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I got a job!  I start Monday as a Reading/ESL instructor for P. 3 at Kajonkietsuksa School, just five kilometers or so north of our new home in Chalong.  It was the first kindergarten and primary bilingual school in Phuket and is one of the highest-regarded schools in the province.  I'll be coordinating with the Thai P3 teacher and an English reading teacher who will send me students in small groups who will read for me while I correct pronunciation and test for comprehension.

Summertime hours run from 8:30am to 3:30pm so it gives me a good chance to get my feet wet before the new term begins in mid-May.  It sounds like the first day will consist mainly of paperwork; the school will handle my Teachers License application and Work Permit and these costs are deducted out of my first three paychecks (3000 baht each time).  It certainly helps that I already have a Non-Immigrant (O) visa as I can remain in the country on that until the end of next January.

There is plenty of cause for celebration in Casa de Jochim tonight but a proper night out will have to wait until next week while I wait on a money transfer (too many moving-related expenses this past week).


Just to bring us more or less up to date:

We've moved almost everything from our old house to the new.  In fact, my office is nicely setup in our (huge!) master bedroom.  All that remains at the old house is a few odd pots & pans, cleaning supplies, and the modem and broadband cable.

I'm still operating with a barely-functioning computer — I have to connect to the Internet while using the Linux OS and then only in brief sessions at the old house since the telephone company still hasn't shown up to install phone lines and broadband (worse than the cable companies in America, TOT will tell you the week they will be out but not the precise day or a range of hours).  I can't even play MP3's on Linux as I can't figure out how to properly install the decoder through the command line and don't have the time to learn right now.  I'm still burning backups of my photos from the crippled Windows system; once that's completed, I'll try reformatting the hard drive and see if I can reinstall XP (or, perhaps, Vista).

We had a tough time getting Alex ready for school this morning.  This was much more than the usual kicking-and-screaming we endure just getting him into the shower.  It took us almost two hours just to get him down the stairs (sans shower and teeth-brushing).  We finally got him outside by making a big show of my giving his his mom 1000 baht which she told him was to buy his bus ticket back to live with his old father.  It worked but I felt guilty about using such a frightening form of blackmail.  But at least Tim and I worked as a team and really played off each other very well.

There really isn't much other news.  Doug left for Vietnam this past weekend and isn't sure if he'll return to Phuket.  "Little" Mark managed to create havoc during the brief time he stayed with us and is now on Tim's "shite" list.  He left last night to retrieve his things from Bangkok; he's been offered a job at Kajonkietsuksa as well but he may take a job at a Krabi resort instead.

Tim's friend Tom (a Lamphun girl) has been staying with us — she came down a few days before "little" Mark arrived as my wife had planned to do some matchmaking.  Needless to say, it didn't work out (hence part of the reason Tim's upset with him right now) but she's a lovely woman who should have no problems finding a boyfriend.  Quite reserved at first, she's beginning to open up a bit more although she still seems overwhelmed much of the time.  Tom's started looking for work (mostly at local spa's so far) but it's low season and jobs are few and far between.

Since my wife and her friend both have nicknames that are boy's names in America I'm considering writing them differently in these blog entries.  It might be less confusing for new readers if I spell the "T" sounds in their names as "Dt".  Since I've been learning the Thai language, I do actually hear the "Dt" sound when they refer to their names with each other than just a plain "T".  Think of it as a hard "T".  So, I'll try to remember to write "Tim" as "Dtim" and "Tom" as "Dtom".  It looks funny to me right now but might be better than someone thinking my wife is a man rather than the 100% woman she truly is...

It looks like we'll also be purchasing a car very soon.  I've always told my wife that I'd consider it once I'd found a job and we had more income.  Yesterday, she gave me a brochure for the new Mitsubishi Triton 2WD pickup truck.  It can be financed with 39,000 baht down then 7000 baht per month for five years.  I'd rather not finance a vehicle down here, preferring to buy and be done with it.  I've seen good-condition/slighly-used Diahatsu Mira's out here for 70-80,000 baht (USD $2000-@2500) that (I think) suit our needs.  They're similar in size to a Ford Festiva — which I owned once and was always amazed at how much stuff I could cram in one.  Last night, I told Dtim that if I was offered the job today that I would buy a car in either June or July (once I got past the standard three-month probationary period for new teachers).

I'll be glad once we finish cleaning our old house (and, hopefully, having the lion's share of the deposit returned).  There's still plenty to do with the new house but at least it's liveable.  The ground floor will require the most work (such as installing a kitchen as there isn't even a sink or counter or anything) but we're saving that for last.  It does get dreadfully hot in the master bedroom despite having two fans on and a cold-water air cooler operating almost constantly.  This is mainly because of the large sliding glass doors leading to the balcony.  Once we hang curtains it should remain much cooler in there.

Alex made a big deal about us buying him a bunkbed when we took him to the furniture store last week.  Last night was to have been the first night he was to sleep in it.  But when Dtim told him that she wasn't sleeping up there with him he made a big fuss and she ended up sleeping on the floor of his room with him while Dtom slept in the bottom bunk.

The night before was supposed to be Alex and me spending the night alone in the new house.  I'd finished putting together all of the furniture and setting up the video system in the master bedroom.  I had the first (Episode III) Star Wars movie on a Thai-language DVD and my wife thought it would be a good bonding experience for us to "camp out" together with movie night.

Unfortunately, I don't think she told Alex he would be staying with me alone.  Dtim dropped him off and hung out while he did his homework and had a bit of dinner.  I started the movie and then walked her downstairs to let her out — she'd planned to pack up the kitchen and a few odds & ends.  I sat watching the movie with Alex for around 45 minutes when he suddenly began looking around and asked, "Where's Dtim?"  "She's staying at the old house tonight," I told him.  Tears welling in his eyes, he jumped up and ran to open the door.  Peering out, he screamed for his mama.  I didn't waste any time getting her on the phone so she could talk to him and calm him down (past experience has proved that is the only thing to work).  That just made him more upset and angry; he screamed at her over the phone (cursing in Thai sounds even worse than in English) and even threw my phone to the floor (luckily, it's pretty sturdy).  Picking it up, I asked Dtim if she could come back and help calm down Alex.  She said it would be about an hour.  It turned out to be almost two and during that entire time Alex was crying, throwing his entire body around on the bed (he doesn't just hit with his arms but with his head and legs as well), and screaming (I worried if the neighbors thought he was being tortured).  The only time he quieted down was during the attack on the Death Star at the end of Star Wars.

