Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why does my boss talk shite?

I know my blog is Thai-orientated and the topics that I discuss usually reflect this. However, I read an email from my boss today that stopped me in my tracks like the pungent aroma of a sweaty Iranian.

Here is the paragraph from the email in question……

“Planning this in as a regular get together meeting, apart from communicating where we are, what other things do you think would be valuable to use this time to cover off?”

What on earth does “cover off” actually mean? Why not simple use the word “cover”….is there anything else that you would like to cover in the meeting?

The people who use the phrase “cover off” are the same cretinous morons who litter their communications with corporate buzzwords and pointless jargon, such as “proactive, value-added, deliverables, incentivise, and core competencies”, not to mention the profoundly annoying “moving forward”.

I think those in positions of authority use this gobbledygook to try and deflect attention away from their own failings. In an endeavour to cover up their shortcomings, they foist meaningless words and phrases on their employees. These unfortunate lackeys then use this “management-speak” in their own communications, thus creating an on-going cycle of drivel.

I would just like to advise my boss that you can do the following:

Kick off, tee off, face off, blast off and even jerk off, but you can’t “cover off”, it just doesn’t make sense!!!!

Make no mistake, we are fighting for our lingusitic lives!!! There are battles raging everyday between the defenders of plain English and dark forces of verbal diarrhoea!!!

I urge you to take up the struggle and help rid the world of jargon, waffle and guff!! You can begin your noble quest, by logging on to the "Plain English Campagin" website........

http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/

Monday, June 21, 2010

The World Cup and gambling in Thailand

Despite betting being illegal, other than through the official state lottery, the concept of gambling is inherent in Thai society and Thais themselves love nothing more than a wager, anything from dice and cards to horse racing, boxing and football.

Back-street gambling dens are a fixture in most Thai towns and betting reaches epidemic proportions during major sporting events. The football World Cup is no exception and these underground bookmakers will see huge increases in the sums of money changing hands and number of people using their services.

I have often stated that Thai people are very short-sighted when it comes to their financial affairs and managing their money. Although, I’m hardly one to be giving advice in this field, as I have also been guilty of spending beyond my means on credit cards. But, the lack of financial planning displayed by most Thais is mind-boggling and makes me look a shrewd hedge-fund manager.

Thais have the ability to spend money like it’s going out of fashion and this trait crosses the social divides, from the poorest rice-farmers to the ϋber-rich. I describe it as a “live for today” mentality and the Thais love of gambling fits in nicely with this idea.

But why do the Thais love to gamble? Is it means of escapism, from their harsh way of life and the dire economic realities? Is it simply that they want to have fun? Or is there another reason?

In my humble opinion, it is to do with the fact that while all Thais want to be rich, the majority of them don’t want to work hard for the rewards and they are looking for away to make as much money as possible with the least amount effort.

This is understandable, because in Thai society, enormous emphasis is placed on money. By acquiring wealth, Thai people can acquire status, power and quickly improve their social standing.

The government has become increasingly concerned at the level of gambling and a recent poll of students suggested that nearly 60% of them had placed a bet, despite knowing they’re committing a criminal offence. I read these statistics in a recent article in the Bangkok Post and if you want to view the article please click here……..

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/38150/police-plan-gambling-crackdown

The authorities are planning a massive crackdown on gambling and those involved in the industry, within in the next few weeks. However, I fear this will be a futile gesture, as many police officers are paid by the bookmakers to turn a blind eye, much the same as with other illegal activities!!!

I like a flutter now and again and I will certainly be paying my turf accountant a visit during the course of the South African world Cup. But, as a wise man once said “you never see a bookie cycling to work” and heeding this advice, you won’t see me re-mortgaging my house or selling my parents, just for the pleasure of winning a fiver when Wayne Rooney gets sent off!!!

For more on gambling in Thailand the following links are very interesting.....



Monday, June 14, 2010

Jilted lover goes loco in the Lake District

The story sounds all too familiar…….smitten middle-aged man falls for a Thai girl while on holiday in Pattaya, returns home thinking he has found the love of his life, sends a large sum of money to said “girlfriend”, only to be dumped a few days later.

Usually, the man will curse all Thai bar girls, maybe join a few internet chat forums to bemoan his misfortune and to vent his anger, but will then say “c’est la vie” and go to the travel agent to book his next trip to the Land of Smiles!!! That would normally be where the story ends.

But, on this occasion the man in question was Derrick Bird, who went on a wild-west style “shoot ‘em up” less than a fortnight ago, through the streets on Cumbria, using his twin brother, family solicitor and work colleagues as live target practice.

Newspaper reports suggest that he had recently sent 50,000 baht (about £1,000) to a girl he met at a bar in Pattaya. It seems that he was hoping to start a new life with this young lady, but only days after sending the money, he received a text message from her ending their relationship.

