Postbox letter from Ralph Sasser
Something’s wrong when a culture and society puts religion above anything else, builds elaborate houses for ghosts to sleep in and puts food and drink out everyday for them to consume.
Thailand's unfathomable logic
One of the great joys of travel is to experience the exotic; to find oneself immersed in a culture which holds little or any resemblance to that which we call home.
battling the Thai banking service
My first problem lies with banks who don't display their signage in English - which is most of them. I hate the sinking feeling of walking into a Thai bank and just not knowing where to go or who to ask for help. You find yourself just standing there with a look of helplessness and hoping one of the staff will stop shuffling papers for a moment and take pity on you.
The medical situation in Thailand
Thailand has a wide range of excellent private and international hospitals. The buildings and equipment are far better than your average English state hospital affair. The cost is usually great value and well covered by most insurance policies. Doctors are often educated abroad and speak good English.
And what about the Isaan people themselves? When was the last time you went out in a western economy, err sorry, country, and had a table of strangers ‘cheers’ you, and ask your name?
A short break in Thailand's second city
Chiang Mai is officially one of Asia's most comfortable cities to live in with its relatively clean air, an abundance of good restaurants and helpful friendly locals, but the way you are pestered by vehicle owners from the moment you land at the airport is not one of its more attractive features. Even a gentle stroll down one of Chiang Mai's main roads becomes an endurance test as you find yourself saying 'no thanks' to the tenth taxi driver in as many minutes.
Escaping the heat and the madness
Songkran officially lasts for three days, from April 13 (Friday) to April 15 (Sunday), although many people start celebrating early and finish late. If throwing water and being doused several times a day is not your cup of tea, it might be a good idea to flee Thailand for a week or so. Here are some ideas on where to go.
A place to eat and a place to visit
This week I went to the Ancient Village in Samut Prakarn and had a meal at the Great American Rib on Sukhumwit. You have no idea the kind of exciting life I lead.
101 things you perhaps didn't know
The first column of 2007 (or 2550) is a collection of cultural trivia for people unfamiliar with Thailand. I guess most long-stay residents or frequent visitors can add a few lines of their own. I admit that what follows is not all there is to know. It’s only a small part of an endless collection of local pieces of knowledge and experience which I randomly jotted down.
It's funnier than comedy
Latest news before this article goes online: the government will agree to compromise and raise the age for buying alcohol to 20, instead of the planned 25. Cheers!