By the time Dtim and Dtom arrived, Alex was coughing and hoarse from screaming.  The three of them ended up sleeping on a mat on the floor while I slept alone in the big new bed.  Unfortunately, this crying-and-screaming routine is the norm everytime Alex is left to sleep without his mom.  Usually, she ends up sleeping in his room and I'm left alone.  The few times both of them have slept with me I haven't been able to sleep at all because he tosses and turns all night long (I call him the Tasmanian Devil when he's sleeping).  The first night that "little" Mark stayed at our house, he made a big deal that Alex could sleep in the bed with him (mainly so my wife and I could have a badly-needed night alone); Alex thought that would be great fun.  But he flung himself around so much while sleeping that Mark put him out of the room and locked the door.  Alex began screaming and managed to empty the contents of Mark's backback all over the living room floor before I had a chance to go out and see what was happening.  He quieted down as soon as we said he could sleep with us and, again, I was awake all night because I had to avoid getting hit from his constantly flailing arms.

Sometimes, Dtim is able to sneak out of Alex's room after he's fallen asleep so I at least get partial nights alone with her but those aren't near as often as we would like.  When Alex first came to stay with us, I never could fall asleep when Dtim wasn't by my side (so accustomed I'd become to her constant presence) but now I've become (more or less) accustomed to it as the norm rather than the exception.  My hope is that Alex will (soon) grow out of his constant need for mama to be with him.  I don't think this is normal behavior for seven-year-olds, not even in Thailand (however, Dtim did sleep in the same room as her parents until she was in her twenties but then again they only had one room in their house).

Well, I suppose that's all there is to right about on this hot, hot day.  I'm in a great mood now that I'm employed (a little fearful as it's been a long time since I had somewhere I had to be on a daily basis.  And I'm very happy that I have this nice new house (the view outside my window as I write this makes it ALL worthwhile) despite the amount of work that remains.  And I still think coming to Thailand to begin a new family was the best decision I've ever made, despite the setbacks and oddities.

Until next time...


TOT showed up soon after I wrote the draft for this entry.  They hung a spool of telephone cable on a pole at the end of our row of shophouses (five houses away) and then ran the line by threading it through holes just beneath each of the houses' second-storey balconies.  Finally, they leaned a VERY LONG one-section bamboo ladder against my wall, climbed up to the third floor and drilled a hole underneath the side window.  They ran a bit of cable through the hole and tied it off in a loop before dangling a small phone box connector to the end.  I suppose it'll work but it's looks rather primitive.  I'm supposed to wait for 24 hours before calling for the ADSL to be connected.

While the TOT guys were at our home, my wife talked the supervisor into drilling holes and hanging the new wall fans she'd just purchased.  This only required a "tip" of 150 baht — a bargain (and I'm considering doing the same for our mailbox, etc.).



It's been a VERY LONG week with a few frustrations threatening to overshadow the good things that we encountered.  I really don't have time to go into too much detail right now but I'd like to (briefly) bring things up-to-date and perhaps I'll expand on a few things later on.

It's difficult to decide the most "significant" event in a week where I went on a number of job interviews now that Phuket's schools are (finally) hiring, when we purchased various appliances and furniture for the new house, and my friend Mark returned to Phuket to look for work.  We also had a few nights out with Doug and Caroline (including dinner at Los Amigo's with Jonathan and a fun evening at Ska Bar on Kata Yai) before saying "goodbye" as they left for Vietnam.  They'll be missed.

But this weekend saw a few less-than-fun occurances:

Friday night we had a power outage caused by a lightning strike.  This is nothing new for us; other times I'd have some lost data due to my external hard drive shutting off without any warning b ut that was always fairly easily restored.  But this time something really bad happened — when I eventually restarted the computer I was greeted by the "blue screen of death".  Nothing I attempted worked at bringing Windows to life; not even the "recovery disc" I'd made when I first purchased the laptop (a year-and-a-half ago) worked.  This is Acer's solution to providing XP discs.

Anyway, I eventually booted-up the computer using a Linux disc I'd received in the mail last summer.  It's actually Ubuntu version 6.06 and I played around a bit with it using the Live CD.  I couldn't mount the partitions of the hard drive containing Windows XP but the external drive (crammed with about 270 GB of downloaded but not-yet-backed-up audio and video) worked (but Read-Only so I couldn't play any media but I can burn it onto CD-R's — the DVD+/-R drive isn't working in Linux either).  Unfortunately, my "backup" of digital camera photos (dating back to last October) are on one of the "unmountable" partitions of the main hard drive.  After many hours of attempting to boot back into Windows I was able to get in using Safe Mode (it would hang while trying to download some damaged drivers).  I was glad to see that my photos were intact and I tried burning a couple of CD's (they took more than half-an-hour each in Safe Mode) and copying them over to the external drive (again, very slow and I quickly ran out of space).  As soon as I'm able to burn the remaining photos (23 CD's worth!) I'll try erasing that hard drive and reinstalling Windows (I'll need to purchase that — perhaps I'll go ahead and upgrade to Vista).

For now I'll continue using Ubuntu.  I installed the system after I cleared some space by burning photo discs.  It works okay — I can access the Internet and there are a lot of programs in the bundle that I haven't had time to check out.  But it's frustrating how many of my other programs won't work on a Linux-based system and I'm not that happy with some of the alternatives.  I'm especially missing my iTunes right now...

I wrote more about the computer problems than I'd planned (what else is new?) so I'll briefly mention the other less-than-fun things that happened (so far) this weekend:

Yesterday, my wife lost her wallet somewhere between the house and 7-Eleven.  A frantic search followed assisted by numerous neighbors but to no avail.  Again, this occurred right after I'd given her money to pay bills (hence the trip to 7-Eleven) and to deposit.  Once we decided we'd never see the wallet again I had Tim go down to the police station to report the loss.  I also had her try to cancel her ATM card but the bank won't do this without her presenting her ID card.  However, her ID card was in her wallet.  To replace it, she can't just go to the local Amphur (no...that would be too easy) but has to travel to where she was born — Lamphun south of Chiang Mai.  In fact, she got this ID (with my surname) by making this 2-day (minimum, each way) journey just before Christmas.  She has 30 days in which to do this and she can't get a new driver's license without the ID card as well.  The way I look at it is that the trip will have to replace some furniture we'd planned to buy and (possibly) serve as her birthday gift from me.

And, finally, today was to have been "move the big boxes and non-rental furniture" day and we'd enlisted the services of several friends and one pickup truck.  Of course, it's been raining cats and dogs all day...  Alexander's driving us all crazy because the TV's are packed up and there's nothing to sit on in the living room ("I want to watch DVD!" with much screaming and crying right now).  At least I have more time to work on the laptop trying to learn Linux enough so I don't screw up this operating system.

What a week.  Hope Monday brings some contract offers and sunny skies (and, better yet, the discovery of Tim's wallet).  At any rate, the week to come can't possibly be more eventful than the week just gone.  Or can it?



