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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Family Money: Eggs in a Basket - Part 1
Snap Shots: Splendid Isolation
Modern Medicine: Fighting the flab factor

Heart to Heart with Hillary
Social Commentary by Khai Khem
Women’s World
Animal Crackers
The Computer Doctor
A Slice of Thai History
The Message In The Moon
Antiques, are they genuine?
Shaman’s Rattle
Guide to buying a large dog

Family Money: Eggs in a Basket - Part 1

By Leslie Wright

With the advent of the Internet, investors thought that life would be much simpler. Yet it would seem that investing into global markets is in fact becoming ever more complicated. But it doesn’t need to be.

With literally tens of thousands of funds to choose from, and more being launched every day, constructing a strategically diversified global portfolio by the indirect route - using funds rather than picking individual stocks - is one way of making things simpler.

You delegate the complex decision-making process of which stocks to buy & sell - and when - to a team of professional managers & analysts.

But that still leaves you with the somewhat trickier task of selecting which funds in which markets are going to beat their respective indices in the coming months or years. Not an easy task, even with access to fund prices via the Internet.

In fact, you’d need access to a great deal of information to choose your funds judiciously from the over 30,000 offshore funds that are available nowadays, and a sophisticated database filtering system to be able to select above-average performers over several time-periods.

But let’s assume you have access to this level of information, and the time to spend on doing it. That would still leave you with perhaps 20 or 30 funds to monitor.

Then, to see what your overall portfolio is worth, and how it’s performing, you’d have to transfer this data onto a number-crunching spreadsheet. It all takes time & energy.


One way to make matters administratively simpler is to use a collective vehicle to hold all your funds in a simple ‘basket’.

Such vehicles have been on the market for several years, but have been rather neglected by many financial advisors who don’t quite understand their advantages and how they work.

Known as a Personal Portfolio Bond, or ‘PPB’, these have developed into the fund supermarket of the high-net-worth individual (‘HNWI’).

Nearly all the large offshore insurance companies offer a PPB among their range of investment products, but each differs in the finer details.

They all can hold a virtually unlimited range of funds, provided these are approved by the provider as being well-run funds from well-regulated regimes.

Going via a PPB rather than directly into individual funds can also be a very cost-effective way to construct a widely diversified portfolio. Typically, the normal entry-cost to the underlying funds is discounted (because a significant portion of that would have been paid as brokerage commission), in many cases to zero.

The costs of administration are charged directly to the PPB - the ‘cart’ if you will - rather than to the funds held within it - the ‘horses’ that pull that cart.

But these charges vary from one provider to another, so part of your financial advisor’s job is to do some serious number-crunching in order to select the one that’s most appropriate to your particular needs & circumstances.

Some PPBs have a choice of charging structures, which at first sight look complex. They aren’t really: typically, one set of charges is better for short-term investors, while another set is better for longer-term investors. It boils down to cost-effectiveness over the period you anticipate being invested. Your IFA should be able to show you a compare-&-contrast exercise of the effects of the charging structure, so you can make an informed decision.

This choice also applies to different PPBs from different providers; and the ‘bells & whistles’ that can be added vary too. The choice of features may be influenced by your particular requirements.

The cost of trusts

For instance, if it were part of your estate planning to put your investments into trust, the cost of administering the trust becomes an issue.

While all PPBs can be vested into an offshore trust fairly simply, the charges for doing so vary a lot between one provider and another. Some charge several hundreds of pounds a year to administer a trust - even though the trustees may do nothing other than send you valuation reports. If the trustees have to pick up a pen, they may charge you a hefty fee for doing so. Other institutions may charge little or nothing (in at least one case) for establishing and maintaining your PPB in trust.

Most providers permit you or your appointed investment advisor (typically your IFA) to manage the portfolio for you, and for his management fees to be deducted directly from the portfolio, thereby relieving you of the hassle of processing and paying his invoices for that service.

Taxation issues

Like all offshore investments, the growth is free of tax. But should you take it back home with you, you will become subject to the tax rules in your own country.

As these bonds are issued by offshore life companies, investors are able to take advantage of the potential tax benefits of an offshore life assurance policy.

In UK, for instance, offshore life bonds are treated preferentially by the UK Inland Revenue Department, as compared to a ‘bare’ portfolio of unit trusts, which are subject to capital gains tax (which insurance bonds are not.)

Also, under UK tax laws, you may draw down 5% of your initial investment tax deferred for 20 years or until encashed in full. This means you will probably pay far less tax on a PPB than on direct holdings of stocks or even a portfolio of unit trusts without the cost-free insurance wrapper. A neat little loophole in the tax laws, which you can take advantage of cost-free.

Bonds available to UK residents or returning expatriates would offer the investor a choice of investing into a pooled asset, to preserve the tax advantages to the investor; those available to UK expatriates or international investors will offer the investor the freedom to invest in any asset quoted on the world’s stock markets.

(to be continued next week)

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Snap Shots: Splendid Isolation

by Harry Flashman

How many times have you had a good photograph spoiled because of a dreadful background? If you are like the majority of weekend photographers, the answer is lots!

The answer to all this is to manipulate the Depth of Field that your camera lenses will record. Depth of Field really refers to the zone of “sharpness” (or being in acceptable focus) from foreground to background in the picture. When you have enormous Depth of Field, everything is in focus, right from the foreground to the background, and that is the sort of effect that leaves you with a nice photo of the subject, but unfortunately with the cluttered background. To show the subject in splendid isolation then requires the opposite effect - short depth of field so that the subject is in focus, but everything in front and behind is out of focus. This is how you end up with a “nothing” background, such as the shot I have used, taken by pro shooter Howard Greene, to illustrate this point.

