Thursday, October 29, 2009

Destination Profile: Koh Si Chang

Ko Si Chang is a verdant, scenic island in the Gulf of Thailand which is only a 2 hour journey from Bangkok or a 30 minute drive from the resort of Pattaya.

Situated in the province of Chonburi, it is accessible by ferry, from Siracha pier (sometimes written Sri Racha). A journey of 12km which takes about 45 minutes and costs 40 baht!!!! The ferries run every hour from 7am to 7pm but as this is Thailand they don't always stick to the scheduled departure times!!!

Despite the fact that it features in a plethora of travel guides, it is off the main tourist trail and thankfully, you won't find the usual tourist hordes that you associate with many other Thai islands, like Koh Samui or Phuket.

I only saw 4 other foreign tourists on the day of my visit, in mid-October 2009. The majority of visitors are locals, which explains why the prices for food, drink and hotels are very reasonable.

Although its beaches may not rival those in Koh Samet or Koh Tao. I think it is a great destination for a day trip and also makes a perfect getaway for a romantic weekend.

Tourists are drawn to Koh Si Chang by it's impressive history and can explore the remains of a former royal palace which was built, for King Chulalongkorn, as a summer retreat.

Another place of interest is the large cave complex known as Tham Saowapha which is reputed to extend more than a kilometre into the limestone cliffs of the island. It is important to remember that some of the caves on the island are home to meditating hermits!!! So travellers should take care not to cause any distress or upset to the inhabitants.

Motorcycle officiandos will be intrigued by the strange motorised tuk tuks known as "sky labs" which are unique to Ko Si Chang. They are three wheeled motorised rickshaws with enormously powerful car engines. These were once a common sight in Thailand but were banished to Koh Si Chang many years ago.

We hired a sky lab for 250 baht for the whole day. The driver took us too the main beach at Haad Tham Phang which has a nice view and lovely clear water and we spent several hours there relaxing and enjoying the sunshine not too mention several plates of som tam and multiple ice cold beer Leo's!!!



We also visited San Jao Phaw Khao Yai, a popular spot with a revered Chinese temple perched high on a cliff with a breathtaking view back toward the mainland.

The journey back to the pier at Si Racha was eventful as our ferry started taking on water which caused the engine to splutter to a halt and we had to be secured to the side of a passing fishing vessel to prevent us from sinking completely. We we then off-loaded onto another ferry for the journey home!!!

The absence of any life jackets on our floundering vessel was more than a little bit worrying, but fortunately we lived to tell the tale!!!!!

All in all koh Si Chang was a lovely place to visit and I look forward to my next trip there!!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Celebrity Interview Number 2: Frank Bough

Thank you for reading the next installment of Penfold's celebrity interviews.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to our next guest.....the broadcasting legend that is, Mr Frank Bough.


Frank enjoyed a successful career in television and is best known for being a trail blazer in the development of the breakfast TV show.

His distinguished career won him many admirers but, as with many celebrities, his penchant for drugs and sado-masochistic sex caused a spectacular fall from grace!!! Behind the the facade of the loveable old man in the "grandad-style" sweaters lay a coke-raddled old pervert!!!

However, despite his many misdemeanours has agreed to come out of retirement to give us this exclusive interview!!!!

So Frank, How are you enjoying your retirement?

I'm certainly enjoying life out of the limelight, It means I can travel to Thailand to enjoy the "nightlife", without the risk of a picture of me, spanking the bare bottoms of 18 year old go-go dancers while wearing lederhosen and a gimp mask, appearing in the News of the World!!!

Bangkok is certainly more fun than life in rural Berkshire, that's for sure!!!! There are fewer places to get your jollies here!!!

Thailand is like an addiction and after all I should know about addictive substances!!! When I haven't had a Thailand fix for a while, I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat craving a plate of som tam and babbling deleriously about lady boys!!!

Usually the missus thinks I'm still suffering from the effects of my kidney transplant and makes me a nice cup of cocoa!!! But what I really need is a midnight tuk-tuk ride from Washington Square to Soi Cowboy to taste that fetid Bangkok air!!!!

I feel that the guy from Apocalypse Now when he shouts "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" but what I really love is the smell of quim in the morning!!! Mmmmmm

How often do you visit the Land of Smiles?

