Friday, February 23, 2018

Rampant border corruption

Under Thai law, only licensed companies can lend money at interest. But it seems that, if two Thais cross a few feet into a neighboring country, one can lend the other at the highest rate of interest I have ever heard of, and that’s OK with Thai police.
Sad indeed it is, that the main occupation and concern of government has become the protection of profits for people and corporations of no patriotic loyalty, the businesses of whom are actively destroying any potential for human society. That is, however, exactly where we are at now.
What enemy might Cobra Gold exercises help protect anyone from? Uniformed services serve only to protect profits.
My mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-ion-law are “stateless people” despite my brother-in-law being born in Thailand, something I know absolutely as I paid for the incubation essential for his survival after his premature birth. He’s now 15, living without any essential services, not even postal services, despite the claim at many post offices that the send to anywhere. Only modern times made the family poor; when my mother-in-law was young she was the beautiful daughter of a landed woman of means. But now increasingly modern times produce increasing demands on me from relatives I don’t even know. One was recently killed and another jailed due to activity they had no reason to see as wrong.
Feeling desperate, my wife stole from me so as to gamble at a casino bordering Mae Sai’s main bridge. She quickly lost B100,000 then after deposit of her Thai ID card was allowed to “lose” B130,000 more. She’s done this before; several years ago she lost at a casino in Huay Krai, just off Hwy 1, a casino sharing a wall with a police station. This morning she told me she needs B3500 for daily interest, about 4% per day. I told her to just never return across the border. She replied that the mafia that runs the casino is Thai. I reported this to a policeman friend who says he’ll look into it but thinks nothing can be done, I must pay.
The rich ‘win’. My children, and your children if you have them, lose. With no justice, no law, no regulation, no matter how rich you are, children have no future worth living, global warming or no. The rich are not just stealing from the poor, they are stealing from us all, and by now, I suspect that even the best of blinders fail to prevent anyone, not matter how obdurate, from knowing it, deep down.

If Cobra Gold exercises aren’t to help protect citizenry, what are they for? If the military government here doesn’t fight chaos and corruption, what good is it? In under half a year, the “vig” on my wife’s “debt” will far exceed the original amount and in a year be over ten million baht per day, even if she works for a third above minimum wage and forks it all over to the border mafia.
Let me remind the reader: the Myanmar government once “legislated” much of its own currency worthless, has engaged in genocide and terrified people into becoming refugees in three bordering countries. Is that just “internal affairs”? The refugee crisis the USA caused by destabilizing Libya and Syria has spread crime and instability throughout Europe, and something similar can happen here. Is a lawless “open border” worth it? Even with the rake off, the risk of going from Kaliyuga to Ragnarok should scare even the mega-rich as much as my wife’s debt scares her.

Were this at all legal any Thai angry at their spouse could bankrupt them with a simple border visit.
My wife didn’t do this out of anger at me but rather desperation regarding her extended family, and I suspect, a desire for some excitement and to feel like a big-shot

My wife has sent an 'interest payment' to "Wisan Inkiang" at KrungThai Bank, account # 1542161785, KBNK receipt # 22022561571802131001

A small family on a lady-bike, with baby, stopped by and the woman gave me this name and number: ฝน 093-2612141

a white pickup truck with big black English letters on the side, license บว 8741 from Prachanburi Prov (or something like that) just stopped by with three guys and another on a small black motorcycle, to ask about repayment. I chased them off.

But they returned, threatening my wife with death. Local police say it will be no problem identifying them.

A letter to the US embassy in BKK with the above info resulted in this reply from the CM consulate:

Dear Mr. Barlow,
Thank you for your email. Regarding your question about the purpose of the Cobra Gold exercises, Thailand and the U.S. have a long history of co-chairing this exercise, the longest running international military exercise in the world. It brings together nearly 30 countries, with an aim to strengthen joint cooperation and collaboration. Only through cooperation and collaboration can we overcome the challenges of today’s world and keep our people safe. Cobra Gold prepares participant countries for future multilateral operations, ranging from enhancing maritime security, preventing and mitigating disease threats, and responding to large-scale natural disasters.
I hope the above sheds some light on your question.
Kind regards,
U.S. Citizen Services

which I guess takes care of that...

After a week the wife finally took my advice and talked to the cops herself. They put her on the phone with the casino head (read, gangster head) and he agreed to call off his would-be bullies for a promise of B5000 a month until the B130,000 is paid, no further interest. That was last night. This morning it is clear that I am still a moron she is far smarter than, but I might be tolerated a bit better, sometimes.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Some CR hot springs