I'm a big fan of Phil Roeland's columns on  Back in January, he had an interesting list of items you might not have known about Thailand.  I'm happy to be able to share this here:

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.  Sometimes topics are grouped, sometimes they’re not.  I limited myself to 101 items.  Feel free to send in your own bit of knowledge.

Did you know that?

1. For Thai people the concept of gaining or losing face is extremely important.

2. Displaying or showing off one’s wealth will result in respect from others.

3. People often spend more money on their car than on their house.

4. Half of the world’s luxury goods are sold in Asia.

5. Public display of affection – except for holding hands - is largely still a taboo.

6. Teachers traditionally get a lot of respect.

7. Foreign teachers are usually considered the clowns of the school.

8. Students behave when studying with a Thai teacher; this behaviour is usually the result of fear.

9. Corporal punishment – although outlawed - is still common in many schools.

10. Students often misbehave when studying with a foreign teacher.

11. Foreign teachers are often frustrated by the way Thai administrators run things.

12. Communication between Thais and foreigners is often crippled due to insufficient language skills from Thais and lack of cultural understanding from foreigners.

13. Getting angry results in loss of face – for yourself primarily – so conflict is to be avoided at all times.

14. Thais will never really understand foreigners.

15. Everything has to be ‘sanuk’, i.e. fun, in Thailand.

16. The sanuk-attitude might be one of the reasons why students often perform poorly in schools.

17. Thais get bored very easily.

18. The rainy season usually starts in June and ends in October.

19. Many Thais seem to think that you can master English in just 50 hours of tuition.

20. Students don’t like doing homework.

21. Women want their skin to be as white as possible.

22. Dark-skinned people are looked upon with disdain.

23. People enjoy putting salt in their orange juice.

24. Thais seem to think that all foreigners dislike spicy food.

25. Thailand is often referred to as the LOS (Land of Smiles).

26. Fast food has become big business in the LOS.

27. Never before have there been so many obese people in Thailand.

28. Thais smiles are usually genuine.

29. Thais even smile when they are pissed off.

30. Thais are completely puzzled why foreigners enjoy lying on the beach and getting a suntan.

31. Many Thais like swimming in the sea – usually fully clothed.

32. Foreigners will never really understand Thais.

33. Thailand is still mainly a society of haves and have-nots.

34. The middle class is making a strong comeback in the big cities.

35. Most farmers have replaced buffaloes by tractors.

36. You should never believe anyone who claims they need money because the family buffalo is sick.

37. Transvestites are very common in Thailand.

38. Cross-dressers are sometimes hard to spot for newbies.

39. These so-called ladyboys always dress like a lady, usually sport an above average bosom but seldom have their crown jewels removed.

40. Ladyboys are gainfully employed as sales staff or hairdressers and hardly ever frowned upon by locals.

41. All Thais love their ‘somtam’ or spicy green papaya salad, a national dish which is definitely an acquired taste for foreigners.

42. Foreigners are called farangs or falangs by Thais, originating from the word for French. Nowadays farang refers to Westerner.

43. Most Thais don’t pronounce the ‘r’ when speaking, but replace it with the letter ‘l’.

44. Chances of finding a teaching job increase exponentially when you are white-skinned.

45. Sad but true, the highest rated quality for teachers is often appearance; for Thai recruiters, race, skin-colour, age, gender and ‘look’ in general are more important than say experience and flexibility.

46. Thai primary and secondary school students cannot fail exams; if they fail, the teacher has to make the test easier or drill the answers into students before they retake it.

47. Quite a lot of expatriate farangs become somewhat cynical after having lived here for a number of years.

48. Employees are never allowed to criticise their superiors’ opinion; even offering constructive remarks or personal ideas are taboo.

49. Thailand was rated 63rd in the 2006 worldwide graft survey.

50. Saving money for a rainy day is a concept which is alien to most Thais.

51. Thai women forgive but never forget.

52. Thais have an amazing ability to catnap anywhere, anytime; put them on a crowded bus in a noisy street and they’ll still fall asleep after a few seconds.

53. Most Thais are fanatic supporters of English Premier League football clubs.

54. Many Thais love gambling, so the national lottery is hugely popular but just about the only legal option; betting on sports events, playing card games or going to a casino are all forbidden and operators have gone underground or abroad.

55. Many locally married foreigners met their sweetheart in a naughty bar.

56. Marrying a Thai girl means marrying her whole extended family; moreover, for Thais family always comes first.

57. There are no retirement homes in Thailand and few people benefit from a retirement pension; children are supposed to take care of their elders.

58. A considerable percentage of mixed marriages end in failure.

59. The preferred national pastime is going shopping.

60. Compared to other countries in the region, Thais’ proficiency in English is poor.

61. Thais love their air-conditioning; often it is turned so low that it seems they’re trying to cool down the planet.

62. When going out to dinner, it is customary for the senior member to foot the bill.

63. Among younger people, going Dutch is becoming more popular; they call it ‘American share’ though.

64. Thais love to put sugar in and on their food. Even salad cream contains up to 25% of it.

65. A lot of married Thai men seem to have one or more mistresses; amazingly, most wives seem to resiliently accept these ‘mia noi’ or ‘minor wives’ or get involved with a ‘gig’ (close boyfriend or girlfriend) themselves as divorce is not very common.

66. Huge massage parlours catering to locals can be found just about everywhere and business is brisk.

67. Prostitution is legally forbidden in the Kingdom.

68. Soy milk is extremely popular, cow’s milk isn’t; locally produced cheese simply does not exist.

69. Imported goods are invariably expensive, so going local is an excellent way to save money.

70. Teenagers and adults alike still think The Eagles and John Denver are hot.

71. Thais like their music so loud that talking becomes almost impossible without shouting; using earplugs when going out is probably a good idea if you don’t want to go deaf.

72. It’s ridiculously cheap to get a tattoo; getting rid of one supposedly costs an arm and a leg though.

73. Women – both young and old – often have a rather childish sense of fashion compared to Western norms; it’s not unusual to see a woman sporting a Doraemon T-shirt, Hello Kitty watch and Mickey Mouse bag.

74. Female university students prefer their white blouses so tight that it looks like most of the buttons are about to pop off; unfortunately, they hardly ever do.

75. It is common to see middle aged people offer their seat to perfectly healthy children when using public transport.

76. It is not uncommon to see children behave like spoilt brats.

77. Foreigners cannot buy property in Thailand, except for condos.

78. Banking rules and regulations often tend to be complicated and xenophobic; most banks buy foreign currencies but almost none sell them.

79. King Bhumibol of Thailand is the longest reigning monarch on the planet; he celebrated his 79th birthday in 2006 and has been on the throne for 60 years now.

