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  COLUMNS

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
 
Family Money: What is your domicile?
 
Snap Shots: Which lens? For what? And why...
  
Modern Medicine: Some important information

Heart to Heart with Hillary
 
Grapevine

Animal Crackers: Breeding Siamese Fighting Fish - the family game
 
Social Commentary by Khai Khem
 
The Computer Doctor
 
Women’s World
 
Nightmarch
   
Shaman’s Rattle
  
The Message In The Moon
  
Guide to buying a large dog

Family Money: What is your domicile?

By Leslie Wright

Over the past weeks we have looked at various aspects of UK taxation and estate planning, with an emphasis on how these affect expatriate residents of Thailand.

The word ‘domicile’ kept on coming up, and many people confuse this with residency. The two may be the same, but not necessarily. Domicile is a widely misunderstood term, but a crucial one to your tax and estate planning.

The first step in developing a structured tax and estate planning (or ‘STEP’) solution for an individual and his family is to determine the jurisdictions with which the individual, his family, and the assets and liabilities comprising his estate are connected.

For individuals originating from or moving to the UK, the most important connecting factor is domicile.

Domicile is a conflict-of-laws concept “borrowed” by tax systems that determines the applicable system of personal law where an individual has connections with more than one jurisdiction.

Governing principles

The four principles governing domicile are:

* No one shall at any time be without a domicile.
* No one can at any time have more than one domicile.
* Domicile must relate to a territory subject to one law - a legal jurisdiction.
* A change of domicile may never be presumed.

It should be noted that an individual is domiciled in a legal jurisdiction, which need not necessarily be a country. An individual cannot be domiciled in the US or Australia, for instance, since these countries have federal systems: you would be domiciled in specific states in those countries, such as California or New South Wales.

The three types of domicile under the general law are:

* Domicile of origin: the domicile an individual acquires at birth, which is generally the domicile of his father.

* Domicile of choice: the domicile an individual acquires if he leaves his current territory of domicile and settles in another territory with the intention of living there permanently or indefinitely. A domicile of choice can only be acquired by an individual who has attained his majority.

* Domicile of dependency: the domicile a child acquires if his father’s domicile changes during his minority. It can also apply to women who were married before 1 January 1974 who would have taken a domicile of dependency from their husbands on marriage.

Deemed or fictional domicile is a tax concept that is designed to maintain or create a connection with a territory for tax purposes where the individual would not be considered domiciled under the general law.

In the UK, deemed domicile is only appropriate for inheritance tax purposes, although it has been suggested from time to time that it be extended to income tax and capital gains tax.

Generally, deemed domicile applies for three years to individuals leaving the UK from the time they acquire a domicile of choice outside the UK (the inheritance tax “quarantine period”) and after 17 years of tax residence for individuals moving to the UK. Great care must be taken in computing the number of years.

When an individual acquires a domicile of choice, it is as if he is connected to his domicile of origin or dependency by a piece of elastic, known as the doctrine of continuance.

If he changes his domicile of choice then his domicile of origin revives, however briefly: the elastic snaps him back to his first home despite the fact that he has severed all connections with it for many years.

This could have the effect of triggering a further three-year deemed domicile quarantine period for UK inheritance tax purposes.

By way of example, let us say that a Brit initially settles in Spain, establishes a residence and bank accounts there and some years later decides he prefers for whatever reasons to live permanently in Thailand. He may think his domicile of choice is Spain, and then Thailand - but in fact for the first three years after moving to Thailand, his deemed domicile has reverted to the UK. Should he die during that period, UK inheritance laws will apply to his estate.

Determining an individual’s domicile of origin or dependency is a relatively straightforward matter. The problem comes in determining whether an individual has acquired a domicile of choice.

A domicile of origin or dependency cannot be abandoned; rather a domicile of choice must be established. The criteria for establishing a domicile of choice are discussed later in this article. Criteria such as reserving grave plots and taking out club memberships don’t really count. What is important is the fact of establishing a new permanent home and the intention of staying there indefinitely. It is, one can argue, more a state of mind than location.

Domicile is crucial for UK tax purposes, but it also determines the appropriate system of personal law, governing such things as the validity of marriage and the determination of succession rights for an individual and his family.

While changing domicile may prove beneficial for tax reasons, it should be noted that it can have other unexpected, and possibly unwelcome, effects.

One such effect could be the application of forced heirship or inheritance rules that generally apply in Continental European countries such as Switzerland, France and Spain, and their former colonies, including the Philippines.

In some countries, domicile is largely irrelevant for tax purposes or only affects capital taxes, such as estate duty. In others, such as the UK, domicile is crucial and affects inheritance tax, capital gains tax and income tax.

It has been said that under the UK’s current rules, domicile is relatively easy to determine but the result is not always fair.

Proposed (but ultimately jettisoned) reforms of the rules in the past under Conservative governments (which have included both tax-driven and private law-driven proposals) have produced arguably fairer results but at the cost of a much more difficult and indefinite analysis. Domicile rules appear to be one of those things that cannot be both fair and definite.

The UK Labour government’s budgets have included no proposals for changing the UK’s domicile rules or the basis of taxation for non-UK domiciliaries resident in the UK. Indeed, changes to the anti-avoidance rules affecting offshore trusts and companies have specifically retained the privileged regime for non-domiciliaries resident in the UK.

