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Flood warning for 16 Provinces in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2000 at 11:32 AM
The Thai Meteorological Department has warned for new possible floodings, this time in 16 Provinces in North, Northeast and Central Thailand. The reason is a new tropical storm "Maria", that can possibly cause very heavy rainfall. This tropical storm is nearing Thailand. The warning concerns Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Phichit, Phetchabun, Lopburi, Prachinburi, Chaiyaphum, Amnart Charoen, Yasothon, Ubon Ratchathani, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Surin, Si Sa Ket, Buri Ram and Nakhon Ratchasima Provinces.
If you are planning holiday trips to these Provinces, please consult the weather forecasts and the Thai newspapers first, to avoid very unpleasant situations.


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No expressway ramp near Ban Kruay!

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2000 at 11:15 AM
Sometimes protesting can be successful. A few weeks ago we supported, in writing on this page, the protests of the villagers of Ban Kruay and surrounding villages against a new ramp for the expressway around Bangkok. We wrote that the environment of this rural area would be damaged unnecessary by constructing the new ramp. Now, to our joy, we can report that the Bangkok Expressway Co has skipped its plans for this ugly new piece of concrete.
Victory for nature and victory for the villagers, of whom hundreds would have been forced to move!


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Thailand wants more MICE tourists

Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2000 at 20:25 PM
Only a short while ago we could report that Thailand expects to receive a record number of tourists this year. As if this is not yet enough, the Ministerial Council on Economic Policy (chaired by Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai) supports a five-year master plan with the aim to double the number of tourists to Thailand within the next five years (up to at least 15 million!). The Tourism Authority of Thailand has been asked to devise this master plan in the next three months.
One group of tourists that Thailand aims at, are the so called "MICE tourists" (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions).
Especially incentive tourists are considered to be interesting: They spend around 10,000 Baht average per day, whereas you and I only spend 3,000 Baht per day average. We must say that our employer never offered us an "incentive" trip to Thailand, but this seems to be different in Japan, the US, Italy and the UK (just to mention a few Countries).
We wonder if it will not be very crowded, with 15 million tourists around, but of course we should expect them not arrive all 15 million on the same day (and if they do so after all, we hope that it will not be on the same day on which we arrive!). Anyway, Thailand appears to be full of plans to increase its income from the tourism industry, and it can use a boost of extra income with the Economic Crisis still around, with 1 US$ still trading for around 40 Baht!
(Source: The Public Relations Department of Thailand).


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Heavy sentences for "speed pills" traffickers

Posted by hasekamp on 29 August 2000 at 21:38 PM
Three traffickers of "speed pills" were sentenced to death yesterday by the Criminal Court in Bangkok. Later the sentences were converted to life in prison.
Two of the traffickers had pleaded guilty. They had bought pills for 5000 Baht and had tried to resell them on Rachadaphisek Road, in the business district of Bangkok, to workers on the subway rail system.
The third trafficker had pleaded "not guilty", but to no avail.
We report these sentences in order to warn our visitors (once again) that drug trafficking is punished very severe in Thailand. And drug trafficking is not only trafficking of heroin or hash, but also trafficking of methamphetamine pills. Be Warned! It can cost you your life, or under mitigating circumstanbces it will give you a free extension of your holiday for the rest of your life in one of Thailands not very comfortable prisons! And, by the way, in Thailand "life in prison" means what it says: the rest of your life in prison.


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Backpacker's murder still unsolved. Guesthouses have to take security measures.

Posted by hasekamp on 29 August 2000 at 11:26 AM
The rape murder on the UK "backpacker" Kirsty Jones, who was buried last Friday in her homeplace in Wales with a crowd of around 800 mourners attending, is still unsolved. Kirsty Jones, whose age now is given as 23 by BBC News, was found raped and murderd in Aree Guesthouse in Chiang Mai on 10 August. The first DNA tests were not conclusive, though the manager of the guesthouse was pointed at as the main suspect for quite some time. The police is not publishing any details on the investigation at the moment, probably because they have been under heavy criticism.
In the meantime all (130!) guesthouses in Chiang Mai have been ordered to take security measures to ensure better safety for their guests. There has to be a 24 hours guard in every guesthouse and all owners, managers and guests have to be registered properly from now on. It appeared that 30% of the guesthouses in Chiang Mai were operated without a licence. The new registration system should end this situation.