I try and visit at least once or twice a year....I tell the wife that I'm going to"detox" at the Chiang Mai Ayurvedic Centre but take a couple of sly trips to Phuket and Pattaya to party and catch up with my favourite bar girls, Noi and Lek.

I sometimes feel like the Scarlet Pimpernel because I to try to keep everything incognito. I don't want to draw any unwanted attention from the press and find myself in Jan Moir's Daily Mail column, being torn a new arse hole........

That's certainly true Frank, lets hope that Jan never finds out about your visits to the Land of Smiles!!!

Anyway, my readers will be keen to know which bar in Thailand is your favourite?

Gosh Penfold, that's a tricky one!!!

It depends on lots of factors.....whether I'm looking to chill out and enjoy a couple of quiet sherberts or going out to paint the town red, in true Bough-styleeeeee!!!

To relax, I enjoy going to the Bamboo Bar at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. I can listen to some Jazz whilst supping on a Mai Tai. It's class and sophistication reminds me of something from
the colonial era.

But if I'm trying to impress a lady then the Bed Supper Club on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok, is a real winner. It's super chic and contemporary. Uncle Frank guarantees that if you're trying to woo a young lady then this is the venue for you!!!!

In Pattaya, my favourite hangout is Mistys ago-go. This is perfect if you want to enjoy reasonable priced beer and the attentions of gorgeous, coffee-coloured ladies. The wiggling and jiggling leaves little to the imagination though!!!!

But for complete luxury, my choice would be getting served ice-cold Krug champagne by the infinity pool at the Evason Ana Mandara resort, in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

What is your favourite destination?

In Thailand my favourite places to visit are Mai Hong Son and Pai both lovely rural areas in the North of Thailand. But if you're looking for a beach getaway then Koh Nang Yuan is exceptional, wth great beaches, accommodation and best of all no backpackers!!!!

Also it is far enough away from the madding crowd, to allow you to throw wild parties and invite boat loads of muff without incurring anyone's wrath!!!!

But for anyone searching for peace and quiet. The most laid back place I've ever been to in South East Asia is Sihanoukvill in Cambodia.....Uncle Frank can't rate this town highly enough!!!!

Finally, what would be the one piece of advice you would give a first time traveller to Thailand?

Don't lose your heart to go-go dancer!!!!

Thanks for sharing your perals of wisdom with us today Frank and my readers will be happy to welcome you back anytime!!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Only in Thailand......

Where would you find a picture of one of the world's worst genocidal maniacs being used to advertise a newly-opening tourist attraction?.......in Thailand of course!!!!


This is one many examples of the lack of cultural awareness or just downright stupidity that is displayed in thailand on a daily basis!!!!

It is understandable that the majority of Thai citizens, who have only completed a basic level of education and have not had the opportunity to travel abroad, would lack a certain level of cultural awareness and might make the odd social faux-pas.

But the number of supposedly educated Thais, who display the cultural sensitvity of their farming cousins, is mind boggling.

This was demonstrated perfectly this month by Khun Somporn Naksuetrong, managing director of Louis Tussaud's Waxworks museum in Pattaya who thought it would be acceptable to use the poster displayed above to advertise his soon-to-be opening attraction in the holiday resort of Pattaya.

It wasn't until over 100 complaints had been recevied and both the German and Israeli embassies had personally expressed their displeasure that Khun Somporn agreed to remove the posters!!!

And in a typically Thai response, Khun Somporn was happy to pass the buck and blame the advertising agency!!!

He said: "the creative agency behind the campaign had not intended to cause offence.......We think of Hitler as an important person, but not in a good way. In the museum we don't show him with other world leaders, we show him in the scary section."

So by showing Hitler in the "scary section" along with Dracula and Werewolves that makes this insensitive blunder acceptable!!!

And just to show that he had learned his lesson........Khun Somporn said they would keep the promotional concept, but "come up with another famous deceased person to replace the German dictator".

And I wonder who that might be......Pol Pot, Stalin, Vlad the Impaler!!!

However, I may be doing Khum Somporn an enormous injustice......as this maybe a clever marketing campaign based on the mantra that "any publicity is good publicity" and using the furore to boost ticket sales!!! Because I doubt that the opening of Louis Tussard's museum in Pattaya would have made it on to the BBC website or warranted an article Bangkok Post, if there hadn't been the level of controversy!!!

The BBC and Bangkok Post articles about this story are available on the following links........

