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The `not so idyllic` life in an Esan village in Thailand

A while ago I wrote an article about the idyllic life in a typical, rural Esan village. Well, that`s not always the case, especially from a foreigners (farangs) point of view. So here`s a dose of reality.

Let`s start with the wake up call, about 5:00 am – noisy roosters, dogs, assorted spluttering tractors and motorbikes. Through bleary eyes a persecution complex begins when you think you`ve woken up in some communist concentration camp. Cue the village tannoy. What the hell is he saying? How loud? How early? Wouldn`t be too bad if they were announcing a quiz night or bingo!

Next is the communication issue.A version of Laos and not Thai, is predominantly spoken. You might be lucky if another farang lives in the village, even luckier if he`s `normal`. However, you might just be the token farang. Either way, for most of the time, you won`t have a clue how to have a conversation or what`s being said.  But you will hear the word `farang` spoken, a lot, so paranoia can creep in. They must be talking about me right? What are they saying?

Then there are the parties. Every week someone  either dies, or it`s a an anniversary of a death or a wedding or somebody`s joining the monk hood or it`s a Buddha day or a really special Buddha day. Which means it`s party time and Thais need no excuse for a party. This is the green light for the largest assembly of speakers in one place. The other day 2 guys were joining the monk hood, paraded around my village, followed by a huge truck that was basically one giant speaker.

Finally there is the food, often spicy, usually smelly and all with sticky rice. If you nip round to your  local  mom & pop store, 7/11 it aint. They may have cigarettes but not your regular ones , or snacks, crisps or coke come to that. Plenty of frogs or fish, plucked from murky waters in bins though.

Fancy living in a village? Here`s a few helpful tips:

Don`t own a pickup and mention the word `market`. Because no sooner will that word have passed your lips, than your truck will be fully loaded with family, friends and assorted folk.

Don`t try and ingratiate yourself with the village men who, with a wily grin, offer you a `sip` of Lao Khao. The local whiskey. Strip paint with it? Yes. Drink it? No! Smile politely at the men, wai and move on.

Ear plugs in the musics about to start

Unless you like a basin-on- the- head type haircut, pay that little bit extra and go to a barbers in town.
Health Care / Risks grow for ageing population
« Last post by thaiga on Yesterday at 02:54:55 PM »

Risks grow for ageing population

 FAMILIES and communities will have seriously limited resources to look after ageing parents and other relatives as Thailand becomes a full-fledged ageing society over the next four years, a state think-tank agency has warned.

Thailand has been moving closer towards an ageing society since 2005, as the number of citizens aged 60 or older has steadily risen, said the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB). The number of aged people has risen to 11.23 million, or 17.13 per cent of the total population, this year.

“Thailand will become a full-fledged ageing society in 2021, when their number will rise to 13.1 million or 20 per cent of the total population,” according to an NESDB report.

Among them, those who are 70-79 and above 80, will account for 37.2 per cent and 19.1 per cent respectively. This makes a combined 56.3 per cent of the total aged population.

This presents a challenge for families, communities and the country as a whole, as older people require more care for their welfare and assistance in their daily lives.

According to health reports, the number of seniors needing assistance for their daily activities, such as moving around the house, eating and bathing, rose to 20.7 per cent in 2014 from 15.5 per cent in 2009. Meanwhile, 1.3 per cent of them cannot help themselves at all.

Family is the first supporting unit for aged people, as children generally place high value on, and exhibit gratitude towards, their parents. However, the shrinking size of families has placed strain on this network. Single-child families accounted for 18.3 per cent of Thai families in 2015. The percentage of old people living alone rose to 8.7 per cent in 2014 from 3.6 per cent in 1994, while those living only with a spouse stood at 19 per cent in 2017, according to the National Statistical Office.

Family members also have limited knowledge and tools to handle the daily care of their parents. Many have to play “sandwich” roles – looking after both their own children and their parents. Worse, caregivers themselves are getting older. Family members also suffer high stress, especially when they have to look after bed-bound patients.

The government has supported communities to look after ageing members. In rural areas, members of tight-knit communities often co-operate, but they face a shortage of manpower especially among those who are able to take care of bed-bound patients, said the NESDB.

In urban areas, there are sufficient physicians but not enough volunteers to visit patients or elderly people at their homes. There is also a limit to secondary care services. In Bangkok, community leaders have organised health services for community members, but senior citizens have low trust in community health services. And ageing people have limited financial resources to access health services.

Many families have turned to private health services and these are on the rise. However, there is a lack of quality control in these services, even though the Public Health Ministry has issued guidelines for senior care.