Knowledge of how to manipulate Depth of Field therefore improves your chances of getting good shots and only requires mastery of a few very easy principles and procedures.

The term Depth of Field is really an optical one and depends solely on the lens being used and the aperture selected for the particular photograph. For once, the other variable - shutter speed, has no bearing on this, the Depth of Field parameter.

You see, for each lens, the Depth of Field possible is altered by the Aperture or “f stop”. The rule here is simple - the higher the Aperture number, the greater the Depth of Field possible and the lower the Aperture number, the shorter the Depth of Field. In simple terms, for any given lens, you get greater front to back sharpness with f22 and you get very short front to back sharpness at f4.

The other aspect to remember is that wide angle lenses give greater Depth of Field than telephoto lenses. For example, using a 24 mm focal length lens focussed on an object 2 metres away - if you select f22, the Depth of Field runs from just over 0.5 metre to 5 metres (4.5 metres total), but if you select f11 it only runs from 1 m to 4 m and if you choose f5.6 the Depth of Field is only from 1.5 m to 3 m (1.5 metres total).

On the other hand, using a 135 mm focal length lens focussed at the same point 2 metres away, you get the following Depths of Field - at f22 it runs from 1.9 m to 2.2 m (0.3 metres) and at f5.6 it is 1.95 m to 2.1 m (a total of 0.15 metres).

Analysis of all these, initially confusing, numbers gives you now complete mastery of the Depth of Field in any of your photographs. Simply put another way - the higher the Aperture number, the greater the depth of field; the smaller the Aperture number the smaller the Depth of Field; plus the longer the lens, the shorter the Depth of Field, the shorter the lens, the longer the Depth of Field.

Now if you are getting confused, don’t worry - here it is in its simplest form. For great Depth of Field, use a wide angle lens and go for f16 or f22. For short Depth of Field, use a telephoto (or ‘long’ lens) and use f2.8or f3.5.

Using the ‘trick’ to get very little Depth of Field, you will now get a sharply focussed subject and a totally blurred background, with nothing to detract from the subject of your photo.

As said before, while initially confusing, it can soon become second nature. To really reinforce this you should take the same shot with two different lenses and two different Apertures for each lens. Note the order of the shots and compare the final results. You are now in charge! Happy shooting and splendid isolation.

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Modern Medicine: Fighting the flab factor

by Dr Iain Corness, Consultant

Whether we like it or not, we all get a little flabby as we get older. Muscles start to lose their firmness, especially the tummy muscles, middle-aged spread becomes rolls of fat and before you know it, the trim lithe figure has gone. But not forever with a little bit of self discipline.

“You are what you eat” is totally true. If you eat too much you become overweight. Now there are lots of people out there who are aware that they are eating the wrong food, and too much of it, but who continue to say they can not lose weight or work out what is a “healthy” diet.

This is just an excuse. It is always easier to do nothing rather than actually doing something about any problem. Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow and why do tomorrow what you can put off indefinitely? This type of thinking results in diabetes, hypertension, hardening of the arteries, premature senility, arthritis, liver disease and a whole host of other conditions that you do not want.

Let us attack the “What should I eat?” question first. Like most things in life, the answer lies in the “middle way”. Extremes of anything can be fun - but extremes should be infrequent. What we are talking about here is the “average” kind of menu that is “healthy” for the average members of the population.

So here’s the weekly menu. You should have grilled or poached fish on one or two days. The old “Fish on Fridays” was based on good nutritional evidence, not just religious dogma!

Have two eggs each week, preferably boiled or poached.

Eat Asian food for two days each week, especially all the vegetarian or vegetable and rice based dishes.

Have cold meat and salad twice each week. Likewise have soup twice a week, especially the “kwiteo nam” (watery noodle) variety.

That has you eating Asian for two days, fish for two days and meat and salads for two days. That leaves one day a week for you to have anything you want. Splurge, go mad, roll in raspberry jam and cream! But it is only one day, remember!

Now for all the people who are overweight, there is no secret in losing those extra kilos. When you are putting on weight you are eating more than you need. End of story.

So the first rule is to restrict your eating to three times a day. Breakfast lunch and dinner. That’s it.

The next rule is to only put 75% of the amount you would normally eat on your plate. Sure, you will finish the meal and still feel hungry, but that is good. After a few days of this your body will start to burn up the excess fat to fill the void - and that is just what you want.

You will be amazed at the good results you can get by having a good menu and eating sensibly. Follow those recommendations and I will guarantee you will reduce your cholesterol and your weight by a significant amount in three weeks. After that, the blood pressure will come down too. Go on, try it.

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Dear Hillary,

My husband goes out once a week “with the boys” as he likes to call it. These “boys” are well into their 50’s, and some of my friends have seen them going into the go-go bars in some of the less salubrious areas of Pattaya. Do you think I should confront him with this knowledge, or should I just pop into one of these bars on boys’ night out and catch them at it? He has been a good husband and provider, and we still get along very well after 20 years of marriage and two children, but I do not like this kind of behaviour. I honestly believe that our men-folk have no pride, or perhaps they are all MCP’s. What is your advice, Hillary?


Dear Wondering,

How would you feel on a ‘girl’s night out’ if your husband just “popped in” to the entertainment area you and your girlfriends were in? You could lose more than a little bit of ‘face’, wouldn’t you? Likewise, your pop in plan would not be taken in the best of humours by your husband of 20 years. By now you should have also realised that all men are chauvinists. Confront? Confront him with what? That he goes into go-go bars? So does everyone in Pattaya at some time or another. Take heart that with the current crackdown on closing times and ‘lewd’ entertainment, your husband and his mates will be coming home early and probably hormonally charged up as well. Wear your sexiest nightie, Petal.