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Flooding in the Northeast

Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2000 at 10:56 AM
We have not yet reported about flooding in Thailand, because this is a yearly returning event. (Illegal) logging is one of the reasons for the yearly (and worsening) floods. Water was retained by the forest, at least to some extend, in the past. Now flooding is becoming a more and more "normal" phenomenon.
This being as it is, in some years the flooding is worse than in others. This year seems to be a bad one. Therefore we feel we should give a short roundup of what happened already and we have decided to report on this issue from now on as need may be.
In the past weeks several dead have been reported in Northeastern Provinces already (figures in different news sources contradict each other) and thousands of people have been evacuated. Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai has visited the area to view the damage and grief caused by the flooding personally.
Last weekend four new dead were reported in the Northeast, in Buri Ram and Nakhon Ratchasima Provinces. People -if not forced to be evacuated- cannot stay on the ground floor levels of their houses any longer and cars are under water up to their roofs. More rain is expected in the coming days.
Normally the rivers will fill up during this season and more flooding can be expected later in Southern parts of the Country. In Bangkok the most serious flooding normally takes place in October.
We will not only follow the floods from now on if the situation gets worse, but we will also report when the floods reach Bangkok through the Chao Phraya River and cause problems there.


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Thai "Hom Mali" rice to be promoted

Posted by hasekamp on 27 August 2000 at 12:18 PM
Thailand, producer of some of the Worlds finest rice, is going to promote , worldwide, its fragrant rice, also known as scented rice or jasmine rice, as Hom Mali rice. Although this rice is loved by consumers all over the World already -including the famlily of the webmaster of Hasekamp Net- Thailand wants some extra promotion and wants to give it one, uniform name and wants it to be known as the best rice in the World. "Little Miss Mali", a cartoon figure, representing the Thai people, will play an important part in the promotion campaign, so watch out for her on your TV, in your newspapers or wherever you can expect her.
The rice in question has a very distict taste and scent and hardly needs any other flavor or salt to be added. The "Hom Mali" rice will be certified in three brands: Prime, Superb and Premium quality. The brand will be guaranteed on the label. Source: The Department of Foreign Trade in Thailand.


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Stock Exchange of Thailand in trouble

Posted by hasekamp on 26 August 2000 at 13:04 PM
With the SET-index going down again and approaching 300 rapidly, the President of the Stock Exchange of Thailand has expressed his concern over the state of the stock trade in Thailand. Not only is the Thai stock exchange still performing worst in the region (the rise of the SET-index we reported a few weeks ago was apparently only temporarily), but trade is also very thin.
Thre are just about 400,000 shareholders in the country. Around 200,000 accounts are open at local brokers, but just 50,000 are active. To give a cpomparison: In Singapore thre are around 1.2 million shareholders acitive. With these small numbers of shareholders Thai firms are almost completely dependent on foreign funds.
Although concern has been expressed by the President of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, no measures to be taken, nor on the short term, nor on the long term, have been announced so far.


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Would you like a glass of Thai wine?

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2000 at 13:40 PM
The Institute of Scientific and Technological Research, sponsored by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment has carried out a study (for several years already) about wine and juice production from Thai fruit. A symposium about the subject has been held on 21 August in Bangkok, with researchers, agricultural cooperatives and representatives of the public and private sector present. The aim was to promote Thai wine and juice production and marketing.
One outcome was that grapes are the most suitable fruit for wine production (a conclusien that not really surprises us), but also most other fruit species grown in Thailand,like lychees, passion fruit, banana and... (well what not?) are considered suitable for wine (and juice) production. Thai wine will be promoted more than it is now. At tne moment Thai wine is already being exported to countries like Norway, Sweden, Myanmar and Laos. There is enough fruit in Thailand, so we are looking forward to out first glass of Thai banana wine!