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8313249.stm

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/25831/ambassadors-outraged-by-hitler-billboard-on-pattaya-highway

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Top scams in Thailand

Most countries have their fair share of con-artists and swindlers but Thailand has a particularly bad reputation. Despite the growing number of complaints from duped farangs, the Government and Police have refused act. This is often because they are directly involved in the scams!!!!

The aim of this post is to give you a run down of the top scams you are likely to encounter and how to avoid getting ripped off.

There are charlatans, confidence tricksters and petty crooks around every corner trying to seperate gullible tourists from their hard-earned, so travellers beware!!!!

The scams will start as soon as you disembark at Suvarnabhumi airport, so it is imperative that you keep your wits about you and don't fall prey to these vultures!!!

1) Airport Taxi Scam - Official looking representatives (who are normally touts working for the mafia or a local criminal gang) will pretend that they are metered taxis and tell you that it is 500-1000 baht to go to central Bangkok.

My advice is......ignore them!!!! It should only cost between 300-400 baht (plus expressway tolls) to get to the Sukhumvit Road/Nana Plaza area of Bangkok.

If you exit the airport at Level 2 - Arrivals, near entrances 3, 4, 7 and 8 you will find the genuine taxi counters. These taxi meters usually charge around 400 baht (plus expressway tolls) for a journey to Sukhumvit Road.

The police have tried to crack down on these illegal operators, and recently arrested over 1,000 unlicenced taxis drivers and tour operators. However, after paying a pitifully small fine of around 1,000 baht, these dodgy operators are back at the airport and free to deceive the next unwary holiday maker.

The Bangkok Post ran an article about this in July 2009, so for more information please click on the following link..........

http://www.bangkokpost.com/breakingnews/149836/crackdown-at-suvarnabhumi-from-july-28

2) Wrong Change/No change Scam - Even the official metered taxis are likely to try and pull this trick on you!!! When you arrive at your destination and give the driver a 500 or 1,000 baht note, he will say he doesn't have enough change in the hope you will give him the large note. If this is the case, change some money in your hotel or at a local shop but make sure you have all your bags with you, as you don't want the driver disappearing with your luggage!!!! In order to avoid this scenario altogether, ensure that you have plenty of small change before arriving in Bangkok; 10 baht coins and 20, 50 and 100 baht notes are perfect.

The wrong change scam is common at places like 7-Eleven and Family Mart in tourist areas. They give you change as if you gave them a 500 baht note instead of a 1,000 baht note. Many tourists are not familiar with Thai money and often give the wrong notes or don't notice that their change is incorrect.

Most reputable shops will say out loud the denomination of any paper money you give them. To avoid this scam please familiarise yourself with the money and check your change before you leave the shop!

3) Grand Palace is Closed Scam - This scam can happen near any tourist attraction but it is most common outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok. This scam has been going on for many years and often happens with in full view of the local constabulary!!!!

As you approach, someone (normally a tuk tuk driver or "friendly and helpful" local) will tell you that the palace is closed for various reasons; renovations, religious holiday etc. They will then offer you a "free tour" of the city or offer to take you "sightseeing"!!!

My advice is......ignore them as they are probably lying to you!!!

Under no circumstances should you go anywhere with them, as you will end up in either a gem store or a tailors shop being giving the hard sell and your "friendly" tuk tuk driver will be getting a generous commission.

If you are at any of the main tourist sites in Thailand and someone tells you they are closed do not believe them and go and check for yourself!!!! It is better to take 5 minutes of your time to check the facts than end up at a dodgy gem store and being 100's or 1,000's of baht out of pocket!!!!

If the site or attraction is genuinely closed, find out when they will be open again from the ticket desk and go to visit the next site on your list!!!!

N.b For anyone looking to visit the Grand Palace the following information will be useful for you:

- Admission to the Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace compound is 200 Baht for foreigners, and free for Thais
- The temple is open daily from 08:30 until 15:30.- In order to enter you need to be wearing a long sleeved t-shirt, long trousers or skirt and shoes or trainers
- Shorts or skirts are not permitted, nor are flip-flops or sandals. (However, appropriate clothing is available for hire at the entrance if you are not dressed correctly when you arrive)

4) Thai Gem Scam - Tourists are tricked into visiting gem stores, often in the manner I discussed in the previous paragraphs and then duped into belieivng that they can buy precious stones for a bargain price and re-sell them in their home country at a huge profit. There will often be another foreigner in the store, posing as a customer, who will tell you that he regualry buys gems from Thailand and makes large amounts money buy selling the gems when he returns home.

