Monthly Archives: December 2006

Bombs Explode in Bangkok

Thai police investigators examine the site where a bomb exploded at Kong Toey market in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday evening, Dec. 31, 2006. Small bombs planted by unknown parties exploded on Sunday in at least four places in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, killing at least two people, police said. (AP Photo)

You can read updates on our sister sites: – latest news reports – latest pictures – locations of the bombs

A Merry Christmas in Thailand

Thai people love celebrating and Christmas is no exception. It doesn’t matter that 95% of the people are Buddhists, Thai people just love having fun, or “sanook” as it is called in Thai. These are pictures posted on my schools blog this morning. Every year, students dress up as Santa Claus and little angels. Then during assembly, they sing Christmas Carols and dance around the Christmas tree. The students are also taught about the real meaning of Christmas and the birth of baby Jesus.

Little Winter in Thailand

I left Thailand on probably what was the coldest day of the year. The thermometer outside my backdoor registered a chilly 21 degrees Celsius. However, the windchill factor was making it even colder. It is funny how in Thailand, a sudden drop in temperature makes people break out the sweaters and jackets. This is actually my favourite time of the year. Unfortunately, this “little winter” rarely lasts much longer than a week. In Central Thailand, we get an average temperature of 32 Celsius throughout the year. Maximum temperature is usually reached at 8 a.m. in the morning and overnight it will only drop by a few degrees. In the summer months around April it will, of course, get a lot hotter. However, for most of the year there isn’t much variety. Only during our “little winter” do we get a nice range from around 20 Celsius to 35 Celsius. Yes, that is what we call winter. I even feel the cold myself and will wear a jacket in the early morning.

I flew out of Thailand last weekend. This was the first time I was using Suvarnabhumi Airport. I have been there to visit as a tourist a few times of course, but this was the first time I was using the facilities. It actually went quite smoothly and I am not sure whether all the complaints have been fair. Of course there are some growing pains but that is only to be expected for such a major move. However, you might want to give yourself plenty of time to check-in. I arrived two hours before my flight and that was only just enough. There were not only long queues at the check-in, but it also took 30 minutes to pass through immigration. Then it took me about ten minutes to walk to my departure gate.

In the end I arrived ten minutes after the announced boarding time. So, I had no time for shopping or taking pictures. Some gates are a bit further, so make sure you leave plenty of time. I see what people mean when the say the place looks like an expensive shopping mall. There are certainly plenty of shops. And surprisingly, not a lot of free space. I didn’t have much time to look around but it didn’t seem to be that friendly for people in transit or who come too early for a flight. And yes, it is true, the metal seats are not only uncomfortable but very very cold.

I flew on Eva Air which is one of my favourites. The last time I flew on an international flight was three years ago. Back then they had just started having personal screens on the back of each seat. A further innovation this time is that everything is more interactive. Instead of choosing a channel to watch a movie, you can now choose what movie or programme you want to watch, and more importantly, when you want to watch it. This means you can pause when your meal is served to you. The flight to the UK was about 12 hours and it passed reasonably well.

I haven’t been back home to the UK for three years. I was a little anxious this time as I was expecting some form of culture shock. I have been so immersed in Thai culture lately I wasn’t sure if I would fit in any more. However, I knew that my main problem would be the weather. If I had left Thailand during winter, then I would be arriving in the UK during what could only be described as the ice age. However, I was prepared; I had carried a warm jacket on the plane as I knew it would be cold in the terminal.

When people arrive in Thailand for the first time it is like walking into a giant hair dryer. It is that hot. Arriving in the UK at the height of winter it is the opposite. The first thing I noticed was my own breath. Something I had completely forgotten about and haven’t seen for a few years. Strange how you forget some things. It was also a little weird seeing so many foreigners. Now it would be easier for me to get lost in the crowd and not stand out so much. You sort of get used to being so “different” to the norm but it is a welcome relief to come here and not be the focus of so much attention.

One of the lessons I do with my students every year is teach them about sunrise and sunset around the world. They are always amazed when I tell them that the further you go away from the equator the shorter the days are in winter. In Thailand we only get a variation of 30 minutes throughout the year. The sun goes down at about 6 p.m. And when it does it certainly gets dark quickly. I told my students that during the winter in the UK, I used to go to school in the dark and return in the dark. The sun is low during the day and even by 3 p.m. it is already starting to dip below the tree line. By 3.45 p.m. it is already setting.

I have never liked winters in the UK so I welcome the warmth of Thailand. But, they say variety is the spice of life. It is nice having a range of temperatures during the day and during the year. And, in the summers it is nice to have the long evenings. But, at the end of the day I prefer to live in Thailand. I always have the option to retire to a place like Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand where there is a wider range of weather. And, it never gets cold enough to snow. And if I want to see some snow I can always go to Snow Town at Dream World in Bangkok.

Thailand To Promote Ten New Sports!

(The following blog was published 16 December on the Opinion Page of ‘The Nation’ newspaper entitled, ‘New Asian Games Events – Thai-style’ Here below, however, is the originally submitted un-edited version)

Thailand may have put in a gallant effort at this year’s Asian Games, but sadly everyone noticed that they are still lagging well behind the North Asian heavy-weights.

The ever-wise sporting authorities have decided therefore, that what the country really needs is to promote ten new Thai-style sports to competitive levels. With Thailand already experts in such fields, they could really go on to conquer the world. Here below, received from completely unreliable sources, is the list of proposed new sports:

The Elephant Marathon

With troupes of mahouts and their burly elephants, Thailand will soon to be teaming up to take this sport to the world. Absolutely no problems with claiming international ‘golds’ at this event as Bangkok’s elephants are all too familiar with stomping up and down the streets, walking the equivalent of a marathon every single night. As for the mahouts, they will be busy trying to knock off plastic bags of cheap bananas to the spectators at 20 baht a shot. Typical obstacles to be avoided during the future marathons will be the usual feast of 5 foot-deep uncovered manholes and shoddy power lines.