80. The King is revered as a god and prostrating (i.e. lying face down at someone’s feet in worship) for all members of the royal family is considered normal.

81. The usual Thai greeting is the so-called ‘wai’, a prayer-like gesture accompanied by a bow of the head; the more respect you want to show (or the more ass you want to kiss), the deeper the bow.

82. Although the Thai Chinese community only accounts for a small portion of the population, it controls most of the country’s wealth and influence.

83. Thailand is becoming ever more popular as a medical tourist destination.

84. Apart from cheap plastic surgery (e.g. face lift 825 USD, breast enlargement 1,125 USD), heart and organ surgery seems to be in rising demand as well.

85. If you’re a bloke, you can have yourself turned into a woman for as little as 1,625 USD without any questions asked. (Quoted prices are from possibly the cheapest clinic in town)

86. Thailand is considered to be one of the safest places to travel.

87. Although Thailand is cheap, business proposals that seem to good to be true usually aren’t (e.g. the gem scam).

88. Teaching is the most popular profession for foreigners living in the Kingdom.

89. Although the majority of teachers are dedicated to their job, a number of midnight cowboys continue to give teachers a bad reputation.

90. Showing up late, phoning in sick, being unprepared or unqualified, and doing a runner are probably the most common problems with teachers.

91. The Ministry of Labour issues a very short list of jobs that foreigners are allowed to do; basically, if a job can be done by Thais, foreigners are banned from doing it so forget about becoming a taxi driver or shopkeeper.

92. Foreigners can legally own maximum 49 percent of a company; setting up your own company thus involves handing over ownership to trusted Thai companions or working with nominees, which is technically illegal.

93. Living and working in Thailand is completely different from holidaying in the LOS.

94. Newbies often claim that they “have fallen in love with this wonderful country and want to spend the rest of their life here” after a two weeks’ holiday.

95. Newbies should think twice before selling all their stuff, moving out here and giving up their plumbing career in their home country.

96. It is safe to drink beverages with ice and eat at roadside restaurants.

97. Gold is a common commodity in Thailand; buying and reselling gold jewellery is done every day by people needing money or wanting to spend it.

98. A prolonged stay in the Kingdom, especially Bangkok, can be detrimental to one’s physical health due to high levels of air pollution; it might also affect one’s emotional and financial well-being.

99. If you want to visit a county where the average girl is pretty, sexy, slim, friendly, smiling and helpful, don’t waste any more time and come to Thailand.

100. If you want to visit a country where the average girl is prudish, vain, small-breasted, petulant, moody and materialistic, don’t waste any more and come to Thailand.

101. The best time to travel to Thailand is anytime, so why put off the purchase of your aeroplane ticket?



The photos in this entry are of a shophouse restaurant a short distance from our new home.  In fact, the floorplan of that house is exactly the same as ours (except for being a mirror image) and has given us a couple of good ideas on how to utilize the groundfloor space.

Front entrance through the large garage-door; note the awning giving shade to patrons (although most customers park their motorbikes under the awning if you don't set some tables out there); the umbrella covers the main food prep/cooking area — extended outside by a temporary wooden wall which gives the cook some fresh air while she works.

Cooking/food prep area from outside and inside — very simple (and highly portable) counter (with display case/cold storage) and folding-leg tables.   The burners are heated using propane tank; there's also an electric rice steamer and large container to hold the cooked rice.  I think I'd add a small stainless steel sink on casters for washing plates and utensils.

A view of the front — many of the Thai-style restaurants I've visited have tables that are crammed in too tightly but this one has plenty of space between each table (only three along each wall) which allows the customers some room to eat without bumping into their neighbors.  I like the wall-mounted fans — the cords are easily reachable so the customers can switch on or off for their comfort.  I absolutely hate the plastic chairs that most of these restaurants have (they may be inexpensive but they tend to buckle under the weight of your average
farang; we're looking for good-quality wooden-slat chairs).

Another look inside of our "model" restaurant.  Note the photos/paintings hanging on the second-floor balcony — I told Tim that we could display our engagement photos above our restaurant and quickly learned that this would be taboo in Thailand as the only pictures "allowed" are those of royalty (usually Rama numbers five and nine) and of deceased relatives.  The rear portion of this particular restaurant includes a large glass cooler housing water and soda, an aquarium, and a television/stereo system.  These items effectively divide the customer area from the stairs leading upstairs as well as the rear washing area.


From Wednesday's Bangkok Post (following up my post of March 11):

Wednesday March 14, 2007


Thai users blocked from YouTube site


Authorities in Thailand temporarily blocked video sharing service YouTube on Friday and Saturday, though it remains unclear who did the blocking and why.

On Friday people trying to watch videos at were instead greeted with an error page.  By Saturday morning, rather than the error page, the site was redirected to, the ICT Ministry's web site.  However, the block was removed around noon on Saturday.

ICT Ministry spokesperson Dr Vissanu Meeyoo was contacted by phone and denied any knowledge of a block.  He said that in any case, it was unlikely the MICT was involved as everyone there was simply too busy with the telecommunications law seminar on Friday to arrange or authorise the alleged block.

A thread on the popular geek site did some analysis of the block early on Saturday morning.  It showed that the DNS (Domain Name Server) was still pointing to the correct address, but rather than data from YouTube, the "server" had returned HTTP error number 301, a permanent redirect, sending the browser to the MICT web site.  This would indicate that the sessions were being hijacked.

The HTTP response said that the server was running Apache/1.3.31 (Unix) with the modhwforward10 module.  Such a module does not officially exist.  This peculiar fingerprint has been seen in the past when web sites critical of the government are blocked and suddenly go offline.

YouTube allows any user to upload their videos to the site to be shared and viewed over the Internet.  Many popular videos are viewed by millions of users around the world.  YouTube had not responded to emails by the time we went to press.


Alexander began attending summer school at Wittaya Sathid School in Phuket Town yesterday.  Remarkably, we didn't have any problems waking him up at 6:30 in the morning and he shed a lot less tears than I suspected (this is a kid that cries up a storm when his mama leaves his sight for longer than five minutes or so).  I didn't ride along when my wife took him to school but she reported that Alex was very respectful to his teacher upon meeting him, complete with the proper wai and a polite "Sawasdee khap" (he'd actually been rejected by several schools because he was rude during the interview process).

Upon returning home, our son reported that he'd made several new friends (with names like "Cartoon" and "Watermelon") and that they'd read a story, sang some songs, and had a nap.  Since he didn't have any homework I had Alex begin a daily journal in which I want him to write what he learns/does each day at school.  I also want him to include one thing he enjoys the most each day.  By beginning the journal on the first day I figure it will get him into the habit of doing "homework" before he can play or watch television at home each afternoon.  It's also a useful method for Tim and I to track his progress (right now, he can't even write so he dictates what he wants my wife to write) and shows him that we are interested in his days at school (away from us).  After each sentence that Tim wrote, I asked her to translate it for me.