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Number of suspects three now... Police becomes more silent

Posted by hasekamp on 24 August 2000 at 10:57 AM
The investigation on the rape and murder of the UK "backpacker" Kirsty Jones (24), two weeks ago now, is becoming more and more opaque. Did the police announce just a few days ago that there was only one suspect left, now they say that there are two new suspects, which brings the total number of suspects to three. This time, however, the police does not give any names or other details until an arrest is being made. The two new suspects -including one foreigner, whose nationality has not been made public- have to give samples in order to have DNA tests made on them. It has not been made public if the results from the DNA test, made on the guesthouse manager, are available yet.
After all the contradicting police messages so far, it would not surprise us any more if the numeber of suspects will change again. We hope that the DNA samples taken will soon point at one suspect and that an arrest can be made.


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More than 9 million tourists expected this year in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 24 August 2000 at 9:47 AM
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) expects -based on the numbers so far- the total number of tourists that will visit Thailand this year to exceed 9 million! This would be an absolute record. Apart from the tourists visiting Thailand as their main destination, TAT expects extra stopovers during the Olympics in Sydney, next month.
Most tourists are expected from Asian Countries: Japan, Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Singapore (in that order). However, this year numbers from all countries have risen, with the exception of Brazil, Austria, Brunei and Italy. (We wonder what pattern lies behind that). Although tourism is good for the still suffering Thai economy, we worry about the environmental effects of the increasing tourist stream. Nevertheless we certainly will be included. Could it be that we will be exactly tourist number 9,000,000?


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Sex Tourism rising concerningly

Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2000 at 11:18 AM
The number of "sex tourists" has risen in the last few years to a disgusting extend. Especially foreigners who go to Asia, including Thaikland, to have sex with under aged boys and girs is extremely concerning. This was made public on a UN-sponsored meeting in Bangkok recently. Low air fares on one side and the Economic crisis on the other side can possibly be blamed.
We do not want to give any details about these disgusting crimes. Occasionnaly we will report, though, on the arrests of persons who commit them, because we are happy with evey sex criminal who is being caught and punished.
What we would like to do now, however, is to ask the attention of our visitors to CAPCAT (Coalition Against Prostitution, Child Abuse and Trafficking) in Bangkok.
On the website of CAPCAT you can read facts and figures, as well as how you possibly could help to try to stop these crimes. Therefore we recommend the work of this organization into your attention.


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One suspect left in backpacker's murder case

Posted by hasekamp on 22 August 2000 at 13:29 PM
Only the manager of the guesthouse where a UK "backpacker" was raped and murdered on 10 August is still under suspicion for the crimes committed. The guide who took the young lady tourist trekking has been cleared from suspicion. A second DNA and blood test should bring the final evidence, as there are no witnesses or other evidence available.
The young tourist arrived after a trekking tour back in her guesthouse (as all the Thai media have now published that this was Aree's guesthouse, we see no longer reason not to publish that name) and was found raped and murdered several hours later.
The police chief who has conducted the investigation so far has been tranferred after heavy criticism upon the poor results of his work.


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Huge number of applicants for Thai Airways cabin crew

Posted by hasekamp on 22 August 2000 at 11:21 AM
More than 3000 applicants are expected to apply for the 128 vacant positions for cabin crew with Thai Airways International. On the first day the Office was was open for application, a queue had been formed before the Office already before opening time! On the basis of "first come, first served" candidates are to undergo the selection tests.
We have reported some time ago that Thai wishes to "rejuvenile" its cabin crew, in order to have it look "sexier".
T0here is definitely more needed than "sexy" looks for the job: Applicants need to have a University degree on the first place, have to be fluent in English, have to meet a minimum, length, and more. Tests are made in five categories.
The lucky ones will not fly Thai before 2002. They have to receive a thorough training first and they have to be put into the giant rotation scheme next.


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Update on backpacker's murder case (modified at 22.00 GMT)

Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2000 at 13:10 PM
According to today's BBC News, after the DNA tests, carried out by the Chiang Mai Police on traces found on the murdered backpacker from the UK, the (Thai) manager of the guesthouse where the victim stayed and the Thai guide, who took her out trekking, both remain under suspicion of her murder. Five other suspects, all foreigners, were released.
One former supect, the (foreign) owner of the guesthouse was expelled from Thailand nevertheless, because his visa was expired quite some time ago.
Contrary to what we reported earlier today -from a news item by the Bangkok Post- the case has not yet been solved.
The Bangkok Post suggested earlier that the manager had been raping the young lady, and when she started to scream, he had panicked and strangled his victim. This appears not to be true.
We will follow all available sources as well as we can and hope to report the solution of this crime as soon as it is being released. The Thai authorities are under some criticiscm by the British, for not yet having solved the case.


