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  1. Fantastic photos of a beautiful place!
  2. Wonderful photos, Michael. Thanks so much for sharing them.
  3. The Eyes of Thailand, A Documentary About Injured Thai Elephants & The Woman Who Helps Them By Rusty Blazenhoff on October 8, 2012 Motala is a working elephant in Thailand that lost her front left leg in 1999 when she stepped on a landmine (left over from Thai-Myanmar border conflicts) during her lunch break in the forest. Motala’s leg had to be amputated below the knee and, in 2006, she received her first artificial leg. Then, in 2009, she got her first permanent prosthesis from the Friends of the Asian Elephant elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve in Thailand. The Eyes of Thailand, a feature-length documentary film by Windy Borman, tells the powerful story of Soraida Salwala (the founder of Friends of the Asian Elephant) as she helps Motala and other injured elephants walk again (full synopsis). In this clip from the film, we get to see Motala take her dramatic first steps using her first artificial leg. A list of the film’s screenings can be found online. Soraida Salwala opened the World’s First Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang, Thailand in 1993 to treat elephants that are ill or injured as a result of work, abuse or neglect. To date, she and her staff have treated over 3,000 elephants for everything from eye infections to knife wounds, gunshot wounds, broken bones, drug addictions and building prosthetic limbs for the survivors of landmine accidents. Since then, the Asian Elephant population in Thailand declined from 40,000 to less than 2,600 left in captivity. Not only are Asian Elephants endangered, the remaining elephants are overworked, abused, exported to zoos around the world, or disfigured by stepping on forgotten landmines along the Thai borders. Don't miss some great photos here: http://laughingsquid...who-helps-them/
  4. Military: arms seized by reds missing Olan Lertrattanadamrongkul The Nation October 9, 2012 1:00 am Among the Army's weapons confiscated by red-shirt protesters in April 2010, only one M-16 rifle has been returned to the military, the rest are still missing, Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkam-nerd said in testimony yesterday. The missing weapons included 25 Tavor rifles, four M-16 rifles and 39 shotguns, he said in testimony before the House of Representative's sub-committee on political development and mass communication. The weapons belonging to the Army were confiscated by red protesters during the bloody protest in April 2010. They were displayed on the red-shirts' stage at Rajdamnern Avenue on the day, he said. Deputy Transportation Minister Chatt Kuldiloke, who was at the protest, said he saw a number of war weapons seized by the protesters and shown on the stage, but all of the weapons had been returned to the police. "I would have helped to find them," he told the sub-committee chaired by the opposition Democrat's MP Watchara Petthong. Chat said the authorities employed excessive force to handle the situation, using armoured vehicles and other heavy war equipment to crack down on the protesters. Read more here: http://www.nationmul...g-30191947.html
  5. Excitement over the naming of Pheu Thai's new leader is much overrated - given it's largely a matter of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra choosing one "yes-man" over others. The only reason Thaksin has yet to pick his favourite is because he wants to cushion the blow to allies who would then become the unchosen ones. In order to put the Pheu Thai leadership into context, it is essential to factor in two party dissolutions involving Thai Rak Thai and People Power. The Thai Rak Thai disbandment had a huge impact on 111 top-notch party executives, including Thaksin, while the People Power dissolution triggered the collapse of the Somchai Wongsawat government and saw the removal of 37 party executives. More about this hot topic here: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Wanted-Yes-man-to-be-Thaksins-next-fall-guy-30191946.html
  6. A small island state in Southeast Asia has come out tops in a listing of countries that boast of the richest expatriates. In an annual survey released by HSBC on Monday — which was conducted across 100 countries and involved more than 5,000 expatriates — Singapore emerged as the most favored expat destination to make money in and accumulate luxuries. Foreigners, who make up a sizable portion of Singapore’s 5 million-plus population, earn more than those living in any other part of the world. About 54 percent of Singapore-based expats who took part in the poll earn more than $200,000 annually compared to a global average of only 7 percent according to the Expat Explorer 2012 survey. Singapore, which came in third place last year, moved up two slots to beat Bermuda at No. 2 and Thailand at No. 3. The three other Asian countries that made it to top 10 are Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam. The survey, in its fifth year, showed 80 percent of the expats who moved to Singapore saw an increase in their disposable income. Around 44 percent reported an increase of 50 percent or more in their disposable income, compared to the global average of just under a fifth. More here: http://www.cnbc.com/id/49324949
  7. Sticker shock: Why are glasses so expensive? Have you bought a pair of glasses lately? Bet your eyes popped when you saw the price tag. If you don't go to places like Walmart or Costco, you could easily be spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a pair that cost $30 10 years ago. Talk about sticker shock. And it's not as though things have changed that much: they're still made of a couple of pieces of plastic or wire, some screws and glass. Why should a pair of glasses cost more than an iPad? Well one answer is because one company controls a big chunk of the business. Never has there been so much choice: Ray-Bans, Oakleys, glasses for running, and skiing, and even reading. A staggering variety of colors and designers. You'd think the competition would force the prices down. One reason it hasn't is a little known but very big Italian company called Luxottica. If you own a nice pair of specs or shades, they're probably theirs. Luxottica is the biggest eyewear company on earth. It shuns publicity, but CEO Andrea Guerra invited us in for a look. And it was eye-opening. More here, but make sure you watch the video.
