Category Archives: Competition

Win 44 Stamps commemorating Thai Language Day

The 29th July is observed every year in Thailand as National Thai Language Day. In celebration of this, Thailand Post have today released a set of 44 stamps, each with one letter of the alphabet. I have two sets of these stamps which I am giving away to two lucky winners on my Facebook public page. All you have to do to win, is visit my page and click on “like” for the picture of these stamps. All of the names will be put in a hat on the evening of Sunday 31st August 2011 and the names of the winners will then be announced on my Facebook page.

Facebook Page for Richard Barrow in Thailand >>>

July 29 was picked as National Thai Language Day to commemorate His Majesty the King’s private visit to Chulalongkorn University to join experts on the Thai language in a discussion on problems with using Thai words. The discussion took place on 29 July 1962 at the Faculty of Arts. Aware of the importance and value of the Thai language, the Government on 13 July 1999 proclaimed July 29 National Thai Language Day.

Win a Guidebook for Elephant Holidays in Thailand

I am in the Northeast of Thailand for the launch of two new guidebooks. I already told you about the one called “The Mekong: Journeys along the River of Life”. Today I’m on my way to Surin Province for the launch of the second guidebook called “Elephant Holidays in Thailand”. Again I have several copies to giveaway in a competition and like last time you can choose either a Thai or English version. This book prepares you for a unique experience in Thailand with the elephants, the most important symbol of the Kingdom. This experience not only includes learning about elephants, but also touching, feeling, feeding, walking trunk-in-hand and even riding these magnificent creatures.

“Elephant Holidays in Thailand” introduces 17 elephant camps based on four different themes: The Legend of the Elephants, Live and Learn the Elephants’ Way of Life, A Unique Bond, and Amazing Elephant Shows. Each theme let’s you enjoy first-hand experiences with the elephants of Thailand and explore the beauty of the country from their perspective, discovering their charm, intelligence, and friendliness. This guidebook should prove to be useful to anyone who has an interest in elephants. By using this guidebook you will be able to get an elephant’s view of Thailand.

To win a copy of “Elephant Holidays in Thailand” all you have to do is post a comment below. Make sure that you let me know whether you want the Thai or English version. The competition ends on Wednesday 30th March 2011. You have another chance to win the guidebook on my Facebook page ( and on the Paknam Web Forums ( Feel free to add me as a friend on Facebook. Today I will be going to Surin which is one of the main centres for elephants in Thailand. You can follow me live on this trip as I will be posting pictures during the day on twitter @RichardBarrow.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Win a Guidebook for the Mekong River

This weekend I am in Isaan for the launch of two new guidebooks. This first one is called “The Mekong: Journeys along the River of Life”. I have several copies of this new guidebook (in English and Thai) which I will be giving away to a lucky reader of this blog. The guidebook should prove an inspiration for travellers who want to take a memorable journey along the course of the mighty Mekong. Running through Thailand in the provinces of Chiang Rai, Loei, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, and Ubon Ratchathani, the Mekong River creates life, culture, and friendship along it’s course from the instant it enters Thailand to the moment it departs to Laos.

The guidebook covers six major routes: The River of the Three Cultures (Chiang Rai), A Bond Between Two Cities (Nan Province), Pact of the River (Loei Province), Small Houses by the River (Loei and Nong Khai Provinces), Gateway to the Neighbour (Nong Khai and Nakhon Phanom Provinces), and Mystical Mix of Culture and Natural Phenomenon (Mukdahan Province and Ubon Ratchathani Provinces). The guidebook provides useful information and helpful tips for readers to plan an unforgettable journey. There are also listings for accommodation, dining and shopping.

To win a copy, all you have to do is post a comment below. Make sure you let me know whether you want an English or Thai version. The competition ends on Tuesday 29th March 2011. You have another chance to win the guidebook on my Facebook page ( and on the Paknam Web Forums ( Today I will be travelling along the Mekong River. I will be posting pictures live on Twitter which you can follow me on @RichardBarrow.

A Walking Tour of Red Camp

“Welcome to Red Camp. Please have your passports ready and your bags for checking.” For those who have ventured to the Ratchaprasong Intersection in Downtown Bangkok recently, you will know it is like entering a foreign country. It actually reminded me of that great British Ealing Comedy “Passport to Pimlico”. They are very self-sufficient with their own canteens, medical centers, security forces and even a place of worship complete with monks. In addition there are numerous vendors there catering for all their needs. Whether it be a massage for weary feet or a battery charging service for your mobile phone.

