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With the Thai Ministry of Information and Communication Technology still blocking the entire Blogspot domain I've started a new blog over at Wordpress, called Baan Jochim Phuket (บ้านโย้ค้ำภูเก็ต).  In some ways, I hope that it will complement Goodnight Phuket with some duplicate posts.  However, I do intend for it to focus more on Phuket itself — history, current issues, off-the-beaten-path attractions — rather than on my day-to-day family and work life.  When I do write about my wife, son, teaching experiences, etc. I'll continue to do so here.  Everything else will be posted at the new blog, at least for now.

To explain the name:  baan (บ้าน) is Thai for "home" or "village" while Jochim (โย้ค้ำ, pronounced "yo-kim") is my German surname derived after Saint Joachim (father of the Virgin Mary).  And, Phuket (ภูเก็ต, sounds close to "pook-get") is of course where I live.  It’s similar to calling one’s home something like Casa de Jochim back in New Mexico (where I lived before moving to Thailand) and one sees a great number of homes, guesthouses, etc. named Baan something or another around here.

Please add Baan Jochim Phuket to your bookmarks.  While there's not a lot of content right now aside from a history of our island (still a work in progress...) I hope to change that in the near future.


Today is the holiest day in the Buddhist calendar, Visakah Bucha also known as Vesak Day.  Dated to coincide with the first full moon of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, Vesak marks the birth, enlightenment (Nirvana), and passing (Parinirvana) of Gautama Buddha.  Because of the leap year in the lunar calendar, in 2007 the day is a public holiday in some countries on May 1st or 2nd (including Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Cambodia, Nepal, Laos, India, and Bangladesh), still others on May 24th (Hong Kong, South Korea, Macau, and Taiwan), and the remainder on either May 31st or June 1st (Singapore, Thailand, Bhutan, and Indonedia).

Devout Buddhists and followers observe Visakah Bucha by assembling in temples before dawn for the ceremonial raising of the Buddhist flag and singing of hymns in praise of the holy triple gem:  the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings), and the Sangha (his disciples).  Devotees bring simple offerings of flowers, candles, and joss-sticks to lay at the feet of their teacher.  These symbolic offerings are to remind followers that just as the beautiful flowers would wither away after a short while and the candles and incense would soon burn out, so too is life subject to decay and destruction.

Devotees are also instructed to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind.  They are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day.  Birds, insects and animals are released by the thousands in what is known as a “symbolic act of liberation;” of giving freedom to those who are in captivity, imprisoned, or tortured against their will.  Some devout Buddhists will wear a simple white dress and spend the entire day in temples with renewed determination to observe the Eight Precepts.  This is called ‘Rub Sil’ in Thailand.

The Eight Precepts are:

1. Not to kill
2. Not to steal
3. Not to engage in improper sexual activity
4. Not to indulge in wrong speech
5. Not to take intoxicating drinks and drugs
6. To abstain from taking food at unreasonable times
7. To refrain from sensual pleasures such as dancing, singing and self-adornment
8. To refrain from using high and luxurious seats in order to practice humility

Celebrating Vesak also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the unfortunate like the aged, the handicapped and the sick.  To this day, Buddhists will distribute gifts in cash and kind to various charitable homes throughout the country.  Vesak is also a time for great joy and happiness, expressed not by pandering to one’s appetites but by concentrating on useful activities such as decorating and illuminating temples, painting and creating exquisite scenes from the life of the Buddha for public dissemination.  Devout Buddhists also vie with one another to provide refreshments and vegetarian food to devotees who visit the temple to pay homage to the Blessed One.

Tradition ascribes to the Buddha himself instruction on how to pay him homage.  Just before he died, he saw his faithful attendant Ananda, weeping.  The Buddha advised him not to weep, but to understand the universal law that all compounded things (including even his own body) must disintegrate.  He advised everyone not to cry over the disintegration of the physical body but to regard his teachings (The Dhamma) as their teacher from then on, because only the Dhamma truth is eternal and not subject to the law of change.  He also stressed that the way to pay homage to him was not merely by offering flowers, incense, and lights, but by truly and sincerely striving to follow his teachings.  This is how devotees are expected to celebrate Vesak: to use the opportunity to reiterate their determination to lead noble lives, to develop their minds, to practise loving-kindness and to bring peace and harmony to humanity.