  8. We are proud to announce its fifth annual Haunted Halloween at Mulligan's Lakeside (Lake Mabprachan) on Saturday, October 27, 2012. The highlight of this year's ghostly gathering will be the terrifying "House of the Undead" -- an exciting and scary labryinth that takes spectators on a dark journey through a cavernous dwelling featuring demented criminals, creepy crawlies, paranormal poltergeists, haunted coffins, witches' incantations and much, much more! If you successfully survive the “House of the Undead,” you will be awarded the much coveted, spooktacularly special, Pattaya Players, Haunted Experience "Survival Badge of Honor." In addition to the House of the Undead, there will be many activities, rides and live shows for children and adults of all ages to enjoy! If being scared is not your thing, come and enjoy our myriad of traditional Halloween games and fun carnival rides! There will be a live action Weapons Demonstration, Fire Show, Merry-Go-Round, Racing Cars, a Jumpy Castle, Bobbing For Apples, Face Painting, Whack the Rat, a Witch Hat Ring Toss...among many, many others! All attendees are encouraged to dress up in traditional Halloween costumes! In addition, fair-style food and drinks will be on sale all night long! Experience the thrills that are sure to come during this exclusive one night only event. Taking place from 6:00 PM onwards, tickets will be sold at the event (on the night of) only. The admission price will be 200 Baht per person and will come with 10 complimentary tickets. Each attraction, game and ride will require a set amount of tickets, depending on the activity. The "House of the Undead" itself will require the entire 10 tickets. Additional tickets will also be available for purchase in multiple packs -- with greater discounts being offered on larger "family fun packs." For specific details, please visit our website at www.pattayaplayers.org. Link for admission and ticket info: http://pattayaplayers.org/catalog.html
  9. Asia’s Center for TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) conducts intensive, five-week courses leading to a TESOL certificate. This certificate is supported by Cornerstone University of Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. For the first three weeks the classes are Monday-Friday, 8-4. For the last two weeks, the classes are 8-12, followed by a two-hour practicum in the afternoon or evening. This totals 120 hours in class and 20 hours of practicum (10 hours observing and 10 hours teaching. The same course is taught in Manila April/May if that is better for your schedule. Contact Melody, infothaiatactesoldotcom for more info, or look at http://www.actesol.com Link I found this info: http://www.brigada.org/2012/10/07_9637
  10. The CDC study on guns...shut down. by lutznancy ...In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he and other researchers at the CDC started looking at gun violence in America.......their conclusions caused the NRA to to lobby Congress and put enough fear into our esteemed politicians to cause them to withdraw the funding.....it shut the whole study down. But look what they found!... ...snip ..."We started looking at gun violence as a public health problem at the CDC in the late 80s and early 90s." Rosenberg says. "The standard line from the NRA is that you should have a gun in your house to protect you." The results of their study speak for themselves: not only does owning a gun not protect you, but it increases the risk of homicide for people in the home three times, and increases the risk of suicide five times. The same science that researchers use to study traffic deaths and other safety issues can be applied to the study of guns and their impact on the health of society. "We're being held hostage to firearm violence," Rosenberg says, citing the NRA as the cause. "All of the science that could possibly give us answers is being stopped." While a tremendous amount of research has been done to stop other leading causes of death, like cancer, or traffic deaths, Rosenberg says that the NRA has successfully put a stop to any work that might have been done to decrease firearm injuries and deaths. Gun control has not been an issue in this country in years. Democrats have dropped the entire issue. They are so afraid of the NRA that even after all the horrific gun violence in our country in the last year, not a peep about any new gun control laws. More of the diary on DK: http://www.dailykos....-guns-shut-down NPR story: http://www.thetakeaw...t-gun-violence/ I heard the story Friday morning and wanted to be shocked, but just couldn't be. The NRA is too powerful for me to be shocked at this.