However, this should not deter anyone from taking their first step into STEP by considering their domicile position, whether moving to or from the UK, especially since the OECD is arguing that the UK’s domicile rules constitute unfair tax competition.

Changing domicile

Change of domicile, particularly where the changes from the domicile of origin to a domicile of choice (as distinct from a change from one domicile of choice to another), has always been regarded as a serious step which is only to be imputed to a person upon clear and unequivocal evidence.

A new domicile is not acquired until there is not only a fixed intention of establishing a permanent residence in some other country, but also until this intention has been carried out by actual residence there.

It may be conceded that if the intention of permanently residing in a place exists, a residence in pursuance of that intention, however short, will establish domicile.

But a domicile of choice must be a residence not for a limited period or particular purpose, but general and indefinite in its future contemplation.

Living in another country for a long time, although an important factor, is not enough in itself to prove you have acquired a new domicile.

Prolonged actual residence is an important item of evidence of volition; but it must be supplemented by other facts and circumstances indicative of intention. The residence must answer a qualitative as well as a quantitative test.

To settle in a new country and to become an inhabitant of that country, a person who retained a residence in his country of origin could acquire a domicile of choice in the new country only if the residence established in the new country was his chief residence.

The intention must be a demonstrably present intention to reside permanently in the new country; but it does not mean that such intention must be irrevocable.

For instance, it does not necessarily mean that if you are contemplating a change of domicile you will have no opportunity ever to change your mind again. There may be a future change of family circumstances, or health reasons, amongst others.

The intention must be unlimited in period, but not irrevocable in character. The true test is whether you intend to make your home in the new country until the end of your days unless and until something happens to change your mind.

Erratum in Family Money of 13th April: In Example C, the calculation should read: “In our example, therefore, our bondholder will have to pay tax @ 18% on only 50% (the “top slice”) of ฃ1,250 = ฃ225" and not “50% (the “top slice”) of ฃ12,500 = ฃ1,125" as printed. We apologise for any confusion this error may have caused.

Leslie Wright is managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd., a firm of independent financial advisors providing advice to expatriate residents of the Eastern Seaboard on personal financial planning and international investments. If you have any comments or queries on this article, or about other topics concerning investment matters, contact Leslie directly by fax on (038) 232522 or e-mail westport@loxinfo.co.th  Further details and back articles can be accessed on his firm’s website on www.westminsterthailand.com

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

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Snap Shots: Which lens? For what? And why...

by Harry Flashman

Pro shooters walk around with those funny khaki vests with large pockets all over them stuffed with paraphernalia and lenses. Why should they bother when a point and shoot with a zoom lens will record the same image? The reason is called “quality”. Pro shooters have to return to their editor or client with a professional image, giving the best interpretation of the subject and finally be pin sharp in its definition. Something you can’t get with a Five and Dime throw away camera.

So this week Harry thought he might give you some ideas on lenses, the which, what and why. Now if you own a 28-105 mm zoom or whatever, don’t despair, just adapt your thinking to use the zoom at the wide angle when I mention wide angle lenses and the counterwise when I mention telephoto lenses.

The three principal lenses are Wide, Standard and Long, and for the purposes of this article I am not including “extreme” examples. Consider Wide to be around 28 mm, Standard around 50 mm and Long around 100 mm. So you can see, the average zoom lens will cover these focal lengths.

Let’s begin with Wide lenses. These are the lenses for 99.9% of landscapes. You get a wide angle of coverage, you get great depth of field and as an added bonus you get blue skies! Even in Bangkok most times. The reason is that you have a wide angle of sky “squashed” into a 35 mm negative, so the colour is denser than it would appear to the naked eye. Harry always did say that photography is the art of telling lies with a camera.

The Wide lens is also the one you should use in low light situations, such as twilight, as most Wide lenses have larger apertures which let more light in to the camera. This means that you can get readings like 1/30 second at f 2.8, at which you can hand hold. With the average Long lens (or zoom in the tele position) it would be 1/4 second at f 5.6, a shutter speed you cannot hand hold.

The Standard lens is actually one of the most neglected lenses in your camera bag. This is the focal length that most closely approximates what the human eye sees. Use this lens and you get the most “life-like” image that people can immediately relate to. No strange distortions in the foreground or on the edges either. For example, if you want to photograph food, pull out the trusty Standard lens. Stand on a chair and you get what the diner sees.

The Standard lens is also very good for getting either full length portraits or waist up pictures. Again, it is the lack of optical distortion which is important, and you can also use aperture settings around f 4 to blur the background.

So to the Long lenses. The focal length of around 100 mm would be more accurately called a “short” telephoto, but this is a common focal length and one that many of the zooms can encompass. This is the lens you use to do all head shots. This lens will give you flattering views, without enlargement of the nose, and slightly compresses the image. Experience has shown us that this gives the best portrait image, and when combined with a wide aperture of say around f 4 to f 5.6 blurs the background enough to produce an uncluttered image.

The ability to compress the final image makes the Long lens the ideal one to show traffic jams. Use a high viewpoint and look down Beach Road when a parade is on and you will get an image that appears to show that the road is just crammed with floats, one almost on top of another. Or better still try Sukhumvit Road Bangkok from the overbridges.

Finally, it is important to remember that Long lenses are not a substitute for walking in close, especially at night, when the flash burst does not carry all that far. Happy snapping.

