Daily Archives: September 30, 2005

Thailand Multimedia Expo 2548

High-tech gizmos, funny mascots and lots of promo girls – this is doggie st what Chiang Mai’s Software and Multimedia expo was about, The event was held last weekend, and I went there with my camera ready.

I wasn’t disappointed; there was plenty to see and try. The latest gadets in mobiles, laptops, stereo systems, flight simulators, video equipment, movies and games were on display, accompanied by an assortment of cute promo girls posing in the strangest of dresses. And what’s more, I met and talked with the producer of Tom Yum Goong! That story deserves a blog in itself – let me tell you about the show first.

Who’s who
The big players of course had to be there: Microsoft and Sony showcased their products in amazing, pavilion-sized displays, complete with plasma TVs and surround speakers.

Bill Gates talks about new looks.

HP teamed up with Chi Chang, a local IT company, and had a sizable booth right near the main entrance. It was unique in a sense that it conveyed the feeling of a living room, while everyone else went for the standard hi-tech look.

A number of international phone companies were also present; their booths lined the left side of the entryway. The rest of the exhibition consisted of smaller local companies, some of which had really interesting products to show. One even had a lanna-style display!

Onto the Goodies
The main attractions, of course, were the gadets themselves. The hardware was okay, the usual assortment of PDAs, phones etc. I especially liked Sony’s latest HiFi, the AZ series. It looks really cool and sleek with the silver/black panels and crimson touch-sensitive buttons.

Sony hifiYou can connect laptops, PCs and thumbdrives directly via USB slots on the front and rear. The vertical, PS2-like diskdrive recognizes just about all known laser disk media; DVD/VCD/CD/CD-R/DVD-R/+R/-RW/+RW/+RDL, to just name a few formats. Sony also developed a new sound system called Digial Cinema Sound, a virtual multi-dimensional sound system. I suppose it was about time, since Bose introduced its version years ago. I couldn’t test this one out, because there was no proper soundroom and the expo was too noisy, so I can’t compare it to Bose’s technology. However, if it lives up to the hype, it could mean good news: that hi-end sound technology finally came down to everyday consumer level. The system also comes with features considered standard at this level: Dolby ProLogic II, composite/component video out, etc.

Other things to see at Sony’s pavilion were digital cameras, camcorders and the Vaio laptops. They were interesting too, I just can’t review everything. Check our photoalbum for full-sized pics on those.

So.. what did Microsoft feature this time? Can you guess? Turn to the next page to find out! Also inside is a feeble government initiative, as well as a new interesting program locally made by Chiang Mai folks!

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How To…Write A Thai Soap Opera!

There are many a job to contemplate doing as a foreigner here in Thailand. If you pick up an English language daily you may come across some fine job vacancy that reads to the likes of ‘Wanna make up to 300,00 baht a week in sales?? All nationalities accepted’. Before you know it you’ll be stuck behind a desk at some illegal back-alley broker company calling up potential muggo clientele in Australia selling them bargain price stocks and shares that don’t actually exist, that is before getting busted by immigration and booted out the country.

Otherwise, if illegal activity isn’t yer cuppa coffee you can head for the islands and string yer guitar at a banana-shake backpackers’ bar and earn just enough to live on and perhaps even get the odd-job teaching English. A lotta foreigners on coming to Thailand hope to get into the ‘writers scene’ but are soon bewildered to realize that there are hundreds more just like them hoping to do the same thing and so magazines here can get away with paying their writers the equivalent to tiddly-winks, better off writing at thai-blogs for free.

So, if none of the jobs mentioned above don’t exactly strike you as that exciting, then how about going for a real pish-easy job and that is writing a Thai Soap Opera. Yours in name here has had the privilige of acting it out on a few of the nation’s Soapies during his time here but has unfortunately lacked the time actually needed to write a story. So, for all you buzzing writers wishing to ‘getta job’ and write a Thai Soap Opera, here below is stevesuphan’s essential guide..on ‘How To..Write A Thai TV Soap Opera.

Firstly, when writing your story it is extremely important to examine the characters required, here is a quick list:

1. (statutory) A milky-bar-coloured seemingly-innocent leading actress. Please be assured that even if she is as thick as your copy of the yellow pages and has the acting qualities of an ostrich, that is not the point – but looks are.

2. (statutory) A squeaky-clean leading actor. This is Thailand and if you, as a foreign girl, think one of the dread-locked beach-bums you’ve dated recently on Koh Samui fits the type of ‘macho-man’ then you are definetly mis-judged. Thai TV prefers actors with skin as smooth and white as a baby’s bottom.