This morning, it was a bit more difficult to get Alexander out of bed and into the shower.  We purchased some fried chicken at a roadside vendor (amidst my protests that this wasn't a good thing to eat for breakfast) and Alex ate in the sidecar during the 30-minute ride to school.

Here are some photos from yesterday and this morning:

eating a "proper" breakfast before leaving for school yesterday

showing papa his King Naresuan notebook

checking his brand-new backpack

searching for mama's keys (she can
never find them whenever we need to go somewhere; I plan to buy a key peg-board for the new house)

realizing that mama can't stay with him at school

saying "goodbye" to papa

climbing into the sidecar for the ride to school

running late on the second day, Alex ate a fried chicken breakfast while Tim sped down the roads to school

going off to class but checking to see that we haven't left yet

Alex's school



Here's the official video for "Most Toys" from the forthcoming Marillion album, Somewhere Else.  The clip was filmed at this year's Weekend at Port Zeland, Holland in February and was recently released by the band's marketing director, Lucy Jordache, on YouTube.  The first single, "See It Like A Baby," will be a download-only release on March 26th and the album follows April 9th.  The first leg of the Somewhere Else tour begins April 14 in Gibraltar and runs through the beginning of July.



When I first came to Thailand I would often cringe at constantly being called farang (ฝรั่ง).  It wasn't that I was uncomfortable with the common perception that it's a racist or derogatory term directed towards any non-Asian foreigner here.  I just wanted my wife and her friends/family to understand there were differences between farangs just as all Asians are not alike.  I tried to explain that calling all white foreigners this term was akin to saying that a Thai person was the same as a Japanese or Vietnamese because "you all look alike."  It also seemed like I was losing a bit of my national identity and I thought about designing a shirt that said, "I'm NOT farang.  I'm American."

But I've come to accept that whenever I'm around Thai people here I'll be referred to as farang (particularly when I'm the only one in sight).  Indeed, I always know when they're talking about me even if I don't understand that much of the language yet (similar to the cartoon listening to his master speak: "Blah, blah, blah, farang, blah, blah, blah, farang...").

I've also come to understand a bit more about the word and it's useage, partly through the Wikipedia article and more recently through the following excellent post on the Doodee's Thailand blog, reprinted here in full:

A Most Misunderstood Word
In the last entry on Doodee’s Thailand I told you a little of how I perceive the manner in which Thais view me and my fellow foreigners.  Today I’d like to continue discussing the subject of Thai and Westerner inter-racial perceptions by telling you a little about what I consider to be the most common misunderstanding of Thai people by foreigners.  This misunderstanding centres on the origin, precise meaning, and usage in the Thai language of the word “Farang”.

Farang is the Thai word for foreigner, principally a foreigner who is a westerner of Caucasian appearance (However, in recent years I note that the word is starting to become used for all westerners, regardless of skin colouring).  Farang is a polite word.  Its politeness is confirmed for me by its listing and definition in the Oxford English Dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary defines Farang as “
Noun, (among Thais) a European or other foreigner”.  Farang does not have a derogatory or demeaning connotation.

It is my understanding that Farang is a contraction of the Thai word “Farangset” which means French.  Apparently the French were among the first Europeans that the Thai people encountered.

It is my belief that many westerners misunderstand the word Farang for two reasons.  The first of these reasons is simply the popularly held misunderstanding that Farang is the Thai equivalent of “Honky”.  It’s not.

The second of these reasons has its roots in the Thai language’s use of pronouns.  Please allow me to explain.

The Thai Language is very economical with its use of pronouns.  If they’re not required, they’re not used.  Pronouns can be considered to be not required whenever the subject is obvious.  As examples of this practice, the Thai word for “you” is never included in the question, “Where have you been?” (in Thai, “bai nie ma?”), nor is the Thai word for “I” used in this question’s response, “I’ve been shopping” (in Thai, “bai shopping ma”).

And in accordance with the Thai language’s economical use of pronouns, descriptive nouns are often used in place of pronouns.  This gives amazing clarity to the meanings of sentences.  It’s much more sensible than the way that we speak in English.

The following examples might help you to understand the way that descriptive nouns are often used in place of pronouns in Thai.  These examples show that instead of saying “He said” or “She said” (in Thai “Cow daiy bok”), Thais will often define their meaning more precisely by saying:-

“The lady said” (pooying daiy bok)
“The man said” (poochai daiy bok)
“The child said” (dek daiy bok),

“The policeman said” (tamruat daiy bok)
“The doctor said” (mor daiy bok)
“The janitor said” (jow-nahtee daiy bok)

and most controversially for westerners with a limited understanding of the Thai language, its usage, and its construction,
“The westerner said” (farang daiy bok)

Descriptive nouns are also often used instead of “they” when making generalisations.  But when talking about one person in a group a defining adjective or more often the person’s name will be used in place of the personal pronoun “he” or “she”.

So, when a Thai person says, “farang daiy bok” he or she is not using a derogatory term, but is employing such word usage for its clarity and because it is the natural way for a Thai person to speak.  There is no racist undertone or subtext in such word usage.

Over a period of many years I’ve seen several westerners in Thailand, and been made aware of many more of them, who’ve become irate as a result of the Thai use of the word Farang and their misunderstanding of its intended meaning.  It is my understanding that they feel that the word Farang is being used in a racist or derisive fashion.  As explained above, that is almost certainly not the case.

Whenever I witness westerners becoming irate as a result of the Thai use of the word Farang I am always reminded of the wise words of a friend of mine.  Sadly this friend died many years ago.  He was German.  He spoke English well.  He spoke Thai well.  And he spoke Isaan very well.  He once said to me; “If you understand the language, you’ll understand the culture.  Language and culture are like brother and sister.  And if you understand a foreign language and a foreign culture it will help you to understand your own language and culture better”.

How right he was.  How wise he was.

It’s been my pleasure today to offer my former friend’s wise words, and my limited understanding of the Thai language, to you for your consideration and contemplation.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed it.

posted by Doodee at Sunday, March 04, 2007
And here's a follow-up post that appeared a few days later:
Farang, Farangset, Ferengi
I have received a pleasingly large amount of feedback from readers concerning the entry on Doodee’s Thailand, A Most Misunderstood Word.  The main issue of discussion seems to have been my statement, “It is my understanding that Farang is a contraction of the Thai word ‘Farangset’ which means French.”  My source for this information was the Linguaphone Thai Course (Course Handbook) which I purchased many years ago.