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Modern Medicine: Economy Class Syndrome

by Dr Iain Corness Consultant

As ex-pats, we do tend to spend a greater number of hours cramped up in aeroplanes than the average person from our home countries. What with visa runs and trips to other SE Asian countries for business and trips back home to see the folks each year, we seem to be always listening to the hostess telling us what to do when the plane ditches in the water and we can pull the tag firmly, be inflated and float away to safety with our light blinking while blowing on our whistle. If it were only that simple!

However, even if the plane makes it safely to the destination, you may still suffer, especially if you are an avid reader of the popular pulp press from home. A new bogeyman awaits us, called the “Economy Class Syndrome”.

The scenario is simple - after hours of being cramped in-flight you succumb to a clot in the veins of your legs and suffer a Deep Vein Thrombosis, which we medico’s call a DVT. This condition can wind up producing all sorts of problems, including emboli (clots) in the lungs and other wondrous conditions.

In theory, sitting twisted in the minimal “economy class” seats can predispose to the formation of these blood clots, and tales of people having one after a plane flight are eagerly snapped up by the press. What the press doesn’t tell you is that many, many people get DVT’s who have never stepped into a plane in their lives.

In fact, the highly esteemed medical publication The Lancet published a study to show that they were unable to show an increased risk amongst plane travellers, and especially those in el cheapo seats. Actually, heavy smoking is a much greater prognosticator of the risk, but the newspapers are not so keen on calling it, “The packet of Ciggies Syndrome.” Funny that.

So what can you do to minimise any risk when flying? The secret to health in the air is purely to maintain good circulation and avoid dehydration. However, that is not quite as easy to do in practice as you would imagine.

To maintain circulation to the lower legs you should get up and walk around the plane once every hour. Simple - but it does mean you have to clamber over a couple of people to get to the aisle if you hadn’t requested the aisle seat. Rule 1 - always ask for an aisle seat, or the seat in front of the door where there is nobody in front of you.

Dehydration is easy to fix - drink more water, but it is another difficult thing to do on planes. The ambient cabin humidity is much less than you experience on the ground, so you are more likely to dry out, and then there is the alcohol part of the equation - the copious amounts of booze don’t rehydrate you - they dehydrate you! Believe me.

That’s it in a nutshell. Water and exercise fixes the Economy Class Syndrome. Of course, you could always fly first class instead I suppose!

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Dear Hillary,

What do you suggest should be done with a wandering husband? Probably because of the unending opportunities that there seems to be for the men-folk here (but none for the women it seems), it must be a temptation to wander. I have caught several of my friends’ husbands out on more than one occasion at some beer bars, and I am sure that mine is just as shameful in his leisure hours. Any idea, Hillary, on keeping up with the wanders?

Martha

Dear Martha,

Seriously, I think you are a little off the mark when you say you have caught these wandering husbands out at beer bars. Sitting there drinking and laughing with the staff, or in flagrante delicto? There’s a big difference, Petal. You are also wrong when you say there’s nothing for us ladies, but then perhaps the real reason for your letter was to find out where. Ask the wandering husbands’ wives and you’ll find out. What were you doing wandering around the beer bars anyway? Finally, if you’re worried about his wandering, get him a map!

Dear Hillary,

In Women’s World the other day there was an article on women smoking and how it gives you premature wrinkles. I have two questions for you, Hillary - is it only women who get this and second, how do you stop smoking?

Smoking Sue

Dear Smoking Sue,

How do you stop smoking? I don’t know Sue - Hillary’s never been on fire! I have, however, passed your letter on to our own Dr. Iain who said he will do a column on stopping smoking, but he did say in passing that men get the premature wrinkles as well, but nobody cares so much with the males, but the females do appear to age rather quicker when wrinkly. Yecch!

Dear Hillary,

We rented a car for three months from one of the companies in Pattaya. One week before we were due to return it we noticed someone had bumped the door while the car was in the condominium car park, so we reported this to the rental company. They agreed that it was not our fault, but still said that we would have to pay as the car was in our charge at the time. They even said that if we didn’t pay they would call the police. We did not want to make a fuss, particularly as they had taken one of our passports as security. We paid, but do you think we should have?

Wondering

Dear Wondering,

You certainly got yourselves in a pickle, Poppet. First off, never leave your passport with anyone as security. Your embassy will warn you about that. If a car hire company insists on your leaving your passport, then go to another more reputable company; but I’m sorry, Hillary agrees with the company that while the rented car is in your possession you are responsible for it, and for the repairs. There are several good car rental companies advertising in the Pattaya Mail. Next time, try those first.

Dear Hillary,

I am 28 years old and have been in Thailand for four years and have had quite a few Thai girlfriends in that time (both long time and short time). When I first arrived I was blown away by the prettiness of the local girls and I was forever walking around seeing more and more enticing girls everywhere I looked. Just lately I have noticed that I am getting excited over the European girls I see in the city and they are becoming more and more desirable every day. I am even having daydreams about being with one of them. Do you think I have a problem Mrs Hillary, and who should I see about it?

Angus

Dear Anguished Angus,

(Or is that Aberdeen Angus?) Yes, Petal, you do have a problem. Part of your problem is an excess of circulating hormones and the other part is your believing that the grass in the next field is always greener than the one you are in. Bottle the hormones; you’ll need them later when you are older. As far as hopping over the fence into the next field - that is entirely up to you, but do be careful you don’t snag any parts of your undercarriage on the barbed wire. By the way it’s Miss Hillary, thank you!

