YIKES. Today marks just 7 days before Christmas.
How is the dawning of 2017 a mere two weeks away?
How time flies when you’re scrapping around in Bangkok.
We hope that the last few weeks of the year are serving you well and you’re enjoying this likely very brief spell of cool weather blessing the city.
If you’re heading home to wintry climes for the holidays, remember to pack your long johns.
Anyway, the major news from Thailand this week is the passing of a somewhat controversial amendment to the Computer Crime Act, despite notable public opposition. As well as offering convictions for publishing false information online that jeopardises national security, the amendment also allows for a 5-person committee that will have power, with court approval, to remove online content deemed to be in breach of ‘public morals’.
Here’s what else has been entertaining and enraging Thailand this week…
Sriracha hot sauce now available in Thailand
This is the apparently FANTASTIC news that US-made Sriracha hot sauce is now available to buy in Thailand, via Lazada.
For us naive souls who believed that the sauce was Thai anyway — come on, the name is pretty deceiving — it’s actually made in California by Huy Fong Foods company, owned by a Vietnamese American man.
So, if you fancy eating some imported Thai hot sauce with your genuine, Thai-made food, we guess you’re in luck.
Pregnant Brit avoids 100,000 medical bill on Koh Samui
Pregnant Brit Louise Troy managed to avoid costly medical bills at Bandon International Clinic on Samui after her story went viral.
3-month pregnant Troy was admitted to the clinic after suffering uterine bleeding during her stay on neighbouring Koh Phangan. After discharge, she was presented with a bill for 103,319 baht, for which she could offer only 20,000 baht — even after they offered to shave a substantial discount off the total. When she still couldn’t pay, the clinic kept her passport as a guarantee. After reporters picked up on the story, the clinic agreed to conclude the matter by returning both passport and her 20,000 baht.
New King to pardon 150,000 inmates
This is the news that the newly crowned King Maha Vajiralongkorn will be pardoning or commuting sentences for up to 150,000 prisoners, according to officials.
“This is the first opportunity since his majesty’s ascension to show his mercy,” said the statement from the Royal Gazette. Prisoners convicted of drug offenses and Lese Majeste will be included, but those for murder and rape will not.
25 Thailand life hacks
This is an excellent list from the Tieland To Thailand blog on tips to successfully navigate life and travel in Thailand. Some will be more useful for tourists, others for people staying in the country long term.
How to tell the difference between MSG and sugar, and how to tell if ice comes from a filtered water source or not, was worth the read for us.
10 Bangkok cafes to visit to show off your cool credentials
If you’re wondering how to project your inner trend kitten to those around you, wonder no more. Visit one of these 10 Bangkok cafes to fully cement your status as an all-round cool person.
What makes these cafes ‘trendy’ frankly escapes us — they almost all seem to have a live/cartoon animal element which we guess chimes with the Asian Peter Pan never-grow-up ideal. There’s no indication as to the quality of food and drink at these cafes, but at least the decor is Instagram-worthy, right?
2016 stats from Farang Deaths
The macabre, so-grim-you-cannot-look-away website Farang Deaths has been documenting known cases of dead foreigners in Thailand and has presented their stats in this interesting post.
According to their records, 263 farangs died in Thailand during 2016. Since 2008, the average age of death was 46, the top province for foreigner deaths was Phuket and, unsurprisingly, the top cause was road accidents. Totalling 66 deaths since 2008, Brits were the most numerous dead farangs and males unsurprisingly outnumbered women.
What’s your opinion on Sak Yant tattoos?
This thread asks for Redditors’ opinions on foreigners getting Sak Yant tattoos while they’re in Thailand. Sak Yant are Thai tattoos that are traditionally inked by monks but actually predate Buddhism and have ties with ancient mysticism.
While they’re common in Thailand, some people do raise their eyebrows at the practice when foreigners indulge, usually as they don’t understand the cultural significance and baggage carried with them.
This is an interesting discussion including Thais and expats in Thailand lending their opinions on the matter, with no one overreacting with calls of cultural appropriation.
Domestic violence in Thai-Farang relationships
This is a sobering thread on Thaivisa about members’ experience with domestic violence at the hands of their Thai partners. It’s easy to believe that women are the only victims of violence from their partners, but this thread more than makes clear that they’re are plenty of men in Thailand at least who are trapped in abusive relationships.
There’s plenty of discussion and posturing here, including on why these men stay in relationships, on the politics of defending yourself against women and the general politics of how being non-Thai in a relationship with a Thai in Thailand can put you in a vulnerable position.
As many posters point out, these issues are rare in Thai-Farang relationships and can be seen all over the world regardless of gender and nationality.
Yaowarat Road in Chinatown 1974 #Bangkok #Thailand #RetroSiam pic.twitter.com/kvjbe2wR8m
— Retro Siam (@RetroSiam) December 15, 2016
Photos of the toilets in the US Ambassador’s Residence in #Bangkok pic.twitter.com/5ZnuZP56Pn
— Richard Barrow (@RichardBarrow) December 14, 2016
Actually needed a sign to say NO motorbikes! Wouldn’t any normal person already know that 🙄#bangkok #Thailand pic.twitter.com/iUROoGDjSy
— Siam Odyssey (@Siam_Odyssey) December 14, 2016
And that’s been The Week On Sukhumvit — see you next time!