During the Vesak celebration an image of the new-born Buddha, in a gesture of pointing to the Truth, is usually displayed in the shrine room of temples.  There is actually a party feel to the entire occasion.  Houses and streets are cleaned and decorated with Buddhist flags and flowers.  In villages, Buddhists gather around statues of the Buddha when it is dark.  They walk around the statue with candles until all is covered in light.  Light is used by Buddhists to recall that the Buddha showed people how to become enlightened.

The tree the Buddha attained Englightment under, in Bodh Gaya, India, is called the bodhit tree.  It is greatly revered in Buddhism.  A bodhi tree can usually be found in the grounds of most temples or monasteries and is decorated with flags, lamps, and lanterns for the Vesak celebration.  It is customary to paint an image of the Buddha on bodhi tree leaves to give as gifts on Visakha Bucha.

My wife had planned to get up early this morning to make merit and attend ceremonies at Wat Chalong but the monsoonal rains put an end to that idea.  Since I have a holiday from work we'll go into Patong later if the rain lets up.



Well, at least I can still post to it even if I can't view my own blog in my own country.  In yet another overreaction, Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has ordered internet service providers here to block all blogs hosted by Blogger domain.  Apparently, a few blogs on what is certainly world's most popular blog-hosting domain were deemed offensive to Thailand.  In a repeat of the TouTube ban, many honest and respectful users in Thailand are being prevented from accessing a significant number of blogs because a few feel they need to say things against our government or royalty.

Unfortunately, I think we'll be seeing much more of this in the coming months.  Thailand has a long history of media censorship.  The 2006 ranking of press freedom conducted by Reporters Without Borders lists Thailand at 122 out of 168 (we dropped from 59 in 2004 to 107 in 2005).  Currently, Thailand is without a constitution (the 1997 version having been revoked during last September's coup) and the ruling military junta (AKA Council for National Security) has been placing all sorts of human rights restrictions on the media and internet.

One organization set up to provide information about this issue is Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT).  Luckily, their blog is hosted by the Wordpress domain so we can still access it here...for now.



There's been a lot of seismic activity in Thailand over the past few weeks.  A couple of weeks ago, I felt a bit of a tremor at school but shrugged it off.  When I went downstairs to clock-out, there was a notice saying there had been a local earthquake and to steer clear of the beaches.  That one didn't amount to anything but there have been other quakes felt in the north, most significantly in Chiang Mai about a week ago.

The other day, we noticed very large waves along Karon Beach and my wife later told me there had been another tsunami, something most local residents fear to one degree or another.  Well, it wasn't exactly a tsunami but the following article from Phuket Gazette Online gives some interesting details:

Friday, May 18, 2007
High Tides Slam Phuket’s Northern Beaches

PHUKET: Following Wednesday’s earthquake felt across much of the country, unusually high tides yesterday created fear of another tsunami among some residents of west coast beaches.

Authorities said the waves, which damaged a number of seaside restaurants in Thalang District, were unrelated to seismic activity and were just the result of normal tidal conditions and strong monsoon winds.

The waves damaged nine restaurants along Haad Saikaew in Tah Chat Chai, just south of the Sarasin Bridge along Thepkrasattri Rd.  Tides there reached their highest at around 9 am, when they overturned tables and chairs and washed away the concrete foundations of the restaurants, constructed of bamboo and corrugated zinc.  No injuries were reported.

Pointing to a pillar put in place to mark wave heights during the December 2004 tsunami disaster, locals estimated that the waves reached a maximum height of almost four meters at the restaurants.

Chanthira Kalmachshima, owner of Andaman Seafood, estimated the damage to her restaurant at about 10,000 baht.

“Conditions were normal on Wednesday and we were operating as usual, but for about two hours this morning the waves came up very high, almost reaching the main road.  We are going to monitor the situation tonight,” she told the Gazette yesterday afternoon.

“It wasn’t like a tsunami because the sea didn’t recede first.  They just came up like regular waves, but much larger than normal.  About nine restaurants were open at the time and all were badly damaged.  We will have to find a safe place to stay tonight,” she added.