Dear Hillary,

Do you think it is reasonable for my Mom to come into my room when I am at school? I try to tell her that I am fourteen and should have some things I can call my own in a private place like my bedroom. I do keep it tidy, though maybe not as much as Mom would like, but she gets her room tidied by the maid. I asked the maid not to come into my room and she doesn’t. Why does my Mom?

Fourteen and furious

Dear Fourteen and furious,

Hillary really thinks it is time you sat down with your Mom and Dad and had a family chat. This doesn’t mean yelling at each other, it just means a ‘grown-up’ discussion. You should try to understand their position and they should try to understand yours. If it helps, Hillary thinks Mom should stay out of your bedroom too! Lots of luck, but don’t be furious. That doesn’t help one bit.

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GRAPEVINE

Qualities of a barman

Seen in a soi eight bar: “A good barman must be a diplomat, a democrat, an autocrat, an acrobat and a doormat. He must be capable of entertaining politicians, industrialists, the unemployed, pickpockets, gamblers, philanthropists, popsies and prudes. He must be on both sides of the political fence and be able to jump the fence. He should be, or should have been, a footballer, bowler, golfer, fisherman, tennis player, cricketer, darts player, pigeon fancier, racing driver, cyclist and linguist. As well as having a good knowledge of other sports involving dice, cards, horse racing and draughts. He must also be a qualified boxer, wrestler, weight watcher, sprinter and peacemaker. To be successful, he must keep the bar full, the storeroom full, the customers full, but never get full himself. He must have staff who are clean, honest, quick thinkers, non-drinkers, mathematicians, technicians, and at all times be on the boss’s side, the customer’s side, yet stay on the outside. To sum up: he must be outside, offside, dignified, sanctified, crucified, stupefied, cross-eyed, and if he’s not the strong silent type, there always suicide.”

Impressing your neighbors

Some residents of Jomtien Nivate were not too happy when a new family moved into the estate last week. They were the all-night-party type making lots of noise and generally being a pain in the arse. They also had an untrained, hyperactive dog which messed up the gardens, carried things from the back yard and even pulled clothes off the line. One day, the mongrel arrived home with a white rabbit in its mouth. The dog’s owner reckoned this would be the last straw. They would never be welcome in the estate now, especially as he knew the rabbit belonged to the children next door. Luckily, the dog hadn’t chewed the rabbit - it was just dirty and dead. This gave him an idea. He took the rabbit, carefully shampooed and blow dried it, and then, when he knew the family next door had gone out, he hopped over the fence and placed the rabbit in its hutch. Next day, he was out in his garden drinking a can of lager when he saw his next door neighbor. Hoping to become accepted, he spoke to her about what a lovely day it was. She told him that the children were very upset. “It’s about the rabbit,” she said. Although the guy felt uncomfortable, he enquired what had happened to the rabbit. “Well,” she said, “It died two days ago and we buried it yesterday, but last night it was back in its hutch again.”

Another good Indian

The Royal India opened last month in the block of shophouses next to Grand Sole Hotel on Second Road. GEOC (Grapevine Eating Out Collective) has visited twice, both times courtesy of international visitors who are over the moon with the high quality of political and spiritual guidance which is churned out unfailingly every week in this superb column. That’s what the wife says anyway. The decor is bright and cheerful with lots of mirrors to give the illusion of space. The menu is fairly typical for Pattaya Indian restaurants, but there are several dishes highlighted as Kashmiri style (effectively meaning not hot) which are well worth trying with oven fresh nan and a refreshing lassi sour. A special feature is the selection of Indian desserts all of which were available on the night. Again, this is unusual. We tried as a main course prawn spicy vindaloo which was packed with king prawns, potatoes and assorted vegetables. There was, however, very little sauce or “gravy” as it’s known here, but that’s par for the course in Pattaya. Royal India gives good value for money. But nobody has yet come up with those lush, steaming curries which cause Indian restaurants in Manchester’s or Leicester’s Curry Mile to be packed out every night. There is still a hole in the Pattaya farang market on that front guys.

Readers’ queries

DG asks what are the rules for getting a phone put in your own name. There aren’t any. It’s up to the company. You will certainly need to show your passport and both TOT and the private companies prefer a non immigrant visa these days and a healthy bank balance. Monthly billed mobile phones are virtually impossible without a work permit, but you can buy calls in advance by a special chip attached to your SIM card. No problems for farangs provided you pay for your calls in advance... JH is absolutely sure his water meter is running very fast and asks what he can do about it. Firstly, you need a plumber to check whether you have a leak in your water pipes or whether the problem is something like a faulty ball cock which is causing your storage tank, if any, to waste all those gallons. The water board, based in Naklua, will test/replace your meter if you like (usually after a weighty bureaucratic struggle) but you will pay for all services... LP is hopping mad that he has had to pay for damage to someone else’s motorbike when the minor accident wasn’t his fault. Ah, well, whole books could be written on this subject. Unless there is physical injury, the police will deem this sort of thing a civil matter to be sorted out by the parties involved. The result is usually Thais - 1, Farangs 0.

