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Pattaya & Thailand News Update
22/ Apr/ 2014 Thais Are The World’s Fourth Biggest Liquor Drinkers Thais are ardent drinkers, we know this. Not only do they enjoy a glass of beer "on the rocks", they also appreciate a bottle of whisky, brandy or Lao Khao, a cheap local rotgut made from sticky rice and popular with villagers in the countryside. No news here.
But according to recent market research undertaken by Euromonitor International, a London-based market intelligence firm, Thais aren't just heavy drinkers - they're allegedly the fourth biggest liquor drinkers in the world. We find it somewhat hard to believe but obviously only the South Koreans (!), the Russians and Filipinos consume more hard alcohol than the Thais ...
Below is a screenshot from online business news site Quartz that reported on these interesting findings two months ago: South Koreans drink twice as much liquor as Russians and more than four times as much as Americans. h/t 2bangkok.com.
22/ Apr/ 2014 Russian Steals Cheap White Rum at Big C, Drinks it in Changing Room ... Here's a bizarre story of yet another "quality tourist" (sic) from the former Soviet Union who obviously forgot his brains at the airport customs and then lost the plot, as we assume, during an unduly extended stay in Pattaya.
Mr. Vladimir Titov, the 49-year-old Russian antihero of this story, was reportedly arrested at the Big C Supercenter in North Pattaya Sunday afternoon for allegedly shoplifting three bottles of cheap imported white rum worth 148 Baht each and drinking parts of the content in a changing room ... Pattaya One News report that the Russian was "seen on security cameras firstly taking one bottle and then taking a further two bottles after he had gone back to the entrance to take a basket. After that he was seen to enter the changing rooms in the clothing section and is believed to have consumed some of the rum and transferred some into an empty plastic water container." (How provident!)
Not short of excuses, Mr. Titov rationalized his behaviour with the alleged fact that he had "just split from his long-time Thai girlfriend" who had left him along with "his money". Therefore, the heartbroken Ruski argued, "he could not pay for the rum so decided to steal it instead." Ah yeah, that razor-sharp logic! Note that, according to comments on the article at Pattaya One, the guy obviously also used to go begging in the area of Soi 7 for a while where "everyone knew he was crazy ..."
Of course, Mr. Titov was charged with theft and will now - sans sufficient funds to bribe himself out of this fiasco - likely spend some time in a Thai jail and then get deported.
But here comes the really funny part: "Knowing he is likely facing a custodial sentence if he is found guilty of theft in court, he begged police to allow him to consume some of the stolen rum as this may be the last rum he will be able to consume for some time."
Now guess how the boyz in brown replied to this unusual yet all-too-human request for a last liquid meal? Obviously not keen on drinking that cheap rotgut themselves, and "even though the items were alleged to have been unlawfully taken, the police allowed him to drink some of the rum before he was transferred to the police cells." Well, na zdorovie then, Mr. Titov! And next time please, if there's got to be a next time, bring some more Russian rubles to Pattaya ...
21/ Apr/ 2014 Norwegian Tourist Jumps From 2nd-Floor Hotel Room at Jomtien A 52-year-old Norwegian tourist Sunday morning jumped from his 2nd-floor balcony at the Silver Sand Villa at Jomtien Beach. The obviously mentally unstable heavy drinker survived the apparent suicide attempt but sustained a serious head injury, broken arms and broken legs and was in a semi-conscious state when he was found "lying in a pool of blood".
According to a receptionist, the Norwegian had been staying alone at the hotel since April 9 and was due to check out and return to Norway in about a week; he "often went out at night and very rarely spoke to anyone." PDN quotes "foreign friends" as saying that he always "felt like somebody was following him and wanted to kill him which scared him ..." Pattaya One quotes the "wife of a friend of the victim" as saying that he was "known to drink heavily and when drunk would become paranoid that someone wanted to kill him." Police suspect it was in this state of paranoia that he decided to jump off his 2nd-floor balcony.
18/ Apr/ 2014 Russian Tourist Arrested for Groping Thai Woman's Breasts on Walking Street Here are a few trivial lessons to learn for Pattaya newbies; namely that not all Thai women, not even in Pattaya, are hookers or available for money; and that it's vital never to cross the lines of "normal" social behaviour, even when you're drunk and the surreal experience of Pattaya's nightlife has slightly gone to your head. Being drunk is no excuse for behaving like a moron.