About 50 vehicles were still parked on Sarasin Bridge at 8 pm with people monitoring sea levels there.

K. Chanthira noted that a few days before a large sea turtle washed up on the beach and died.

“We felt that this was a sign that there was something wrong with nature.  Then today these huge waves came, the biggest we have seen since the tsunami,” she said.

During a meeting at the Governor’s office this morning, an official from Mai Khao Tambon Administration Organization warned that even higher tides are expected for tomorrow and there was a possibility that sections of Thepkrasattri Rd could become inundated.

The official said he thought the unusually high tides could be a result of global warming.

In Phang Nga, some villagers in the Baan Namkem area of Khao Lak evacuated their homes yesterday to seek shelter on higher ground in fear of tidal waves, the state-run Thai News Agency reported.

The area was devastated in the 2004 tsunami disaster.

Phang Nga Tourism Association President Chittiporn Suthipibul, also a member of the Khao Lak Resort management team, told the Gazette at about 1:30 pm today that seawater was flooding the ground floor of her hotel and several other resorts in the area.

Similar flooding occurred at about 9 am yesterday, she added.


It was a very interesting week at school as the students returned for the start of Term 1/2007.  Our school has some 800 kids in the English Programme, 85 of whom I will see each each as the Reading instructor for Primary 3.  I had a lot of fun in my classes this week; these children will be a joy to teach.

I was just getting into my daily routine when I was called to substitute for a P.1 class on Monday; as the Reading teacher I will occasionally be required to fill in as homeroom teachers become ill or need to go on visa runs, etc.  I was a bit nervous going in but the small students were a lot of fun and really kept me on my toes!

I've also been recruited to help with the Cub Scouts for Lower Primary one day each week.  That will be fun as I was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout during my youth (and that led to a stint in Navy ROTC during my high school years).  I have really great memories of my experiences as a Scout.  However, it means that I will not be conducting a Friday Club for this term — I'd planned a Stamp & Coin Club but I'm sure I'll have a chance to do that at some point in the future.

The school has also arranged for me to give extra lessons to a P.6 student who actually attends my son's school.  His sister attends ours and his mother would like me to prepare him for the M.1 entrance exam.  I'm really looking forward to this and I'm gathering material so I do the best job I can.  I'll be doing these extra lessons on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings so it will be a nice ending to the week.

I want to say that I truly feel a part of something greater working at this school.  I get to participate in the shaping of young minds and helping these children become good citizens.  I've always been a believer of good morals and the school really stresses the importance of instilling these on the students.  Thailand is an awesome place to teach morals as one only has to look at the respect everyone gives to the Royal Family, elders, monks, etc. to feel a tremendous swelling of pride.  I do feel like I'm a member of the good guys for a change (something I didn't often feel in my last years in retail management).  The entire school staff — from upper management to the office staff, fellow teachers, even the cafeteria and housekeeping workers — constitutes a solid team.  Everyone I've come in contact with has been so gracious and so willing to help that I know I made the right decision by coming here.  I only hope that my own small contributions do help make an even stronger team.  I'm doing something I enjoy at work for the first time in many, many years and I look forward to going to work each and every day.

I mean, how right is it that myself — a lifelong avid reader — has become the reading teacher to 85 young students without even a mention of that love of reading in my resume or interview?


NOTE:  My blog entries about my teaching experiences will continue to be rather vague so as to protect the privacy of students, staff, indeed the school itself.  I trust my faithful readers, family, and friends understand my decision.


I hadn't really been following the most recent (since April 3) blocking of YouTube by the government of Thailand but I found the following excellent recap on Global Voices Online:

Friday, May 18th, 2007 @ 13:04 UTC
YouTube vs. Thailand: The Latest Round
by Preetham Rai

YouTube’s latest round of trouble with Thailand started in April when some YouTube user uploaded a video mocking the Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) tried to get YouTube to take down the clips.  YouTube and its parent company Google ignored the call.  MICT decided to block out YouTube.  The ban fueled more copycat videos to appear on YouTube.