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Animal Crackers: Breeding Siamese Fighting Fish - the family game

by Mirin MacCarthy

Siamese Fighting Fish (Beta Splendens) are natives of Thailand and southern Asia. Usually they are found swimming in shallow, overgrown waters, irrigation channels and flooded rice fields enduring temperatures up to 30ฐC. In Pattaya they are more easily found in glass jars in markets, which although it looks barbaric is not as totally inhumane as it appears.

Siamese Fighting Fish are a member of the Labyrinth fish family. They have an auxiliary breathing organ, the so-called labyrinth, which they can use to absorb air. This means they are one of the very few fish that can live in polluted, oxygen depleted water coming up to the surface to refill. Every few minutes they rise gracefully to the surface and leisurely taking a mouthful of air. As they slowly sink, the exhausted air may be seen emerging in a bubble from their gills.

A colourful species, it is the male Siamese Fighting Fish that is the most magnificently draped and coloured. Their original hue was a dark wine red but now they are bred in many colours.

The most well publicized feature of these fish is their spectacular posturing when they see another male. Although the males display to attempt to frighten off any other rivals their reputation as killers is undeserved. Two male fighting fish do not usually fight to the death; the loser just flees the scene. Indeed, as the lone male in a community aquarium he is peaceful and slow moving, rarely bothering other fish, but his own gorgeous flowing fins can be the target for some nippier varieties. Females are not aggressive and can be kept together with one male in a community aquarium.

Breeding

It is the little known fatherly nurturing of its offspring that is really legendary with these fish. When spawning time approaches, the male Siamese Fighting Fish begins to prepare a “Bubble Nest” for his family. He goes to the surface, gulps some air and coats it with saliva to form small bubbles. Then he spreads these bubbles under a floating leaf. He continues with this task until he has accumulated several hundred bubbles over an area of approximately 10 cm in diameter.

Having made the nest ready, the male brings the female to under his nest and wrapping his body around hers in a mating embrace “squeezes” the eggs from her. After 6 to 8 eggs have been expelled, he chases them and taking them in his mouth, spits one into each bubble under the leaf. This goes on for several hours and sometimes hundreds of eggs.

After this, the male will drive the female away, as “Mum” tends to eat her own eggs. It is advisable to remove all other fish except Dad and eggs from the aquarium at this stage.

Egg laying completed the male will now take up guard duty underneath his nest. At a temperature of 27 degrees C hatching usually happens within thirty hours. Temperature is critical as young are subjected to chills.

The young hang vertically under their nest absorbing their egg yolk for the next 24 to 48 hours when they become free swimming. This is the time to think about diet. Because the young fry now need minute, exceptionally fine food such as rotifers, algae and other single celled organisms. Fortunately there are several commercial (generally mail order) dried foods designed especially for this type of fry.

In another two to three days the young should have graduated food wise to newly hatched brine shrimp and strained daphnia. Adults will adapt to most food, but their favourite fodder is live mosquito larvae.

Before considering breeding them give some thought to cultivating their microscopic tucker. Surprisingly enough the young fry are not born with the labyrinth. It takes several weeks after hatching to form and until then they are dependent on water absorbed through the gills, the same as any other fish.

Siamese Fighting Fish are a decorative and graceful choice; however, experience with keeping an aquarium is a basic prerequisite to breeding any fish. Recommended reading is, Setting Up An Aquarium by Jim Kelly. TFH publications, ISBN -0-86622-291-X.

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Social Commentary by Khai Khem

Bad Rep, or Bad Rap?

What is it about Thai women that provokes such controversy? Perhaps the subject is not exclusively Thai women, but “Oriental” women. The mysteries of the exotic East have always impassioned the Western explorer, traveller, trader and soldier. But that brush paints too broad a picture.

Since this column originates in Thailand, let us deal with the finer strokes of the female of the species right here at home. Are Thai woman inherently mercenary, and less than honest when involved in what we will call a ‘romantic relationship’ with men? To narrow the question further, we will examine their interaction with foreign men. Why? Because it is in these quarters where the debate burns the brightest.

The cross-cultural realities provide the breeding ground for mystery and misunderstanding. A Thai man doesn’t live in eternal ignorance and confusion. He knows the rules and how the game is played. So it’s time we all shared some secrets! Ain’t multi-culturism fun?

Pattaya’s relaxed atmosphere is the perfect place to sit and watch the human zoo parade past, while you sip a cold one and watch the action going on around you. The absolutely MOST frequent question I have visitors ask me is about all the white haired Western men holding hands with lovely young girls in their teens and 20s. I have finally learned to sick a banana in my ear and pretend I didn’t hear that one.

The second most frequently asked question is “what is so SPECIAL about a certain type of Thai woman, who sets out to “rip-off a man, and HOW do they GET AWAY with IT? Or something to that effect.

Firstly, Thai women keep their mouths shut and their eyes open. Then they make a plan. And their plans work just as well on young, handsome hunks, and sharp corporate executives, as they do on troubled old lechers.

You see, women in general really know how to sell a man a bill of goods. But in Thailand this kind of pitch has been honed to a fine art, and modern communications have spread the gospel. Anyone of these men who gets caught up in the mystique of what they think Thai women are, might have been a sensible chap in his home country. Then BANG! He suddenly finds himself in Thailand and decides he’s going to live out some fantasy; a sexpot in the Far East (the equivalent of the Great White Hunter in Africa before cameras replaced guns).