There were also indications of family feud regarding a will and it appears that he was being investigated by the Inland Revenue for tax evasion. So, being jilted by his Thai girlfriend seems to have been the final straw for poor old Derrick and sent him into psychological meltdown.

I think it’s a shame that Thailand is in the news again, for all the wrong reasons and that Pattaya is being linked one of the UK’s worst mass murderers, in the last 50 years.

Although, I will readily admit that Pattaya attracts its fair share of scoundrels, rouges and reprobates, I don’t think what happens in the city can be used to try and explain the actions of a deranged lunatic.

However, I will now think twice about hailing a taxi in the UK in case it’s being driven by someone who’s mentally defective and might try to “pop a cap in my ass”.

Finally, I won’t mention the joke I heard about Derrick Bird being called up to the England football squad because he shoots better than Emile Heskey, as it’s a little bit insensitive!!!

For more on this story please these links.............

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7799167/Cumbria-gunman-profile-of-Derrick-Bird.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/the-grievances-and-grudges-that-drove-derrick-bird-over-the-edge-1991093.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/10216923.stm

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thai film scoops the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival

Before his dramatic win at the Cannes Film Festival this year, many of you will probably have never heard of the Thai film director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, better known as “Joe”.

He made his first short film “Bullet” in 1993, whilst studying for an architecture degree at Khon Kaen University. He later received a master’s degree in fine arts from the “School of the Art Institute” in Chicago.

But it was his love of film that led to him forming his own production company in 1999, called “Kick the Machine”. This was to provide a vehicle for him to produce and distribute his own material whilst providing support to other up-and coming young film-makers. Joe made his feature-length directorial debut the following year, with the film “Mysterious Object at Noon”, which was an eclectic mix of documentary footage and spontaneous, off-the-cuff narrative.

This quickly established him as one of the leading lights in the Thai film industry and won him a broad fan base. He came to the attention of Western “art-house” audiences in 2004, with the release of “Tropical Malady”, a film which starts by charting the relationship between a soldier and a young farm worker, but slowly becomes a dream-like fantasy, full of Freudian-style suggestion, sex and death. Tropical Malady won a “Jury Prize” at the Cannes Film Festival that year.

Two years later he was commissioned by Peter Sellars, to create a movie for the “New Crowned Hope Festival” in Vienna and the result was “Syndromes and a Century”. The film was shown at both the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, to huge critical acclaim.

However, the film brought him into to conflict with the Thai authorities. The “Thai Censorship Board” refused to allow the film to be shown in Thailand unless 4 scenes were removed that they had deemed to be “inappropriate”. Joe refused to compromise his artistic integrity and displaying the same spirit and free-will that he applies to his film-making, he and a number of other directors founded the “Free Thai Cinema Movement”, in order to challenge censorship laws.

Joe was propelled to superstar status this year, by winning the coveted “Palme D’or” at the Cannes Film Festival. His emotional and atmospheric film, entitled “Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives”, portrays the last days of dying man and shifts from scenes of real life to a phantasmagoric dream-world inhabited by ghosts and spirits.

Congratulations to Joe and everyone who worked on the film and I'm sure this will be a major boost for the Thai film industry. I hope it leads to more investment and encourages more young people to get involved in movie-making.

I recently read a good interview with Joe and it can be accessed by clicking the link below…..

The following article also gives you some more background on Joe……

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/asia/news/e3i6478fc41cf5464a55943f3ff6da955da

If you would like to know more about the Cannes Film Festival, you can access the official website through this link….

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thai Visas

Do I need a visa to visit Thailand? How long can I stay? What are the requirements?

These are questions I get asked a lot and I thought it was about time that I discussed the topic.

There are numerous categories of visas and each one is issued for a specific purpose. My summary won't include every type of visa, but will outline the most common visas that "Farangs" or Westerners generally apply for.

I hope to give my readers a clear and concise breakdown and help them navigate the complexities of the system.

1) Visa waiver programme

Travellers from over 40 countries, including the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, most EU countries and many of the Gulf States, who hold a valid passport are issued a 30 day stamp on arrival, if they enter the country at an international airport and a 15 day stamp, when entering at a land border or port, if they haven't already applied for a visa at a Thai Embassy or Consulate before entering the country.

The stamps are issued automatically, on completion of a landing card and you don't have to pay a fee, fill-in any other forms or provide a photo. Although, on rare occassions, you may be asked to show proof that you have access to living expenses of 20,000 baht (approximately £400) per person or 40,000 baht (approximately £800) per family. You must also be in possession of a confirmed flight ticket (e-tickets are accepted) to show you will be exiting Thailand within the 30 day or 15 day period. Train, boat or bus tickets are not accepted as proof that you will be leaving the country.