3. (statutory) A jealous elder sister. Again, looks are vitally important and a right bitchie look is essential. Advised to also have previous real-life experience in beating up her friends, family and former lovers (Farangs desirable)

4. (statutory) Extremely dangerous ex-boyfriend/admirer. Unlike the leading actor this guy is squeeky bad, even richer, a filthy womanizer, addicted-gambler, drunkard and a complete delinquent.

5. (statutory) Totally nasty ex-girlfriend/admirer. Siding with the leading actress’ elder sister she is also an entirely loathesome type. Spends here time spreading gossip about the leading actress, stealing money from her parents and getting stupidly-drunk every time she’s upset

6. (opitional) A powerful and possessive father-in-law. Will not be doing much acting besides shoving one of his big-guns in the leading actor’s face and swearing to the likes of “Just you stay away from me daughter or I’ll be cutting off yer thingy-a-jig and chucking it to the ducks, and that’s before I kill ya”

7. (opitional) A not-so-smart ladyboy. Not much is required to fill this part, as the writer, just keep in mind that the ladyboy casted will be one of the dumbest, ugliest and most foolish around, moreover she will have looks that would frighten even yer neighbour’s blind cat.

8. (opitional) An uneducated Isarn maid. Again, acting qualities are not highly sought after but hilarious features are. It is recommended that you write her in as having a really corny country-bumpkin sounding accent, be as horribly dark-skinned as possible, have big goofy buck-teeth, big rubber lips and two holes for a nose. She need only spend her time waltzing around and whistling while wearing one of those kinky-looking French chambermaid outfits.

9. (optional) A ghost. Should you wish to stick in a ghost, do bear in mind that the visual effects on Thai Soap Operas are not of the highest international standards. Any green monster thingy that you have envisaged will probably end up with a striking resemblance to Kermit The Frog. Feel no fear however, just have it say ‘boo’ and half the viewers will be dumb-struck with fear.

10. (statutory) Extras. Of course, every production needs extras, but it is normal in Thailand to find ‘freebie’ extras. Any street scene you have proposed in writing is great for finding a few street urchins to strutt their stuff for only the price of a bowl of rice. As for any restaurant scenes – well, darned having to pay for any hired extras the director will soon be filming in front of a couple of tables of ‘real’ diners while shouting over “Pls do not look into the camera”

Secondly, a plot has to be written. It is highly suggested that the Thai Soap Opera writer have an education of no less/or the equivalent of Grade 6. TV Soap Opera plots in Thailand are more or less all the darned same from beginning to end. Here below, are a couple of quickie examples.


Our leading actress, on having lost her father is subsequently beaten and abused relentlessy by her mom’s new lover, the ‘scarfaced-all-powerful-stepfather’. Meanwhile, the leading actor has become the MD of his own company at the tender age of 24 and soon falls out of love with his former ‘nasty’ girlfriend and ‘in-love’ with the leading actress who happens to live just down the road. At the same time, the deplorable step-father is trying to set the leading actress up with some right vagabound who has promised dad-in-law a fancy under the table pay-back check if he wins his daughter’s hand in marriage. In the end however, the step-father and obnoxious admirer are arrested and charged for some unexplainable darned reason and given lengthy jail sentences. The leading actress and actor get married and live happily ever married.


Our pitiful leading actress is a Chiang Mai beauty, a true damsel in distress with a cute sounding slow Northern-Thai accent (unlike the horrible sounding Isarn one) and comes from a relatively poor background. Our poor leading actress has come to the big city to sow her fortune but is soon befriended by dozens of abnoxious folk trying to take advantage of the unfortunate little girl. In the meantime, the leading actor is falling in love with the Chiang Mai damsel but his mother is going absolutely ‘off-her-trosh’ at the thought of her beloved son marrying into a family of uneducated uncivilzed buffalo-herders. Mother instead, sides by his former girlfriend an alcoholic American educated Bangkokian girl with a super-rich daddie. Family feuds erupt. But eventually, after his mother has a heart-attack and drops down dead the leading actor and actress get married and live happily ever after.

Additional Notes:

Do remember to keep your script pretty darned short. Even though one episode of a Soap Opera is scheduled for one and a half hours do bear in mind that at least one hour of that time is devoted to TV commercials. In the west you say TV commercial break however here in Thailand it is in fact called a TV Soapie break, ie… for every five minutes of TV commercials aired there is one minute of TV Soapie time. Then, for some whacko crackpot reason the same TV commercial is often shown ten times in the space of ten minutes. Promoting advertisement products during the TV Soap Opera is the complete norm here, so when writing the script do not forget to leave out scenes such as the Isarn maid scrubbing the bathroom or washing the dishes while advising the leading actress to the likes of “Ooh the floor is so shiny and spotless” while there is a camera zoom-in on the cleaning product.

