Family Money: Get real about real estate
Last week I offered my opinion that the only reasonably
secure way of protecting your interests if you’re thinking of buying a
residential property is by forming a company and making yourself sole
authorised signatory of that company.
Inevitably, some readers will disagree, and some will
undoubtedly be writing vehement letters of protest to the Editor of this
publication protesting that they’ve been married to a Thai lady for X
number of months/years with no problems whatsoever, and that they’re
absolutely sure she will never do the dirty on them as regards the
property which they’ve been living in so happily, and which is
registered in her name.
Well, if she married a farang some years back, Thai law
precluded her continuing to own either land or a house in her name after
that marriage was legally contracted. So that would tend to indicate that
perhaps the ‘marriage’ wasn’t fully legal, or the land title slipped
through a bureaucratic loophole somewhere... (More flurries of protesting
letters will undoubtedly be spawned by those remarks!)
Anyway, this unfair law was amended last year, so a
Thai wife can now legally continue to own land or a house which she owned
before the marriage, without fear that the authorities might negate the
land title if ever she tried to sell it.
But like any other valuable investment, putting
property in someone else’s name - no matter how much you may trust them
at the time - is fraught with danger, and leaves you potentially open to
Would you rather trust your life-savings to a bank or
your housekeeper? I know many of you cynics will say, "Depends on
which bank." But I think you get my drift.
Similarly with your house. There have been far too many
reports of gullible farangs being thrown out of the house (or beer-bar)
they paid for - with no recourse in law - to ignore the fact that it
happens. And far more frequently than most macho men would care to admit
to their drinking buddies...
Things to consider
Potential property investors - here or anywhere -
should look at five things: long-term demographics, supply, demand, tax,
First, let’s look at the supply & demand
situation in Pattaya. There are far more residential properties available
than there are potential buyers. Some have stood empty for years. So, one
could reasonably conclude that it is a buyer’s market, right? Wrong.
Most people don’t like to lose money. And Thai
property owners are no different. Having in past years had to pay
inordinately high interest rates to the banks if they took out a mortgage
on their property (which they may or may not still be paying), or a
substantial amount of pre-devaluation baht if they paid cash, they are
fundamentally averse to suffering a loss on the property - even, it seems,
when they are running short of cash.
I know of several cases where people prefer to borrow
money ‘on the street’ for 4%-5% a month interest, using their property
as collateral against the loan, rather than try to raise a loan from a
bank (which these days is not only a difficult and lengthy process but
might still be refused), let alone sell their property at a loss.
Property prices were expected to drop by some 30% after
the economic crisis in 1997. But real estate agents will tell you that
property prices have fallen comparatively little in the past three years
(despite recently published reports that condominium prices have dropped
by up to 50%) - unless the bank is beating on the owner’s door demanding
repayment of a non-performing loan. It seems Thai landlords prefer to
leave a house vacant than suffer a capital loss on their investment.
Rent or purchase?
Then, look at the ratios between the purchase price
being asked and the rental price for the same property.
In the USA and UK, the ‘standard’ rule-of-thumb for
value/rental is around 100-120 times. In other words, if your house is
worth £100,000 and in a prime location and good condition, you can expect
to get perhaps £830-£1,000 a month rental income from it.
(Of course, you have to pay taxes, rates, maintenance
costs, insurance, agency fees, etc., so you may end up with only 5%-6% net
return per annum on your investment property. In real terms, not a very
good nor a very flexible investment. But that’s another subject for
Here in Pattaya, however, the rule-of-thumb ratio seems
to be more like 200 times.
For instance, the ‘average’ shophouse sells
nowadays for Bt.1.3-1.8 million, depending on location. Those same
shophouses would rent for perhaps Bt.6,500 to Bt.9,000 per month
respectively. Which means the purchase price is about 200 times the rental
In other words, you would have sunk an amount of
capital into buying the property which would be equivalent to paying 200
months’ rent (which for those who don’t have a calculator handy is 16
years and 8 months).
Alternatively, the same Bt.1.3-1.8 million wisely
invested in secure medium-risk offshore investments could reasonably be
expected to generate an income stream averaging 10% p.a. over the longer
term - or Bt.130,000-180,000 a year, while leaving the capital intact and
Renting that property for a year would have cost you
only Bt.78,000-108,000 from this income-stream, so you would still have
money left over for fun or whatever.
Simple arithmetic tells you it makes better economic
sense to rent rather than having your capital tied up in a property which
is unlikely to appreciate much in value and almost certainly not beat
inflation, if past history of the property market is any indication of
Location, location, location
Another point to consider is location. That property
may be located in a ‘good’ area now, but who knows whether that area
will have become more popular or less popular 10-15 years hence?
"Ah," you say, "But that’s how I’ll
make a capital gain!" Yes, if the area improves. But you might have
to swallow a capital loss if the area deteriorates - and that has happened
many times in many ‘select’ spots of Pattaya which are booming one
year and deserted the next. (And, I freely admit, vice versa.)
So as far as making a capital gain on an investment
property is concerned, that is very much pot luck.
Housing estates and even condominiums are subject to
the same whims & fancies, it seems, although admittedly much less than
commercial property. But consider whether you would be content living in
the same house in the same location for the next 16 years. Because that’s
the rental equivalent of purchasing the property outright.
It is more likely that you will want to move to another
location - perhaps quieter, cleaner, newer - sometime during that period.