If you cannot prove you have an onward ticket and have enough money to to cover your living expenses you will be refused entry.

So, please be aware of this before you travel!!!!

I have been travelling regularly to Thailand since 2003 and I have never been asked to prove that I have sufficient funds or hold an onward ticket, but from time to time it does happen.

At the end of the 30 or 15 day period, you must exit leave Thailand. Nevertheless, it is easy for tourists to quickly return. You simply travel to a neighbouring country like Laos, Cambodia or Malaysia, get your passport stamped on exit and then re-enter Thailand under the visa waiver scheme for a further 30 or 15 days. However, in 2009, the Immigration Department introduced a new policy whereby you could only exit and re-enter the country on 4 x 15 day visa waivers or if you enter the country on a 30 day stamp you can only stay for a cumulative total of 90 days (3 x 30 days) in any given six-month period.

The visa waiver rules change regularly so it is important to keep track of any developments!!!

This entry stamp is not a visa per se, but rather an invitation to be in the country. For a full list of countries included in the visa waiver programme please click the following link....


2) Tourist Visas

Tourist Visas can only be issued by Royal Thai Embassies or Royal Thai Consulates and must be obtained before arriving in Thailand.

Tourist Visas are available with one, two or three entries. The one entry visa has a validity of three months from date of issue and the two and three entry visas have a validity of six months from date of issue, so they must be used within that time.

On arrival in Thailand, you will be granted either a 60 day or 30 day stay, according to your nationality. You will receive a stamp in your passport giving the date you enter and the date by which you must exit.

It is very important not to stay in Thailand beyond the exit date or you will be fined and may be detained.

You are not allowed to stay continuously in Thailand for more than the length of your visa. But, if you have a visa with more than one entry which has not been used, you can re-enter for further stay of 60 or 30 days until you have used up all entries. All you need to do is visit a Thai Immigration Border Office several days before your visa expires, then exit Thailand into neighbouring country and immediately re-enter to activate your next 60 or 30 days.

When applying for a visa you can either go in person or do eveything by post and you will need to provide the following information....

- An application form correctly completed and signed
- A passport which is valid for at least six months from date of travel
- A current passport sized photo
- The appropriate fee to cover any charges

Please be advised, that as each consulate or embassy is different, it is always wise to check with them, exactly what information and documentation you will need provide.

3) Non-immigrant visas

If the purpose of your visit to the Kingdom is anything other than tourism you must be in possession of a valid Non-Immigrant Visa before you enter Thailand.

A Non-Immigrant Visas can only be issued by a Royal Thai Embassy or a Royal Thai Consulate and it must be obtained before you arrive in Thailand.

Please be aware it is not possible to obtain this visa when you are in Thailand!!!

There are more categories of non-immigrant visa than you can shake a stick at, but the 3 main types you will encounter are as follows....

Category B - This visa allows you to work in Thailand for an International or Thai company and is considered by many as the holy grail of all non-immigrant visas!!!

Category ED - This is basically a visa which allows you to study. For example, language courses, thai boxing, scuba diving, but it also permits you to attend conferences, seminars and exhibitions. It does not allow paid employment.

Category O - This visa has many purposes and allows you to visit friends and family, to do voluntary work and attend training courses. If you're a pensioner and wish to stay in Thailand or you have a Thai wife and are looking to stay for an extended period then this is the visa you will need. This category does not allow paid or unpaid employment without a work permit. Even if you are volunteering you will need to obtain a work permit!!!!

Non-immigrant visas come in two forms, single and multiple entry. The single entry visa has a validity of three months from date of issue and the multiple entry visa has a validity of twelve months from date of issue so they must be used within that time.

On arrival you will be granted a 90-day stay and you will receive a stamp in your passport giving the date you enter and the date by which you must exit.

As with any visa, it is important to remember that if you over stay you will be fined and may be detained

If you have a Non-Immigrant Visa with a Multiple Entries you can re-enter for as many further stays as you wish, each allowing maximum 90 days, within the validity of the visa.

You are not allowed to stay continuously in Thailand for more than 90 days but if you have a multiple entry visa and wish to stay in Thailand for a further 90 days you must visit a Thai Immigration Border Office several days before your visa expires, then exit Thailand and immediately re-enter to activate your next 90-day stay.

When applying for a visa you can either go in person or do eveything by post and you will need to provide the following information....

- An application form correctly completed and signed
- A passport which is valid for at least six months from date of travel
- A current passport sized photo
- The appropriate fee to cover any charges
- Any supporting documentation, for example letter from your employer, sponsor letter from educational establishment, copy of marriage certificate, pension book etc

Please check exactly what you need, with the embassy or consulate, before applying!!!

I hope this information helps and if you have anything you would like to add, please send me an email.

The following weblinks also provide some useful information on this topic...............