In response to readers’ interest in the derivation of the Thai word “Farang” I’ve undertaken a little more research.  As a result of this research I’ve found a Wikipedia entry which examines the derivation of the word Farang in some detail.  I would recommend all students of the Thai language with an interest in this matter to visit it at Wikipedia Farang.

One reader left a comment on A Most Misunderstood Word to inform me that Farang is derived from the same linguistic root as is the name of the fictional Star Trek race, the Ferengi.  To my astonishment this is a possibility.  For those with an interest in such matters I would refer you to the Etymology section of the Wikipedia entry Wikipedia Ferengi.  When read in conjunction with the Wikipedia Farang entry it can be seen that both Farang and Ferengi could have a common root in Persian or possibly Arabic.  How about that!

I’m most impressed by the extensive knowledge that you folks, the readers of Doodee’s Thailand, possess, and I thank you for sharing it with me.

posted by Doodee at Wednesday, March 07, 2007
For a different view, here's a quote from an article on Orient Expat:
Gaijin, Farang, Gweilo - Confused?
...Perhaps in the West, we are a little too PC and tread on eggshells over words that are often used as humourous and friendly ways to address foreigners.  On the other hand, there are words that are clearly racist and insulting.

The above are a selection of well known words for Westerners in Japan, China, Thailand and Laos.  I would like to know of more so that I can learn.

How do you feel about being referred to in this way?  From my point of view, when I spend long periods in rural Thailand, I grow very weary of locals who see me every day refer to me as 'The Farang', even though they know my name.  Worse still, they will often refer to me as such when talking to my partner as though I wasn't even there.  To me, it is insulting and I am deeply offended by it in the long term.  I feel it is no better in this case than being called n##ger, long nose, roundeyes, whitey, spick, polak, kraut etc etc etc.

However, if you don't spend much time in a country I guess it can be humourous and fun to have a bunch of schoolkids shout 'Farang Farang' at you in the most innocent way possible and to be seen as a curiosity and in that case, what's the problem?... but when does it get too much for you, when your name effectively becomes 'Farang'?

"Body Farang, Heart Thai"



I've (once again) been making some progress at uploading photos to my Webshots account.  It took me some time to get through the album for 3 August 2006 — this was the day when my wife and I took her daughter and granddaughter out to tackle some of the many ruins of Ayutthaya's old city.  We only hit the tip of the iceberg as far as what there is to see there but you wouldn't know it by the 406(!) photos in that day's album (I think my largest yet).

I want to get as many photos uploaded as I can before we move because I don't yet know if our internet service will be as fast or reliable at the new house.


Yesterday, I repeatedly tried to login to my YouTube account in order to upload some video footage I shot of Alex dancing along to a Marillion song ("Accidental Man" from the new Bootleg Butlins DVD).  However, I kept getting re-directed to the Thai Ministry Of Information and Communication Technology site and couldn't figure out why.  When I asked my wife she told me it said that I was trying to access a website that "was bad for Thailand."  I realized the last time I'd encountered the MICT re-direct was last year when I tried to access the Yale University Press page for The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej by Paul M. Handley (back then, the censorship page was a stylized eye — I much prefer the picture of their Royal Highnesses the King and Queen).

At least I wasn't the only person the Thai government was censoring from the "evils" of YouTube this weekend (I certainly haven't uploaded any naughty or politically-incorrect videos).  2Bangkok reported on the blocking and mentioned that in the past if controversy about a site censorship becomes too great the Ministry removes the block and denies it ever restricted access.  Both the BoingBoing directory and Global Voices Online discussed it and the latter speculated the censorship could be due to the recent interviews former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra gave to CNN which were banned in Thailand but available on YouTube.



As I wait for my wife and son to wake up following last night's birthday party (it's already noon!), I thought I'd post a few photos of our new shophouse.  I'm a bit anxious to get over to Big C and buy some cleaning supplies so I can tackle the dust today but that can wait as we have plenty of time...

In this first photo, our house is to the far right.  There's a fairly wide space between the two buildings which is nice because we have windows (and more ventilation) along that side and there's a walkway to the rear.  It's all gravel now but I'd like to put in soil and plant grass with a teak or flagstone path, possibly lined with leafy tropical plants (Mark the gardener!).  I'm thinking about purchasing an awning similar to the one seen farther down the row to offer shade for outside dining for Tim's eventual restaurant (in a later entry, I'll post a few photos of a shophouse restaurant similar to what she plans).

The ground floor of the house is a wide open space with a balcony from the second storey about halfway towards the rear.  The washing area (for a Thai-style kitchen, etc.) is actually outside at the back — typical for most Thai homes — and there's a small restroom under the stairs.

The ground floor restroom is tiny — just a small sink and a toilet.  The small storage alcove under the stairs can either hold cases of beer or serve as a spot for Alex to spend his "time outs" (just kidding!).

These photos show the second-floor balcony from the ground floor and the view towards the front from that balcony.   The half-sized second storey is actually fairly spacious with two windows in the rear corner opposite of the stairs.  I can see putting a wraparound sofa here and television for a family room.  One of my first purchases towards the house will be a tall ladder so I can get up to those ledges above the front entrance.  You can probably see the heavy accumulation of dust that I'd like to scrub away as soon as possible.  Also, that's the only way to get to the second level's small outdoor balcony (where I want to place a flagpole and see if it's suitable to use as storage space).

This is the back bedroom on the third floor which is larger than it appears in this corner shot.  The houses behind us are a bit close but at least they're lower so nobody can look in the windows!  Also, they aren't close enough where Alex would be able to climb out on their roofs.  We forgot to ask the landlady if cable television was available in the area as I absolutely refuse to give UBC/True Move any money for the unreliable satellite hookup (which doesn't work at all when it rains and judging from last year's lengthy rainy season that would be more than 60% of the year!).   There's a large bathroom with shower between the two bedrooms and space enough as well for a small sitting room on the third storey.

A couple of shots of the master bedroom on the third floor.  Finally a house with a decent view!  I'm looking forward to having a nice comfortable chair on the balcony where I sit with my laptop writing out lesson plans...  Tim suggested that I get a small refrigerator to put in the room or on the balcony so I wouldn't have too go far to replenish my ever-present mug of cola.

I need to start making a list of items we'll need to purchase for the house.  We plan to get moved into the home before we begin to worry about the restaurant.  Since it's completely empty — there's not even a kitchen counter — we really are starting from scratch.  That's both liberating and overwhelming at the same time.  At the bare minimum, we'll need a large refrigerator for downstairs (I'm starting the fridge fund now — any donations are gladly accepted; just view it as assuring you'll have a holder for the icecold beer you'll be enjoying at our combination housewarming/Songkran/Tim's birthday party next month!) and the aforementioned sofa (although we can get by for now with a few Thai-style pillows on the floor).  Oh yes, a new wardrobe as well as a bed (I'm really going to miss our rental bed).