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression that I am going to advocate here the so-called “Demonstration Tourism”. But, the fact of the matter is, it is happening already. And not just Thai people but foreigners as well are venturing into Red controlled areas of Bangkok to soak up the atmosphere and to take pictures. Quite a few tourists and local people headed down to Silom to take pictures of the soldiers or to stand by them while a friend took their picture. Other popular pictures now appearing on Flickr and other social media include pictures of riot police in full gear, razor wire strung along sidewalks and of course fully armed Thai soldiers. In fact, Thai people seem to prefer having their picture taken with the soldiers than the policemen for some reason.

The Red Camp is presently covering a very large area going the four directions from Ratchaprasong Intersection as you can see from the satellite picture above. X marks the spot where you will find the main rally stage in front of Central World, Thailand’s largest shopping mall. Well, it was but it has been closed down for the past few weeks together with the other biggest mall Siam Paragon. To give you an idea of distances, it is 1,000 meters West to the intersection at MBK. It is 530 meters North to the Intersection near Pratunam. It is 780 meters East to the Intersection at Phloenchit. And it is a whopping 1,695 meters to the Intersection at Sala Daeng. They have also taken over parts of Lumphini Park.

Before I proceed with this walking tour of protest sites, I again want to emphasise that I am not advocating that you actually go. And that if you do, then you do so at your own risk. However, in my personal opinion, the danger during the day is low. As long as the soldiers are not massing then you shouldn’t face any problems. I have already been a number of times and will most likely go again tomorrow. I am not a thrill seeker and will most definitely leave at the first sign of danger, but up to now I have been met with nothing but kindness and warmth from the Red Shirts. This is an historic event and I don’t want to miss it.

I would suggest that you start the tour by taking the underground train to MRT Silom or skytrain to BTS Sala Daeng. Here you can walk up and down Silom road taking pictures of the soldiers and police in riot gear. The razor wire across the sidewalk make a good picture. I didn’t notice many on the streets when I came here the other day, but then found hundreds sleeping in a multi-storey car park. You will also find soldiers and police resting down many of the side streets. However, if you see any demonstrators massing then I advise that you leave the area immediately. I have seen on television “demonstration tourists” stopping to take pictures of clashes between police and red shirts. Not a good idea at all.

The main “tourist attraction across the road from Silom is of course Red Fort with it stacked tyres and bamboo poles. In the background you can see the statue of King Rama VI that guards the entrance to Lumphini Park. When I was there a couple of days ago the strong barricade stretched across the width of Ratchadamri Road blocking all car access. However, they have since opened a part of it to allow emergency access to Chulalongkorn Hospital which is on the corner of this intersection. As a pedestrian, you can walk in from the side of the hospital or walk down a but to the MRT exit for Lumphini Park. However, you cannot exit into Red Camp here from the MRT as the gates are locked.

It is quite a long walk up Ratchadamri all the way to the intersection at the Erawan Hotel. If you don’t feel like walking this long stretch then you can take a motorcycle taxi near Chulalongkorn Hospital for no more than 30 baht. Along the way you will be able to see all the tents and shelters down the middle of the road. There are several thousand along this one road alone. They don’t need to stay at the stage area to listen to the speeches as there are speakers all the way along each road. There are also toilets, showers and even generators so that they can have electric fans. There are a few places along here when you can buy VCDs of the April 10 clash for about 30 baht. There are also stalls selling red shirt souvenirs. In this picture, a foreign tourist is buying some souvenirs.

You won’t be short of food and refreshments. In theory, you could line up for the free food being handed out. I was invited but declined for obvious reasons. There are many vendors selling food and it is better to buy from them. However, one of the Red Guards did offer me some cold water that I gladly accepted. There is quite a variety of food here which reflects on the number of different regions the protesters come from. Maybe my next blog should be the “Good Food Guide to the Red Camp”. There are not so many people during the days but in the evenings the vendors and small shops all do good business.

This is a picture showing the area in from of the normally very busy Siam Paragon. Although the big shopping malls are all closed, you will find most of the smaller shops in Siam Square still open. In addition, there are many street vendors who have come to the area to take advantage of the roads being closed. Sometimes it reminds me of the temple fairs as they close the streets down too. The shrines around

I mentioned on Twitter that I was surprised when one of the Red Guards at the checkpoint came over to give me cold water.

Before you set off on this walking tour, you need to make sure that you are up-to-date with all the latest news. In addition, I would advise that you take along a smartphone as you will get instant updates from people if something is happening. You can follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow for the latest news on the red shirt protests. I will be writing soon more about the “backstory” of how people like myself are “reporting” live from the red shirt protest sites.