Do not fall for this trick

This is one of the oldest scams in the book and many a tourist has fallen victim to the glib patter of the gem store salesman!!!!

Unless you are a jeweller or an expert on precious stones, I strongly urge you not to take the word of other people on how much money you can make if you sell these gems on return to your home country. The gems are of low value and not worth the money you will pay for them!!!! People are losing a lot of money on a daily basis so don't give in to greed!!!!

5) Jet Ski Scam - This scam is so common that it should make the Thai authorities blush and hang their heads!!!

This can happen at any beach resort but it is most prevalent in Pattaya and Phuket. When you return the jet ski after your hour of fun, the owner will point out scratches and dents in the jet ski and will then demand large sums of money by way of compensation!!! They can often be very agressive and confrontational if you refuse to pay!!!!

What they fail to mention is that the jet ski was already dented and scratched and that a dozen other customers have already paid the "compensation".

If you rent anything, be it motorcycle, car or jet ski, make sure all scratches and dents are documented. If possible take photos of any existing damage/dents/scratches to the vehicle!!!!

When renting a vehicle never leave your passport/ID cards with the company as it will be very difficult to get them back without paying a hefty price, if they claim you have damaged their vehicle. Should they need a photocopy of your documentation, make sure they do it in front of you and that they return your documentation immediately!!!!

6) Blackjack Scam - This usually starts with you being approached in the street or in a restaurant with someone, usually a Filipino, asking you where you are from.

If you say, London, he will then say he has a sister/niece/cousin etc who will be going to study or work there. He then asks if you can go to their house and meet her as she has some questions she would like to ask you. At the house, they then ask you to help cheat someone out of their money by playing blackjack. Don't get tempted as it is you who is being scammed and as gambling is illegal in Thailand you will have no recourse to the law.

I have also heard of people being drugged and then taken to ATM's or currency exchange outlets and made to make large withdrawals or change large sums of money!!!!!

Penfold's best advice is as follows...if anyone approaches you, walk away!!!!!

7) Patpong Sex Show Scam - Don't believe the touts outside the venues, particularly at the upstairs venues, who say there are free sex shows and drinks for only 100 baht each.
Your bill will end up being in the thousands!!! Be very careful if you are travelling alone as they can turn violent if you refuse to pay.

Should you encounter any problems please call the Tourist Police on 1155

8) Hualamphong Station Scam - Outside the train station you will meet official looking individuals who will say they will help you book the seats.

They then take you to their nearby travel agency and pretend to ring the train booking office. You will be told that the train is full and your only way to travel is on one of their buses.

Do not believe them......go to the station and check for yourself!!!!!!

9) Long Distance Train/Bus Scam - Many tourists have reported that they have had their belongings stolen from their bags on overnight bus and train trips. When using public transport always keep a close eye on your luggage and please also be mindful that many thieves will drug their victims in order to steal their valuables.

Don't accept food or drink for strangers, don't wear expensive watches or jewellery and make sure your valuables are out of sight!!!!

10) Double Pricing - I know this is not strictly a scam but double pricing is common all over Asia and upsets a lot of visitors when it is done in an underhand way.

At a lot of attractions, musuems and national parks there will be one price for Thais and another price which is often 2 or 3 times more, for foreign tourists.

My opinion on this matter is that tourist attractions are welcome to charge visitors as much or as little as they like. However, they should do it in such a way that there is no deceit. It should be made clear what the different prices are so that foreign tourists can choose whether they want to visit the attraction or not.

If they want to charge me 400 baht to visit a cultural centre or national park then that is their prerogative!!!! But, if the pricing seems extortionate, I am more than likely to decline a visit and go and spend the money in my favourite bar or go to an attraction that doesn't rip you off!!!!!

Can you imagine the uproar there would be if we started double pricing in England?!!!!

£1 for Brits.....£2 for blacks......£5 for Chinese.........and £20 pounds for Arabs!!!!

The Commsion for Equality and human Rights would be choking on their fairtrade coffee!!!!

My general rule of thumb when travelling in Thailand, is this.....