This guy really thinks he is going to get the kind of comfort and help he’s been looking for. As advertised. The poor sap doesn’t realise he is sending signals of such intense frequency, he’s jamming other people’s cell phones. Thai women have delicately tuned antennae. He communicates to her what he needs to have, and right away, she will tell him that she has it. And a lot more than even HE ever thought of; until that moment. These girls are not exactly lying. They just have an instinct for this sort of thing. Shape, size, colour or language are not top of the list of priorities with this group of women. They give the word flexibility a new dimension.

The ‘secret’ of course, is no secret at all. In most cases, it is the man himself who sets the pace and makes the choice. Many foreign men who come to Thailand seem to check their brains at the airport along with left luggage. They mentally compartmentalise. A fairly intelligent gentleman who functions normally in his own nation can throw all caution to the wind in the presence of a charming Thai girl. Perched on a stool in a ramshackle beer bar in Fun City, she waits patiently until he’s half in the bag, and then tells him she will treat him like a Pasha in exchange for a little coin of the Realm. Youth and show-stopping beauty may be a bonus, but the lack of these two admired qualities are not deal-breakers. This lady knows how to push his buttons and he begins to drool. He has found his Karma Sutra Sweetie, tattoo’s and all.

Of course, not all romantic alliances here in Thailand are made in bars. Suppose we consider the foreign executive who seems to have it all together. Tailored suits, Gucci briefcases, and a key to the executive washroom do necessarily armour a man against the flattery and attention of a bilingual secretary, for example. These guys may aim a little higher on the social ladder, but the drop from the belt-buckle to the where they have stored their good judgement is about the same distance as their beer guzzling counterparts. They just pay higher prices to get their names listed in the Hall Of Fools. I have a friend who just shelled out thousands of dollars to his secretary so that she could build a house in her native province. Of course, she has promised to pay him back. On her salary, that should take 50 years. Suddenly this hotshot can’t even add up the mathematics. Meanwhile, her Thai husband, of which my exec is blissfully unaware, can now pay off his gambling debts. Perhaps these women were put on earth to teach these lucky men a lesson in life. Worse things are in store for people that stupid than a sweet Thai charmer with her hand out. This could almost be called a good deed.

And the ratio of happy relationships in the Kingdom is about the same as anywhere else in the known world. So why do Thai women get such a bad rap?

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The Computer Doctor

by Richard Bunch

From Andrew Perry, Spain: I am presently planning to live the winter months in Pattaya. I constantly use the Net in my job. In my own country, Spain I lease a 2Mb ADSL line for the sum of 30,000 Ptas a month (+ 50,000 Ptas setup costs for router and line). Is ADSL available here and if so can you please advise?

Computer Doctor replies: Presently ADSL is not available here in Pattaya and I suspect will not be by the time you get here. The choices you now have are standard analog dial-up, ISDN and satellite; it really depends upon your budget, usage (predominantly uploading or downloading), if the latter then probably satellite would be your best option. My clients experience with ISDN is that it gets bogged down during the daytime and they often revert to analog. In any event as you are intending to spend some time here then you can leave your choice until you get here. Currently installation of ISDN and satellite is around 7 to 10 days.

From Nick: Hi there, I believe in a recent article you pointed one of your readers to a website that would enable him to look at his e-mails while on holiday here in Thailand and I would be grateful if you could share that information with me too.

Computer Doctor replies: No problem, actually I have received several requests so I will repeat the information for one and all. There are many web-based solutions but here is the one I recommended: http://www.netcafeguide.com/mail/ This is a free service and works very well. Remember you will need your e-mail address, login name and password.

From David Meador, Pattaya: I am an American recently arrived in Pattaya. I have a storage disc formatted to be read by an Iomega ZIP drive for Macintosh. I have a great need to be able to print out my resume that is on that disc. Do you by chance know anyone with a Macintosh Zip drive that could be used to print out my resume? This would be a one-time event and I can pay. Thank you VERY much for your time and attention!

Computer Doctor replies: Unfortunately I do not know the answer to this one, so if any reader can help please contact the address below and we will put you in touch. In the meantime, many of the print shops use Mac’s and it may be worth you doing a little leg work and going round a few. Good luck!

On a similar subject, I have received several enquiries this week from readers who have LS120 high capacity floppy drives that have failed. Whilst they do not wish to replace the hardware they would like to recover the data from their disks, so if any reader has a working LS120 drive and can help, once again please contact the address below.

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 pcdoctor@pattayamail.com 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 include custom database and application development, website design, promotion and hosting, computer and peripheral sales service and repairs, pro audio solutions, networks (LAN & WAN) and IT consulting. For further information, please e-mail sales@act.co.th  or telephone/fax 038 716 816 or see our website www.act.co.th

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Women’s World: The pains of being a Renaissance woman

by Lesley Warner

I was amazed to discover the lengths that our Renaissance ancestors resorted to in the name of beauty. Women used mercury sublimate to remove imperfections from their skin - and I thought Clearisil was bad! They also used lead-based powder to whiten their complexions as the ancient Persians did. In fact, the use of lead-based powder continued right up to the 19th century in Europe. Finally someone discovered that after so many years and so many deaths, lead was poisonous. The price we pay for beauty!