Then you’ve got the problem of finding a buyer for
your house - perhaps in a deteriorating neighbourhood... You could easily
lose money on your investment if you move, not to mention the taxes you
will have to pay either when you sell or buy the house.
Even buying a brand-new condominium has its pitfalls.
For instance, in Bangkok there are many blocks of condominiums which went
up at the height of the building boom which are standing three-quarters
empty, and the owners are now fearful that the lifts, security and
maintenance services will be cut off because there is not enough income
being generated from management fees to cover the operating costs. How are
they going to sell or even rent their condos then?
Fortunately, the situation is not that bad in Pattaya -
although there are always plenty of condos, houses, commercial shophouses,
bars and restaurants for sale to lucky buyers with cash to spend - just
look at this week’s Mail Market section... Or perhaps it’s the sellers
who are really the lucky ones?
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.
Snap Shots: Wot’s
in the bag, Mister?
by Harry Flashman
Sooner or later, if you are a photography enthusiast,
you will want to expand upon your current equipment. Even when just
starting out you should have an eye to the future, as money spent wisely
now can result in great savings later.
what should you, as an enthusiastic amateur, carry around with you? The
following is what Harry would consider to be a good collection which will
stand you in good stead for many years, and allow you to photograph almost
Firstly, you need a good camera - an SLR (single lens
reflex). The first pointer is to select a good brand. There are many to
choose from, but if you look at the pro’s who are out every day shooting
oodles of feet of film you will find the same names on the camera cases.
Harry makes no secret of the fact that he uses Nikon - bulletproof and
quality lenses. Others such as Canon, Pentax, Olympus, etc., are also
excellent brands, all of which have interchangeable lenses too, so your
basic system can be enlarged upon over a period of time, and your original
lenses will still be good.
The SLR is the centre of your equipment. It is this
camera that will allow you to be creative in your shots. It is this camera
that will win you awards and recognition. It will be expensive, so choose
wisely. For my money, the ideal "starter" SLR would be a Nikon
FM2n. A mechanical camera that allows you to make all the decisions. Yes,
Harry does have one. No, it is not for sale.
Now you look at lenses. The "standard" lens
that will come with your SLR will most likely be a 50 mm. Buy firstly a
wide angle lens. Around 28 or 24 mm is good, or even 20 mm for very
dramatic shots, but the distortion problem can be a little much at this
wide angle. The next lens you should buy is around the focal length of 135
mm - the ideal lens for portraits.
No zooms? No, I personally do not like zoom lenses. The
sharpness is not as good as "prime" lenses (though the
manufacturers say they are much better these days), but even more
importantly, zoom lenses make for lazy photographers. Instead of walking
in to compose the subject, the photographer zooms in. The depth of field
is lost, the flash is too far away and the chance of a perfect shot is
lost. Harry does not have a zoom lens anywhere is his camera bag.
You should also have a Point and Shoot compact camera.
Again, stick to the better brands if you want to get something which will
last, and even more importantly, one that will return crisp images.
Olympus makes some very good small point and shooters, with excellent
lenses. This camera is for those situations where you don’t want to lug
all the gear, when you need something light and pocket portable. Get one
with a 24 or 28 mm lens and built in flash which can be turned off.
The next important piece of equipment is the bag you
carry your equipment around in. Harry’s choice is the soft padded camera
bag with adjustable divisions. Waterproof in tropical rainstorms is
important, so get one that has the zip fastener covered by a lip of
material. Some exterior pockets to carry batteries, a spare pair of
fold-up reading glasses (if you need them) and a pocket torch. Again, get
a good one. Harry’s bag is quite battered and worn, but is now over 20
years old and has been round the world several times. It was money well
Other equipment includes filters, and I would refer you
to last week’s article on this subject - but do use adaptor rings to
bring all the lenses to the same size. Again a cost saving later. And a
good quality tripod.
Last but not least, in the camera bag have some spare
rolls of film - there is nothing worse than running out of film just when
you have come across Drew Barrymore sun-baking incognito on Naklua Beach.
Modern Medicine: Appendicitis
- a pain in the gut!
by Dr Iain Corness Consultant
One of my friends was rushed to hospital recently with
inflammation of the Appendix, which we medico’s call Appendicitis
(remember that "-it is" at the end of the word usually means
inflammation). He had noticed some pain previously and a watchful eye was
being kept upon him by the surgeon, waiting to see if it would "blow
up" or subside. It didn’t settle and as the pain became acute he
ended up on the table and sacrificed his inflamed organ (the appendix,
silly!) to the surgeon’s knife.
The appendix is a little "finger" shaped
appendage that hangs off the bowel and connects with it. Ruminants such as
cows have large ones, if size really matters! For us, it is also one of
those cute "vestigial" organs which has no apparent functional
use these days, but can give us lots of problems if things go wrong. And
things often do go wrong, with appendicitis being experienced by about 1
person in 500 every year. Males suffer from this more than females and it
can strike at any age, though under two is exceptionally rare. The most
affected age group is between fifteen and twenty-four.
So what causes Appendicitis? It is a form of infection
which is generally from the food passing through the gut and can be
bacterial or even viral. Sometimes the poo (nice medical term) in the gut
gets jammed into the appendix and causes the initial problem. Just for the
record, we call it inspissated faeces, just to make it sound grander than
it really is.
