya Road and began to get the urge for a pizza. Not a large
soggy, greasy pizza, but a real one. There on the left hand side, heading
towards Pattaya, and close to the Windmill Resort, was a little Italian
restaurant called Il Mulino.
What attracted me initially was the sight of a large pizza
oven in the front of the building, with a young girl preparing to make a
pizza. I stopped and came inside, to be met with a dazzling smile while she
thumped and spread the dough to make the pizza base. This was definitely
starting to look good. Motioning to me to go inside, I walked through the
outer “fan” area and through the sliding doors and into the
air-conditioned comfort of the restaurant itself.
Il Mulino has a sort of “funky” atmosphere, so common
in Italy. Bright red or green tablecloths cover the tables and the seats are
comfy and padded. Paintings of Italian countryside scenes adorn the walls and
the floor was tiled and clean. On the table was a container with the usual
condiments, plus a large bottle of Extra Virgin olive oil (comes from very
ugly olives), some chilli oil and a peppercorn grinder. Placemats on the
tablecloths and linen napkins complete the picture.
The menu is small, as is the restaurant itself, and while
perusing it I ordered a Singha Gold, which was readily available at 50 baht.
The first pages of the menu cover drinks, starting off with local beers 50-65
baht, Thai whiskey 35-40 baht a shot, spirits and cocktails, generally around
100 baht and some wines by the glass 85 baht.
The food section is in Italian, with English explanations,
and begins with traditional Italian items under the heading of “Something
Light”. These range in price between 60-160 baht and covers Bruschetta,
Mozzarella Caprese, a cold plate and a seafood salad. The next section is
spaghetti and pasta, with numerous varieties all ranging in price between
120-170 baht. These include Penne, Ravioli, Spaghetti, Lasagne and Trendette.
But it was for a pizza I had come (unannounced, I might
add) and the pizza section has seventeen varieties on offer with both large
and small sizes. These range in price between 100-200 for the large (generally
about 180 baht) and 50-120 for the small, with the usual around 80 baht. At
the end there is a very small Thai section with six items between 55-120 baht.
There is also a small separate menu with ice cream and gelati.
I chose a small Proscuitto Funghi which the menu said was
made with mozzarella, ham and mushrooms and sat back to wait. In the outdoors
section was a group of American sailors, who were obviously enjoying theirs so
I sat back and enjoyed the Singha Gold.
About half way through the bottle, the young lass from the
pizza oven at the front appeared with an 8 inch pizza (yes, that’s a small
one!), covered in ham and mushrooms. Now when I say “ham” I mean
“ham”. Real home carved ham, not the slippery pressed supermarket variety
you get so used to getting these days. I excitedly cut the pizza into sections
The pizza base was thin, in the traditional way, the
mozzarella nicely melted, dripping festoons of cheese as you pull the section
away. The taste was wonderful and it had all been made for me, right there and
then on the spot in Naklua!
The lady in charge asked whether it was “aroy”. I
assured her that it was “aroy maak”, just as I can assure the readers that
if they want a real pizza, prepared in the traditional way and fired in a
genuine pizza oven, try the Il Mulino. It gets Miss Terry’s personal seal of
approval. Need I say more?
Crickets, by Jimminy!
What insect hears with its elbows, has wings but does not
fly and calls all night long? A male cricket of course!
make great temporary classroom pets if you make sure they have an aquarium
with a tight lid, some moist (but not wet) soil, and several hiding places,
such as small plant pots on their side. They are fed with fresh fruits,
crushed dog biscuits, and a little bone meal or calcium to prevent
cannibalism. Water can be provided on a small sponge.
Each type of cricket varies the speed of chirps depending
on the air temperature. They will also respond to different musical
instruments and different pitches of sound. The chirp we hear is made by the
friction of rubbing their wing covers together. The chirp is most noticeable
during warm summer evenings and continues into the autumn.
Only the male calls with its familiar chirp, which is
designed to defend their territories and attract a mate. They do this by
rubbing a structure called a file located on their leg, and a scraper on
their wing. You can make a similar sound by rubbing a file against the edge
of a tin can. Scientists used to believe that chirp we hear was their way of
communicating with each other. Now they know that male crickets are able to
make a high pitched sound which humans cannot hear. It is these sounds which
they use to talk, but only to other male crickets.