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Training school for elephants and mahouts opened

Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2000 at 12:55 PM
Last week a trainig school for elephants and mahouts (elephant drivers, let us say) was opened. The first students, who were participating in a test project, received their certificates already. One of the graduates is a Japanese cook. He wants to become a professional mahout in Japan, where such a school does not exist, apparently. Another graduate is a Thai policeman from the North. He hopes to be able to fight elephant attacks better now.
As we reported in our very first news message on this page, elephants are being taken in quite large numbers from the North to Bangkok, where their owners hope to find employment for them, with decreasing employment in the North due to the use of macines there. They sometimes become bitterly disappointed, and not only they, but also their elephants suffer from this. We hope that this new, official training will give the Thai elephant, living in in captivity, a more meaningful life and better prospects.


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Skytrain track to be extended to 100 km?

Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2000 at 12:43 PM
Governor Samak of Bangkok is making haste with his plans to give Bangkok a more " Metropolitan" view! Now he wishes to extend the current track of the Skytrain with a length of 23 km to 100 km (Yes, why not extend it to Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya, Governor?). He expects the number of passengers to increase then. The current route was expected to attract 600,000 passengers, instead of the current 120,000. We wonder what the Governor expects of the number of passengers on his proposed track. As we have reported on this page, the Skytrain is not as successful as expected, because of the hight rates. A bus ride takes longer, but is affordable to the avarage Bangkokian. So, why should this be different with this huge extension, that will doubtless rise the rates? We do not know this. Governor Samak seems to know it, but he wants to hgave a study to be made first nevertheless. That study -costing 37 million Baht- should be finished within the next three months. The total "Samak-extensions" would cost 7.1 billion Baht. The Government has already agreed with some extensions, totalling around 20 km. We hope that the sudy will at least pay some attention to the backdraws of Khun Samak's castle (sorry, train) in the Sky. We have never been enthousiastic about the Skytrain, for what is has done to Bangkok. Now that it is there, however, it is a fast and good means of transportation. But why extend is so far, if the general public does not use it? As you know, Hasekamp Net follows this project as closely as possible! To be continued.


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Car-free day to be organized next month in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 19 August 2000 at 16:35 PM
On 22 September Bangkok will be car-free for one day, if the organizers of the car-free day get it their way. The Government encourages this event.
In my country we have one car-free Sunday every year (also supported by the Government), in order to save something of what was the natural environment once.
Not so in Bangkok. There the car-free day (a Friday!) is organized as a protest against the rising fuel prices.
Anyway, whatever the purpose, it would be wonderful to be in Bangkok on that day and have a walk on Ratchdamnoen Avernue (or another traffic vein of Bangkok) for once! And, even if this is not what is aimed at, the environment will be saved a bit as a bonus!


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Anteater trafficking!

Posted by hasekamp on 18 August 2000 at 13:41 PM
This world is becoming more and more crazy. We know already that drug trafficking exists, and for some people it brings in much money.
In Thailand now, the latest form of "trafficking" is the smuggling of anteaters (by biologists also known as pangolins)!
Police have arrested a man who was trying to smuggle 55 (!) anteaters from Phitsanuloke to Nong Khai in a pick-up truck. Police believe now that there is an anteater-trafficking network active in Isarn (North-East Thailand).
The man who was arrested told the police that the anteaters on his pick-up truck were worth 140,000 Baht. So far it is not clear to us for what purpose the anteaters were being smggled and to whom they are worth that money. But -as we have stated time after time here- being environmentalists, we are shocked by this crazy behaviour with protected animals. We are glad the criminal has been caught and we hope thet this arrest will lead to a complete roll-up of the anteaters smuggling network. It's a crazy world!