The king is highly revered in Thailand, not just because of his status but also due to his involvement in development projects.  People openly show their respect and affection for the king.  Thai blogger Mr. Pavee explains:
If any of the video uploaders have been out here in Thailand (though I strongly doubt they have), they’d notice how the king is loved by everybody here.  Many shops hang his photos up on the walls and yellow flags (yellow represents the monarchy here) can be seen hung from many houses.  The nation is filled with people wearing yellow shirts showing respect to the king.  If a photo of the king’s face graffiti’ed on was hung up on the streets, someone will go and tear it down within a few seconds, let alone minutes.  Once last year, hundreds of thousands of people wearing yellow shirts gathered to listen to his speech, the crowd was literally a kilometer long.  That’s how much people love him here.
The king was born on a Monday.  Many people wear yellow on Mondays to honor the king.

Long time Thailand resident Andrew Biggs feels that blocking YouTube only helped encourage the miscreants.
I don’t care how offensive the video clip in question is.  The truth is, the power of the love and devotion the Thais feel towards their King is so strong, it can never be hurt or destroyed by one stupid video clip.   But the government has banned You Tube, and in doing so, they have drawn the attention of the whole world to this situation.  Now every obnoxious person in the world who has access to the internet (and believe me, that’s a LOT of people) is now busily making his/her own anti-King videos.
Early in May, MICT decided to sue Google under Thailand’s lèse majesté law.  Thai blogger drewkam called the legal action an “absurd” move.  Drewkam reiterated the affection that the Thai people have for the king but felt the action would only end up bringing more negative publicity to Thailand.  The blogger urged the MICT to get on with
other things much more important (like making my DSL connection faster!).
On May 11th, Google backed down and agreed to take down the clips.

Lost Boy wrote
It looks like Thailand won’t be suing Google after all.  “We have called that off,” said Sitthichai.  Google VP Kent Walker apologized to Thailand in an official letter.  All defamatory clips of HMtK will be removed and soon we will all be able to watch videos of cats falling off TVs again.  Will it be happily ever after?  Perhaps, although I’m surprised that Google buckled to Sitthichai’s bullying tactics.
Sitthichai Pokai-udom is Thailand’s minister for Information and Communications Technology.  A week has passed since that news and YouTube is still inaccessible.

Wonder what is taking the MICT so long?

A comment by Hew on New Mandala might offer some clues.
In the report I read, Google had said that half the clips had already been removed by their original posters.  Of the remainder, several would be removed as offensive to HMK.  The remainder on the government’s ‘offensive’ list were judged by google to be political criticisms of the government and nothing to do with lèse majesté.  These would not be removed.
That's it in a nutshell.  I certainly hope that the two sides can come to some sort of resolution in the near future...


Last evening my wife, son, and I attended a special tribute to HRH King Bhumibol Adulyadej honoring His Majesty's 80th birthday (which occurs on December 5).  The event was presided over by HRH Princess Soamsavali Phravararajatinuddamatu (พระเจ้าวรวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้าโสมสวลี พระวรราชาทินัดดามาตุ และ พระเจ้าหลานเธอ พระองค์เจ้าพัชรกิติยาภา, which translates to "the mother of the king's first grandchild").  She was the first wife of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn; they divorced in the 1980s.

Arriving fairly early (just before five o'clock for an event that wasn't to begin until after seven), we secured a prime viewing spot at the very front to the left of the VIP seating.  We started out sitting on the edge of a concrete planter encircling one of the many trees in the Port section of Jungceylon and had to briefly move when the bomb-sniffing dog came around.  Security was very tight with, I'm assuming, representatives from every one of Thailand's various branches of police and military.  Sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 members of the Royal Guard came around to have all of us kneel/sit cross-legged on the ground.  We were also given Thai tricolor and yellow King flags to wave.  As the only farang sitting up front it seemed like everytime I looked up there was an official-looking still- or video-camera pointed my way.  Alex also had his share of images shot of him.

Although I'm still without a digital still camera (I'm holding out for the 17,000-baht Sony CyberShot T-100) I did go armed with my trusty camcorder.  I did get some rather nice footage of the HRH's arrival and start of a presentation until a Secret Service-type (black suit, menacing appearance) indicated that unauthorized images weren't allowed at that point.  Following a number of local dignitaries paying tribute to the Princess, the regular Jungceylon water & light show was presented followed by an even more spectacular tribute to HRH the King (including images of his artwork and of His Majesty playing in various jazz combos, all accompanied by some of his excellent compositions).  At one point, there were ballroom dancers onstage and then a popular Thai singer sang a couple of rather rockified traditional songs.  It all ended with a huge fireworks display and Her Royal Highness disappearing inside the mall to view an art exhibition and the That's Siam! section of shops.  We were quickly ushered out by Thai military and so couldn't get to our planned meal at Burger King.