Male crickets make three kinds of calls: calling note to
defend their territory, an aggressive chirp to tell other male intruders to
move on, and a quieter call which announces their presence to deaf females!
If another male ignores the warning chirp, the cricket
who has been invaded will run and attack the intruder until either he runs
away or one of them is injured and sometimes killed. Female crickets are, in
fact, deaf, and some types rely on the smell given off by the male as he
raises his wing covers to make his call. Perhaps they should try roll-on
Wings but Not for Flying
Underneath the wing covers are modified wings. They are
so modified that the cricket cannot fly. Instead it scrambles and hops about
in long grass. The bristles on their legs help them to grip the long grass
to scurry away from predators.
Crickets are eaten by small owls, birds, snakes, mice,
frogs, raccoons, opossums and many other creatures. They are important
creatures in the food chain - for others.
You can try crickets yourself at web site http.://www.flukerfarms.com.
Fluker Farms are suppliers of delicious oven roasted crickets covered with
chocolate to create one truly unforgettable exotic snack. Each individually
wrapped, chocolate covered cricket comes with an exclusive “I ATE A BUG
Down The Iron Road:
Compound Locomotives 5 - World Wide!
by John D.
I make no apology for spending four weeks on French compound
locomotives; the French, after all, provided the first successful compound and
brought the system to high degree of perfection. I now have about 900 words to
cover the rest of the world! It may be best to start by listing the countries
which never saw a compound locomotive: the list is surprisingly short, even if
some ‘near misses’ are included. I can only think of the following:
Thailand, Luxembourg, Lebanon, Iran, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and some minor South
American States. Some very near misses could be the Netherlands, who had just
one (but the builders Werkspoor of Amsterdam built some fine express 4-6-2s and
some 2-8-8-0 Mallets for their 1067mm gauge lines in colonial Java); Burma who
largely followed Indian practice, but had a curiosity in the form of a compound
Garratt articulated locomotive, but I find at the last moment that they also
bought 22 0-6-6-0 Malletts from Britain; Malaysia - 2 Malletts intended for
Russia; Palestine, which had just four 0-4-4-0 Mallets on the narrow-gauge
Jaffa-Jerusalem line; Iran, which somehow came by four Golsdorf type 2-cylinder
compounds of typical Austrian appearance; New Zealand, which had one
unsuccessful special locomotive for a mountain line; and Australia with which
must be included Tasmania as that small island accounted for all five-three
Malletts and the original two Garratt locomotives, which were rare compounds for
compound 2-8-0 by Brooks, of Dunkirk, New Jersey, built 1892.
So near to France, and yet the railways of Britain did not
embrace compounding with much favour; of all the main line railways whose
independence ended with the 1923 amalgamation to make the four groups whose
names are still familiar, the lines serving the south coast of England did not
have a compound between them other than the Great Western’s three
‘Frenchmen’, and two tandem compounds, best forgotten. The five companies
forming the railways of Scotland could only muster one compound between them:
this was the old locomotive that had been recovered from the bed of the River
Tay after the collapse of the first Tay Bridge in 1879, and which was then
rebuilt as a tandem compound as an experiment. In England only the Midland
Railway and the LMS of which was to form part, took up the compound system
keenly, with a reasonably successful 3-cylinder 4-4-0 design by Johnson,
simplified by his successor, Deely, and eventually numbering no less than 240
examples. A near miss was a proposal of 1924 on similar lines as a 4-6-0, but
much more fearsome was design for a 4-cylinder compound 4-6-2 and a companion
2-8-2 for freight work. The orders for these monsters of 1926 were stopped just
original Midland/LMS Compound 4-4-0, in service until B.R days as it appears in
Passing quickly by the reign of terror on the North Western,
when Webb’s compounds were storming the West Coast lines, we will just note
that on the other side of the country the Great Northern and Great Central had a
few compounds each, whilst the North Eastern under the two Wordsells, compounded
a number of small freight engines – all right for long slow runs, but too slow
for much shunting. And both ‘halves’ of Ireland had some compounds, the
north even on the narrow gauge, under engineer Bowman Malcolm, chief engineer at
Spain, Portugal and Belgium were so close to France that some
ideas would cross the frontiers, so all had de Glehn type locomotives, which on
the wide Iberian gauge looked little different from the home product. Germany,
too, had de Glehns, but local ideas from von Borries and from the Maffei works
in Munich also prevailed; German practices were also to the fore in most Balkan
lands. Greece only had compounds on the metre gauge Peloponnesus and Attica
lines, on tank locomotives later made ‘simple’. All the Scandinavian systems
had at least some compounds; I had almost put ‘nil’ against Finland until I
recalled an ancient 2-cylinder 2-6-0 seen in 1962 at Hyvinkไไ works
and which was a compound too. The Austro-Hungarian empire took much from
Germany, but had a great engineer, Karl G๖lsdorf, who saw merit in the
compound system and used it in engines up to a classic 2-12-0; few lasted long
after his death.