Dear Hillary,

In many of the bars and clubs (and I don’t mean the ‘gay’ ones), when you go to the Gentleman’s toilet there will be an attendant standing there. Some of these will come up behind you and give you a back massage while you are at the urinal, and I just do not like this at all. The majority of my male friends I talk to feel the same, so why do the proprietors continue to let this happen? There are some clubs I have stopped going to because of this attendant thing. What’s your advice, Hillary?


Dear Willy,

This problem is one that Hillary has no direct understanding of, my poppet, I can only guess. Us girls do it sitting down, if you didn’t know. As far as what to do? I am sure a simple “Mai ow, khrap” (no thank you) would be enough. If that doesn’t work you can always pee on his foot.

Dear Hillary,

The company my husband works for is considering opening an office in Thailand which would be situated in Pattaya. If this happens, he has been told that he will be the first person to be offered the position. I am a little concerned as we have two school age children and I was wondering if you could tell me what is the standard of education in Pattaya Schools? I found the Pattaya Mail on the web and saw that you have a Q&A column, so hope you don’t mind answering this one?


Dear Jennifer,

Ex-pat children are exceptionally well catered for in Pattaya with excellent private schools. You can choose from an American style syllabus or a British one. Standards are high and children graduating from these schools are ready for university or life in the big wide world. They also have the benefit of growing up in a multinational society. If more people grew up in this way there would be a lot less conflict in the world. You sound like a caring Mum, Jennifer. You will fit in well to our local society.

Dear Hillary,

Why do so much farang think they looking good to shave their heads and let beard grow instead? Why they not liking hair on the head, and no thinking about girlfriend who not like to kiss all the beard and get rashes when they not shave the chins? What do you think of this Mrs Hillary, or do you like to getting beard rashes also? Sorry about my English not so good.


Dear Bee,

Your English is fine, and Hillary understands exactly what you mean. It is strange that in Pattaya all the male farangs have either balding heads, bald heads or shaved heads. A full head of hair is rare, but so are farangs under the age of 40! The divers often shave their heads, but the others have Hillary beaten. As far as the beards go, unless it has religious significance I prefer the close shaven look (and feel). Bee, just don’t go out with the farangs with the beards, it is easier than trying to change them.

Dear Hillary,

Can you please tell me where I can go for a quiet drink without being molested by oversexed young women who want me to sit down and what do I want to drink? Even in Jomtien and Naklua it is the same. Surely there is a place in Pattaya where this does not happen?


Dear David,

There is. It’s called “home”.

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Head banger

A woman has been arrested after dispatching her unusually wealthy husband to eternity by bashing his head repeatedly with a hammer and chisel. Denying the charge, she explained that she had read in a newspaper that this treatment was useful in curing headaches and stiff necks. Unfortunately, she had misjudged her own strength on this occasion in administering the health restoring massage. However, she stressed she had taken the sensible precaution of covering the hammer with a towel in order to soften the blows.

Very puzzling

We heard this one in the Cafe Royal which is more usually noted for vigorous intellectual discussions about early medieval literature and the later poems of W.B. Yeats. This Irish guy bought a large box displaying a red cockerel which he duly took home and attempted to fit the pieces of the jigsaw together. Failing miserably to get the right pieces together, he asked his mate to come round and assist him. On arrival, the friend noted a huge mess on the kitchen table and explained, “If I were you, Paddy, I’d put the cornflakes back in the packet.”

Prophets of doom

What does the nitery crackdown have in common with cheating baht bus drivers, a hike in the price of visas and rubbish in the streets? Well, all four are likely to lead to tourists in huge droves boycotting Pattaya (and Thailand) if letters to this newspaper are to be believed. What is never quite certain is where all those visitors would go instead if Pattaya turned out eventually to be a ghost town. Some suggestions such as Mexico are far too expensive and Penang isn’t many people’s idea of a great night out. No, Pattaya’s here to stay folks. Warts and all.

Bit of a quandary

A tourist writes in to say he believes he has a strong case against a drunk driver who caused a bad road accident with serious injuries to the tourist’s wife. The problem is he can’t hang around in Thailand to see through the civil proceedings as he must start work again in Europe real soon. He says that the drunk driver and his insurance company are not being cooperative. This kind of problem is actually quite common. The guilty parties will hang on hoping that the civil case eventually goes away or drifts into the sand. The best course of action, if you can’t remain in Thailand, is to give power of attorney to a lawyer to see through the case on your behalf. He or she will probably try to recover all medical costs plus a much smaller sum for compensation. But, of course, there’s the commission to bear in mind.

Overheard in Palmer’s Bar

This over the hill guy said he was very depressed after Viagra failed to make any difference in the nether regions. His friend told him to have a local hospital checkup which he duly did. Asking how he had got on, the friend was told, “Well, basically, the doctor said that in my case Viagra would be like putting a new flagpole on a condemned building.”

Credit cards again

We are often asked how a farang resident in Pattaya can obtain a Visa or American Express credit/debit card using Thai baht. With difficulty, unless you have a work permit. Worthy Thais, and not altogether without reason, have the idea that foreigners may run up debts and then do a runner. Amex deals directly with applications from their Bangkok office. Visa applications are handled by the local banks and they have some discretion. If you don’t have a work permit, you could try offering to open a special bank account and leave the book locked up with the bank authorities. In this way, you might be allowed a credit limit a bit lower than the sum you deposited.

Immigration update

There’s no requirement for the immigration police to treat all visa extension applications the same. But, in general, a 30 days visa on arrival can be extended for a further ten days at the moment. A non-immigrant 90 day visa usually gets a meager 15 days extension unless you bring with you some strong paperwork. Tourist 60 day visas can be extended for two further months (30+15+15) if you have reached the age of 55, a month less if you are younger.