While the signs and symptoms of Appendicitis are
straightforward, the diagnosis is not so easy as a number of other
abdominal conditions will mimic the symptoms of centro-abdominal pain
which radiates to the right iliac fossa, nausea, low grade fever and
occasional diarrhoea. From my medical student days I can even remember the
last one being the Abdominal Crises of Porphyria! I must admit that in 35
years of medicine I’ve never met one!
There are some laboratory tests which can be done,
especially a blood test to see if the White Cell count has gone up, and
some centres will perform ultrasound to try to differentiate what is going
on inside the belly.
The definitive "cure" is to whip out the
offending organ, and this is usually one of the first operations a young
surgeon does on his own. (Mine was a Russian seaman in Gibraltar and I
think I was much more worried and apprehensive than he was.)
My old surgical boss always told me to make sure the
skin incision was as small and as neat as possible, because that was all
the patient had to go by to judge one’s competency. It didn’t matter
what went on inside - just make sure the outside looked good! This was
particularly important with young females and a 1/2" scar level with
the top of the bikini bottom was the ideal.
Post-operatively the vast majority of patients do well
and are up and about in a few days, happily living without their appendix,
but if you’re having some grumbling gut pains, perhaps you should let
the doctor cast his practiced eye over it.
I have been visiting Thailand regularly for the last 6
years and during the 3 visits I have made in the last 12 months I have
grown particularly fond of a charming young lady from Patpong. We exchange
email across the globe on a regular basis in which she tells me (against
the trend displayed by farang ladies) how handsome, loveable and
understanding I am. Yesterday I received a mail from her explaining that
she was in a real spot of bother because she is sick and can no longer
work. This has lead to her being unable to pay her rent. Now although she
doesn’t like doing so, she has requested that I send her some money, and
she has given me the bank details of a charitable young Thai gentleman who
has offered to marshal my transactions for her. I immediately went out and
auctioned all my possessions and have withdrawn my savings from a high
interest account. I was wondering oh Helpful Hilary if you could a) tell
me the most tax efficient method of transferring my funds to my Tilac, and
b) if you would consider running some sort of charitable event to help her
in her moment of plight?
Yours in sincerity,
What an amazing coincidence, your initials remind me of
a horse, and probably the back end of it too, my precious. A tax efficient
method for funds transfer would be to just send everything in cash to the
kind young Thai gentleman, who I am sure will not pay tax on the windfall,
so you can rest assured that whatever your Tilac gets has been tax free,
less handling, freight, banking, grafting, slicing off the top and other
minor charges against the sum which the young man in question will have
had to impose. Unfortunately for your Tilac the only charitable events
Hillary runs are for the Preservation of Champagne and Chocolates
Foundation, of which Hillary is the proud patron. By the way, in your
letter you didn’t mention the name of your Tilac. Her surname isn’t
Pisinurai, is it?
Like so many "elder statesmen" from the UK I
have settled down here in Pattaya with a Thai lady many years my junior.
Our association has been mutually beneficial, with me enjoying her company
and the attentiveness for which Thai women are so famous, while I have
helped her family out, including educating her two children from a
previous marriage. We have been together four years now, but the requests
for assistance have been getting more and more every month. It appears
that every cousin, sister, and brother are putting demands on my lady, and
she just hands over whatever they ask for. I give her a monthly allowance,
but that is gone in a few days as she gives it away to the
"needy" relatives. If I had a huge bank account I would not mind
so much, but I am living (and supporting people) on a UK pension in
addition to the interest from my meagre savings account. I do know that
the Thai people value the family ties much more than we do, but surely
there has to be a line drawn somewhere, Hillary. What do you say? Should I
put my foot down and say no more? You will understand my position here.
First it’s Generous Graham and now its generous
George. I do understand your predicament and I applaud your taking the
education of your lady’s children as being your responsibility. You are
also correct when you say that Thai families do look after the members in
it, but the main direction is upwards, towards the parents. Most Thais
will send money "home" every month to help support those left
"at home". Now George, in all associations there has to be a
degree of give and take - and that’s not you give and they take. Having
been with your lady for four years you should be able to sit down and
discuss the problem with her. Explain that things are different in the UK,
and she has to see your side too, after all you have been seeing life from
her side of the fence all this time. Only by talking will you get over
this hurdle, and it can be a high jump for someone who is obviously
thought of as a family "cash cow" my Petal. My suggestion would
be to arrange regular payment each month to the parents and everything
else be subject to discussion between the pair of you before any money
leaves your account. When it become a little more difficult to milk the
cow, the buffalo will come to look after itself!
Since you are definitely the chocolates and champagne
Queen of Pattaya, what do you recommend I should use to win over my
sweetheart? Cadburys or Nestles?
What sort of Cheap Charlie are you, Petal? A small bar
of Chocolate and Peanut Brittle is not the way to a girl’s heart. Get
some Baci’s at the very least! I suppose you were going to offer her a
suck on your bottle of Chang as well. Or was it going to be Leo? Men! You
make me ill some days!
Expect the nine Pattaya police spy cameras to be operational sometime before the beginning of the high season. Those farangs, quite a few, who think that
electronic surveillance is there to detect them staggering out of dubious watering holes at some ungodly hour, can rest easy. The purpose is to detect public crime and
traffic chaos in downtown areas. Let’s hope the cameras are sufficiently high up to avoid being nicked.
Odd thing about Pattaya is that bar staff want beer joints to stay open longer than 2 a.m. In Europe, they’d be campaigning for shorter rather than
extended hours. Insiders say that the wages are so poor that the more tips the better. Apparently, the later it gets, the more generous are the gratuities whether, hiccup,
intended or accidental.