Huai Mak Liam Hot Spring and Forest Park is 4 km past Ban Ruam Mit on the other (south) side of the river, past the turn to Akha Hill Guest House. Sometimes at the height of the rainy season the area gets flooded, but it’s usually quite pleasant enough. Just by an almost boiling lake is another, cool, normal one. There’s a mixed water lake for free public bathing, and snack shops. A few kilometers closer to town a newly constructed natural hot-water pool has recently opened, also offering free public bathing.
Ban Poang Phrabaht Hot Spring (Ban Du) is west from Hwy 1 by Ban Kuk (just north of the airport road at k835). Private rooms with showers B20 plus B10 per person, a little more for newer rooms back behind the guyser, which looks a bit like a public shower. The half-hour time limit can be stretched a bit for showering off. There are towels for rent, and herbal ointments for sale. Clean enough (at least by Carribbean standards). The water’s so hot it must be mixed with cold.
Pong Nam Rawn (Baw Nam Ron) by Mae Suai, at the tourist trap on Hwy 118 – very sulfurous. 3 cement and stone well-like structures, 2-4 meters wide, with shallow, very hot water. Across the road one can rent small rooms with stone tubs and cold showers, B20.

also, just south of Mae Chan, turn west towards Mae Ai and Fang and go about 5 kilometers, maybe 6k, and on the south side is 'Silver Springs' hot-springs.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Pure Ones Do Nothing

This is about evolution from philosophical ideas and ideals to religion and superstition, the nature of reality and the nature of myth. I am making five hardback editions of the book, having made several paperback versions previously. It is available for free download here:
I hope that others will find the material within as enjoyably interesting as I have.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bird baby

One of our dogs caught a baby mynah bird learning to fly. The kids brought it home and our next door neighbor gave us a small cage, which we used the first night. My wife's mother and grandmother, true-life jungle people, were here, and my mother-in-law stuck food down the little thing (about 2 inches wide and three long - was longer but the tail feathers fell out) with a toothpick. It was allowed outside, wandered about in the grass some. I brought it in - it really can't travel well! But due to it objecting to me (it didn't yesterday; too hungry and scared I guess) I was able to get food into its open mouth. One pellet didn't go down (mixed with banana made too big a lump I guess) so I tried the heimlick maneuver, then resorted to pouring a capfull of water down. Seems to have worked. The poor guy sure quieted down. Tired, I think...
We put it in a basket with one of the remarkable fancy nests one sometimes finds about here – see second photo … but due to very cool rain, it’s now back inside, sleeping with head tucked under wing.
A Facebook friend from Australia sez: “The common Mynah is a very serious threat to the survival of many parrots. It is illegal to release one into the wild… Mynahs… deprive the other birds form nesting sites… love humans and their food scraps… have been called feathered cane toads by many biologists.” Another FB friend: hummingbirds “can fly 500 miles without stopping. Black birds eat them… The black bird she pointed to could be a raven. They sometimes fly with their mouths wide open.”

When i first came here, 1988, the area was still largely forest, the population was small, few roads were even paved and most houses were wood. Now there are "metaled" roads everywhere, lots of cement shop-houses built 20+ years ago and never ever used, and ubiquitous wi-fi. We do have lots of national park, more than any other province, which I am glad of, but the forestry department competes well as most graft-filled (police, state railway and a few others run about neck and neck) and schools are mostly for nationalistic indoctrination. Our world's a mess; I think Chiang Rai is one of the finest places in it. But I will eventually release the crow or myna. If it chooses to stick around, that's OK too.

sorry about the picture quality. cameras having become obsolete, one uses hand-phones, but I don't. With much exasperation (!) I took those shots with an old lap-top...

When I was a kid, both in Decatur GA and Ft Wayne IN, local hardware store had a mynah on a post and it could say a few words. Light chain around a foot, though

A friend adopted a baby bird, raising it until it could go off on its own. She ran an outdoor bar, where I'd sometimes sit. The little bird would fly down to visit... she'd feed it sunflower seeds from her mouth.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Empire of Truth