I felt really privileged to have been able to attend this event and to have been so close to Royalty as well.  It was far more interesting than last year when we watched the various events for His Royal Highnesses' 60th anniversary of rule on TV.  Despite seeing numerous Royal motorcades traveling to and from Wat Chalong over the course of the year (and once while standing outside of Maio's home in Bang Pa-In), this is the closest Tim or I have gotten to Royalty.  The thing that struck me most was the feeling of reverence the citizens have towards the Royal Family.  You hear and read a lot about that love here but that cannot prepare one for experiencing it firsthand.



We finally got rid of Dtim's friend La this afternoon (my wife told me that she, too, was getting tired of La constantly coming over unannounced) and decided to spend the rest of the day in Nai Harn.   We drove to the lagoon a short distance from the beach and had a nice time sitting on the little island in the middle of the lake.  Dtim ate sunflower seeds and did some crochet work, I did a bit of reading while watching Alex play.  He'd spent most of the drive over singing at the top of his lungs and so was in a very hyper mood.  At one point he found some twigs and began drumming on my little plastic chair and the picnic hamper.  But nowadays when he plays in this way he seems to be very careful to not disturb mama and papa too much.  He truly is becoming a respectful little boy.

Around 5:30 the clouds began darkening and we could hear thunder in the distance so we decided it would be a good time to head for home.  But as we rounded the bend overlooking the southern part of Nai Harn Beach we could see a dark squall line just a short distance offshore.  The rain was coming heavy and fast.  Luckily, it was a short distance to my favorite Mexican restaurant in all of Thailand — Los Amigos Cantina.  We made it there just moments before the sky opened up with a torrential downpour.

We enjoyed our dinner and I overdid it a bit since it'd been quite some time since our last visit to Los Amigos.  I ordered a cheese nacho appetizer for us to share and then had my usual order of a Combination Plate (Mexican fried rice, refried beans, chicken enchilada, beef taco) with an extra taco.  This time I could barely finish the second taco but was able to wash it down with a pineapple shake (which I rarely order anywhere anymore).  Alex finished his two chicken enchiladas but we needed a box for his Mexican fried rice (Dtim's favorite as well).  He was oddly subdued during dinner (no naughtiness in sight); perhaps he wore himself out with his vigorous drumming at the lake.

We drove home in a steady drizzle which increased the closer we got to Casa de Jochim.  No worries as we were all protected under our rain gear.  I might mention here that I'm always amused at the other Thai motorbike drivers during rainstorms.  They NEVER put on a raincoat (usually those thin trashbag-type ponchos available for 20 baht at any soi shop) until it has already begun to pour despite the usual signs of ominous clouds and increased wind.  And then half again of the riders/drivers don't even bother with any protective gear at all.  Indeed, the majority of those who try to avoid the rain while driving do so by pulling their shirts up over their heads (including the drivers) or trying to cover themselves with an umbrella.  It always makes me laugh to see some pour motorbike driver riding in the heavy rain with a flimsy umbrella pointed in front of them.

Anyway, I have been spoiled by this year's seemingly early start to the rainy season (called the "green" season in Phuket).  Most days over the past two or three weeks have been overcast and fairly cool with morning, midday, afternoon, evening, and overnight thundershowers.  These storms typically blow through within a fifteen- or thirty-minute span and then an hour or two or more go by before the next storm.  We've (mostly) been successful at not getting rained on while going to and from school but sometimes we have to cancel planned errands (such as trips to the hypermarts) rather than risk getting soaked.  But the air has been pleasant and sometimes I clear my mind by standing on the third-floor balcony watching the incoming storms approach (especially spectacular when they come over the mountains to the east).  One night we were even treated to the most spectacular lightning show I've ever seen and that includes some dramatic ones observed while living in one of America's prime lighting-viewing areas.  The bolts were traveling down to the ground and back up to the clouds and jumping from side to side as well.  I managed to capture some of this on film as well!