From the USA

Jesse Jackson, Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert have written an impressive new book titled “Ministers Do More Than Lay People”... Ex president Clinton was in the supermarket picking up some things for the new office when a stock boy accidentally bumped into him. “Pardon me,” said the stock boy. “Sure,” replies Clinton, “but it’ll cost you.

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Social Commentary by Khai Khem

Yaba, the devil drug

For those readers who are not familiar with the term yaba, this is what Thais call methamphetamine. Speed. The scourge of drug abuse has hit most societies in the past few decades, and Thailand has been no exception. Although the problem may not be as full-blown and destructive here in the Kingdom as some nations have experienced, we all know that to neglect this issue in its early stages is a serious mistake.

Some drug abuse has always been with us. In former years, when opium was grown and harvested with impunity by the hill tribe societies of Northern Thailand in what was referred to as the Golden Triangle, it was their major crop and economic mainstay. Exploited and encouraged by drug lords and corrupt officials, this region of Thailand and a sector of Indochina became the source of most of the world’s heroin supply. The dedicated cooperation of Thailand with other countries drove out most of the powerful people who controlled this illegal empire. The people of these villages were often victims of severe drug addiction, mired in poverty, and without hope. Even very young children fell into addiction through neglect or ignorance. Decades of re-education of the indigenous peoples, and introduction of new cash crops and modern agricultural techniques has turned the tide in most of this region.

Times change, and we change with the times. Today, the variety and accessibility of dangerous ‘designer’ drugs is so vast that we can hardly keep track of what is currently in fashion. Even the names of what is now in vogue seem like code words or secret handshakes for those of us who haven’t joined the club. The use and abuse of methamphetamine is a comparatively new phenomenon in Thailand. It is cheap, manufactured in tablet form, easily transported, and can be consumed in a number of ways. Small scale trafficking in yaba becomes a small enterprise in the same way as opening up a small business or a food stall does. It substitutes for a job. Much in the same way ‘crack cocaine’ hit the inner city sub-culture’ in the USA years ago, yaba is enjoying a rise in popularity in this country. It is sweeping through the circles of our young people like wild fire, and is, metaphorically speaking, leaving a ‘scorched earth’ in its path.

This problem is no longer confined to a few small villages in remote farming areas. It is stalking our cities, our schools and our streets. “Speed freaks’ totally out of control are shooting people, leaping off roofs, or simply frying their brains with chemicals which are permanently damaging their lives and health.

Pattaya doesn’t have a truly big drug problem yet. Isolated incidents with users who lose control get high profile attention. Small time traffickers get caught by the police. Our city is still small enough so that if the authorities are determined that this situation will not escalate, they can send a message that although we are referred to as Fun City, they key word here is Fun, not Crime. Thailand is generally a safe country to live and travel in. Our motor vehicle traffic is probably the most dangerous thing about the nation. But in most other respects, Thais live by the honour code. Peace-loving and friendly, polite and helpful, our citizens abhor violence and want live in harmony with each other. Some countries do not enjoy that fine reputation. A good reputation once lost is nearly impossible to regain. We all need to remember that.

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Women’s World: Woman with a secret?

by Lesley Warner

We hear only of Mata Hari the temptress, the sexy spy of World War I, who’s still remembered today for her amazing charisma. Who was she really? Where did she come from? Was she special or just like any other woman?

She has been referred to as one of the most beautiful and seductive women in the world. Thousands flocked to see her perform her Dance of Love at show halls all over Paris. Men fell in love with her and foolishly promised her anything in return for her sexual favours. She even became the mistress of Germany’s Crown Prince Willem and later, his son, both royals showering her with jewels and money.

Mata Hari (1876-1917) was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in Leeuwarden, Netherlands to a well-to-do Dutch shopkeeper and his Javanese wife; she attended a school for teachers but was forced to leave for having sex with the headmaster.

With an unsuccessful marriage and the death of her son behind her, Margaretha set out for Paris, determined to make her mark in the world. But how could a woman with virtually no marketable skills and little money support herself? She tried modelling for painters and instructing at a riding school but barely made ends meet. Then her current benefactor made a suggestion that perhaps she could try dancing. Margaretha thought over the idea; she had always adored dancing. In fact, while in Java (where she had lived with her husband) she had become quite entranced by the exotic, sinuous dances performed by Javanese women.

All things Oriental were the ‘in thing’ during the early 1900’s so Margaretha decided to use her experiences in Java, and her tall lithe body, dark colouring and natural beauty lent themselves to what she had in mind. She had little trouble convincing her audience that “Lady MacLeod” was half Hindu, half British nobility and had been trained as a Ganges temple dancer. She appeared before her small salon audience clad only in an assortment of coloured veils and a metal brassiere of her own creation. This was how Margaretha became known as the inventor of the “strip tease”.

Wealthy businessman Emile Guimet invited Margaretha to dance at his Museum of Oriental Art. Using the stage name, “Mata Hari”, meaning “the light of day”, Margaretha agreed to make her official debut. Guimet transformed an upper floor of his museum to accommodate Mata Hari’s act, a sinuous and provocative dance of supplication before the six-limbed statue of the Hindu god, Siva. After her premier performance on March 13, 1905, Mata Hari was an instant success.

Over the next few years Mata Hari danced her dance of the veils in salons, music halls, and theatres all over Europe. Monte Carlo, Madrid, Berlin, Vienna, and Cairo were just a few of the cities where she attracted huge crowds.

Margaretha was soon basking in the attention, the riches and the endless strings of lovers.