One more reason for keeping the plot just a little short is the availabilty of the leading actresses and actors. It is common on Thai TV that the same stars are playing on 4-5 TV Soap Operas simultaneously. Should you not believe me, then just flick around a few channels in the evening and you will soon be seeing the same folks acting it out in each and every show.

Next, there is location to contemplate. Thailand may only be a developing country but it is essential that your story be set in one of the spankiest flashiest houses that Thailand has to offer. Even though your script says nothing about the families involved actually having any work to do – that is not the point. It is mandatory that the story involves at least one family that is filthy rich beyond belief. Looking like a pauper is not the objective of writing a Soap Opera but beauty is. Even though all the actresses are actually just hanging around the house they will be dressed up and made-up to the heavens as if they were off to some fancy ball. And if you notice closely, you will soon be amazed that even after a nights’ topsy-turvy sleep the leading actress’ hair will be perfectly in place when she gets up.

Now, no Thai TV Soap Opera can exist without a bounty of fights, shoot-outs and slappa-ze-faces. Do when writing the script, think up at least three big scenarios every episode. Most popular scenes of all include ‘step-father belting his pitiful daughter-in-law’ and ‘jealous elder sister giving baby sister a good thrashing’. The viewers just love such scenes and the more the better to boost the ratings.

And finally don’t forget! Absolutely no love scenes whatsoever. A quickie cuddle between the leading actress and actor is perfectly all right but as for any scenes of the couple actually kissing, such filming is strictly prohibited unless the couple has been married in part. This is due to the country’s Ministry of Culture, who after much timely and costly research have deciphered that such intimacies do not occur in Thailand outside of marriage. So, if you want to put any filthy un-thai stuff like that in yer script you had better go back to writing in Farangland.

Visit Steve’s main page at Steve’s Weblog

1980: Return To Paradise

Old Patong [1980] when they still had shacks on the beach, just before
they tore them all down!

Leaving Patong Beach in July/1979, we thought of little else til our return in March/1980.

We were more prepared for the Land Of Smiles this time around, having purchased not only our International tickets to Bangkok, but connecting Domestic jet the following day, the first flight to Phuket!

We stayed overnight just across the street at the fairly new Airport Hotel, it was clean, delux, everything worked, they even had their own walkway across the wide & busy street in safey!

They brought a wheelchair over for me, since I had left my wheelchair back in the USA this time, there was little wheelchair friendly walks or roads and NONE one the dirt roads of Patong Beach then.

The hotel served us Mai Thais as we checked, we got out of our “stay warm on the long international flight” clothes off, into bikinis for a quick dip in their luxury pool, back to the room, a little curry for room service and we slept well, awaking to breakast just before we had to go across the street for the jet to Phuket Island.

I usually got a window seat in those days, I’d look down the entire flight, trying to make out the shoreline, mountains, temples, etc but it was a short flight as the jet banked eastward and we left the blue Anadman views behind us and decented into the greeness that IS Thailand.

Got our one bag, guitar and ambled to a tuktuk, driving at bns all the way to Patong Bay.

The tuktuk had somewhat more power than the smaller samlors, so we zoomed over the big hills before the beach easily.

The last right turn by the big Wat and we could see the blue Andaman Sea and the coconut groves of Patong Beach.

The tuktuk took us directly to Valentines, but they were FULL UP, so we drove to the end of the beach and got a room at SeaView Bungalow.

The barbed wire around their compound left a feeling of uneasyness, we had heard “rumors” the visit before about the “bandits” who had stormed in from the jungle and robbed the place, all its guest and taken the stereo too the year before, but…we had nothing but an easy afternoon there, eating papaya/pineapple/banana platter with a couple of icy Greenspots!

We got into our clothes du jour for Ao Patong: bikinis, and rarely wore anything else for the next 6 months, cept for the few times we went to town or the airport to renew our visas.

We slept easily that first night, the waves crashing on the beach were the perfect harmony for the crickets to sing us to sleep.

The next morning, we had breakfast at SeaView, then a tuktuk took us back to Valentines where Mr Singh greeted us with a warm smile, gave the the room right next to the room we’d had on our honeymoon at the “long term rate” of 20baht/day.

We wandered next door to a new cafe, Thai style, the front 3 sides open, the back to the kitchen, hognam & sleeping quarters for the crew, the place was called Thai Garden.

The big grizzly guy grinned as we walked up to a table, he said, you must be Patty & Gary! We had never seen this guy before and were puzzled, but said we were indeed Patty & Gary, he laughed a bellorous laugh, like Long John Silver and said he’d arrived shortly after we’d left last July and Margaret had told him all about us!

We told him we’d seen Margaret in the USA, and that she’d soon be in Patong also!

Dave could tell a tale or yarn INLESSLY, infact, he didn’t shutup the entire next 6 months, but…never told the same tale over once!!!