According to reports by PDN and Khao Sod, a 26-year-old Russian tourist has been arrested Thursday for groping a Thai woman's breasts on Walking Street. Not much is known about the woman, other that she is 35 years old and from Kalasin province in northeastern Thailand. For the sake of convenience, let's simply presume she was tourist who visited Pattaya or relatives here for the Songkran festival.
The woman and her 11-year-old daughter had now reportedly gone for a late-night walk on Walking Street Thursday night when they bumped into the "heavily intoxicated" Russian and his friends. Khao Sod reports that the Russian tourist "suddenly groped her breasts in front of her daughter, causing her much shock and embarrassment. She reportedly hit [him] once, but [the Russian] attempted to touch her again, so the woman decided to kick him and force him to apologise to her. When [the Russian] refused to apologise ... she shouted for help and called the police to arrest him." PDN adds that the woman now wants the "Russian molester to be prosecuted further according to the Thai law."
While we're not sure what "prosecution according to the Thai law" may have in store for the tourist, we assume that the Russian will eventually have to pay some kind of compensation to the woman and is lucky he didn't fall victim to Thai-style mob rule.
18/ Apr/ 2014 Songkran Road Death Toll: 322 Killed, 3,225 Injured in 2,992 Accidents 322 people were killed in 2,992 road accidents across Thailand during this year's "seven dangerous days" (April 11-17) of the Songkran festival.
According to figures given by the Bangkok Post and The Nation, a total of 3,225 people were injured during the traditional Thai New Year period, which sees many Thai people visit their families in the provinces every year, causing major traffic jams nationwide.
While the number of deaths was slightly down from last year, the total number of accidents and injured people were both up by about 6%. As usual, most accidents were caused by drunk driving (36.76%), followed by speeding (24.47%). About 80% of all road accidents involved motorcycles.
17/ Apr/ 2014 "Pattaya Clamps Down on Greedy Beach Operators" Interesting piece by Pattaya Daily News today. According to PDN, Pattaya city officials now obviously "clamp down on greedy beach operators" and on Thursday made their way to Jomtien beach "after they had received complaints that the beach operators [there] were being greedy and charging too much for their services. They found that [one particular] beach operator [at an unspecified location on Jomtien beach] had charged eight tourists 700 Baht for their beach beds."
We must say this is the first time we hear of such practices and they're clearly non-standard. The normal rate for a deckchair at Jomtien beach is roughly 30-40 Baht per day and most deckchair operators seem to adhere to these rates. 700 Baht for eight (?) deckchairs is clearly a rip-off. PDN continues: The female manager of the beach plot in question initially "denied the offence" and only admitted to it after locals officials "showed her the evidence of the payment bill and [a] picture that [the] tourists [had taken] ..." The report gives no further details about the "eight tourists" and their nationality, but they obviously took a picture of the greedy lady and the bill they were given (PDN has a photo of the bill) to some agency (which one?) and filed a complaint regarding their case.
According to PDN, the deckchair operator will now be "prosecuted according to Thai law" (law?) as her behaviour had "undermined the image of Pattaya". It is most likely though that she will be only ordered to close her business for seven days "if found guilty of ripping people off." Newsworthy we think.
16/ Apr/ 2014 "Alcohol Ban" on Pattaya Beach Road Announced for Songkran Finale, April 19 As the Songkran festival has ended in most parts of Thailand, Pattaya (more or less) only takes a two-day break from this annual mayhem and is already gearing up for the big finale this weekend. Pattaya's own Songkran festival officially begins on Friday, April 18, in Naklua, and finishes late on Saturday night, April 19, when the rest of Pattaya and Jomtien celebrate the big Songkran finale ("wan lai" in Thai) with water battles probably wetter and wilder than what you may have witnessed in the last couple of days.
Most of the water-throwing action on April 19 will presumably take place on and around Pattaya Beach Road which will be closed for traffic from 8am to 8pm from the Dolphin Roundabout all the way down to Walking Street. About 1,000 police officers and volunteers will be deployed around Pattaya to provide security, with five security checkpoints only in the Pattaya Beach Road area.