A reader asks how the police know you are drunk if you are involved in a late night accident. True, breathalyzer equipment is as rare as gold dust in our
fair city. But the police may well insist on a blood test at a local hospital if the accident is serious, and particularly if a Thai national is injured or requests it. If
caught out, your insurance will be void and the actual bill can be horrendous, running sometimes into hundreds of thousands of baht. Not to mention a lengthy court case
with the farang under the spotlight.
Everyday British life observed at Big “C”. A husband puts a 10 baht coin into the weigh scale and out comes a small white card giving him his tonnage
and his fortune. “Listen to this,” he brags as he shows her the card, “It says I’m energetic, bright, resourceful and a great lover.” “Yeah,” nods his wife,
“and it has your weight wrong as well.”
Happy ever after
Overheard at Palmer’s Bar where breakfast number three is particularly recommended. A man exclaims to his friend, “I just had another fight with the
wife!” His friend replied, “You did, huh, and how did it end?” “Well, when it was over she came to me on her hands and knees.” The friend looked puzzled.
“Really? That’s some switch. What did she say?” “I think something like “Come out from under that bed you gutless weasel.”
Nong Nooch relocates
A farang was seen cautiously approaching a parked black van on Second Road displaying a sign Nong Nooch Gardens and Zoo. He peered in through the rear
windows and saw some boxes of sand, a few plant pots and a couple of empty cages. “You know,” he explained to his friend, “from what I’ve read I imagined it would
be more interesting than that.”
Not even the most critical members of GEOC (Grapevine Eating Out Collective) can find anything to pull to pieces at the international Mata Hari
Restaurant on Second Road just before the traffic lights at Central Road. Standards of food and service are spot on. This may be the only place in Pattaya to indulge your
craving for real trout. Now is the time to try the great dishes as you’d be lucky to find a seat during high season.
KA claims he obtained a twelve months’ retirement visa on his last trip to Europe. No he didn’t. What he got was a multiple entry, non immigrant
visa valid for visits here over a twelve month duration. But he still has to leave the kingdom every three and a half months or so to obtain a new 90 days’ stamp. A
twelve months’ retirement visa, which means you don’t ever have to go on a visa run, is issued only by the Thai immigration authorities. You can’t get one of these
abroad. But before you apply, you need a non immigrant visa (any type), 800,000 baht in a Thai bank and proof you have a retirement or investment income in your home
country. And you must be at least 55 years old.
Sign in hotel. “If you see a Black Queen, please inform reception. She is missing again.”
Animal Crackers: Spotted
hyena (Crocuta crocuta)
One of the less lovely animals in the world are the
hyenas, thought of almost universally as a cowardly animal living off the
kills of other predators, such as lions.
actual fact, the spotted hyena has probably picked up an unearned bad
reputation, more suitably applied to the other striped and brown hyenas.
(There is a fourth hyena in the species, the Aardwolf, a strange fellow that
eats only termites.)
Although the hyena appears to be related to the canine
(dog) family, hyenas are quite separate, being of the Hyaenidae group
and more closely related to cats than dogs but their closest relatives are
the Herpestidae - mongooses and meerkats.
The spotted hyena is not a small animal, weighing in
around 60-70 kg and standing 80-90 cm tall. The female is also the larger
and the more dominant in the hyena family.
The coat colour changes as the animal matures. Almost
black when it is born, this changes to a heavily spotted grey colour at one
year and eventually becomes spotted reddish-brown which slowly fades as the
The spotted hyena lives in Africa, especially in parks in
East and southern Africa; especially Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National
Park (NP), Tanzania; Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya; Savuti Pan, Chobe NP,
Botswana; Kruger NP, South Africa and Etosha NP, Namibia.
Spotted hyenas kill their own prey more often than they
scavenge. Favourite foods include wildebeests and zebras, but like most
carnivores, hyenas included, will scavenge when they get a chance. Hunger is
the trigger to get the hyena killing for its own food.
The hyenas and lions appear to be mortal enemies. Male
lions will chase and kill hyenas with no provocation, while hyenas will
chase a lioness even after she abandons her kill to them. Hyenas will even
kill and eat sick, injured or dead lions.
The spotted hyena does not waste its food and utilizes
carcasses of large vertebrates more efficiently than other carnivores, which
waste up to 40% of their kills. The hyena eats everything except the horn
bosses of the biggest antelopes, even deriving nourishment from mummified
carcasses. Bones, horns, hooves, even teeth are digested completely within
While the hyenas travel in packs or clans, they are not
socially adapted animals. The larger females dominate the males and compete
for rank and food with one another and even close relatives do not
cross-suckle their offspring. These are raised in communal dens, but are
neither fed nor guarded by clan members. Males play no parental role and
only a privileged few are permitted anywhere near the dens, where even
juvenile offspring of high-ranking females dare to bully them. However, the
female hyenas also behave very aggressively toward each other. This
aggressive behaviour begins from the time of birth, with the dominant cub
fighting with, and even killing its junior and weaker siblings.
As part of the female dominance, researchers have found
that the females not only had to grow bigger than males, they also had to
produce male sex hormones to become more aggressive. In the process, both
their behaviour and their anatomy became masculine, it being very difficult
to differentiate between males and females when viewed from the nether end.
Interestingly, the female cubs remain in their birth
clan, while the males migrate at around the age of two years, though the
male cubs of high ranking females go a little later to become the dominant
breeding males in another clan.