Senior citizens are covered by the universal health care scheme, but they generally only get acute care services. Many do not get access to rehabilitation services after they leave hospital.

The NESDB has suggested that the government increase the capacity of families and communities to look after ageing members. Quality of private health services must be monitored and controlled, it said.

The government may have to provide medium-term services through secondary-care hospitals as a base in order to delay the age at which people enter into dependency.

The government has also been urged to consider raisings fund by issuing “social impact bonds” to support healthcare services for the ageing population in the long run.
Transport & Traffic / Re: 61 people killed EVERY DAY - Discipline
« Last post by thaiga on Yesterday at 02:50:33 PM »
Thais not yet in the habit of driving safely

No holiday traffic campaign will succeed until year-round discipline is inbred, so start with the kids

A perennial certainty on newspaper front pages ahead of the New Year and Songkran festivities is appeals for improved traffic safety. The pleas are going out again this year amid government pledges that more money will be spent on measures to curb the holiday carnage – and perhaps even knock Thailand off its notorious perch atop the list of the world’s most dangerous countries for highway accidents.

It’s clear, though, that imposing traffic discipline on Thais is as difficult as getting them to meet in the middle ground of politics. Even on Bangkok streets, where traffic police are in abundance, motorcyclists and their passengers skim around without helmets. Even if they could be persuaded to don protective gear at this time of year, it wouldn’t be the sustained “discipline” needed to reduce casualties year round.

In Vietnam, people on motorbikes wear helmets even in remote rural areas, where there are no police to enforce the law. That is discipline – genuine awareness of the risk of going unprotected. Good practice has become habitual and is thus followed without a second thought.

If there is light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps it’s in a decline in the number of drunk drivers on the road. Thais increasingly avoid driving when they head to parties or pubs, but this is best seen as a product of fear of arrest rather than the discipline to guard against mishap. Drinkers know there are checkpoints on the streets at night and don’t want to pay a fine (or a bribe) if they’re caught driving while intoxicated.

With the New Year holiday season upon us, several new measures are being pondered, including tougher penalties for drunk driving and lower and better-enforced speed limits. Another idea is to make it mandatory for children to be taught about traffic discipline beginning at a young age.

This last approach seems particularly promising, since bad driving habits might be eased aside in a generational shift, just as cigarette smoking has become less popular among youth. Safety campaigns have always tended to focus on adults, the ones behind the wheel, and yet the fear of heavy fines and losing your driving licence has remained the persistent factor in getting adults to obey the law. The fear is an automatic response. Good habits take longer to foster. Once ingrained, though, good habits last forever. The fear and the discipline would make a solid combination in bringing down the casualty statistics.

What’s most important is that efforts not be merely seasonal. Safety measures are typically stepped up during holiday periods and in the aftermath of highway tragedies that draw a public outcry. Then they evaporate for the rest of the year.

The situation at present is not promising. Children learn bad traffic habits from the adults driving them around. Bangkok is filled with young motorcyclists too young to drive. The ones riding pillion are allowed to go without helmets. In the provinces you see youths on bikes running red lights and making U-turns in risky places. These are the dangerous habits of adults, the disdain for the law and personal safety, being passed on to the next generation.

What the authorities are instilling each holiday season, rather than true discipline, is a droning message: “Drive carefully”. Unfortunately, it’s rendered inaudible by constant repetition. This is an annual tactic that annually fails.
Half as serious and less / Re: Anyone seen my little willy
« Last post by jivvy on Yesterday at 10:51:04 AM »
Energy & Environment / Watch out for shooting stars on the night of Dec 14
« Last post by thaiga on December 11, 2017, 09:09:30 PM »
Watch out for shooting stars on the night of Dec 14

Thai people will have a chance to view a large number of shooting stars on the night of Thursday, Dec 14, until the next morning, said Saran Poshyachinda, director of the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (Narit).

Although the Geminid meteor shower can be seen during Dec 4-17 this year, Mr Saran said the meteor shower will be most prolific on the night of Dec 14 starting from 8.30 pm until the next morning, with an average of 120 shooting stars in an hour.

The centre of the Geminid meteor shower is on the northeastern direction of the sky and can be seen with plain eyes in every part of the country, said Mr Saran, adding that, thanks to the waning moon, Thai people have a good chance to see the shooting stars for the whole night until 3.55 am of the following day.

Besides the Geminid meteor shower, the director said that there would be another meteor shower phenomenon on the night of Dec 22, but the number of shooting stars would be around 10 per hour.

On this occasion, Narit, in cooperation with Doi Inthanon national park would bring about 100 people who joined the “Open sky…look for stars” programme to Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand, to watch the shooting stars on the night of Dec 14.