Then in 1907 she joined the German secret service and during the war she betrayed important military secrets confided to her by the many high-level Allied officers who were on intimate terms with her.

MI5 claimed to have had Margaretha under surveillance for two years; she first attracted the suspicion of British officials in December 1915 and was arrested at the southern English port of Folkestone attempting to board a boat for France. Under interrogation, she admitted she was heading for The Hague to live near her lover, a Dutch colonel. But MI5 could not pin anything further on her.

Because Mata Hari had taken so many highly ranked soldiers as lovers, notably French and German officers, French officials decided to keep track of her comings and goings. They eventually found the proof they needed to arrest Mata Hari as a spy, but whether it was real or fabricated is still being argued to this day.

In the early morning of October 15, 1917, Mata Hari was removed from her cell and driven to her place of execution. Refusing both a blindfold and restraints she was shot dead by the 12 man firing squad moments after she smiled and blew them a kiss. Margaretha swore until the end that she was not a spy and would never have betrayed her adopted French homeland.

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Animal Crackers: Echidnas or Spiny Ant Eaters

by Mirin MacCarthy

This egg laying porcupine-like mammal, also called the spiny anteater, has been fortunate enough to live its life in relative obscurity in the Australian bush, although some occasionally wander on to farms. At times one will casually waddle past while country people are sitting on the veranda enjoying the late afternoon sun. Fully protected, these monotremes are solitary creatures and so far are not endangered.


There are two major types of species, the long snout Echidnas that are found only in Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya, while the short snout group occurs both there and in Australia. The Tasmania echidna, similar to Tasmanians themselves, is larger and hairier than the mainland species and is also much commoner and tamer.

Strength and Defence

Echidnas are most engaging creatures and although only about 500mm long from snout tip to tail tip and weighing up to a maximum of six kg (13lbs), they are very powerful. The slight body feels as though it is all muscle, and put on the ground, will demonstrate how useful this strength is for its own safety. Like the hedgehog or porcupine, on a hard surface the Echidna curls into a tight ball presenting its 6 cm long spikes as a bristly defence. Though the echidna looks bulky it can flatten is body considerably allowing escape from very tight spots.


It is a powerful little digger with long, strong claws, which it uses to rip apart rock-hard termite mounds. Echidnas feed on termites in dry habitats and ants in moist areas, which they slurp up with their long sticky tongue that they can extend 180mm (7 inches) from their snout. The echidnas tongue works on the same hydraulic principle as a penis. Blood flows into the tongue which extends and stiffens it. The tongue, lubricated by a sticky secretion, can dart in and out 100 times per minute.

An Echidna can move on the ground about as fast as a man can walk. Once soft soil is reached it disappears in a minute, digging straight down. Using its spines to grip objects firmly it lodges itself between tree roots and cracks in rocks, literally irremovable. The sense of smell is keen and the snout is used to probe when searching for food. The echidna depends more on its hearing than its eyesight, though it does see reasonably well.


The 20mm long egg is laid directly into the mother’s small pouch where in incubates and hatches after about ten days. Here the tiny naked baby feeds off milk glands for a further 80 days when it is turfed out because of its uncomfortable developing spines. By this stage the baby is still blind and about 10cm long and is placed in a snug deep burrow.


What’s in a name? Early Aussie settlers called the echidna the “native porcupine” and many naturalists call it the “spiny anteater.” Its common name comes from an earlier scientific “Echidna Hystrix,” which referred to the Greek Goddess Ekhidna who was a monster: half woman and half snake. Bellerophon on his winged horse killed this creature and filled Ekhidna as full of arrows as the Aussie Echidna is full of spines. Who said that early Australian settlers were all convicts who did not know any ancient Greek mythology?

Reference “Wildlife of Australia” by Vincent Serventy ISBN 0-7251-0480-5.

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The computer doctor

by Richard Brunch

From Harold Sanderson, Naklua: I have a Toshiba notebook PC which has been very faithful to me since I bought it second hand a couple of years ago, although I believe it is about five years old. I usually take it with me when I go home to the USA in the summer. It worked fine when I left and appeared to be OK when I returned to Pattaya as I copied some data to me desktop PC. Now when I turn it on I get a message to the effect that the hard disk cannot be found and I cannot get beyond this. Any ideas please?

Computer Doctor replies: From what you say, it seems likely that the hard disk has probably failed. I think that the disk installed is unlikely to be more than 1Gb, the Toshiba replacement is 4.3Gb and expect to pay the other side of 10,000 baht plus of course installation. You may be fortunate enough to obtain a generic drive that will fit, in which case expect to pay around 7,000 – 8,000 baht plus installation. In any event, bear in mind the PC is only likely to have a resale value of about 10,000 baht so unless you really are emotionally attached it would be wiser to say goodbye. Also, with its age it is likely that other components will fail which makes the decision not to repair even more prudent.

From Jackie Kavannagh, Dorset, UK: My daughter and I will be coming to Thailand at the end of December, staying for around five weeks. Although this is supposed to be a holiday for both of us, this is wishful thinking and we will have to be in touch with our office in England at least once a day by e-mail. We will also need to ftp some fairly sizable files once a week. Both of us have notebook PC’s, we will be mainly staying in quality hotels located in tourist areas like Bangkok, Pattaya and Hua Hin, although we will be visiting the North East for a few days. With this is mind would you advise using the services of local Internet cafes, which I understand are plentiful or are we best to use our own equipment?