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Guesthouse manager suspected of murdering female tourist

Posted by hasekamp on 17 August 2000 at 13:40 PM
Some time ago we have reported that "backpackers" should use their common sense and they would be perfectly safe. Although we still believe that this is true, we want to report now on a recent crime, that seems to be an exception to this rule.
So, although we are normally not publishing about individual crime cases in Thailand, we think we should communicate the information on a recent crime to our visitors.
A 24 year old UK female tourist was found raped and murdered last week (on 11 August) in a guesthouse in Chiang Mai. An investigation has been carried out now, and all evidence is pointing at the manager of the guesthouse where the young lady was staying.
This, of course, is a very serious matter. One should be safe in one's own home, including one's hotel or guesthouse room.
At this moment the situation is thus, that the police will make a DNA test on the mentioned main suspect. The police expect to find confirmation of its suspicions from that test. If the guesthouse manager did indeed kill his guest, we will report back on this case as soon as details are available about the background of this crime.


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New Thailand Portal site with Ask Jeeves Technology

Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2000 at 22:28 PM
A new Portal site to Thailand has been opened called Catcha. The site is mostly in Thai, although the link will lead you to the English language directory. Catcha works together with Ask Jeeves for search technology. The search box (at the top) works for English words and phrases too. Catcha has sister sites in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It claims to have the largest database for South East Asia. A small test gave us the impresion that the search database borrowed much out of the database of Ask Jeeves. Nevertheless the site is worth a visit and the Portal is definitely not copied from anyone, but a new Portal to Thailand.


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THAI Airways tickets temporarily discounted on-line!

Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2000 at 12:05 PM
On the website of Thai Airways International some tickets are temporarily available with an interesting discount. Two examples: A round-trip Bangkok-Chiang Mai is 3,000 Baht on the Web, compared to the 3,800 Baht at your travel agency. A Bangkok-Phuket round trip is 3,600 Baht on the Web and 4,600 Baht at your travel agency. The discount is -as stated above- temporary. Consult the website for more details.


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Myanmar based drugs Company does good "business"

Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2000 at 11:51 AM
A Myanmar based company Shan State South Company which is deeply involved in the Myanmar drug trade, trafficking and manufacturing, is doing good business in other fields too! The Company is run by a clan of six, who are followers of the (in)famous and, while still alive, widely feared Khun Sa. SSS also has investors from other countries like Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Products sold by SSS include teak furniture (no doubt obtained from illegal logging activities). The Company also trades in cattle and expoits transport facilities (boats, buses), with official concessions from the Myanmar authorities.
As far as the main activities are concerned: SSS has at least two methamphetamine factories and has produced more than 3 million "speed pills", that are being smuggled into Thailand by the Wa Army troops.
The sad thing about this whole item is that the "Company@quot; is supported by the Myanmar authorities and that it is doing quite well, even apart from is drug activities! The road to extinction of the "new" drug smuglling activities in which Thailand is involved, seems to be a long one.


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Phuket Town opens ladies only bus

Posted by hasekamp on 14 August 2000 at 11:34 AM
In Phuket Town a ladies only bus has been opened recently on the route from Phuket to Bangkok. In Bangkok a similar bus had been opened a few months ago (having a route within Bangkok). Although this new service in Phuket Town is not yet widely known, ladies who hear about it while buying a ticket for the refgular bus, mostly change when they hear that they can have a ladies only bus for the same price.
The ladies feel safer with no men on the bus.


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Protests against new expressway

Posted by hasekamp on 14 August 2000 at 11:19 AM
Around 300 people from the Ban Kruay, Wat Phra Yayoung, Saphan Huachang, Petchaburi Soi 20 and Wat Pathumwanaram communities gathered yesterday in order to protest against a newly planned Expressway. This planned 2-km road would run through their neighborhoods. The districts in question are near Bangkok, on the Northern side of the City. Look for Nonthaburi on your map and you won't be wrong much.
The Expressway and Rapid Transit Authority (ETA) has overruled the protests of the villagers and has announced that it will start building the planned road next week.
We at Hasekamp Net have had criticism more than once about environment and nature spoiling projects. When the new Governor of Bangkok announced his ideas to give Bangkok a more "Metroplitan" look, we also expressed our doubt about the usefulness of these plans.
The district where this new Expressway is planned is beautiful district. The bus trip from Nonthaburi to Bang Kruay makes you feel as if you drive through a tropical forest. In Bang Kruay is a Temple (under constructution) in the shape of the main Royal Barge. This tiny little village would be spoiled completel;y by masses of conctrete. We want to support the protesters from the bottom of our hearts. Even if it is necessary (quod non) to spoil the streets of Bangkok by building conctrete monsters that take away all the light, it certainly is not necessary to spoil tiny villages that give the impression to lie in the middle of a tropical forest. We sincerely hope that the protesters will find a listening ear.