The spotted hyena may not be the craven coward and
carrion eater that it is depicted as, but it is still not the type of animal
you would like as a pet!
Social Commentary by Khai Khem
Too Many Secrets
In an age of transparency, the allure of the hidden
remains as strong as ever. Once it was believed that a wholesale revelation
would not occur until the Day of Judgement, when graves would open and the
dead would speak. (What a gruesome thought.) Nowadays, it seems that we may
not have to wait that long. The unsealing of lips, unlocking of vaults, and
the revelation of hidden caches all point to the idea that no secret is
The dissolution of the Soviet empire seems to have been a
major catalyst for uncovering many hidden intrigues. We now know where
various bodies are buried, who spied for whom, and on what. For Western
countries, the USSR was for more than 70 years the number one sphinx, and
the release of KGB documents over the past decade has solved a myriad of
mysteries, and supposedly spurred a world-wide atmosphere for openness.
The Internet is now a useful tool which is proving a
nemesis to official secrecy. Nothing of major importance can be hidden for
long, before someone on the ‘inside’ feels the urge to post the details
online. The Web is like an international bazaar, where fans, zealots,
voyeurs, lonely crusaders, meddlers, disgruntled employees, and the idly
curious can trade facts, was well as rumours, and fantasies, in relative
safety and anonymity. A secret posted on the web can reach an enormous
number of eyes in no time at all. To deny or confirm such postings is pretty
futile when a million people have already read the message.
Affecting the vanishing secret is the fashionable, and
overpowering urge for public confession. Radio and TV talk shows that
encourage guests to confess their deepest, most hidden transgressions have
their roots in miscellaneous enterprises, such as tent revival meetings,
Alcoholics Anonymous, psychotherapy, televised criminal trials, and certain
TV game shows of the past. Baring all in public attracts attention, and at
one time it even encouraged forgiveness. Now it seems to be mostly about
entertainment, and perhaps a touch of cathartic relief here and there.
In days gone by, the taboo-breaking memoir was the
intellectual’s outlet for blowing the lid off secrecy. The ‘kiss-and
tell’ book by a celebrity is now receding into the background, upstaged by
the vulgar fetishes of the masses.
So are we now in the midst of a new era of candour? No
more secrets? Not quite. We thrive on secrets too much to eliminate them.
Secrets are a permanent fixture of human nature, and we will produce an
ample supply. We need secrets like we need black holes; for their mystery.
Like we need land-speed records; for their expanse of scale. Bank vaults,
locked drawers, secret compartments in the bedroom wardrobe, false bottoms
in personal luggage, and a lady’s bra with a zipper, all supply that need
to keep something hidden, at least for awhile.
Anyone who doesn’t have a few secrets probably has the
depth of a page of typing paper. Personal secrets. They run the gauntlet.
For example, how many young women of today would answer the question: are
those real? Romantic secrets. These are probably the least protected secrets
of any category. Romantic secrets make tongues wag. And what people don’t
actually know for sure, they will happily invent. Gossip secrets; if two
people know about it, we all know it ain’t no secret anymore! Gossip
secrets are actually currency. They demonstrate how well informed we are.
Trade secrets. The monetary economy revolves around a wide and diverse range
of secrets. Secret information must be kept from ‘outsiders’, like
competitors, the press, the tax department.
How about secret formulas? Items like cosmetics and
certain foods are enhanced with ingredients. MacDonald’s Hamburger’s
secret sauce may seem like ordinary Thousand Island salad dressing, but
because it is a secret, I can never be sure. Secret ingredients are sure
fire sales gimmicks which combine the totally banal with the mystifying
Secret societies may not be as popular as they once were,
or perhaps we just call them cults now. Mystical secrets are definitely
flourishing. The bait here is the word secret. The secrets of the pyramids,
the Templars, the ascended masters, the elders of Mu, and so forth, all call
up ancient formulas for expanding the senses and finding the answers to the
mysteries of the universe.
State secrets. In this case, much (not all) of the state’s
information is not accessible to the public. Some form of the Official
Secrets Act still exists in many nations.
Not all secrets are unpleasant. In many of us, secrets
still awaken that childhood feeling that there are infinite mysterious out
there, waiting for us to yet discover. They hold certain promises, yet to be
Women’s World: It’s
by Lesley Warner
A lot of my friends seem to be into body wraps just
lately so I thought I would check out the benefits of putting yourself
through what appears to me ‘Hell on Earth". A bit like being embalmed
before you are dead!
Body wraps have been around for literally thousands of
years, going back to Egyptian times (did I mention embalmed?). These days
ladies are apparently getting bored with fad diets, exercise gimmicks and
surgical approaches to shedding inches and have turned to the more natural
methods of body wraps to rid themselves of stubborn fat and cellulite.
covered the dreaded cellulite before; you may remember I mentioned it’s a
clinical condition found in almost all women. It manifests itself in the
skin’s subcutaneous layer and collects mainly in the outer thigh,
buttocks, abdomen, hips and upper arm areas.
Once cellulite manifests itself, it is very hard to
control. Although diet, exercise and weight play a large part in the
formation and control of cellulite it is not a cure. Cellulite is a
localized problem and each area must be treated individually and body wraps
Body wraps are used for inch loss and body contouring.