If a Thai person comes up to you and starts speaking excellent English then it pays to be wary. Usually Thai people are very shy and wouldn't dream of approaching or talking to a foreigner that they didn't know!!!!. However, if you are in any doubt, please do not be rude to them, because this person may genuinely be trying to assist you!

Please don't be put off visiting the Kingdom, because despite the scams, Thailand is one of the nicest, friendliest and most interesting countries tovisit in the whole world and Thai people are, on the whole, welcoming, warm and very generous!!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thailand Travellers..who are they?: Part 2

This is following on from a post I published in September 2009 about the types of people you're likely to encounter in Thailand.......

Thailand is full of weird and (sometimes not-so) wonderful people!!!! So here is my expose on some of the groups who you maybe (mis)fortunate enough to bump into........I will apply a star rating to each group, so you know who you can safely have a beer with and who to dodge when you see them coming. The star rating is a follows: 5* = fun/enjoyable company to 1* = avoid like the plague/do not approach under any circumstances.

1) Missionaries/Religious workers:

Missionary. The very name conjours up images be-spectacled, sackcloth wearing Victorians trudging through the darkest heart of Africa, waving a bible and trying to convert the local "savages" but instead, ending up in the cooking pot and being served as a canape!!!

I'm not sure how a missionary would taste, as most of them that I have met, turn incredibly sour when you question the teachings of the bible or even mention the name, Charles Darwin!!!

Heaven forbid (no pun intended!) that you start chatting to them about evolutionary theory!!

These modern days zealots aren't likely to encounter a grisly end at the hands of cannibals in Bangkok or Pattaya but nonetheless they can be intensely irritating when you're trying to enjoy a cold beer and they are about as welcome as a dose of drippy dick!!!!

Before any members of the God squad start pilliorying me; my observations are based entirely on personal experience. I have met some genuinely friendly religious guys and gals but when they start preaching and trying to force their beliefs on me then I start to lose patience very quickly!!!! In a country where poverty is rampant and the average per capita GDP is less than US$ 4,000, you're going to have a hard time convincing Thai people that there are going to burn in the eternal fires of damnation for not following Christian teachings!!!! There more likely to be worried about where their next rent payment is coming from than bumping into to lucifer outside the local 7-Eleven!!!

My favourite Bangkok blogger "Mangosauce" has a link to a good article along this particular theme and how the bible bashers try to influence the mainstream Western media.

www.mangosauce.com/.../nana_plaza_bible-bashers_hoodwink_bbc_kate_mcgeown.php

The zealots are well established and amongst us in increasing numbers, in Thailand. They are trying to turn us Westerners from our wicked ways whilst attempting to indoctrinate the locals. These people are invariably from affluent Western countries and what annoys me most is there are plenty of social problems in the West, so why don't they stay in their own countries to help the disadvantaged. People from religious backgrounds, never appear to want to help just out of kindness or plain human decency, there is always an ulterior motive!!! And that is to convert people to Christianity!!!

Just look at some of the material that has been distributed in Thailand over the years....


This was from a genuine booklet, given by a missionary, masquerading as an English teacher, to their class members!!! It is sad that not even school children are safe from their insidious reach.

If you would like to read more about this story please click on the link below...

http://www.teflspin.com/search?updated-min=2008-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&updated-max=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=50

And, as further proof of the nonsense that these fundamentalists pedal, I stumbled across the following loon, by the name of 'Missionary Mike', on the internet.

http://www.missionarymike.com/.

I have lifted this quote directly from his website........

".....Then we will begin translating materials into their language, with the end goal of seeing tribal churches established that truly glorify God according to the principles found in the New Testament.......... New Tribes Mission coordinates missionaries, sent by local churches, to take the Gospel to tribal people. Missionaries then plant churches. They disciple believers, translate the Scriptures, and train teachers and leaders, who in turn reach out to their own people and to neighboring tribes......."

In his eagerness to disseminate the word of god, he dismisses thousands of years of Thai culture without a second thought. He has the utter arrogance and temerity to say that the Buddhist beliefs of nearly 60 million Thais are complete nonsense.

If I ever see this clown in Thailand, I will have to bite my tongue and walk away or I will end up giving him a swift kick in the mid-wicket!!!

In Penfold's star rating system religious folk rank just below the "full-time backpacker", in terms of people you would like to meet at the pub!!!!

Star rating - 1*

The next group that come under the spotlight are.....