  11. BPA's Real Threat May Be After It Has Metabolized: Chemical Found in Many Plastics Linked to Multiple Health Threats Bisphenol A or BPA is a synthetic chemical widely used in the making of plastic products ranging from bottles and food can linings to toys and water supply lines. When these plastics degrade, BPA is released into the environment and routinely ingested. New research, however, from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests it is the metabolic changes that take place once BPA is broken down inside the body that pose the greater health threat. ... snip) Of particular concern is that BPA exposure is correlated with disruption of estrogen signaling. The chemical's molecular structure is similar to that of estradiol, one of the human body's three main estrogens, suggesting that BPA binds to estrogen receptors. The estrogen receptor is designed to grab and hold estradiol and related estrogens. Disparate chemicals, however, can share some structures found in estrogens, enabling them to bind to the estrogen receptor. When that happens, problems can occur. In binding to the estrogen receptor, BPA can disrupt the body's endocrine or hormone system, with consequences especially worrisome for fetuses, infants and young children. Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. Its use is more broadly banned elsewhere in the world. ...snip The article goes on to say 90% of us are already exposed. This is the reason I rarely drink water from a plastic bottle. Read more here: http://www.scienceda...21004200905.htm
  12. The two things that everyone seems to know about Thailand are that (1) the food is great, and (2) the food is cheap. But, if you wander away from tourist areas and join the locals for a meal, you’ll find that the food is even better and cheaper—one-tenth the price at home. If you want to eat like a local in Southern Thailand, here are a few things you should know. 1. Avoid the indoors Four walls and a closed door? Back away—such establishments in provincial towns and cities are usually expensive and tend to cater to locals who want to spend their money on a Western experience. An indoor restaurant means air conditioning, and AC means high electricity bills—which translates into expensive food. As a general rule, locals eat al fresco. 2. Do drink the water, and the ice You don’t need to keep your mouth shut tight in the shower or worry about brushing your teeth when you stay off-resort, but even locals don’t drink the tap water in Thailand. Homes and commercial establishments have drinking and cooking water delivered in five-gallon jugs. That means the pitcher of water on the table at your local eatery is safe to drink. And the cup or bucket of ice they bring to your table is also good to go—ice is delivered to restaurants on a regular basis. Locals enjoy their beverages iced cold, including their beer, so you should too! You might be charged for the ice, but it’s usually a nominal fee, and the ice with the pitcher of water is much cheaper than if you crack the bottled water that’s often sitting on the table when you sit down. 3. Eat with your right hand Local restaurants often provide communal plates of fresh veg—cucumber, green beans, cabbage and various unidentified leaves. There’s also sticky rice, meat on sticks and various other finger foods to try. All of these should be eaten with your right hand. As is the custom in many non-Western cultures, in Thailand, the left hand is reserved for hygiene, and the right for eating. Even if you are reasonably sure that your hands are equally clean, it’s best not to gross out your fellow restaurant patrons. More tips here: http://www.traveland...al-in-thailand/
  13. Every fibre of my body aches to live in Thailand. I step outside, the heat wraps around me, and the smells waft up my nostril. Despite the stench of durian, rotten fruit, previous evening’s garbage and falang vomit, I feel alive. Two steps later, I’ll smell incense and pork roasting and all will be good again. Every step in Thailand brings you something new to savour: tastes, smells, warmth, humility, friendliness and spiritual peace. ...snip 4. Friendly and Fun People Thais aren’t so friendly that they will go out of their way to talk to anyone who walks by. They do respect your privacy, but if you are interacting with them, then you are welcomed in like part of the family. You instantly feel good around them and all your guards drop because you know all they bring to the table is acceptance, warmth and love. On my recent trip to Thailand, I laughed a lot with the Thais and I realized just why they are so awesome. They want to laugh more than they want to argue, complain or be bitter. It’s all about the sanuk. Why would you want to view life in any other way? Life is fun! Don’t take it too seriously. Read more of this blog with beautiful photos of Thailand here: http://www.ytravelbl...-love-thailand/