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Another victim of Bangkok scams sets up email address

Posted by hasekamp on 13 August 2000 at 21:44 PM
Another person has fallen victim to Jewelry Scams in Bangkok. Ms Tara Leonard (26) from the UK was visiting Wat Indrawiharn, when a Thai man sought contact, who told her that he was working for TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) and wanted to bring her to a jewelry shop. She should not have believed this man, because employees of TAT never walk down the streets to speak to strangers, and certainly not in order to bring them to a jewelry shop.
Anyway, the couple was taken to a place called Thai Royal Gems and they were told that the shop was set up by the Thai authorities and that the revenues of this shop went to Thai students abroad. To believe this was another sad mistake. The Thai authorities do not set up shops for charity and have never done so. Neither do the authorities anywhere.
The young couple bought jewellery for around 400,000 Baht (say around 10,000 US$) cash(!) at Thai Royal Gems, which we consider another mistake. If you are not an expert, do not buy jewelry for so much money. (And do not carry so much cash with you anyway!)
At some time, after the purchase, the couple found that they had been cheated and they went to the Tourist Police.
This indeed is the right place to go for these things. By the way, we expect that the jewellery was more or less OK, but that the price they paid was excessively high. That is mostly the case in these large shops. Fake jewellery is sold in the strees and in small shops, normally.
We have warned against these practices time after time on this site, in newsgroups and by email. Furthermore warnings against these practices can hardly be overlooked in any travelers guide or on the many posters, placed in Bangkok by TAT and by the Tourist Police.
Still every year many tourists -sadly- are cheated in one way or another when buying jewelry. Therefore our advice always is and will remain: Do not buy any jewelry in Thailand unless you know what you are buying, in other words, unless you are an expert.
It is a very sad thing that people still fall victim to these practices. It harms the good name of Thailand and most of these victims will probably never visit Thailand again, which we also find sad.
Ms Leonard now has set up an email-address for victims of similar scams. If you are one of those victims, you can send her an email to ThaiJewelleryScams@hotmail.com. But better, follow our advice only to buy gems in Thailand if you really are an expert.


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HM The Queen makes her birthday speech

Posted by hasekamp on 12 August 2000 at 13:15 PM
Today HM The Queen has her birthday. On the eve of this 68th birthday, HM Queen Sirikit made her traditional birthday speech. This time she especiallty valued the elderly as "the brains of the Country".
"They may be old but their heads and minds are not. They are still the gems of our nation," she said.
The Queen spoke about her concern about environmental issues, like the shrinking forests due to illegal logging, the exhaustion of the soil due to weed killers and other chemicals, that also kill valuable insects and small animals, and overfishing.
HM hopes that the "brain bank" of the elderly can help to solve these issues.
"The Thai people seem not to value our fertile land and resources," she said.
She addressed the eldely explicitly by saying "You have good brains and you are still healthy. Let's work for our country, our region and our world,".
We, being concerned about Thailand's environment too -as we hope can be seen from our pages- wish HM a long life in good health and we hope thet the Thai people has understood the importance of her words.


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Thai consumers protected through the Web

Posted by hasekamp on 9 August 2000 at 14:11 PM
The Thai Food and Drug Administration has set up a website, that warns Thai consumers about dubious products, offered over the Internet. While other Governments have tried in vain to get dubious advertisements off the Web, which is a tricky and not very successful method, the Thai Government now chooses the opposite approach: warnings against certain products are being placed on the new site. The FDA tries to promote the new site by offering a prize for an appealing name for the new site.
The site is only in Thai, so if you (and your browser) can read Thai, go to http://www.fda.moph.go.th/watch/ and take a look at this new service.


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Will Thai stocks rise at last?

Posted by hasekamp on 9 August 2000 at 11:35 AM
Yesterday the SET (Stock Exchange of Thailand) index suddenly jumped almost 4 %. Especially the Finance and Bank shares were favorite. Turnover was high: more than 6 billion Baht. Is this the moment where the Thai stockmarket definitely overcomes the downward spiral and is going to rise again at last? If so, this would be your chance to invest in Thailand now. There are enough bargains available after the strong downfall of the past months! Or was this just a one-time buying wave by bargain hunters? You can find the latest SET index value on the front pages of the Thai newspapers. We are following the main tendencies here too.