Now, if I just get my wife out of bed so we can get out-and-about.  I think I'll suggest Home Pro rather than Big C...


Our friend Nid celebrated her birthday last night at Amazone on the road between Nai Harn and Kata.  Unfortunately, her husband — Ben — couldn't make it as he's working up in Surat Thani.  We also missed Shan (who probably got lost as a result of some confusion as to the party's location) and I did call Mark E. up in Bangkok so he could wish Nid a "happy birthday" (he returns to Phuket next week).

I had a good time getting caught up with Doug and met his new friend Christina who works at Kajonkiet School.  After such gatherings I'm usually a bit embarrassed at how much I talked; I do tend to blab away on all sorts of topics, making up for my rather severe lack of day-to-day opportunities to converse with other native English speakers.

I was very impressed with how well behaved Alexander was throughout the evening and I wondered if my friends didn't believe the "horror stories" I was telling him about his behavior at home.  At any rate, we had a fun evening...



I'll write more (and post photos) this weekend but I wanted to let everyone know that we've (finally) found our new house — a three-storey shophouse in Na Kok (นากก) village (moo 5) of Tambon Chalong.  It's in a very nice area with nothing but trees in the view across the street (I can visualize sitting on the balcony outside of the third-floor master bedroom sipping my favorite Tiger Beer while writing on the laptop.  Plenty of space on the ground floor for my wife's restaurant...

The price was right, too — 8000 baht per month; we paid a 10,000-baht deposit today and were given the keys and a hand-written receipt.  On April 1st, we pay the regular rent and receive the 10,000 baht back so it's like getting three weeks rent for free.  The building itself is just three months old but has accumulated a lot of dust in the time it's sat empty so I'm anxious to get in there and do some cleaning before we start moving stuff.  This afternoon, I also paid our last month's rent at Ananda Garden Hills and asked our landlord if we could buy the furniture from him but he said we had to leave our current house furnished as the day we moved in.

I'll post a selection of photos in the next day or so...

I'm very happy we found this house when we did as I was about to give up.  We'd spent A LOT of time looking and coming up rather empty.  We'd even begun to consider renting some rooms in a guesthouse on Nanai Road in Patong as a stopgap until we found something better.

Also, we were involved in an accident on the motorbike yesterday afternoon.  My wife was driving west on Prachanukhro Road in Patong with me sitting behind her on the bike rather than in the sidecar.  She turned left onto Thaweewong (the beach road) towards the Amari Resort going a bit too fast (it's a rather sharp turn made worse by the cones in the middle of the road placed there when Patong went to it's poorly-thought-out one-way routing system).  The sidecar wheel came off the ground and I could feel us going over.  Tim served back into the middle of the road smashing into the rear quarter-panel of a minibus (my right arm and knee as well as the handlebar of the bike took the brunt of the collision).

Of course the collision took place right in front of a grouping of the motorbike taxi-mafia guys so I knew immediately I'd be paying out a wad of cash as any accident is always the fault of the farang even when he's just the passenger.  The minibus driver actually knew Tim so we could have gotten off easy if it wasn't for the mafia guys who insisted that the police (whom these particular motorbike taxi's pay bribes to for their primo spot on the beach).  The taxi driver needed to save face so he suggested that he call his insurance agent and I agreed we needed to keep the insurance people happy.  Smiles all around until Tim took off to look for her friend who was babysitting Alex on the beach.  I started to walk up after her and the motorbike guys thought I was trying to sneak away and started making a big fuss and wouldn't let me walk too far.

Anwyay, eventually the insurance man showed up with a camera.  Tim was still off looking for her friend and son and suddenly the minibus driver didn't seem to understand English anymore.  The insurance man had a digital camera and began taking photos of the front of the minibus (the license plate was slightly bent but NOT from this accident as we only hit the rear of the vehicle) and small dents on the LEFT side rather than the RIGHT side.  At least the driver respected his friendship with Tim (he's somehow related to Jum) enough that he figured out a potential scam and directed the agent to the damage we actually caused (a three-inch dent and some scraped paint).  I tried to point out my spraped and bruised elbow and knee but he didn't seem too interested.

Tim arrived just in time for me to be presented with a bill for 4,500 baht which was a lot less than I'd expected (Tim's last accident had cost me ten times this amount!).  My wife tried to argue (in times like these, I question that she's really a Thai person as she can argue with the best of them — a totally un-Thai-like quality) but I soon quieted her down.  I did make the insurance man (not to mention everybody else) a bit nervous when I asked for a receipt and his card; I settled for a hand-written receipt and the minibus driver's cellular number.  Through it all I just kept smiling.

It just figures that this happened on the one day that I didn't bring my camera along...

I soothed Tim on the drive along the beach road; she was more worried about the money than anything else (why do these accidents always happen right after I transfer cash to put into our local accounts?).  She was very impressed with how cool I was during the entire situation particularly when the motorbike taxi guys began raising a fuss.  We've all heard about other farangs who don't stay calm in similar situations and really bad things end up happening to them (like death in a few cases).  You just have to understand the "system" and accept it when confronted with it; you don't have to agree with how certain things "work" but you must remember that we are still the "foreigners" and a minority of people will always try to take advantage of that...



Last summer, I spent several days "acting" as an extra on Tsunami:  The Aftermath, an HBO/BBC miniseries which dramatizes the days immediately following the 2004 tsunami which affected so many lives here.  There was a lot of local controversy surrounding the filming which was done at a number of locations here on Phuket as well as up in Khao Lak and, I believe, in Phang Nga and Krabi.

When the program aired in the States a couple of months ago, I heard from several friends and relatives that they spotted me in two scenes — both filmed at the airport.  In one, the setting was just a few hours after the disaster and we were looking at the flight cancellations on the big boards in the terminal.  I was in a small group with my neighbor, Franz, and a small Dutch boy who was sleeping on the floor.  The camera panned around us as Franz and I kept talking and pointing at the boards.  That was difficult — having an animated conversation (in silence as we weren't supposed to make any sounds) during take after take after take.  The second scene was easier to film; this one was set about five days after the tsunami when flights finally resumed.  Again, I was at the airport (the wounds from my first day of shooting having miraculously healed — I felt that I was my own private continuity error) — ticket in hand.  The camera did a long tracking shot through the check-in area of the airport, weaving through many survivors and reporters before finally turning towards me.  When the camera panned in my direction, I walked from the ticket counter and the camera followed me (and a number of other passengers coming from different directions) all the way to the entrance to the international departure gates.  That one required about 15 or 20 takes.