They work on the lymphatic system to rid the body of toxins and impurities
that have been introduced through caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, fatty foods,
There are many different ‘body wrap’ formulas on
offer. One of the favourite seems to be sea clay, which is spread all over
the body like butter (a bit like preparing the Christmas turkey) and then
you get firmly wrapped up with medical elastic bandages. (Did you see that
movie ‘The Mummy’?) It is a firming and toning process.
The sea clay opens pores and draws out toxic
accumulations from the skin and soft tissue layers. Pressure wraps compact
the detoxified fatty tissues, reducing overall measurements in the areas
that need it most. As long as you maintain your weight (or lose some), it
should last for 30 days. I think that indicates that this is a monthly
procedure, although according to beauticians, if you are careful with your
diet, probably means no goodies, you might be lucky and get 6 to 12 months.
The body wrap is a safe and effective process and you can do it as often as
The amount of inches each individual loses depends upon
body type (the proportion of soft tissue to muscle mass), which is
calibrated before the wrap begins. A body wrap session usually takes 1-2
hours but the first one is longer due to measuring the body, which is
measured in 16 different areas prior to application. Some people are
understandably shy as it’s a fairly personal procedure, but underwear is
ok and some salons will provide disposable underwear. If not I wouldn’t
suggest you wear your best silk knickers, I get the feeling they would never
be the same again!
You need to remember that the body wrap is a firming and
toning process that produces results by detoxifying and contouring flesh. So
you lose inches, not pounds. Many ladies have body wraps for skin tightening
and cellulite reduction, which does not involve inch loss, while others seek
the therapeutic benefits of detoxification.
Well yes, you’ve guessed I have never been brave enough
(or daft enough) to endure a Body Wrap. It sounds like torture to me, maybe
someone can let me know just how good it really is! We are extremely
fortunate in Pattaya to have a good selection of beauty salons to choose
from. Many of which you will find advertised in the Pattaya Mail.
Shaman’s Rattle: The
Take it as a fact that the New Jersey Pinelands in
America has a "Devil". It is a creature that has been described by
so many people over the past 266 years that to postulate "mass
hysteria" as the reason for the sightings is even more improbable than
the legend itself!
There is general consensus on the Jersey Devil’s
appearance. It is about one and a half metres tall, walking on its hind
legs, which end in hooves; it has a dog-like head with the facial features
of a horse; it has short front paws - and it has wings. Some reports mention
a tail, but you can probably safely consign that feature to the bin, along
with the glowing red eyes and fire breathing.
let’s look at the folklore before we go further. The names Shrouds and
Leeds predominate. The general yarn is that in 1735 a woman gave birth to a
child which turned into the "Devil". It flew up the chimney and
disappeared into the dense pine woods. Some versions have a Mrs Shrouds who
lived at Leeds Point, New Jersey, as the unfortunate mother of the monstrous
child, while others state equally as categorically that it was a Mrs Leeds
in Estelville, NJ that had the child - her 13th, the unlucky number.
Is there any fact here? Atlantic County Historian, Alfred
Heston, discovered that a Daniel Leeds developed land in Great Egg Harbor,
NJ, in 1699. His family lived on Leeds Point. Heston also discovered a
Samuel Shrouds, Sr. came to Little Egg Harbor, NJ, in 1735 and lived right
across the river from the house of Mother Leeds. Legend and fact appear to
be intertwined. Whether it was Mrs Leeds or Mrs Shrouds who had the baby
does not really matter. The birth in question was from the same region of
New Jersey. The Shrouds/Leeds nexus is real.
Sporadic sightings of the "Devil" were reported
in the region, but in 1740 a well meaning clergyman exercised his power and
exorcised the demon. It was not seen again for some time, but the sightings
were by men of some calibre in their day.
In the early 19th century, Commodore Stephen Decatur, a
naval hero, was on the firing range when it is reported that he saw a
strange creature flying across the sky. He fired and hit the creature but it
kept right on flying across the field. Did the Jersey Devil have
supernatural powers, or did the esteemed Commodore not wish to admit to a
lousy shot? Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, reputedly saw the Jersey
Devil in Bordentown, NJ, between 1816 and 1839 while he was hunting. That
was one long hunt. Then again between 1859 and 1894, the Jersey Devil was
seen numerous times and reportedly carried off anything that moved in
Haddonfield, Bridgeton, Smithville, Long Branch, Brigantine, and Leeds
Point. Carcasses left showed that the Devil was carnivorous.
92 years ago there came a spate of sightings in just one
week. The Jersey Devil was seen by over one thousand witnesses. All over the
state and even into neighbouring regions the reports came back of a
bird-like creature with a horses head that left cloven hooved tracks in the
An eye witness account of the day said, "It was
about three feet and half high, with a head like a collie dog and a face
like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long, and its back
legs were like those of a crane, and it had horse’s hooves. It walked on
its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws on them. My wife
and I were scared, I tell you, but I managed to open the window and say, ‘Shoo’,
and it turned around barked at me, and flew away."
Let us now examine the most likely causes. Firstly, the
"devil" child of Mrs Shrouds/Leeds. When something occurs that we
cannot explain, especially almost 300 years ago, it was put down to the
devil - a supernatural cause. Undoubtedly Mrs Shrouds/Leeds had a deformed
child which would have been hidden away until it died. The pregnancy could
not be hidden, but the babe could. "It turned into a devil and flew
So we still have a flying creature to explain. One
explanation is the Sand Hill Crane which used to inhabit South Jersey. This
bird is one and a half metres tall, and has a wingspan of 2 metres. It
avoids man but if confronted it will fight. It has a loud screaming,
whooping voice. It is, however, a herbivore and not a carnivore.