But yesterday and most of today were just plain hot.  And so muggy that I felt I was living back in northeast Kansas and truly wilted whenever I attempted to do anything remotely strenuous.  At least we had a nice breeze while at the lake and that helped to make it an enjoyable afternoon.  If nothing else, it was nice to get out of the house and away from making lesson plans and trying to figure out first-week ice-breakers and games for school.


Sometimes my son surprises us with a completely unexpected act of selflessness or kindness.  Tonight, we'd returned from our dinner near Nai Harn Lake driving through the rain for thirty minutes or so.  I was removing my rain poncho when I commented that I wished I'd remembered that I was out of soda while we were out.  Alex suddenly said, "I buy for you papa," and jumped on his bicycle.  I tucked 60 baht into his hand and asked him to buy me three cans and to use the change to buy himself something.  I was so surprised that Alex offered to ride up to the corner market that I didn't heed my wife's protests.  Of course, I watched from the side of the road while Alex peddled up the soi and disappeared around a bend in the road.  Dtim was just firing up the motorbike when Alex came back into view carrying a bag of Cokes and Sprite.  He even gave me 15 baht in change while saying, "I don't need something papa."  He's truly becoming a joy to have around and he really is beginning to make an effort at trying to please me.  He's becoming my little buddy and my wife tells me that he constantly tells her how much he loves his "new papa."


One of the biggest adjustments a male farang in Thailand must make is the fact that when he has a Thai girlfriend or wife his relationship isn't simply with her and her alone.  Oh, no.  He has a relationship with all of her friends and family as well.

I consider myself somewhat fortunate in that my wife's family lives far to the north of us — ranging from Bang Pa-In (between Bangkok and Ayutthaya) to Pa-Sang (in Lamphun Province south of Chiang Mai).  That means I only have to deal with the friends on a day-to-day basis.  Over the months, the sheer numbers of constant hangers-on has dwindled but it is still frustrating when I never know when somebody will show up for a visit (they never stay for short periods of time, either) or when they do visit they tend to stay for far longer than we consider polite in the West.

I tend to go through stages as sometimes I don't mind so much but other times I get sick of people "mooching" off of us (me, as there's only my income to keep the household going).

None of Dtim's friends seem to possess the quality of kreng jai (consideration for others).  They think nothing of drinking the last of our water/soda/beer without offering to purchase more.  The few items of food that I actually like to eat tends to disappear.  When they do buy food, I'm never remembered so I rarely eat unless I'm at work.

A few mornings ago I was awoken a bit before six a.m. by the sound of the downstairs TV blaring.  At first, I thought it was my wife but I found her asleep in Alex's room; apparently, one of her friends had let themselves in the house after we'd gone to sleep (I told Dtim when we moved to the new house that she was NOT to give out any keys to her friends).

I'd breathed a sigh of relief a week ago when Dtom (finally) got a job in Patong as I thought we'd finally have the house to ourselves.  She'd come down from Lamphun (I'm still unclear whether or not she's related to my wife by blood — she refers to her as her friend but calls her Alex's aunt) in February to look for work and proceeded to spend much of the ensuing weeks laying around doing nothing but eating our food and watching TV (once I purchased a second set for the downstairs).  Although she'd been offered numerous jobs she always had one excuse or another for not taking them.  Finally, Dtim told me that she couldn't get to the jobs because she didn't have her own motorbike (that never stopped Nadia as my wife drove her into Patong from Chalong every night for almost three months and then picked her up afterwards).  Anyway, we (I) bought her a secondhand motorbike a couple of weeks ago and she began learning how to do proper Thai massage at a shop on Nanai Road where she now has a room.  But she's still at our home, along with La, virtually every day when I come home from work.