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New website to promote Thai Culture

Posted by hasekamp on 7 August 2000 at 17:29 PM
Two Government agencies (Office of the National Culture Commission of Thailand and Department of Agricultural Extension, have opened a new English language website in order to promote Thai Culture. It is a companion site to a Thai language site, opened earlier. A first look tells us that the site is simple in lay-out, but very informative. We advise you to take a look at the section about Thai greetings. It appears to give rise to problems often when foreigners try to make a "wai" the right way, at the right moment. The site explains the Thai greeting quite extensively. But also take a look at other subjects covered!
Find the site by clicking to go directly to Thai My Way or find it in the Internet Portal of this site, under Asia/Thailand/Government.


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Will Bangkok sink away in the next decades?

Posted by hasekamp on 6 August 2000 at 18:33 PM
Bangkok is in great danger to sink into the sea in the coming decades. For years and years, and in fact -literally- for ages, too much water has been pumped out of the soil. As a consequence the soil has been squeezed like a sponge as shrunk. Therefore the land has sunk and large parts of Bangkok are now lying below sea level.
Industry and the huge population of 6 million+ people have an excessive water demand. That demand has always recieved priority above common sense. Not only environmentalists in Thailand, but also Worldwide News media like CNN and Discovery Channel have warned for the water problem of Bangkok. It seems that these warnings have hardly been heard.
Now, with the flooding season coming up (with its peak in October) Hasekamp Net wants to explain to its visitors something about this problem, using information as published in the Bangkok Post recently.
Some figures: Some areas of Bangkok have sunk by 1.7 meters in the last 60 years and are sinking further by 3 centimeters every year. This dramatic movement downward can only be stopped if water is brought back into the soil. This will be an operation at a huge cost, and we wished that the new Governor of Bangkok would concentrate on this matter instead of air-conditioned canal boats, new congress centers, new hotels and other unnecessary things that will sink into the sea anyway if the water problem is not taken seriously now.
At the moment prevention measures that are taken are not effective to tackle the problem. Roads are being raised and comparable measures that only give some relief to traffic, but not to the inhabitants, are being taken.
The only permanent solution could be bringing back water into the soil, whatever the cost may be!
We hope that realistic postings like this on modest websites like ours will nevertheless awaken at least some people and that the word that it is five minutes before midnight will spread. In that case this site would also have a useful purpose for the Thai people, and not only for tourists (who are -by the way- also important to the Thai economy!) We will follow this problem as more news is issued.


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Bangkok's Boat-buses in danger

Posted by hasekamp on 6 August 2000 at 18:32 PM
For several reasons the existence of the Bangkok "boat-buses" (as shown on one of our pages about Public Transport in Thailand is in danger.
One reason are the rising fuel prices. At least one of the lines has been closed down for that reason already. For this problem there must be a solution. Governor of Bangkok: Do not let a typical means of transport disappear for this reason! Talk to them!!.
A second reason is the Skytrain. Some people (who can afford it!) prefer the Skytrain above the boat-bus. These happy few are willing to pay more in exchange for a more comfortable and water-proof trip, where the Skytrain connection is as good as that of the boat-bus.
Another reason is -sadly- the new Governor of Bangkok, Samak Sundraravej, himself. His plans to give Bangkok a more "Metropolitan" look were critisized on this page already. Now he sees progress in letting a means of transportation -unique in the World- disappear: He prefers to exchange the long tailed bus-boats for Amsterdam-style air-conditioned canal cruisers. We are afraid that this will bring the common Bangkokians in even more fianancial problems than they are already. Canal boats are much more expensive than the very effective long tailed boats and this can make them prohibitively expensive for many.
If you want to take a trip in the type of boat in question, go to the bridge near the Golden Mount. You will find a stop there, just under the bridge. Take a ride. It is a great sensation, that we underwent on our second trip to Bangkok. We hope to repeat this trip later this year. Next year it may be too late...


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115 Drug dealers/traffickers take it for granted...