Computer Doctor replies: Internet cafes are abundant in the tourist areas and because competition is fierce, prices are generally low. What you need to bear in mind is that although some of these are set up correctly and give you a half-way decent connection, others are run on a shoestring and the connection is split so many ways that any respectable speed is unlikely. If you were just doing e-mails then this would probably be acceptable, just! But if as you say you are going to ftp once a week then unless you go to one of the ISDN cafes this exercise is not going to work. If you are staying in quality hotels then your own notebooks are likely to be a better option. Many of the hotels have ‘business centres’ whilst others have direct lines in guest rooms from which you can connect to the Internet; speaking of which you will need an ISP and unless your UK ISP has international roaming I suggest you purchase one of the Instant Kits that the many Thai ISP’s produce. When buying these, be sure to get one that has countrywide nodes. As well as familiarity with your own notebook and its software, you will have an audit trail on your PC. Also bear in mind that if your ftp file is sizable and you are lucky enough to find an Internet cafe that has the speed you require and allows ftp, should you not wish to work on the file immediately then you will need to transfer the data to your notebook. This could also be a problem if it won’t fit on a floppy as many cafes do not have CD burners.

Send your questions or comments to the Pattaya Mail at 370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, 20260 or fax to 038 427 596 or e-mail to [email protected] 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. For further information, please telephone 01 782 4829, fax 038 716 816, e-mail: [email protected] or see the firm’s website

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A Slice of Thai History: Franco-Thai War 1940-1941

by Duncan Stearn

Part Five: Victory and Peace

The final major action of the war took place either on January 16 or 22 (depending on whose account you read) when Thai units, supported by tanks, encountered a French defensive line at Yang Dang Khum. The French claimed to have held their line and forced the Thais to retreat, while the Thais stated they were waiting to move sufficient forces into the area to complete the destruction of the French.

The French also claimed to be preparing for a major counter-attack against the advancing Thai army.

On the other hand, the Thais state they had almost surrounded the remainder of the French forces defending Cambodia and were within three to four days of forcing the French to surrender.

While the fighting was raging, behind the scenes Japan offered to act as a mediator, encouraged by Thai Prime Minister Pibul Songgram. With both sides accepting Japanese mediation, a ceasefire was arranged for January 28. An armistice was signed three days later, on board the Japanese cruiser Natori in Saigon Harbour, bringing military action to an end while a peace agreement could be hammered out.

The casualty figures for the war vary enormously; depending on which source is being referred to. In the naval battle of Koh Chang, it is generally accepted that the Thais lost around 83 men killed. French losses are unknown. Overall, deaths on both sides were between 200 and 2,000, including civilians.

Interestingly, a large number of French Foreign Legion troops, taken prisoner during the invasion of Laos by the Thais, refused to be repatriated at the end of the war and decided to settle down in Thailand.

On February 7 1941, a peace conference between the Vichy French government of Indo-China and Thailand began under the auspices of the Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka Yosuke in Tokyo.

The Thai delegation, led by career diplomat Prince Wan, commenced negotiations with a series of ambit claims that the French, headed by Rene Robin and the ambassador to Japan, Paul Arsene Henry, could not possibly accept. The two sides quickly became deadlocked until the Japanese foreign minister presented a set of proposals some 10 days after negotiations had started. Rene Robin countered with a set of alternative proposals and, despite the fact that Prince Wan felt the Japanese were biased towards the French, he was authorised to accept the terms after speaking with Thai Prime Minister Pibul Songgram.

On March 11, a mediation agreement was signed in Tokyo while on May 9 the formal Treaty of Tokyo officially ended the war.

By the terms of the treaty, the French were forced to cede the Cambodian provinces of Siam Reap (although not the temples at Angkor Wat) and Battambang to Thailand as well as Sayaboury in Laos. Thailand agreed that the ceded areas would be turned into demilitarised zones. In return, Thailand agreed to pay the Vichy French government the equivalent of 10 million baht in compensation.

In turn, the French signed a treaty with Luang Prabang in August 1941 ceding Vientiane, Xieng Khouang and Luang Nam Tha to the French protectorate to compensate it for the loss of Sayaboury.

Japan exchanged letters with both Thailand and France stating that the agreement was irrevocable as long as neither country entered into any pact with a third power which could be deemed hostile to the Japanese.

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The Message In The Moon : Sun in Gemini/Moon in Gemini - The Whirling Dervish

by Anchalee Kaewmanee

Like a ship without an anchor, a native born into this combination will drift about, exploring all possibilities and exhausting precious resources. Nervous energy substitutes for true vitality; so enthusiasms are short-lived. Changing with the winds, these individuals are never sure where they stand, or whose side they are on. More like several individuals than one, they are as calm and predictable as a herd of wild horses. However fascinating to observe, friends and associates caught in this whirlwind of chaotic energy may not find the after effects quite so amusing.

On the positive side, these natives can be models of ingenuity. No problem arises without them finding the most practical and expedient solution. Intellectual powerhouses, one and all, they have probably read just about everything there is to read. They seem to know so much about so many things it’s a wonder where they put all that information. Able to assimilate data with incredible speed, the Gemini-Gemini will have responses so quick it is very hard to keep up with a person born into this combo. The world just turns too slowly for these people. They have seen it all. “So what comes next?” They just never tire of asking.

All natives born into this Sun/Moon sign live on their nerves. They may have the intellect of Kant, the wit of Jonathan Swift, the ingenuity of an Einstein, but, and here’s the rub, their capacity for serious and prolonged effort is practically non-existent. Usually, it takes many years of experience and misadventure before these individuals master discipline and anchor their many talents. But there is still hope (if they are not already behind bars). Strangely, this combination belongs to the master criminal - who always gets caught. Not that these people are actually malicious or evil. But they tend to see things in terms of quick advantage and easy gain. Why waste time working when you can embezzle millions, or rob a bank? And yet, despite all their cleverness, they always neglect some minor detail which becomes their undoing.