We must not stop long over Russia and China except to record
that, once again thanks to Anatole Mallet, both had a smattering of compounds,
but also some of orthodox type, and in China one of the early railways had been
built and was owned by the French, who equipped it with pure de Glehn
locomotives! Railways in North Africa also toyed with compounds of various
breeds; The Kenya-Uganda had some British-built Malletts, and under German rule
Tanganyika had 0-4-4-0 Mallets which were unmistakable in their German
parenthood. Mozambique harboured a solitary and derelict Mallet for some years,
which had allegedly worked on the Trans-Zambezi Railway. The great system which
served the Union of South Africa used bigger and bigger Mallets, all of course
compounds, until they discovered the superiority of the Garratt. I find no
evidence of compounds in Angola, and only a few small ones in the remaining
haul on the Norfolk & Western, a compound 2-8-8-2 Y6b, of which building
continued to the end of steam in the USA.
In the small space that remains we must deal with the
Americas! Canada had only six compound Mallets, preferring to go for very big
‘rigid’ locomotives, the 2-10-4 being favourite. One of these was a
compound, although the books usually ignore it: this was one of only five
locomotives ever built with the Scmidt-Henschel three-stage boiler; curiously
this was one of the three that enjoyed small success - the real failures being
in the USA and Britain.
The USA had begun playing with compound systems before the
advent of the first compound Mallet in 1904; tandem compound systems had quite a
vogue, mainly, but not only for freight work; this was one way to avoid a crank
axle despite four cylinders, by placing high and low, one behind the other on
either side of the engine, with the pistons for each in ‘line astern’ on a
common rod. There was a tendency to cast the cylinders in pairs instead of
separately, which made maintenance very difficult, and even made lubrication a
Samuel Vauclain of the great Baldwin works had another
solution which was to avoid crank axles by putting the cylinders above one
another outside the frames, the two piston rods driving each side on to a common
crosshead and thence a common connecting rod. This worked remarkably well, even
on high speed locomotives, but there was a limit on size.
Vauclain compound from the Baldwin works with superimposed cylinders.
The compound Mallet was seen as the answer to the power
problem, but low pressure cylinders finally reached a diameter of four feet,
no less, and the difficulty of controlling the weight of these as they sought to
swing the pivoted front unit from side to side led unavoidably to the ‘simple
Mallet’ with all cylinders the same size. They are not part of this story, but
some of them could run safely at 80mph, against the 35-40mph now just safe with
a compound. Yet the latter, still seen as superior as load-movers, were built
until the end of USA steam.
The major lines in South America’s many states also went
for compound Mallets until beaten by the size and weight difficulties, but the
once British owned railways of the Argentine also went for a big and interesting
program of 2-cylinder compounds, even suburban tank locomotives and ten-coupled
types for heavy freight work being quite successful on such an unusual
arrangement, some being made even better by the modifications of that disciple
of Chapelon, the late L. Dante Porter.
Comments welcome at PO Box 97 in Pattaya 20260, and next week something quite
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