Posted by hasekamp on 6 August 2000 at 18:31 PM
We have been reporting about the problems with drugs in Thailand quite a bit lately and we have been more restrictive in this subject since, to avoid to give Thailand too much of a drugs image.
The current problems with drugs are not coming from within, but from outside Thailand mainly. In the first place form Myanmar (Burma).
As we have reported, the Police have been trying to catch drug criminals harder than ever, and these attempts have been successful (at least a bit) now!
Knowing that a list of wanted traffickers and dealers had been made up (and placed on the Internet, as we have reported too), 115 drug dealers/traffickers "went out of business" and gave themselves up to the police. What will happen to the 115, our Thai sources do not mention. Maybe they will get a "moderate" tratment because they gave themselves up and promised to stop their activities.
We are very happy to be able to report this progress in the war against drugs!


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Backpackers, use your common sense!

Posted by hasekamp on 5 August 2000 at 17:26 PM
TIME magazine has published an account of rape and murder in the past years, involving "backpackers" from several countries, while traveling in Asia, including Thailand. All the stories seem to have in common that the "backpackers" in question were going far beyond the beaten track. We have warned for this in these messages in connection to drug traffickers and dealers, but the danger seems to be broader.
We repeat here that "backpacking" will normally be perfectly safe if they are in small groups, go to the places where other tourists go and travel during normal traveling hours as well as with usual means of tranportation. As soon as they want "to get in touch with the local population" on their own, the problems start. So, use your common sense when traveling alone and don't do things you would not do at home. Or even better: do not travel alone and still don't do the things you would not do at home. My mother always told me "Do not go with strangers!" The same still is true when you are older and traveling in a part of the World whrere you are not familiar.


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Traffic controls in Bangkok DO help!

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2000 at 17:55 PM
For a year now intensive traffic controls have been held in Bangkok. The result is a drop in accidents by 43%! The death toll sank from 515 last year to 397 in this year.
Especially controls of alcohol consumption have been intensified. People with too much alcohol in their blood (1622 were above safe level) received sentences of up to two months in prison (how about your country?) and a fine of 4000 Baht each anyway. On top of this they had to (or still have to) report to probation officers for a year, in order to offer their social services by claeniung public places or telling stories to the blind.
Some more figures: 708 drivers were arrested for exceeding speed limits; 389 of them had to pay a fine up to 1000 Baht.
So, if you really decide that you want to rent a car in Thailand, stay sober and don't exceed speed limits! The Police are watching you carefully.


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Royal Thai Government launches huge links page

Posted by hasekamp on 3 August 2000 at 12:05 PM
The Royal Thai Government has launched a website with a huge links page, that contains hundreds of links to Thailand related websites. Loading of the page takes some time, because the size is so large, but it is worth that time! You will find links to practically all sites on the Web that are related to Thailand. Bookmark the page for future reference. Go to this location to find the page. We are proud, as a matter of fact, to see that a link to this site is included in the links list. The links are neatly organized according to subjects.


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Bangkok subway concession granted to MRTA

Posted by hasekamp on 2 August 2000 at 10:10 AM
As a follow-up for our message last week, we can report that The Metropolitan and Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) was granted the concession for the subway rail system in Bangkok yesterday.
Some ministers were opposed to the deal, which involves 11.7 billion Baht for the State in 25 years, because they would have liked to see a larger contribution to the State. Furthermore the opposing Ministers are afraid that the proposed fares (14 to 36 Baht) are too high. Here we have our doubts too. The Skytrain has fares that are more or less comparable to these prices and we had to report before that the general public does not use the Skytrain enough to make it profitable. A bus ride for -say- 5 Baht is much cheaper, and the Bangkokians are accustomed for years already to the long duration of a bus ride!


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Crown Prince sows rice on the completion of his fourth Cycle

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2000 at 13:27 PM
HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has been sowing jasmine rice on a rice field in Suphan Buri on his 48th birthday, yesterday.
As you may know, the Thais count birthdays in "cycles" of twelve years, so the Crown Prince has now completed his fourth cycle. The completion of a 12 years cycle is a reason for extra celebrations around somebody's birthday.
The main aim of this Royal activity was to promote the good-smelling jasmine rice for export. Export from Thailand is not going well at the moment, in spite of the low price of the Thai Baht. One would expect the low price of a currency to stimulate export.


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