There is no question of finding themselves. Simply because they have so many selves. Depending on the circumstances, they can play any role that is called for. They can out-talk just about anyone in the Zodiac, and out-gossip them, too. Unhappily, that quick tongue makes them say things they don’t mean to, and often hurt others without realising it. Quite psychic, whether they know it or not, all Gemini-Geminis can pick up the thoughts of those around them like sponges. So of course, they can never be sure whether their next idea is theirs or someone else’s. Some double Geminis are very dextrous and can make excellent craftsmen and sculptors once patience is mastered.

Naives born into this sign will be involved in many relationships. Variety is the spice of life for this group and that includes their love-life. Since this variety is so vital, it will not be easy for them to narrow down their affairs. Promiscuity is inherent in their emotional make-up and to conquer it will take enormous dedication. Basically unemotional, this group views love from a very detached perspective. Oh, they can fake pathos on command, but breaking off a relationship presents no problem for them if it threatens to become too deep or burdensome. This, unfortunately, is not a good combination for marital bliss. If natives born into this sign are ever to find lasting romance, they must learn to ground themselves before anything permanent and enduring can be accomplished.

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Antiques, are they genuine? Motivation to copy

by Apichart Panyadee

The eclectic piece is often found repugnant, especially if it can be readily dismissed as ‘19th century’. The purist is quick to recognise all the faults inherent in 19th century revivals - at least he may be if he has recognised the piece as being of the latter part of the period. Copies can sometimes be dismissed just as swiftly, often simply because their condition is superior to that of their original models. It is surprising how the most sophisticated period royal commode can become vulgar to modern taste when it is fully restored and cleaned. This vulgarity is often more evident in an exact copy.

The inside of the same commode shows that the interior is highly polished which would not appear on an original 18th century original. This piece is one of the finest of its kind but still a copy.

The exact copy, however, is often a superior work of art in its own right and in recent years, at least, is being recognised as such. The 19th century craftsman was proud to copy what were considered the best 18th century pieces. Quite often these were royal items, but not always. It was comparatively rare, however, to copy pieces made prior to the 18th century. These copies were left to the ‘improvers’. The usual reason is that earlier designs were simply too massive for modern living and needed to be either radically redesigned or at least scaled down.

There were approximately 2,000 ebenistes, bronziers, sculpteurs, moduleurs, menuisiers, and doreurs in Paris by the 1880’s working for the makers of the superior meubles de lux. A large proportion of these fine quality pieces were copies of either Louis XV or Louis XVI examples. There were approximately 50 retail outlets for quality furniture at this time. This underlines the popularity of that style which had world-wide appeal, and often royal patronage. The whole of Europe, including Great Britain, both North and South America, Imperial Russia, India and Egypt were customers of the Paris trade and the quantity that was produced is constantly seen on the market, in ever decreasing amounts, as its popularity rises in the world of antiques today.

This copy of a Louis XVI commode was made by one of Europe’s finest cabinetmakers, Francois Linke. Although not an original, this copy is an example of fine 18th century craftsmanship.

One of the greatest of these copies must surely be that of the roll-top desk known as the Bureau du Roi. The original was started by Jean-Francois Oeben in 1760 and finished by Jean-Henri Riesner in 1769. Copies of this desk are recorded by several of the great 19th century makers, who by no means restricted themselves to pure copies. Examples are recorded, and a copy of this model was made for the 1878 Paris Exhibition. It stands today in the Wallace Collection in London. Permission to copy the piece from the orginal, which is now in the Louvre, was not difficult to obtain. Lord Hertford commissioned the copy for the exhibition, and was well-known to the Emperor Napoleon III. The stipulation was that no squeezes or moulds were to be taken from the original. Consequently all the bronzes, which are extremely elaborate, had to be measured and sculpted in wood to match the originals. In sculpting the bronzes, allowances had to be made for shrinkage during the casting process. Carving a piece of wood to the exact proportion of the required bronze was common practice at the time. However, to model it accurately from existing work required craftsmanship of extraordinary quality. This certainly establishes that the 19th century craftsman could be at the very least, as accomplished as his forebears.

The exact dates that such items were copied are often an uncertain area. Certainly the Empress Enguenie had a love if Louis XVI classical furniture as early as 1850. The Board of Trade in London held an exhibition called “Specimens of Cabinet Work” at Gore House in 1953, showing 18th century and earlier French masterpieces. And a further important exhibition was held at Manchester Art Gallery in 1857. The Musee Retrospectif exhibition, Paris 1865 must have been a further impetus for copying famous pieces of this style.

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Shaman’s Rattle : The Path of the Shaman

by Marion

The path of the Shaman is a long and lonely journey devoted to healing first of self then of others. This form of self-knowledge and healing is achieved by altered states of consciousness, vision quests, and initiation journeys, then accessing certain information while in this state. Shamanistic methods are amazingly similar throughout the world, even though they developed separately in so called primitive societies.

Shamanism is all about personal transformation and reconnecting with nature. Shamans in various countries often combined massage in their rites of passage. The Kahunas of ancient Hawaii would give 3 day dancing, chanting and rhythmic massages called Lomi-Lomi rites of passage to the soon to be chiefs, which was enough to make anyone orbit. The American Indians traditionally used power animals and objects, natural herbal medicine and sweat lodges for their transformative healing.

In most cultures a Shaman is a healer whose power and wisdom derives from an intimate and continual relationship with personal power animals, spirit guides and elders, or through an inner voice. They use a body of ancient techniques to enhance the physical, emotional and spiritual well being of themselves and others. A shaman will promote healing in another person by devoting themselves to the afflicted, and by such caring cause a commitment of equal intensity to evolve in the patient to achieve healing.