2) volunteers.

This group comes in several sub-categories which I have done my best to list below.

a) Short-term/"gap year" volunteers - These are people who have made a conscious effort to visit Thailand to help a social programme or charity, for a limited period , to gain "life" experience. Invariably they are moved to help by some tragedy, calamitous event or for environmental reasons. They are generally motivated out of kindness or a willingness to try and improve the lives of the locals and. They will often work for established organsiations like the VSO.

On the whole these volunteers are usually good people as they are not religious or political fanatics. However, you will encounter the occassional tree hugging freak who will admonish you severely for not wearing hemp trousers and daring to eat a KFC!!!!

Star rating - 4*

b) Ex-pat volunteers - They can be found up and down the country from Chiang Mai to Yala and are individuals who help in schools, orphanages or with social welfare programmes.

They are a mix of retired and working ex-pats who are either regular helpers or who volunteer occasionally, to boost their profile in the community. Again, these volunteers are normally motivated by a genuine desire to help and to have a positive impact in their community.

Aside from the odd twat, who thinks they are Mother Theresa and should be getting the next Nobel Peace Prize, just because they put in a few hours a week, they are generally a good bunch and you would be happy to enjoy a beer with them any time.

Star rating - 4*

c) Religious volunteers: Enough said!!! ("see 1st paragraph")

Star rating - 1*

3) Government workers

Well, well, well,....those working for Her Britainic Majesty's Government are an easy target for my ire, mainly due to the fact they are a bunch of cretins, wasting time and tax-payers money hosting garden parties at the embassy or glad-handing with local business leaders and politicians, or those "Mafioso" who masqerade as businessmen and politicians, in Thailand!!!!

But it may just be their supercilious attitude and self-serving nature that upsets me!!!

They would rather enjoy an all-expenses paid jolly than addressing the real problems, like organising accommodation and flights for the Brits who were stranded when the PAD took over Suvarnabhumi airport or helping to resolve the countless scams perpetrated against tourists.

Just look at the current advice issued for travellers who are worried about swine flu....

"We are working closely with the Department of Health and other areas of HM Government. We have provided a dedicated free phone number for all British nationals overseas to call if they are concerned about the current swine flu outbreak: +44 207 928 1010. As far as possible, we will continue to deliver a consular service for British nationals resident or travelling overseas through our network of Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates, although there may be a limited service in some places affected by swine flu, depending on the scale and severity of the outbreak. Any change to the level of service we can provide, will be reflected in our travel advice for that country".

If you indulge me for a moment, I shall write a brief summary of what they actually mean....

"Don't under any circumstances come to the Embassy for help as you will make us sick and we don't want to miss our golfing week in Hua Hin. At the first sign of a sniffle or runny nose all staff members will be immediately airlifted to safety. If you think you have swine flu, call the phone number we have given you and speak to the only embassy employee still here, who will be our semi-literate, non-English speaking gardener. In the unlikely event you survive a global pandemic, you will have to make your own arrangements to return to the UK. Thank you".

In short, they have just told every single British Citizen in Thailand to bugger off!!!

Unless you happen to play rugger with Ambassdor Quinton Quayle, which means your ticket on the medi-evac helicopter is guaranteed, then I'm afraid for the rest of us, the centre of Bangkok is going to ressemble downtown Saigon in 1975.

If you want to read the current advice about swine flu issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office please follow this link

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-alerts/swine-flu

For being shamless lay-abouts and shirkers, Penfold has given Government employees a star rating of 2*

4) NGO employees

These are an odd mixture of quasi-religious, feminist, anti-captialist and environmentalist do-gooders, working for organisations like Oxfam, Amnesty and CARE International etc. They are generally whining moralists who complain that anyone in Thailand who isn't working for a charity or NGO is some kind of shabby, low-life with peadophilic tendencies........

Whilst their intentions may be noble and honourable they often end up isolating themselves through their bad attitude and inability to get to grips with local culture and customs.

These Western based organisations also tend to use project managers from their own countries when they are working on the ground, which can cause rensentment among the local communties who feel they are being left out of decision making process. Valuable local knowledge and expertise are often over-looked by these NGO workers who think that local people are incapable of managing and distributing aid.

I have, however, met several delightful and very passionate people who fall into this category so I shall award them a star rating of 3*

I hope you enjoyed this post and as always I'm keen to here your feedback