Possessing a high forehead and pale skin was the most important factor of Renaissance beauty. Many women even shaved their hair in order to achieve the broad, graceful expanse that was so popular at that time. Countless examples of both pallor and baldness are evident in paintings of this period. As in Fouquet’s Virgin, as well as possessing perhaps the most spectacular pair of boobs in art history, historians believe that she bears an uncanny likeness to Agnes Sor่l, the mistress of Charles VII of France. Because the painting was completed in the year that Mme. Sor่l died (only six years after she met the king), it is quite possible that its creation was a memorial to her. Judging by Fouquet’s extreme care in rendering such a perfect pair of gravity-defying breasts, not to mention the enticing display of her unbridled corset, it appears that Fouquet’s interest in his subject was not entirely devoid of passion. A crown rests on her pale head which appears entirely devoid of hair, not a beauty by today’s standards, but during the 15th century…wow!

A much more stoic example of the skinhead phenomenon is evident in Pisanello’s Ginepro d’Este. Ginepro means “juniper” in Italian, and a sprig of juniper on this woman’s sleeve alludes to her first name. A member of the noble Este family of Ferrara, Ginepro’s hair is pulled off of her forehead with several ribbons to reveal her graceful profile. The depictions of flowers and butterflies demonstrate Pisanello’s affinity for nature and his support for the Gothic style popular at the time.

No discussion of the Renaissance is complete without a discreet bow to Leonardo da Vinci. Most famous for the Mona Lisa, that enigmatic woman whose identity remains a mystery to this day, da Vinci has a lesser known work depicting the hairless fashion, the Madonna del Fiore. Fiore is Italian for flower, which is exactly what the baby Christ holds in his chubby little hand. The Madonna smiles affectionately as she watches her son’s concentrated interest in the flower. The Madonna’s hair is pulled tightly off her forehead in a series of concentric braids that present the viewer with a broad pale expanse.

As we can witness from paintings, the fashion all over Europe during the Renaissance period was anything but comfortable.

The girls learned early to concentrate on making themselves beautiful, it was important to make a good match (it was generally considered foolish to marry for love) and if they were really unlucky they could be married off at 12! Although Sir Thomas More recommended that girls not marry before 18. A marriage contract was very important and included provision both for the bride’s dowry and for a jointure, or settlement, in cash and property by the husband’s family that guaranteed her welfare should her husband die first.

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Shaman’s Rattle: Ginger - The all round herb

by Marion

A little known traveler’s best friend is ginger. An ancient Indian proverb says, “Every good quality is found in ginger.” Well perhaps not exact, though studies have shown it to be the number one natural effective cure for motion sickness, nausea and indigestion. Fortunately there is help - ginger.

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness actually starts in the inner ear. It begins with feeling weak then dizzy which progresses to nausea and vomiting. It is actually a conflict between what the eyes see - the seemingly stable environment such as a ship’s cabin - and what the inner ear experiences - the constant pitching and rolling.

Ginger stops the spin

Ancient Asian sailors chewed ginger to prevent seasickness. The early Greeks and Romans used it as an indigestion remedy; after big meals the Greeks ate ginger wrapped in bread and the Romans drank ginger spiced wine. Reluctant travelers need fear no more. Recent scientific study has shown that ginger is more effective for motion sickness than over the counter medication and has no side effects. The ant-nausea action of ginger relieves the violent indigestion and abdominal cramping by soothing the gastro-intestinal tract.

Ginger capsules; available at health food stores, is the most convenient way of taking ginger for motion sickness. Two to three ginger root capsules or 1,500 milligrams of ginger root taken one hour before departure and repeated every two to three hours is recommended. Twelve ounces of ginger beer also gives the recommended dosage if it is made with real ginger, not artificial flavour. On the trip take along candied (crystallized) ginger to chew or drink copious quantities of ginger tea. Ginger tea tastes terrific iced with a sprig or two of mint. As additional bonuses, ginger tea helps relieve the morning sickness of pregnancy and diluted it is good for infant colic too.

Ginger Beer

Iced ginger beer of the real variety is the best accompaniment to the summer’s day sailing. Making ginger beer was popular pastime in grandmother’s day; many of us remember the explosive brews that left shattered glass littering the kitchen floor. These days of plastic soft drink bottles makes the process less hazardous. Ginger beer is started with a yeast and ginger ‘plant’, so-called because it is fed every day not because it a growing tree.

Ginger Beer Plant

To make a starter ginger beer plant mix one level teaspoon of compressed yeast with one level teaspoon of sugar in a large wide-necked jar. Add one cup of barely warm water and one teaspoon of ginger powder. Cover with a muslin or net cover and feed the plant once a day for eight days by adding one level teaspoon each of ginger and sugar.

All Beer and Skittles

In a very large saucepan heat one litre of water with one kg of sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add six litres of water and half a cup of strained lemon juice and stir well. Strain the contents of the ginger beer ‘plant’ jar through two layers of stocking. Add the strained liquid to the sugar water and again stir well. Pour into eight clean plastic soft drink bottles, stirring the mix often as the sediment settles quickly. Screw on the plastic caps until just sealed but not excessively tightly. Leave about four days, once you hear the hissing noise start it is time to tighten the tops and refrigerate all the bottles. Enjoy.

What’s in a smell?