Shamanism emphasises the development and maintenance of personal power, through an awakening of the unconscious mind and spiritual and magical forces within us. Shamans of aboriginal and indigenous origins often speak to the spirits of plants and animals, mountains or even the five elements ether, air, water, fire and earth; while Asian Shamans often speak with the spirits of their deceased ancestors. What seems to link Shamans of various cultures is that they can enter realities not usually perceptible to people who are not able to achieve an altered state of consciousness. Shamans are messengers that bring back healing and helpful knowledge from these other realms for themselves and others.

Shamanic states can be induced in many ways; the most common is monotonous rhythmic sounds such as steady drumming, chanting and dance. By regular practice of hands-on healing and massage, breathing, vision quests, water balancing, herbal medicines, occasionally hallucinogenic, Shamanic divination and meditation, fasting, and guidance from dreams, Shamans do effect genuine cures in their patients.

However, for the practitioner it is a lonely and frequently painful life of sacrifice dedicated to spiritual advancement. The position is usually inherited i.e., handed down to chosen descendants; however, in all cases an apprenticeship and initiation is involved.

Several but by no means the majority of Kahuna Shamans of ancient Hawaii worked with evil magic and this was very powerful and greatly feared. The anthropologist Max Freedom Long has recounted in scholarly studies of the old Hawaiian practices that some Kahunas as well as cursing selected warring tribes actually sang people to death. These practitioners of death magic were aware of risks that they were taking and usually ended their lives insane; however, their powers were real and not based on fear and superstition, such as pointing the bone where a native lies down and dies just because he knows he has been cursed. Rather this singing to death worked on both Hawaiian natives and European missionaries who knew nothing of being sung.

With the exceptions of some traditions, such as Voodoo, most Shamanism works for the positive magical transformation and healing. It comes as no surprise that Shamanic and magical traditions, including natural tribal and animist spirituality, has been not only frowned on but also actively repressed and persecuted by mainstream organized religion. “Official” religions have been so concerned with maintaining their power bases that they are deeply threatened by self empowered practitioners such as shamanic and tribal healers and brand them all as evil pagan devil worshipers.

However, people in most but not all places today have enjoyed a relative religious freedom of the last two centuries, which has allowed a more public study of shamanic and magical natural healing. One of the core beliefs of these traditions is that the human mind can manipulate energy, and this is directly relevant to psychology and healing. The idea that “energy follows thought” is the accepted basis of many popular self-help and visualisation techniques today, in addition to the core belief of Huna and other shamanic traditions.

In his book “The Urban Shaman” Serge Kahilli King explains this Huna principal “Makia”. “Energy flows where attention goes. Be focussed. Those aspects of your present experience, which seem enduring, are the result of sustained focussed attention. If you don’t like your present circumstances then find some way to shift your attention to a new pattern. (Meditation and hypnosis are some techniques). Keep your intentions objectives, goals and purpose in mind, including frequently reviewing your motivation. This leads to a high degree of efficiency and a low degree of frustration.”

Today we still discover that modern medicine does not have all the answers for all healing and that Shamanism can be effective as well as transforming. Shamanism emphasises the development of personal powers and a much more engaged form of spirituality. While Shamans are few and far between in the Western world today, the ways of the Shaman are not only available to all, but each of us individually holds that sacred potential of being a Shaman.

Recommended reading: “The Urban Shaman” by Serge Kahilli King. Also obtain a copy if you can of the amazing book “The Shaman Paintings” by Susan Seddon Boulet. Susan was a gifted and visionary artist whose paintings seemingly pull us into the dream world of Shamanic magical spirituality, their healing ability and communication.

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Guide to buying a large dog: English Springer Spaniel

by C. Schloemer

Good Points: good with children, good worker in the field, intelligent, loyal companion, good house pet

Take heed: could develop skin problems, tendency to put on weight if not exercised sufficiently

The English Springer Spaniel makes an excellent dual purpose gun dog and pet. His fine nose and speed makes him a determined hunter. This dog’s intelligence and eagerness to please makes him easy to train. Always delighted to work in the field, the Springer excels as a happy and efficient retriever when properly taught. If the owner is interested in obedience trials, the Springer will give a good account in competition. Loyal and devoted, this breed loves children and its fine temperament can be trusted. This dog can be kennelled outdoors but is just as happy snoozing at the feet of his master.

Size: The approximate height should be 51 cm; approximate weight should be 22.7 kg.

Exercise: Since the Springer is a working dog, he needs plenty of exercise or will tend to become overweight. Lack of exercise can also lead to skin problems.

Grooming: That rich, slightly wavy coat only needs daily brushing. If the Springer is working in the field, take care that mud does not get caked in the paws. Make sure the paws are kept clean and tangle free to prevent infection. Check those ears frequently. A sterile solution obtained at most veterinarian or pet supply shops that is especially designed for cleaning dogs’ ears is recommended, especially in hot weather.

Origin and history: The English Springer Spaniel is the oldest of the British spaniels except for the Clumber. It has not, however, gained the popularity of the smaller Cocker Spaniel, which is favoured, in the main, by those with an interest in shooting and field trials. But it was appreciated by the Americans as a ‘bird dog’ before the breed was even recognised by the Kennel Club in London. Certainly the name ‘springer’ is derived from its early task of ‘springing’ game for the hunter’s nets. The slightly smaller Sussex Spaniel naturally derives his name from Sussex in southern England. The Sussex lacks the speed of the Springer and the Cocker, but where there is an abundance of game, or the custom is hunting on foot, this dog makes a fine hunting companion. Sadly, the numbers in the breed are shrinking with alarming speed.

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