The movie wasn't (officially) shown here.  It had been scheduled to open in the theaters on December 26th (the second anniversary of the tsunami) but was cancelled amidst protests of inappropriateness.  I'd thought I'd be able to find bootleg or pirated copies of The Aftermath at the street stalls in Patong by now but that hasn't happened...

Finally, a 2-DVD set (with a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes as bonus material) will be released on April 24.  No word on if there will be a version with Thai dubbing or subtitles but I think I'll go ahead and place a preorder through



The new version of iTunes was released today and is available for download here.  iTunes 7.1 adds support for the upcoming Apple TV and the ability to change parental controls for several countries (hinting that the iTunes Store will soon sell video content from a total of six countries).  There's also a few new sorting options as well as a full-screen Cover Flow which I think looks very cool (although it lacks the touch-screen/pinch-resizing feature to be included on the upcoming iPhone).

For more information about the features of iTunes 7.1, check out iLounge's "Instant Expert" guide.


I couldn't find any real 555* photos on my hard drive tonight and didn't feel like going too far back in my backup discs...  It seems that lately I keep seeing worthy candidates for this feature but usually at a time when we can't stop to snap a photo.  Something to work on...

Photo #1 — at Patong Hospital — struck me as mildly amusing for the line "Special care by Singha" which is advertised as "Thailand's Number One Beer" (personally, I don't care for it at all — tastes like soapy water to me — a sentiment echoed by the cool Beerasia blog).  I could just see the nurses administering IV's of Singha instead of plasma...
Click for larger view
Photo #2 isn't really funny per se but I was left scratching my head as to why there were separate evacuation routes for "local people" and for "tourists".  Particularly as the tourist route leads evacuees running a great distance along the length of the beach while the Thais are directed to head straight inland.  This is on the southern end of Kamala which was the hardest hit Phuket beach during the tsunami.  When my wife and I visited last week, it was the first time I'd been there since Christmas Day 2005 when I fell asleep and received a grand sunburn (and watched as the Japanese ambassador dedicated a special monument to the victims).

*555 — in Thai, the number "five" is "ha" thus "555" would be said "ha ha ha".  It's a popular way to convey one is laughing when you IM or SMS someone here.


Thai English-language newspaper The Nation recently published the following article about blogging in Thailand:

It's work, and serious, for some, and a hobby and fun for many others, but the idea of an online diary is a rage the world over
Today, almost one in five Internet users in Thailand reads and writes blogs, or Web logs.

"It's an easy, fast and personal way [to communicate]," says Duangruthai Asanasatang, who runs

"WeBlog - some read We Blog while others may read Web Log — or blog for short, is a digital personal journal posted on websites [for the general public to read, make comments or criticise], covering all kinds of topics from music and the arts to politics," says Katika Saisenee of

According to a Microsoft survey, the country has 8.4 million surfers, of whom 1.76 million are bloggers.

And their reasons for keeping an online diary or using the many other functions run the spectrum, from personal to professional.

"It's like talking face-to-face to your friends. I also use it to chat with interesting girls," admits Montri Boonsat of

Salinee Achavananthakul of, said maintaining a blog helps improve her writing in Thai.  She spent eight years studying abroad.

"I enjoy practising my Thai-language skills [by posting articles on the Web] as I wish to write some good business books in Thai," said Salinee, who used to work in banking.

Professor Vijarn Panich, director of the Knowledge Management Institute and special adviser to the Thailand Research Fund, also writes a blog as a medium to discuss complex issues with colleagues and academics.

"I also use it to practise writing, to publish my ideas and make personal statements as well as to try to create an online community.

"So far so good, as I've learned a lot from my cyber friends. I can also discuss with upcountry researchers in real time.  This saves a lot of time and resources," he said.

Vijarn updates his blog everyday.  His poor typing doesn't present a problem as he jots his ideas down on a piece of paper for a secretary to type into his blog.

Duangruthai, an editor at "Between the line" Publishing House, reads and writes her blog for both work and fun.

"I read blogs to find interesting books written on the Web for my publishing house.  For leisure, I like to write about my favourite music, films, travel, and so on.  I also help readers and writers to exchange books," she said.

Her blog was voted by the best in "content" last year.  Earlier, she won the best "book" blog of the year.

"I didn't expect such popularity, but it felt great.  We're like a community of friends and family members online.  We occasionally see our cyber friends in the real world for dinner, drinks or concerts and films, as we share the same tastes," she added.

Vijarn, a medical doctor, says blogging can be good for enthusiasts in other ways.

"I believe by reading or writing positive messages, we can make a positive chemical change in our body.  Research has confirmed this hypothesis."

According to Microsoft's Windows Lives Report, six out of 10 bloggers here are women.  About 57 per cent of bloggers are under 25, while 24 per cent are 25-34 and the remainder are over 35.

Family and friends are the two main incentives for Thais to become bloggers.  They also use it as a channel to communicate and send large photos to friends and family members.

Half of the bloggers also use their blogs for entertainment.

The four most popular topics are technology, travel, education and news.

However, the Microsoft report also found that 49 per cent of blogs are not updated regularly, while 36 per cent have boring content and 46 per cent are badly written.

"Quality of content is a problem, while many bloggers don't write themselves but put other people's stories into their blogs.  Good blogs should reflect the characteristics of the blog owner," Salinee said, describing herself as "a 30-something woman who's in between the Thai and Western cultures".

Duangruthai says blogs can be revealing, depending on the writer.

"You can choose the level of your self-exposure, telling everything about yourself or just part of it, but sincerity is the most important thing in cyber relationships."

Cyber relationships can also make money.

"More and more businesses have turned to using blogs as a PR and marketing tool, as some bloggers are paid to introduce new products or give positive comments," she said.

"Some customers believe that information from bloggers is more trustworthy than what comes directly from companies."

She also uses blogs to introduce her favourite books, including those from her publishing house.

Globally, an average of 175,000 new blogs are created everyday so the total number — about 1.6 billion updated blogs around the world today — will double every six months, Katika said.

Salinee says she's worried about the flood of junk blogs and the lack of maturity of blog visitors.

"More junk blogs are expected and all readers must be told that not all online information is reliable.  We need skills to screen out bad ones.  I hope this will be done by better software that would be able to screen junk blogs.

"Like other tools, blogs are a double-edged sword.  Now, you still sort of embrace blogs at your own risk.  The maturity of our society determines how best we can benefit from blogs," she said.

For Wuttichai Kritsanaprakornkij of, reading and writing his blog is a hobby.

"It's boring to spend most of my free time at the movies, in shopping malls or pubs so I turned to blogs, which also helps me to discover my new capabilities in the real world."

Kamol Sukin
The Nation