I'm most tired of La hanging around.  I suspect she/he (I'm never sure what to call the ladyboys) is the person who's been stealing from us from time to time.  Some months ago, somebody stole money from Alex's piggy bank.  La and Nid were the only two people around; Dtim accused Nid and lost her as a friend.  A few weeks ago, coins disappeared out of a piggy bank I keep in the upstairs bedroom (I just throw 10-baht coins in there); one day it was half-full when I left for work and when I returned there was only one coin in there and the plug was on the other side of the room.  I began locking the room when leaving for the day.  When my camera turned up missing, La was the only one in the house (the case was sitting empty in my wardrobe).  But I can't directly accuse her/him or even hint it to my wife as both actions would make me lose face.  I can only point out obvious clues and hope Dtim comes to the same conclusion.  That may be helped by the fact that she had a 500-baht note disappear from her purse when La was sleeping downstairs a couple of nights ago.

Whatever her friends are doing here, the fact remains that I can never be alone with my wife.  I don't care so much if they're around during the daytimes in the week while I'm at work.  But when they are here throughout the evening, spend the night, and sit around all during the weekend as well that it's creating problems.  I'd like to at least have my house to myself and my family during the weekends.  I don't spend enough time with my wife as it is (not through lack of trying, either — we don't even get to sleep together the majority of the time because Alex can't/refuses to sleep alone).

What do I have to do to make her and her friends understand that I don't want them constantly underfoot?  I know that if I just tell her they need to go home, I'll lose face as I'm no longer being jai kwang (generous) and she'd probably leave as well.

I'm just tired of sharing my limited time with my wife's circle of friends rather than my wife and my son.  Yes, it is an integral part of Thai culture that the people are never alone and I accept that.  But I've also tried explaining that sometimes I'd like to do things with my family without an entourage.  And I certainly don't want any of these people staying in our home when we are away as I'm tired of things turning up missing (and also the increased electric bills; they think nothing of letting themselves inside late at night and then turning on the TV all night and I'm sure they have it on all day when I'm at work).

What can I do?



My problems with getting an ADSL hookup through TOT have been well-documented in this blog.  We'd started the process (and paid the deposit and other fees) back in March and most recently had been told to wait another three months after paying (twice) for a modem.

Imagine my surprise yesterday when my wife called me at work to ask for my computer password so that TOT could set up the broadband connection!  I'd all but given up on them showing up at our house without another round of phone calls.  After work, I expected to be told there had been some unforeseen problem and they couldn't get us connected.  Dtim said that I was supposed to wait for 24 hours for them to "turn on Internet."  Lo and behold, it's working tonight!

I did a test of my online speed this morning using my new favorite broadband site,, pinging a server in Bangkok:

Compare those results with the test I did just a few moments ago:

Quite a difference on the download speeds!  For some reason, I had a faster upload speed on the dial-up connection.  I also don't understand the "distance" readings as Bangkok is actually a little under 500 miles from Phuket.

I probably won't have time to enjoy the faster connection (i.e., searching around for movies or music to download via BitTorrent) until Sunday, however.  I'm too tired tonight (it was a long week preparing for the start of classes on Monday) and tomorrow we're attending a mesquite BBQ party sponsored by



Living on Phuket I'm always on the lookout for reading material about our island, particularly about it's history and culture.  Unfortunately, apart from the weekly Phuket Gazette newspaper, English-language material is fairly scarce.

So I was delighted to stumble across the premier issue of Phuketscape, a quarterly magazine published by the Old Phuket Foundation.  The Foundation's mission statement gives a good indication about the scope of this publication:

  • To develop, restore, revitalize, and preserve the way of life, the art, and the architecture of the old buildings in the historical conservation area under the Designated Area and Environment Act of 1997, from the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment.
  • To create an awareness of the importance of Old Town preservation to residents living in the historic conservation area and to the people of Phuket.
  • To promote culture affairs.
  • To promote democratic administration with the Kind as head of state, without financially or nonfinancially supporting any politicians or political parties.
Among the articles in Vol. 1 No. 1 (March-May 2007) are reports of the Poontay Fair and Old Phuket Town Festival (both of which helped raise awareness of the early Phuket way of life), information about the port of Jungcylon (the first name Westerners gave to the island), and the story of The Sharks — a local group popular in the mid-1960's.

Many of the articles are bilingual, Thai and English, and well-illustrated with color and black & white photos.  It's really nicely done and I look forward to future issues.  My only real complaint is that not ALL of the articles are translated into English.  It's a bit frustrating at being "denied" a few interesting-appearing stories given my inability to read the Thai language (I am beginning to learn, however).