The Crash & Dash (Fleeing the Scene)

Perhaps not the grooviest or safest of sports for the passenger extras involved, but the spectators will be flabbergasted at how fast the bus driving athletes will be fleeing the scene of a staged accident. With an energy drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other and the steering wheel under the chin – they will have to race along a main track at breathtaking speeds. On the impact of the crash, the gold medal will be awarded to the driver who frantically manages to jump over all the injured and dash away into nearby bushes as quickly as possible – perhaps never to be seen again. Competition judges will be dressed as bewildered police officers and possible lynchers.

The Animal Hunt

With a bow and arrow at the ready, the competitors will be tossed into the middle of a dense jungle (if one can be found that is) to hunt down and shoot as many rare endangered animals as possible. Should the hosting jungle authorities be unable to find enough wildlife to maim or kill, unofficially imported endangered animals from Burma will suffice. Better still, rangy-looking tattoo-ridden drug-fiends from local villages can be used as targets instead. Huge 10 million Baht bonus bounties will be offered to anyone who manages to shoot any of the land’s rarest animals such as the Indonesian Rhinoceros, so rare in fact, that not a single one has been spotted in the past 15 years.

Motorcycle Racing

This long-time much loved sport of the male youth, will literally have the spectators on the edge of their seats. It is already estimated that tens of thousands of school drop-outs will be legible to compete at national levels. The Evil-Kinivels, with their wheelie-skills will have to dash along a 10km highway at manic speeds, thankfully however, the road will be void of nuisances such as; other modes of transport; pedestrians, cops and stray dogs. Extra points will be handed out to riders for – extremely mad stunts; driving down the wrong way, and of course….riding without lights. Bonuses from local sponsors will be afforded to the most deafeningly noisy bike. So loud in fact, that it can be heard in the next town.

(Superb location found for the ‘Dynamite and Cyanide Fishing’ events)

Unorthodox Fishing

The fishing tournaments will be held near a tropical virgin island, situated amongst the stunning natural beauty of the Andaman Sea. In the first event, the spectators will be given the chance to witness for themselves, the amazing ‘splash and blast’ of Dynamite Fishing. For years a popular pastime in the South – the fisherman will be able to demonstrate how to vigorously bomb as many darned fish out of the sea that is heavenly possible. As for the aftermath, hoards of dead rare fish and huge pieces of coral can be viewed floating to the top. Next, there will the Cyanide and Electric Fishing, strategic fishing tactics perfected over time by the locals. So effective in fact, that within the next 20 years the sea will be completely rid of endangered fish and millions of years’ worth of coral.

100m for the Blind

Not forgetting the disabled of course, the 100 metre walk for the blind is sure to evolve into one of the most difficult in the history of sports. With decades of experience of having to master the dreaded Bangkok footpath, Thailand’s blind are sure to win future gold medals. The location of this event is to be set on a track very much resembling a typically busy Sukhumvit sidewalk – absolutely full of everyday hazards such as clothes vendors; watch vendors, food vendors and DVD vendors. Even with most of the space already taken up, the athletes will also be forced to navigate their way around potholes, parked motorbikes and huge election billboards.

Chopping & Logging

A truly masculine sport, a real test of the strongest and the fittest. The bronze-brazen sportsmen will, like the animal hunters, be sent into a forest area situated somewhere along the Burmese border. Kitted out with mighty axes, it will be their goal to savagely saw down as many trees as humanely possible before the sun-sets. Once it gets dark, the loggers will have to diligently carry all their heavy timber back to a massive truck parked along the nearest road, which is in fact destined for a major port. Even though they might be hot favourites, with years of experience in such a sport, Thailand may still have to fight off fierce competition from fellow loggers and staunch rivals – Burma.

The Zebra Crossing Sprint

Within a time-limit of just 3 minutes, Bangkok’s finest calibre pedestrians cum athletes will have to get from one end of the zebra crossing to the other, while pitting their wits against hundreds of on-coming drivers shooting past – completely indifferent to the traffic laws. Seriously dangerous vehicles to be avoided at all costs in this event will include manic bus drivers and their conductors, the latter of which can be seen hanging out the door like deranged monkeys. Due to pitiful past newspaper reports, all foreigners in Thailand will be barred from entering this specific event.

(A prison warden gearing up for the ‘Great Jail Squeeze’)


Anyone who has spent any length of time on Thailand’s roads will have realized just how ferociously loud our local policemen can blow their whistles at passing vehicles. It has been decided therefore, that the dedicated Bobbies should soon have the opportunity to take their earlobe-shattering whistling skills on the international circuit. Extras dressed up as motorcyclists and 70 year-old pedestrians will be used in the staging of the events, thus truly giving the competitors the inspiration to blow as widely and as loudly as possible.

The Jail Squeeze

There are plenty of so-called sporting events such as ‘How many people can be fit into a telephone box or a car’ so it’s about time that Thailand can prove to the world just how many locals they can squeeze into a prison jail. Experts in the field, wardens from the Corrections Department will be on-hand, with huge batons, to show just how easy it really is to squeeze 500 people into a single room. Besides just a tight-squeeze in this ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ style event, the contestants will also be forced to bear 7 days with the inability to move.

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New Zealand