Vol. XIII No. 19
Friday May 13 - May 19, 2005

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Lost income over Songkran, and other maladies

ATM Fraud?

Sorry state of tourism in Pattaya & Bangkok (& Phuket)

Thank you Sophon for bringing back BBC

More on ATM rip offs

Wasting water?

Figures for the letters section

Lost income over Songkran, and other maladies

Dear Sir;
I have just returned from Pattaya having spent 2 months there ensuring my new home is being built to schedule and seeing my adorable girlfriend who I am going to marry when I return in 2 months time.

As much as I love Pattaya I have some concerns which have to be levelled both at the local police and at the local council and the mayor.

Many people cannot understand why the pavements in Pattaya are simply crumbling away without any effort to effect repairs. When is the mayor going to give an interview as to why under his watch the infrastructure of Pattaya is simply crumbling away and tell the community what he is going to do to fix the problem?

I commend the police for dealing with fact that many motorcyclists are driving without helmets and I trust all farangs will now be aware of this requirement. Despite this effort, what particularly galled me was the large number of occasions I saw police officers in uniform riding a motorbike without a crash helmet and even on one occasion I saw a police officer in uniform with a Thai lady on the back of his motorbike and neither of them were wearing a crash helmet.

Prime Minister Thaksin proclaims the democracy within Thailand. Well, I would challenge such a “democracy” when it is seen as one rule for the police and one rule for the public.

My final concern is the Songkran festival. I left Pattaya on 18th April so I did not witness the major water day of the 19th April (thank god).

When the Songkran started on 13th April that was a fun day with people enjoying themselves. But it became evident that after 2 or 3 days of incessant water throwing many people were getting fed up with it. No matter how much you pleaded people would ignore your requests not to be soaked. This was particularly annoying when one had planned to go to the movies and this had to be cancelled due to the fact that you would have caught pneumonia if you had sat through a film soaking wet.

It also became annoying when one had made arrangements to go out for a meal and that also had to be cancelled because you had been soaked on the way to the restaurant.

I was appalled to be hit by a water cannon as I road a motorbike and why the police do not recognise this as reckless activity which clearly leads to death and injury is beyond me. I was most concerned to have driven along Siam Country Club Road back to Sukhumvit Road and at the junction where I tried to join Sukhumvit Road many people were standing there throwing water over every motorcyclist. Clearly this is one of the busiest junctions in Pattaya and it is madness to throw water over people who are trying to concentrate on traffic coming from the right so they can then pull out into the main road.

I have to ask why this festival (which appeared to turn into wickedness) has to last for 6 days.

Of particular concern were the number of shops which has to close for 1 or more days due to the festival. My girlfriend owns a beauty salon and it was evident that during the Songkran festival her business suffered very badly. Ask yourself what lady is going to get her hair done and have beauty treatments done simply then to walk out and be soaked and covered by talcum powder? Due to the lack of customers she therefore decided to close her shop on the 18th & 19th April.

Let me ask both the mayor and the prime minister, how many businesses suffered financially during the 6 days Songkran festival? I should think that the only people who prospered were the bars, the drink suppliers and the ice makers. Too many people simply decided to stay at home to avoid the ongoing water soaking.

Given that my girlfriend had no income for 2 days and a vastly reduced income for 4 days, does your government not see the knock on effect all over Thailand from small businesses who suffer financially during this so called festival?

John Brown

ATM Fraud?

I’m writing regarding a saga currently unfolding concerning my wife and an ATM machine in front of the enormous beachfront tourist hotel she works in. On pay day, she went to access her account only to find that there was a balance of 11 baht. She checked with the hotel paymaster who said she’d been paid on the 29th April. Off to the bank! The friendly staff at the Bangkok Bank informed her that all her funds had been withdrawn from the very same ATM at 9am on the 29th, at which time she was at work with her ATM card in her purse, in her pocket. Nobody else on the planet knows her pin number. “Very well,” I said. “Let’s have the video from the ATM outside your enormous tourist hotel,” sure to have gilt-edged security in these uncertain times. I called the manager of the Bangkok Bank and asked about the video camera. He said that particular machine didn’t have one. Because it’s old. Now, am I the only one who finds this a tad irresponsible on the part of the bank, the local police department and the hotel in question? Or what? As I say, the saga is still unravelling and I don’t as yet know whether we’re dealing with bank fraud, naughty hotel staff, or if I need to invest in a new wife. By the way, I enjoy reading the Pattaya Mail, especially the first couple of pages and the Letters to the Ed.
Dusty Rod

Sorry state of tourism in Pattaya & Bangkok (& Phuket)

I have recently spent some time in all three locations & am quite startled by the lack of tourists. I quite understand why Phuket’s numbers can be partially attributed to, but there are other equally important reasons other than the tsunami, which incessantly affected all of Thailand in the eyes of the tourist.