Pattaya's deputy police chief has reportedly also announced that police were "imposing a ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol along Pattaya Beach Road" on Saturday. Of course, it remains to be seen how strictly officers will enforce this ban; but unless some shitfaced hooligans become a public nuisance or get aggressive etc. we'd expect police to have better things to do than spoil the fun of thousands of tourists. According to Pattaya One, "arrests [would also] be made if any reveler is found to be acting in an indecent manner, which includes anyone who indecently exposes themselves", while the sale and use of PVC water pipes shall also be banned (again).
15/ Apr/ 2014 Thailand's Divorce Rate Up 27% Over Past Decade According to the Public Health Ministry, Thailand's divorce rate has risen 27% over the past nine years, highlighting the "fragile state of some families" in the kingdom. The Nation reports that in 2003, 328,356 couples married and 80,836 divorced. Less than a decade later, in 2012, only 314,338 couples married but 111,377 divorced (more than a third). Note that these figures only include officially registered marriages, not informal Buddhist marriages as are usual in Thailand.
A ministry spokeswoman pointed out that the "increased divorce rate led to more single-parent families". She recommended that "divorced couples ... maintain a parental role to create stability for their kids."
13/ Apr/ 2014 Samui-Bound THAI Flight Makes Emergency Landing at Suvarnabhumi A Thai Airways International (THAI) flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui faced "problems with the landing gear" Sunday morning and made an emergency return and landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The Bangkok Post reports that flight TG 281 left Bangkok's main international airport at 7.45am but had to "turn back after the captain discovered [unspecified] problems with the landing gear". An hour after take-off, the plane "landed safely" at Suvarnabhumi, where passengers were transferred to a new plane.
12/ Apr/ 2014 Ladyboy Snatches IPhone from Dutch Couple on Walking Street A Dutch couple on their way back to their hotel had an IPhone snatched by a ladyboy on Walking Street early Friday. Luckily for the tourists, an "eagle-eyed security guard" had watched the crime, detained the thief and recovered the stolen phone. Pattaya One News report that "just before 3am", a 58-year-old Dutch tourist and his wife, who stayed at the Windy Inn Hotel on Walking Street, arrived outside the hotel "where a group of ladyboys would be situated on a nightly basis."
The couple told police that they had previously "not been bothered by the ladyboys"; on this occasion, however, a 26-year-old ladyboy, reportedly with an "extensive criminal history", approached the Dutch tourist and "hugged him while at the same time removing [his] IPhone from a pocket in his short trousers. The suspect was then seen to discard the phone in a bush nearby for the purpose of recovering the stolen item at a later time, should he be caught as the robbery took place." (By the way, this appears to be a "strategy" often implied by ladyboy thieves.)
Fortunately, a 25-year-old security guard at the hotel, who had witnessed the theft, detained the ladyboy and helped the Dutch couple recover the phone. And the good news: The tourists insisted "this incident would not put them off from coming to Pattaya again as they believe the city is generally a safe place for tourists." Yes, we'd like to add, it generally is; yet it would be even safer without all these petty ladyboy crooks roaming the streets and beaches at night ...
11/ Apr/ 2014 Songkran Water Festival in Pattaya, April 13 - 19 Yep, it's that wet & wild time of the year again! Thailand's notorious Songkran festival, the traditional Thai New Year and often dubbed the "world's biggest water fight", kicks off again this weekend. Traditionally, Songkran is celebrated for three days only (April 13-15) and the throwing of water was introduced as a symbolic method to wash off the sins of the year gone-by and to pay respect to the elderly. In some parts of the country, however, including here in Pattaya, Songkran has pretty much degenerated to the "world's largest water battle" and has been extended to as long as a full week. (As you can see in the video clip embedded above - top right - even the US embassy in Bangkok enjoys celebrating the Thai New Year!)
Here in Pattaya, Songkran is celebrated from Sunday, April 13 to Saturday, April 19. While the main days are April 13-15 and April 19, be prepared to get wet anytime you leave your hotel, condo or house between this weekend and next Saturday. Love it or hate it: As you can't avoid getting soaked anyway, your best option is to simply participate in the wet and crazy fun, grin and bear it. For safety reasons, just be extra careful when riding a motorcycle and keep your wallet, cell phone, camera etc. in a plastic bag! Alternatively, you're advised to either skip Pattaya completely until next Sunday, or to stay indoors especially during the day and stock up for about a week ...