Here in Chiang Rai, Thailand, between WiangPaPao and MaeSuai on Rt 118, at Ban MaePrik, is a Phra Naresuan shrine. At the back is a huge map purporting to be of King Naresuan’s empire, about 1600 CE. The area claimed for him is huge, encompassing Laos, much of Burma, a lot of Yunnan, the Thai/Malay isthmus and of course all of present Thailand. The map is a result of nationalist fantasy. The concept of a country, or of geographical boundaries, didn’t exist here back then. A king ruled people, including other kings (often relatives), not area. Tribute was paid, and this gets misinterpreted as a kind of tax affirming subject status. But were this the actual case, Southeast Asia would have been a part of China. No-one claims that.
The reason I’m bothered about this is another map, purportedly of the Khmer Empire of 900 CE, which includes all of Laos, some of Vietnam and Yunnan, and a lot of the isthmus. It’s ridiculous. Wikipedia, which shows that map (it also appears elsewhere on the Net), has become used as a propaganda device, manipulated, censored and sometimes controlled by powers with other concerns than truth. For instance, try finding out about the nefarious influence the sugar industry on international politics. You won’t get much of its sordid history. Or look up Armenia. You’ll no longer find that that country has been in four separate, non-contiguous locations. Explanation of WWI as the result of power vacuums resultant from decadence and decline in the Asutro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires should surely be easier to find. The internet isn’t supposed to be this way.
We need to be able to return to the challenges of conflicting viewpoints and messages, varied interpretations of information, and the right of people to challenge authority. But authority, as ever in the clutches of power madness, strenuously disapproves of that. Stuff needs to be swept under the rug or otherwise hidden away, so that the status quo will only be changed in the direction of, well, of destabilizing the power system by too rigorously reinforcing it.
Human power is never permanent. No matter what it does, power can’t stop change, can’t dictate what is real, and can’t reinvent the world. People in Laos KNOW they were never ruled by Khmers (well, except in the far south). People here in Chiang Rai, and north of here, know this too. Most interested historians also know it.
When fact presentation becomes overly influenced by special interests (nationalism, self-interest, corporate greed) instead of based on unbiased faith in truth as instrumental for the greater good, we get knowledge stratification at best, or, far too often, knowledge suppression. An inability to share is also an inability to enjoy the true fruits of labor, inspiration and intelligent, dedicated focus.
To understand the rise and fall of empires, the migrations of peoples, changes in linguistic usage and awareness, to truly know anything of our development, it’s necessary to contain the ego and stifle many desires. That the result can be worth it needs no proof.
The dark, curly-haired populace of Oc Eo and Funan were surely people who followed coastlines (back then lower) from Africa to Australia. They are no longer much in evidence in Cambodia, and one reason is wars of conquest which brought in other peoples – often highland ones.
Trying to administer distant peoples was only a recent folly; Angkor never tried to rule northern Laos, or the Thai/Malay isthmus. There is no reason to think they could have. Even Naresuan didn’t try to administer what he “conquered”! It was understood that distance from power-centers lessens power.
Much published research isn’t available to me; Amazon doesn’t want to ship here (Thailand) and purchasing electronic downloads sight-unseen makes little sense to me. I can’t afford it anyway, not and feed my children. It would be nice if the internet would provide better forums for discussion, but I suppose that would require an absurd new form of ‘peer-review’: deciding who has the right to the attention of whom.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Vehicles in Thai

A new chapter of a book on "Thai Lingo" I've been working on for a few years:

Lesson 20: Vehicles

Cars are roat yohn (rot yon or roht yawn); on the news, motorcycles are rot jakayan yon (jakayan are bicycles). Otherwise they’re roht-kreuang or rot motor-sai. Pick-ups can be that (roht pick-up) or roht ka-bak.
One particularly Thai vehicle is the rowt ee-taan, flat-bed vehicles with the length of the steering column (kaen phuang ma-lai; the steering wheel itself, just phuang ma-lai) usually fully visible, often no roof, maybe a few boards for sides, and usually cluttered with old junk. Farm vehicles, they’re quite slow, not driven on busy roads, and typically have no license plate (tambian rot, which electric bikes, jakayan fai fai, don’t need either). Not so long ago farmers used quai lek (metal buffalos, which one walks behind) to plow fields; now they use roht tai na tractors.
A roht back-hoe is also called a roht makro, but I’ve yet to discover why. A front-end loader is a roht-tak or rot krat-din, a wrecker a rowt-laak, and a crane, roht crane. 10 wheelers are roht ban-tuk or rowt sip-loh. When two trailers are connected and pulled by one cab, that’s a rot-pheuang.
The trunk of a car is tii sai khong tai roht, usually simplified to tai roht. From British English, it can also be the boot (but on my car at least, a boot is also something at the inside of the two front-axle halves). Turn signals are sanyan fai, brakes, kreuang ham law or just brake, brake shoes, rong-tao break or pah-brake. Radiator, moh-nam. Spare parts, khreuang alai or just alai (low tone), as in yang alai, spare tire. Spark plugs are hua-tian (candle heads), transmission fluid nam-man geah. The horn to honk, tray (alternately shown as trae). Accelerator, ti raeng nam-man or just kan-raeng.
The seat of a motorcycle is boh-nang. Inner-tubes, yang-nai, while the outer tire, yang nok. The classifier for tires is sai. To increase tire air pressure, term lom.
Sai-fai-phuang are jump cables, a dent roi bup, and chon to hit something. So, tam rot boop jak gan chon kan means Make a dent by hitting another car. To coast is dap kruang roht lae ploi hail en long nin khao.
Dern mai ree-up (or riap) means it’s not running smoothly.

Monday, April 10, 2017


Clearing a path for a driveway to a section of my property I intend to sell off, I found borapet vines wrapped around a dead bamboo and extending underneath the ground-cover of dead bamboo leaves. I smashed and boiled some, drank the bitter infusion a couple times, and enjoyed a sense of strength and energy. Then worked too hard and afterwards became extremely tired… My wife had said not to use too much of it as it would make me 'mao' (drunk)
The bitterness can be ameliorated by adding licorice, honey and green tea.
Borapet is reputed to kill intestinal parasites. It certainly affects gut flora and activity, but perhaps not all for the good. After using it several times I couldn't eat anything with MSG (way popular and overused around here) without laying down for hours afterwards. I think that after not using borapet for a while I can enjoy Khao soi gai again, but am not yet ready to try.