Troubles in the south, again read Thailand, a lack of water, especially in Pattaya causing immense headaches to hotel owners (& tourists) – Bird flu & SARS & most importantly of all – the “Social Order Campaign” which has taken the heart out of the nation’s tourist industry (but has proved extremely profitable to a few officials tasked with it’s enforcement).

One of the few “Hubs” the kingdom enjoyed, namely the tourist hub which was based on its once vibrant nightlife, has now all but vanished & will be difficult, even impossible to recapture - & with it the livelihoods of many nationals not directly connected with tourism.

What a pity!
P.S. one, country’s loss is another country’s gain – chasing the ever elusive tourist dollar.
Susan Gliddon (Mrs.)
Portland Dorset UK.

Thank you Sophon for bringing back BBC

Dear Sir,
Some years ago one of your correspondents blessed me with the sobriquet “Momus” because I was forever complaining about something. It is a sad fact that there is much to complain about in Pattaya!

Now, however, I wish to use your journal to express my utter delight that the BBC World TV service has (after a lengthy gap) returned to Sophon Cable. Although the transmission quality is not wonderful it will suffice, and I very much hope that Sophon will continue to broadcast BBC for a long time.

Yours faithfully,
Oliver Minto

More on ATM rip offs

Dear Sir,
I see that you have recently had letters from readers experiencing problems using ATM’s in Thailand. I am currently trying to recapture over ฃ2000 which was withdrawn from my account while I was in Pattaya during the months of Jan and Feb. I always had the card in my possession, but when I went to withdraw money from the cash machine (The bank of Ayudhaya) at the bottom of Soi Yamato, I would tap in my pin number and ask to withdraw 10,000 baht. It would come up with the message insufficient funds. I thought this was strange as I knew I had money in there so I would try it again, up came the same message.

It didn’t cause me major concern as I had travellers cheques and my credit card so was able to get money. I always kept the card on me for convenience and tried it some 10 to 15 times during my stay without any joy. I was somewhat naive as I always tried it from the same cash point first and then would try others with always the same message. As I was returning home in a few weeks I thought nothing of it and thought it was just a fault with my card and would sort it out when I got home.

Upon my return I checked my bank statement and to my shock I saw that all this money was being withdrawn from my account. The machine was saying I had insufficient funds but was withdrawing the money I was asking for out of my account. This would account for the fact I would then try another machine and bank and they would come up with the same message, as to the bank eyes I had exceeded my daily limit on my card. I was never charged from any other bank, only the bank of Ayudhaya.

I know for a fact that I was never able to use my ATM in Thailand but somehow all this money has gone missing from my account. My bank, HSBC, is looking into this but so far after 3 months the bank of Ayudhaya still cannot offer any substantial evidence or proof I have had this money, which with today’s automated technology I find staggering.

I would be very interested to hear from anybody who has experienced these problems or similar as it would add weight to my case in being able to retrieve my money. My email address is [email protected] Many Thanks

Wasting water?

I read with great amusement about the mayor asking to conserve water. I personally was in Pattaya when the recent Songkran festival was on. Apart from it being the biggest pain in the backside that I have ever encountered in my 38 years, the utter wastage of water in a drought was incredible. I noticed water trucks travelling from soi to soi filling drums with water so people could throw it down the drain as quickly as humanly possible. There must have been millions of litres of water wasted on a mindless ancient festival that has no meaning in today’s Pattaya. All it was about was to get every baht out of stupid falang possible, buying water cannons and pistols and basically upsetting every sensible person in town.

If anything the mayor wants to take a good hard look in his own backyard and take about 4 days off of Songkran or abolish it all together.
Rodney Virgin

Figures for the letters section

Dear Editor,
The figures speak for themselves, search the Net and you will find:
Total deaths from Avian Flu, Thailand 2004: 8?
Total USA deaths in the First Gulf War: 293
Total deaths Thai deaths in Thai/French War of 1941: 1,570
Total deaths Battle of Trafalgar all sides: 4,850
Total deaths in Thailand Tsunami: 5,426
Total deaths in this year’s Songkran Festival 2005: 600 at least
Total deaths in Thailand from Road Traffic Accidents 2004: 13,116
Total estimated annual deaths for AIDS in Thailand (2001): 55,000
And the news readers continue the discussion regarding 5 baht bus rides.
Michael Round

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