We’d sit til the sun rose some morning, drinking his concoction “Thai Garden Lemonade” his secret receipe:

Mekhong whiskey
Nam King

Daves place was a hit with the few travellers/tourists on the beach because he served great Thai food, along with most any type of Western food too, Dave was indeed a gourmet cook, but his girlfriend, little Dao, did all the cooking, with the help of her little sister Toi and the occassional other[many]relatives that we came to know as the years flew past.

Dave was the first person on Patong Beach with a VCR! He hooked his old[NEW]BetaMax up to a 21″ TV, powered unevenly by a big generator on the side of the restaurant and we watched movies nightly. Daves place was soon the “HOT SPOT” on Patong Beach, within a few months, every place had videos going, but Dave had the very first!

We saw Margaret later that week, she had come down from the HillTribes in the north, where she’d been working at a Relief Camp for Lao/Cambodian/VietNamese refugees.

She told us talks of the north, the plight of the refugees, and that our mutual friend “3” had suffered a bad stroke just a few months before, was trying to get a cafe going on the beach and was having a tough time.

We went then wandered down the beach to the Half Way Cafe where “3” & Kangaroo Larry lived and worked.

“3” had a pronounced limp as she walked, watched me amble up on my forearm crutches, she grinned and yelled “you walk funny” as we got to her hut. We instantly became good friends, she even taught Patty her secret “3” sauce, MUCH better than just regular Prik Nam Pla!!!

“3”s curried crabs were simple the best food either of us had ever tasted!!! Patty would take her time, one crab=one hour with Patty, the nights she ate 3 crabs, well, we were singing folk songs with Guitar Noi and and expats well after midnight, while Patty sucked and nibbled each and every drop and morsel from those tastey crabs!!!

Half Way Cafe and Thai Garden took the majority of our biz, but we naturally tried EVERY place on the beach, some were very good, like Pee-yuns, she was the sweetest person on the beach, her kindness shown thru easily on her constantly smiling face, she’d was always busy, cooking something with one hand, while washing a dish or pot with the other hand at the same time! Her noodles were about the best on the beach!

too be continued…

Learning Thai: the motivation and skill, I

Sometimes I manage to confuse people with my language skills and my ‘come from’ explanation and I think it’s about time to spill the soy sauce on me and the Thai language. In my intro blog, I mentioned the order of languages I had learnt or had some knowledge of. Thai was ranking #6 of my learning order.

It may seem surprising and some people wonder how this is so. I say I don’t know Thai well but I manage to write it somehow. It surely makes people wonder and they ask “But your mother is Thai, isn’t she?” with the impression that I should ‘get it’ so-to-speak.

What started me off was often going to ethaimusic.com and trying out the sample songs. My mother used to play old tapes of the late Pumpuang (a famous Thai country singer) and Bird Thongchai. I continued listening and singing along with the words, reading the Romanized lyrics or translation. But after a while, I thought “Hey, I can’t keep reading those, I should learn to read Thai script now”. So one day, I printed off a lyrics sheet of some songs and started looking at the words. The Thai lyrics on ethaimusic.com were not that hard to differentiate between separate words because they were for sing-a-long and had little spaces in between unlike normal Thai script where sometimes there’ll be one long line without any spaces. Of course I wondered how that could possibly be read. Where do you stop reading? How do you know what is a question, opinion or statement?

Anyway, I kept looking at the lyrics with the Romanized words while listening to the song and started getting the hang of which word was pronounced as what and where. So then I wanted to make sure I was doing it right and asked my mom and she said “Yes, that’s right, good”. My thoughts then were “Hey! This isn’t so bad. Here’s a fun way of learning it”. I could listen to music that I liked and try to read the real Thai words.

Several times before, I looked at learningthai.com and always read the intro of the ‘learn to read’ section that said exactly what I kept thinking “When most people see a Thai book or newspaper for the first time they are amazed and puzzled by the strange letters and no gaps between the words. Most foreigners think it is impossible to learn how to read. But really, after a short while all of the strange looking letters and no gaps between words will start to make sense”. I wondered how soon and what the secret to reading Thai is? But I could never find enough motivation of why I should really learn it.

I can’t remember exactly when but after a while, I got more interested in Thai music and eventually became a fan of different artists and wanted to know more about them and so forth. But I realized that most things were written in Thai. I could just stare at the words (or ‘noodle shaped alphabet’) or ask my mom each time to read it for me. I didn’t like the idea that I had to be helped each time I wanted to know something that was written. I realized that I should start making the effort to learn and do it myself because I really wanted to know what was being said for myself. That was likely one of my fuelling motivations.

It looks like this entry will be longer than expected. I will post the next part at a later time.