Richard Barrow has listed a few "Do’s and Don’ts for Celebrating Songkran 2014" on his Thai Travel News blog. The following two are the most obvious and important ones:
- "If you go out during Songkran, then you are fair game. Don’t complain if you are squirted in the face with a water pistol or someone rubs white powder on your face. Although it might not seem like it, they are actually taking part in a centuries old tradition of paying respect to their elders. Let them do it and smile. Resistance is useless."
- "Keep your cool at all times. Everyone is just having fun. Be prepared for the buckets of water which have been pre-chilled with ice. Also beware that people might come up to you from behind to smear white powder on your face. If they are polite they will ask first. But, you won’t see that happen often. Try not to move too much when they are doing it as you might end up with the paste in your eyes ..."
Please also note that Songkran is a public holiday period and Wednesday, April 16, has been declared an extra holiday this year. Banks, government offices, immigration etc. will be closed until then and not open again before Thursday! In order to celebrate the big finale in style, Pattaya Beach Road will also be closed to traffic from 8am to 8pm on April 19.
11/ Apr/ 2014 Oil Washed Ashore on Jomtien Beach A two-kilometre-long stretch of Jomtien Beach was found to be covered in small lumps of oil on Thursday, which officials claimed "posed no risk to beachgoers" and tourists swimming in the sea. They suggested that the oil washed ashore at the southern end of Jomtien beach originated from a tanker carrying about 50,000 litres of used oil that had capsized just off the coast near Bangkok on April 8. The Bangkok Post reported two days ago that the "oil spilling from the tanker has already affected coastal fishermen in the area [of Samut Sakhon province]." Pattaya One News report that on Thursday, "environment agency officials and a clean-up team of 10 people were sent to Jomtien Beach, in front of Soi 15, where the oil was first seen. The black lumps of oil were clearly visible along a stretch of beach measuring approximately 2kms and had been spotted by tourists on the beach, some of them showed us oil stains on their swimming costumes and skin."
An environment agency official "promised the oil would be removed from the beach as quickly as possible and [that] the presence of the oil posed no risk to beachgoers, a claim which was contested by on-lookers at the scene."
09/ Apr/ 2014 No New General Election Within 60 Days ... Thailand's Election Commisission (EC) decided in a meeting on Tuesday that a new general election to replace the nullified February 2 polls cannot not be called within 45-60 days as requested by 53 political parties. The decision was based on "security" concerns and implies many months more under a caretaker government with only limited powers.
According to the Bangkok Post, the EC "agreed that an election is a way out of the current political chaos and it should be called as soon as possible, but security and peace must be assigned high priorities ... the current situation could still hinder the election and calling a new one would not be fruitful."
While a new election date could not be set yet, there was reportedly a "tentative proposal" that fresh polls could be called "within the next 60 to 90 days".
The political parties calling for snap elections asap included the ruling Puea Thai Party of caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra but notably excluded the main opposition Democrat Party, which is seen as supporting the anti-government protest movement and would likely get defeated at the ballot box. The so-called "Democrats", who are calling for vague political "reforms" before a new poll, already boycotted the February 2 election and have threatened to boycott fresh polls again.
The February 2 election was nullified three weeks ago by the Constitution Court due to disruptions by the anti-government protest movement. Government supporters and democracy activists allege that not only the Democrat Party but also the courts and "independent" agencies like the Election Commission have aligned themselves with the anti-government/anti-election/anti-democracy protest group.
06/ Apr/ 2014 "Red Shirts" Rally in Support of Government, Warn of Civil War Threat After months of anti-government mass protests have failed to unseat caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, pro-democracy "red shirts" on Saturday staged their first major rally since violent clashes broke out between supporters and opponents of the embattled government last November. The mass rally on the western outskirts of Bangkok, described by leaders as a "rehearsal" for another big rally in the coming weeks, was attended by tens of thousands of pro-government "red shirt" activists.
The BBC: < Leaders of Thailand's pro-government movement have warned that any attempt to oust [the government] could trigger a civil war ... Speaking to a crowd of tens of thousands ... the chairman of the pro-government [group] said judicial institutions were trying "to take over power without elections". "What we are most concerned about - that we want to warn all sides against - is a civil war ..." >