So now let us examine the 1909 sightings. Mass hysteria?
No, too many people saw it. Eminent scientists examined the tracks, with one
going so far as to say, "The tracks were made by some prehistoric
animal form the Jurassic period." So was it a Pterodactyl as some
people presume? The flying dinosaurs are extinct say the disbelievers. Ah
yes, but so too was the Coelacanth said the experts - until they caught one
alive this century!
Return to the 1909 period. It was uncommonly cold. It was
snowing, and imagine if you will that the "devil" was unable to
get its usual prey in the dense pine woodlands - what would it do? Imagine
that there was more than one and suddenly you have a believable scenario.
This was a family of unknown flying creatures that normally hides from man
that had to break from its usual cover and raid civilisation. When the
weather improved they disappeared back to their dens or caves in the
The Devil did exist, and most likely still does! Just
remember to say ‘Shoo’.
The Message In The Moon: Sun in Aires / Moon in
Aquarius - The Pioneer
by Anchalee Kaewmanee
Highly strung, temperamental, and extremely independent,
this combination of Sun and Moon is usually ten steps ahead of everyone
else. The Arien personality is pioneering, energetic, and swift acting, and
the Aquarius inner nature is idealistic, blessed with great imagination, and
is tuned to the future. Intuition and foresight will stand out in this group
of people, since they seem to know instinctively just what tomorrow will
bring. That gives them the ability to manage their lives with confidence and
There will be, however, two stumbling blocks on the road
to success: emotional rigidity and self-righteousness. Intellectually, the
Aries-Aquarius has a tolerant, humanitarian outlook, but in personal
relationships, this combo can be pretty uncompromising. Not everyone can
keep up. With such a strong need to assert individualism, it is too easy to
continuously overlook the feelings and beliefs of others. This unintentional
blindness may be misunderstood and interpreted as arrogance. All that
brilliance is wonderful, but if combined with impatience and a lack of
respect for other people’s opinions, it can add up to a personality which
really pushes the limits in close encounters.
Blessed with much charisma and charm when they want to
use it, the people who are born into this combination can convince anyone of
almost anything. But behavior patterns for the Aries-Aquarius group shows
this sign to be unpredictable. Usually charming, persuasive, and convivial,
a person born under this sign can snap and quite suddenly launch into a
tirade or a tantrum. Since the anger is usually directed every which way, it
will soon exhaust itself. But it is wise to learn to control these tantrums
and find a few constructive outlets for pent-up rage.
As with all natives of moon in Aquarius, a certain amount
of irritability and startling mood changes is to be expected. And of course,
Aries is notorious for short fuses and fiery flare-ups. Better to stay away
from situations which appear overly stressful in order to avoid some of the
pitfalls of this highly emotional nature.
A dogged fear of restraint or curtailment of personal
freedom always follows this sign. In order to insure independence and slip
the knot of entanglement, this group never allows themselves to become
overly involved with one person or group. A horror of infringement and
interference can take on phobic proportions. In order to create and be
happy, whether in the workplace, life style or love relationship, breathing
space and room for maneuvering is vital.
An innovator in thought and action, the Aries-Aquarius is
concerned with science, social change, and anything which is uncharted,
unexplored or untried. Great foresight is usually found here. Lofty ideals
coupled with great analytical prowess makes this group forerunners in
scientific fields. A unique imagination is always a fine asset in
challenging the status quo.
For both men and women born into this combination,
personal relationships are difficult to maintain. Personal magnetism and
congeniality help gain position in life, but erratic moods with close
friends or lovers may not spell much success. It make it hard for people to
get close. That need for absolute independence is a challenge many people
would rather dispense with. So, instead, it might be advisable for this sign
to seek a mate with a similar need for freedom; someone who respects that
desire for liberty and agrees with already established and somewhat rigid
viewpoints. Put some of that great, good sense to use in personal
situations. Better to find a like-minded partner than to attempt a total
Guide to buying a large
by C. Schloemer
Good points: distinctive appearance, does not shed,
excels in obedience competitions, fine gun dog, good temperament
Take heed: likes to have a job, thrives best if kept
Weimaraner (or Silver Ghost) is an excellent gun dog, which originally
hunted big game. It is an intelligent breed which is obedient and eminently
trainable. This dog does very well in obedience trials.
The Weimaraner has been used both as police dog and
serves well as a guard. Its fine temperament makes it a lovely family pet.
If the owner has the show ring in mind, this gorgeous animal does very well
in competition and is a highly desirable show dog.
As a working dog, this breed is always happiest when it
is given a job to do. Those owners who dislike breeds which shed their coat
will be delighted with the Weimaraner. Its distinctive metallic silver grey
coat does not shed, so the house proud can relax. But because the breed is
lean and with a thin coat, it does not kennel outside in cold climates. The
Weimaraner is, however, well suited to our weather in Thailand. Those owners
who are housed with modest gardens do not need to rule out the Weimaraner as
long as they have the time to provide ample exercise for their pet.
Size: height at withers: dog, 61-68 cm; bitch,
Exercise: Like all working dogs, it will need plenty
of exercise and free running. There is no need to rule out town living for
the Weimaraner if the owner is prepared to find a park or open area where
this breed can have supervised free runs.