Thailand: Greatest Urban Myths (Part 2)

(The crime scene of almost every Farang murder in Pattaya – the infamous Pattaya hotel balcony)

As a Farang in Thailand we have all heard some of the most laughable quack-wack Thailand myths: ladyboys who have coaxed clients back to their rooms only to drug ‘em and cut out their kidney (and after sell it to a hospital), tuk-tuk drivers who are part of a dangerous mafia syndicate and dodgy cashiers who stuff items in your bag before calling in the police on charges of theft. As mentioned in part one, even some ‘journalists’ pick up on these pathetic myths, or even conspiracy theories, and sell them to some naff tabloid back home. And on the subject of conspiracy theories too this time around, a classic from last year was the David Carradine story (or former Mr Kung Fu himself). Instead of sticking to the forensic reports, sensationalist articles written claimed that Mr Kill Bill was in fact murdered, for example, by a couple of well-endowed ladyboys he had met in Patpong earlier that night. (Read this blog for more info on one of the hilarious articles published).

Then we have just the simple Thailand myths like: Thais stand up for the national anthem at the cinema, the word Farang is derogatory, gambling is a serious crime, Thais never criticize the monkhood,Thai women married to Farang can not own land and all the poor people love Thaksin Shinawatra.

Pattaya Flying Club ‘Suicides’

Probably the best told Thailand urban myth over the past few years is that all the Farangs who commit suicide in Pattaya by jumping from hotel balconies were in fact the victim of cold-blooded murder. With the cover-ups so intricately planned, it could go down as the best drunken barstool conspiracy theory since Elvis was abducted aliens and returned to Earth as a Phuket jet-ski operator. Even though 66 year-old Henrick weighs in at 220 pounds, his skinny-as-a-chopstick former teenage ‘wife’ standing at 5 foot 1 in high-heels is miraculously able to throw Henrick over a one-meter high Pattaya 15th floor hotel balcony. She then flees the scene on the back of her Thai lover’s motorbike. According to the best myth-tellers, everyone was involved: the cops knew it was murder but for the sake of tourism they put it down as suicide. The housekeepers, check-in staff and security guards, they all knew the ‘truth’ but got paid backhanders to keep quiet. It gets told (in that ever-popular “I used to drink with the guy” fashion) that even though Henrick drank 17 bottles of Thai hootch on a daily basis, enjoyed messing around on the side with local Lolitas while occasionally indulging in a ladyboy three-some, was actually a perfectly normal guy.

The Thai Language Has No Tenses – It’s So Easy

Another classic myth which has done more rounds than a rabid Thai dog with a piece of meat tied to its tale. Even though Joe from Ireland has a limited personal Thai vocabulary of just ‘Sawatdee khrap’, ‘Sway mak mak’ and ‘Check bin’, has in his 3 months in Thailand learned from a hundred other Thai language wanna-be speakers that the Thai language does not have a past tense, passive tense, future tense, present perfect tense – absolutely no tenses at all. It is the simplest language imaginable. Joe goes on to state that anything with a brain could master the language in 6 weeks. After a year, however, when Joe finally admits that he still can’t put even a basic sentence together in the Thai language spouts out “Arrh… I’m just too lazy to learn”.

All Thai Women Wanna Have a Farang Boyfriend

Do they heck! Definitely another one of those rumours spread by expat barstool types who has never struck up any conversation with any proper Thai girl. Instead, all he has ever heard from ‘his’ Thai girl friends is that since every Thai man beats his lover, elopes with every female family member under the age of 16 and constantly drinks himself stupid before breakfast before finally running off with another damsel, is the reason that every Thai women would like a ‘responsible’ Farang boyfriend. Sucker Farang is oblivious that this is coming from a woman who has had four kids by Thai men and is dating a dancer who works in a men-only bar up the road. The reality is, there are a lot of proper Thai women out there who would be interested in having a Farang boyfriend, but to put them all in the same boat is ludicrous.
(Steve notes: There is another fairytale myth around that goes “Thai-Chinese women from well-to-do families wouldn’t be seen dead marrying a Farang”)

The Ice is Bad for You & “I Had Food Poisoning”

Let’s start with that guidebook to Thailand favourite myth of dirty ice and it’s bad for you. Ok ok… there could be a little possibility of this if it’s that shaved stuff that comes from those big blocks of ice you sometimes see. But if the ice served is cubed, as you usually get these days, you can be rest-assured it’s as clean as its counterpart in Farangland. After reading their ‘bible’ (guidebook) average Mr Backpacker on waking in the morning with a bout of ‘guts explode’ exclaims “It must’ve been the ice I had last night”. What he hasn’t blamed instead are those three Maekhong whiskey and Red Bull buckets gulped down after scoffing on a fiery bowl of Tom Yum Kung. What the guy should obviously be blaming is himself and his own stomach, not the ‘dirty’ ice. Next up, how come so many Farang on getting an even worse case of the trotts proclaim to having had food poisoning? Most of the time it is nothing of the sort, just made up nonsense they thought up after having read another page of their guidebook of myths. Get food poisoning and it’s not simply a case of running to the lavatory every half hour, instead you could be serving time in a local hospital.