  14. October 4, 2012 By Thaizer It’s understandable that some visitors to Thailand want the convenience of having Thai Baht in their possession when they first arrive in the country, but if you want to get the best exchange rate you should wait until you arrive in Thailand. Changing money in Thailand is a straight-forward process, but there are a few things you need to be aware of if you want to get the best available rate. Changing money at Bangkok airport It’s easy and convenient to change money at Bangkok airport. There are numerous exchange booths, but these are mainly operated by TMB (Thai Military Bank) and SCB (Siam Commercial Bank) and rates here aren’t usually as good as you will get at their branches elsewhere in Bangkok. It’s not a big deal if you are just changing over relatively small amounts of money that you require immediately for taxis, food or accommodation, but if you are changing a large amount you will save money by waiting until you get into downtown Bangkok where you can compare rates at different branches. If you do change money at Bangkok airport and want to get the best rate, you will need to head down to the basement level and find the Kasikorn Bank booth which is located opposite the food court by the entrance to the airport train link. Unlike the TMB and SCB exchange booths which are open 24-hours a day, the Kasikorn counter is open 07.00 to 23.00. Which bank in Thailand provides the best exchange rate? Exchange rates can vary so you will have to do your own comparisons when in Thailand, but generally speaking branches of Kasikorn Bank and Bangkok Bank tend to offer competitive rates. Independent money-changers such as Super Rich (cash only no traveller’s cheques) usually provide better rates than those offered by any bank, but there are fewer of these outlets around and you will need to factor in convenience and the cost of getting to the Super Rich outlet. If you have large transactions or are close to one of their outlets, then Super Rich or other similar Forex exchanges are a good option. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) ATMs are common in Thailand particularly in the main towns, cities and resorts. There are some exceptions on small islands (no ATMs on Ko Lipe for instance), but for most destinations you should have no trouble in finding one. Most (but not all) ATMs in Thailand will accept foreign cards. Just look for the VISA/Mastercard/Cirrus signs on the machines. Instructions are available in English when you insert your card. Just as you would in your home country, be sensible when you are withdrawing money and be aware of who is around you. To be extra cautious, use ATMs in shopping malls or within banks rather than those on the streets. Since April 2009 Thai banks impose a 150 Baht ATM withdrawal fee for foreign cards. One exception at the time of writing is AEON Bank ATMs(see below). Please note the 150 Baht fee is separate to any fees your own card issuer will charge to use your card abroad. Check in advance with your bank or card issuer the fees you will be charged for using your card abroad. Maximum withdrawal may depend on agreements you have with your bank in your home country otherwise Thai ATMs are usually restricted to a maximum withdrawal of 20,000 Baht in any one transaction (i.e. 20 x 1,000 Baht notes). Much more info here: http://www.thaizer.com/money/where-is-the-best-place-to-change-money-in-thailand/
  15. The most infamous of Thai parties is, of course, the Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan, which takes place monthly, and the largest of them all is on New Year’s Eve. This is a wild event, with tens of thousands of revellers taking over the beaches at Haad Rin, dancing and drinking from the ubiquitous plastic buckets of Thai moonshine and Red Bull. If you’re after something a little more laid-back, consider the fishing village of Hat Bo Phut on Koh Samui, where the many local bars and restaurants will host parties, and at midnight there is a celebration with pretty lanterns and fireworks on the beach. My recommendation would be to see in the New Year in Bangkok. This is always an exciting city to visit, and New Year is no exception. Book accommodation in advance and arrive a few days before to check out where the parties will be held. Read more here: http://www.tntmagazi...tralia-via-asia