Grooming: Needs very little brushing, if any, for its
sleek coat will naturally free itself of dirt or mud. Nails need clipping
Origin and history: The Weimaraner burst upon the
British scene in the early 1950s. Since then it has become a popular family
pet, show dog and real contender in obedience trials. It is also very
popular in the USA. The best stock can be found in these two countries. But,
in fact, the Weimaraner is not newcomer. It was purposely bred as a gun dog
at the court of Weimar, Germany, towards the end of the 18th
century. Bloodhounds, Pointers, and the old St Hubert Hounds are said to
have assisted in its make up. Its silver-grey and violet colouring is
The computer doctor
by Richard Brunch
From John Whinter, Pattaya:
My PC, which is a traditional desktop model and only about 18 months old has
developed an annoying habit. I tend to switch it off when I’m not using
it, this tends to be at night, then by morning the clock is 5 to 6 minutes
slow. I correct this in Windows, which is easy enough, and then it keeps
time during the day but next morning, it is slow again. I don’t
understand, can you explain?
Computer Doctor replies: The motherboard on your PC
will almost certainly have a battery on board which will have run down. It
is this battery which maintains the time when the PC is not switched on and
more essentially the PC’s CMOS settings. When the battery needs to be
replaced this should be done without delay. Whilst the time problem may be
an annoyance, loss of the CMOS settings would be rather more serious, as
this holds the basic configuration information. Before replacing the battery
I recommend you note your BIOS settings, just in case these are lost during
the exercise. The battery itself is normally a photo style available from
most of the photographic shops around town. Replacement is straightforward
and if you have the manual for your motherboard, this will almost certainly
tell you the model as well as how to do it. Should the manual not be to
hand, note the model from the existing battery, don’t take it with you to
the shop, this will almost certainly result in loss of your CMOS settings.
From Phil Thurrock, Pattaya: I have recently
purchased an AMD Athlon based PC which has been running really well until
last week; now it won’t even turn on. I bought the PC on a recent trip to
Singapore so it is somewhat inconvenient to take it back to the shop and I
am reluctant to take it to a shop here if it is something simple, hence my
question to you. As I said it has been working fine, last week we went out
for the day and I left the PC switched on as I was downloading some meaty
e-mail which had family photos attached. Upon our return the PC was off and
my maid advised me that the power had been low all day, although in the past
this has not caused a problem, so I don’t see that it should this time.
Advise and ideas please.
Computer Doctor replies: Although you haven’t said,
I suspect your PC is connected directly to the mains supply, hence it will
be subjected to both over and undercurrent situations. When undercurrents
(brown outs) occur, although the PC will often remain on, the fans tend to
run too slowly, if at all, causing rapid rises in temperature, particularly
of core components like the processor. I think if you remove the fan from
the processor and then processor from its socket you will see evidence of
overheating. If this is the case then the trash can is the correct course of
action and a new processor needs to be purchased, forget about any warranty.
You then need to pray that no other components were damaged.
For the future, it is essential to protect PC’s from
current variations and the best way to do this is with a UPS from a
reputable manufacturer. This will provide the PC with clean regulated power
and provide a battery backup to allow a structured closedown of the PC.
Normally, when the current is out of tolerance ranges the unit will make an
audible warning, generally domestic 500-600Kva units depending on load will
provide 10-20 minutes of battery life.
Send your questions or comments to the Pattaya Mail at
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, 20260 or Fax to 038 427 596 or
E-mail to email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone/fax
038 716 816 or see our website www.act.co.th
A Slice of Thai History:
Not another Coup? Part One (1932-1947)
Over the past decade the political climate in Thailand
has enjoyed a period of almost unheard-of stability with regard to military
involvement in domestic affairs.
Although the country has never been wracked by open civil
war, unlike its neighbours Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, it has been subjected
to no less than 19 attempted coups, of which 13 have been successful since
On June 24 1932, Pridi Banomyang and Colonel Pibul
Songgram led a group called the Promoters (consisting of 49 military
personnel and 65 civilians) who compelled King Rama VI (Prajadhipok) to
bring an end to the absolute monarchy. The King was asked to remain as a
On July 1 the King, acting on the advice of a council of
the Promoters, dismissed all his ministers barring the Minister of the Royal
Household and the Privy Seal.
A former judge of the Court of Appeals, Phraya Mano
became the first Prime Minister of Thailand (or Siam as it was still known).
He led a shaky coalition made up of factions within the Promoters.
His tenure of office came to an abrupt end when, on June
20 1933 a bloodless coup swept him from power and he was replaced by Phraya
In October, a revolt by three military garrisons and led
by Prince Boworadet, a former Minister of War, occupied Don Muang airfield
but was defeated in a month-long series of battles by loyalist troops
commanded by Colonel Pibul Songgram.
In December 1938 the Defence Minister, Pibul Songgram
succeeded Phraya Phahon as Prime Minister and in order to cement his
position he launched a coup in January 1939, arresting members of the royal
family, assemblymen and army rivals on charges of plotting against the
government. After a series of trials, 18 people were executed.
Songgram remained in power until July 1944 when, with
Japan about to lose the Second World War, he was forced to resign.
However, just to prove you can’t keep a good dictator
down, the now Field Marshal Pibul Songgram launched a bloodless coup on
October 8 1947, overthrowing the government of Thamrong Nawasawat. Two days
later, he appointed the respected Khuang Aphaiwong as Prime Minister while
he became Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
Updated every Friday
Copyright 2001 Pattaya Mail Publishing Co.Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596; e-mail: email@example.com
Chinnaporn Sungwanlek, assisted by Boonsiri Suansuk.