Ginger is a tropical herb growing up to 120 cm (two feet) high that flourishes all throughout Asia and was even exported to the West Indies along the spice routes. It makes a decorative house or garden plant with long green leaves and a spectacular flower. It is the root or rhizome from which the famous spice and essential oil is produced. Ginger perfume was secret ingredient in men’s toiletries and said to be a potent aphrodisiac. Today the essential oil, distilled from ginger root, helps to allay travel sickness. One drop of ginger essential oil alone or mixed with orange essential oil works wonders. Just put a drop or two on a handkerchief and inhale during the trip to banish queasiness. The determined or decadent amongst us can even make their own toilet water to waft around. A fabulous soothing scent is made with essential oils, alcohol and rose water. Merely mix 8 drops of ginger essential oil with four drops of orange oil, one drop of cinnamon oil and one teaspoon of alcohol (vodka will suffice). Cap and shake then add in 30 ml of rose water (available from pharmacies) and viola, you will be travelling in style.

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The Message In The Moon: Sun in Aries/Moon in Virgo - The Faultfinder

by Anchalee Kaewmanee

Not as impulsive or adventurous as most other Ariens, people in this category prefer to look before they leap. There has to be plenty of money in the bank before they take off on any escapade. The Arien personality may be energetic, enthusiastic, and intrigued by excitement, but the Virgo inner nature holds some of those passions in check. The courage and decisiveness of Aires is instead channelled into work and responsibility, usually in analytical and intellectual areas. This group of people approaches life with a certain amount of circumspection, and sets goals with precision and accuracy.

Attention to detail and skill at analysis enables this Sun/Moon combination to arrive at conclusions and make decisions, only after the person has gained a thorough knowledge of a subject. Unlike most Ariens, the Aries/Virgo is somewhat conservative and cautious, basing actions upon the precedent of experience and reason. Prudence always prevails, even when that famous Aries temper is ignited.

There is a basic conflict in this combination. Bold and confident Aries must contend with somewhat shy and reticent Virgo. Individuals born into this Sun/Moon sign often long to be dashing and daring, but inhibitions hold them back. This difficulty in living up to the demands of an Arien ego can cause feelings of inadequacy and frustration. It is well advised that the best cure for this group is to accept themselves for what they are, rather than for what they think they should be. Blessed with many talents, the Aries/Virgo should concentrate on what they do best.

Possessing exceptional intelligence, powers of concentration, and the capability for logical thought, a career in medicine, law, or engineering could prove entirely fulfilling. Any field of endeavour which demands patience and exacting effort will provide the recognition these individuals are seeking. It is through their work the admiration they desire will be provided. Perfectionists to the core, these people’s personality and emotional make-up drives them to set high standards for not only themselves, but others. This is a virtue which is well rewarded in the professions.

The Aries/Virgo does have an undeniable tendency to find fault, probably because he or she feels they are instinctively right and well informed most of the time. And usually they are. Problems arise when their ideas are met with opposition. Listening to what others have to say will develop more tolerance for differing lifestyles and beliefs. With a little effort, this sign can become more open-minded and less judgmental.

As with all natives of this combination, the Aries/Virgo may suffer from nervous anxiety, agitation, and stress. This may be especially true when encountering difficulties in the workplace. Succumbing to these moods may result in testy criticism, or taking personal frustration out on marriage partners or close friends.

Although affectionate and loyal by nature, this combination can be agressive in relationships. Because this sign often presents a push-pull effect, the high spirited and emotional Aries may win out over Virgo’s more logical approach to life’s bumpy patches. It would be wise to temper some of this aggression as not to alienate loved ones.

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Guide to buying a large dog: Dalmatian

by C. Schloemer

Good points: even temperament, loyal, easy to train, intelligent, makes a good house pet, reliable with children

Take heed: needs lots of exercise, that beautiful coat will shed!

The Dalmatian has a happy nature and is entirely devoted to its owners. It rarely fights with other dogs. Since this breed is easy to train, it does well in the show ring. For a large dog, if well taken care of, it will live to a reasonably old age. It matures late and retains its puppy nature a little longer than other breeds. Owners with children will be happy to know that this breed is a good choice for a family pet and is loving and has a gentle nature. One must remember that the Dalmatian was bred to run with horse and carriage. It is often referred to as the “Carriage” dog. Thus, it has great stamina and needs plenty of exercise, both running freely and on the lead. A person who is overly house proud should really think twice before selecting a Dalmatian. That magnificent white coat with its back spots makes for a very flashy dog, indeed. But the hair sheds all year round, so be forewarned. But the Dalmatian does make a wonderful house pet for those who are ready to put up with this small drawback.

Size: Overall balance is of prime importance, but the ideal height for a dog is 58.5-61 cm, for a bitch, 56-58.5 cm.

Grooming: Daily brushing will be necessary and occasional baths.

Exercise: Don’t buy a Dalmatian unless you can give it plenty of exercise. This breed is active and needs room. One does not necessarily need to run the Dalmatian behind a horse, although he would certainly be in his element. But a life in the open air of the country will definitely suit this dog. He has immense energy and stamina and if the owner is willing will trot for miles through the forest or in a park.

Origin and history: The Dalmatian is often thought of as a British dog, mainly because of its popularity as a carriage dog in the 18th century, but in fact it actually originated in Yugoslavia. The breed has enjoyed a revival in popularity since 1959 when the filmmaker Walt Disney made a movie of Dodie Smith’s enchanting book, A Hundred and One Dalmatians. It is still shown on the cinema circuits during children’s holiday periods, and has a healthy effect on Dalmatian registrations.

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