Two observatories – one in Nakhon Ratchasima and other in Chachoengsao – will be opened for members of the public to view the shooting stars. 

The Narit would also hold the shooting star-watching activity at the Samila beach in Songkhla province.
Half as serious and less / Re: Have a rant
« Last post by thaiga on December 11, 2017, 08:51:40 PM »
Thai people eat when they are hungry,not when the clock tells them. :salute
is that right :rclxs0
Transport & Traffic / Re: Driving in thailand
« Last post by thaiga on December 11, 2017, 08:48:21 PM »
police found her dead. the driver had fled. is quite enough.
there is really no need for the gory details in the last post,i strongly object.
Check the link out that's what it states. shall we pretend it never happened like everything else it might go away.
Half as serious and less / Re: Have a rant
« Last post by nan on December 11, 2017, 05:23:37 PM »
Thai people eat when they are hungry,not when the clock tells them. :salute
Transport & Traffic / Re: Driving in thailand
« Last post by nan on December 11, 2017, 05:18:56 PM »
police found her dead. the driver had fled. is quite enough.
there is really no need for the gory details in the last post,i strongly object.
Half as serious and less / Re: Have a rant - Adjusting To Life In A Thai Home
« Last post by thaiga on December 11, 2017, 01:08:53 PM »
Adjusting ? To Life In A Thai Home

I have lived in Thailand for over 5 years now and I love my life here. However, there are a few things that I will never get used to if I live to be a hundred.

Having been brought up with the usual English traditions, I find it difficult to totally embrace “turning Thai “. Take meals for example. Breakfast between 7 and 9am, lunch (or for northerners , dinner) between 12 and 1pm and tea between 5 and 6pm.

We simple folk didn’t go out for “dinner” in the evenings !

Things are a little different here. I’ve lost count of the times I have been woken in the middle of the night by chatter and the aroma of cooking food. Naively I always pose the same question through blurry eyes, “What is going on?” And I always receive the same matter-of-fact answer, “We’re hungry !”

I point out that if they were asleep they would not be hungry but I simply get the “stupid farang ” look. Thai life decrees “eat when you are hungry !”

One of the hardest things to come to terms with is “Thai-Time” ! Punctuality has always been important to me, probably because of teaching for 34 years. We have 5 clocks in our house, only one of which works. In fact, that is one too many as it is totally superfluous to requirements.

It is also fascinating to note that minutes in Thailand tend to consist of around 300 seconds ! So, “I’ll be there in 5 minutes, ” really means 25 minutes.

If I arrange to meet anyone, I like to be there on time. Often, my good lady very kindly offers to drop me off, so as to avoid any misunderstandings with the police later on.

However, if I start getting a little impatient as it becomes apparent I’m going to be late, I am met with ,” Bar going to close soon? Your friends can’t have drink till you get there? and so on.

And I suppose she has a point but I still find it very irritating. As is getting to the bus station at the last possible minute !

But the situation that winds me up every time is not being able to find something in the house. The number of occasions where I was certain that we had a poltergeist are numerous. Things just disappearing into thin air.

Though far from being a DIY expert , I do have a toolbox, in which I keep tools ! When I am finished using a tool, I put it back in the said toolbox. Not a Thai ! Not when there is a convenient empty nearby space to use !

Invariably, I can be heard muttering to myself as I hopelessly search for various objects that I need at a particular moment. Eventually, my lady can take no more and says, “What problem?”

I explain that I appear to have lost my glasses or whatever. I get the reply, “Not lost.” I fall for this every time as the euphoric feeling of relief that the item is not lost kicks in.

“Great, so where is it?”  “Somewhere in home !” The urge to wrap my fingers round her neck is sometimes overwhelming but again there is truth in what she says. I “lost” my gold bracelet a while back and remarkably it did indeed turn up 18 months later, yes, in the home ! So technically, it wasn’t lost !

Finally, the matter of plates, cups and glasses etc is another irritant for me. Whenever I finish a meal or a drink I take the dirty dishes etc to the sink. Any left over food is put in a waste bin.

If I’m in a hurry, I give the plates etc a quick rinse to make it easier to clean them later. Not my girlfriend’s sons. There is crockery and glasses all over the house AND garden ! The sink is often full of dirty dishes with left-over food still on the plates.

The strength of ants is well-documented but the ones that inhabit our home are ant-Olympic standard, such is the amount of free sustenance readily available.

I’m sure many people have the same “problems” and like I said earlier, I love my life here. I am realistic enough to know that all this is never going to change, but it’s good to have the occasional moan.
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