Australian, 28, Hacked by Machete in Surin – Dies

A really tragic story out of Surin – up by Sisaket, Yasothan, Ubon Ratchathani – a non-tourist area, but where there are some expats that choose to live.

Here’s a bit I pulled from the Sydney Morning Harold…

An Australian tourist who died after being attacked in Thailand will be buried there on Friday (April 16, 2010), farewelled by his pregnant Thai wife and Adelaide family.

Andrew Oake, 28, had been holidaying in Prasat, near Surin in northeastern Thailand, for two months with his wife, Som, who is six months pregnant.

About four weeks ago the pair were traveling between villages when they were set upon by two men on motorbikes.

Som ran for help while Mr Oake was slashed in the arms and head with a machete in what might have been a failed robbery.

Full story here.

I lived in Ubon Ratchathani for a while and I had heard many stories from locals telling me to be careful at night driving the motorbike on any country roads or even main roads when nobody else was out. They told me about guys on motorbikes with machetes… They said attacks happen fairly often to locals and that it isn’t reported in the newspapers or on local TV much. I’ve mentioned the machete wielding motorcyclists a number of times on this blog. Never knew a farang to be killed as a result of an attack with machetes though.

So, just another reason to keep the Thais smiling no matter what the difficulty. Last Songkran I saw a guy being chased down a dirt road by numerous guys with knives, pipes, and machetes. Was he killed? I don’t know that there could have been any other outcome.

Anybody have any inside information about this?

Anything that specifically led up to this?

Welcome to Krabi…

I just saw a blog post:

http://www.thainewsportal.com/swiss-tourist-found-strangled-on-krabi-beach/

A tourist strangled to death at Noppharat Thara beach – a 30 year old Swiss woman died today apparently. She was found with her handbag strap around her neck and face down in the sand.

I just blogged about the 2 Phi Phi deaths that nobody is explaining yet – but cyanide was found in one of the women that died. That’s enough to do it.

Krabi is usually a very safe place, and there’s no reason to stop going there – it’s just very strange we’ve had 3 foreigner deaths from 2 different causes in the last day or so.

In my opinion Krabi is safer than Patong Beach, Chiang Mai, Bangkok of course, Pattaya, and Samui and the other islands Tao, Pha-ngnan.

I wonder if we’ll see a mass exodus from Krabi this week… that’d be difficult because there are very few people there at the moment.

Canadian Online Scam Artist in Bangkok

Talking to a Thai girl today at dinner – a friend of my girlfriend… she used to date a Canadian guy that was scamming people online everywhichway for usually hundreds and often thousands of dollars on Ebay and through other means.

As foreigners in Thailand you MUST be careful. In fact, when online I’d be much more careful about foreigners scamming you than anyone else. The scumbags of the world arrive here in Thailand and set up shop.

They sell property that doesn’t exist. They sell cars that are stolen. They sell computers on EBay, BahtSold, Craigslist and other online sites.
If you’re going to buy something from someone that advertises in one of these places, I’d suggest a few things…

1. Try to meet in person to make the exchange – cash for product. Know what 1,000 baht looks like and feels like, and the verification checks you can do to ensure you have real baht.

2. Take your time to test it when you do. You only have a few minutes. If it’s electronics – turn it on and do something with it. Shake it… make sure it works whether it’s sitting still on your desk or moving in your hand.

If it’s a notebook computer you should try the CD-ROM drive, the usb ports, check the system icon in control panel and make sure there aren’t any yellow exclamation marks. Test whatever you’re buying and make certain it works because if someone’s scamming you – even in person, they’re betting you’re not going to do the one thing that doesn’t work with whatever they’re selling.

3. Google the email address the seller uses to list the item on the websites. If you get nothing – that’s a clue that this is a fresh email address that is too clean. If the person lives here and is advertising online some expensive item probably there’s a history attached to their email address. If you can’t find at least a few posts in Google that the person with that email address made – be VERY cautious. I always ask for the person’s main email address so I can get some results in Google. Otherwise – I don’t do any business with the person.

For instance… google my two main email addresses, “thaipulse@gmail.com” or “aimforawesome@gmail.com” and see what you get. Surely there’s a hundred results. Probably more – I haven’t done it in a while. Ask the person if he/she has any blogs or websites or anyone of repute that can vouch for them. If not don’t get into any deal with the person.

4. Ask the seller for the serial number of the item – and look it up on the manufacturer’s website. Digital cameras and other items can often be found this way. Perhaps it’s stolen and when you Google the serial number you find out it was reported stolen and if you ever send that item into the manufacturer you’re going to get screwed and lose it – the owner will get it back!

5. Meet the person in person to close the deal. Honestly I don’t think I’d ever send money through ATM transfer or Paypal to another foreigner here in Thailand unless that person was well known and I could track him/her down in the case of getting ripped off. I don’t like to get ripped off. I really don’t like it.

I’ve sold a number of 20,000 Thai baht and higher items while here in Thailand. I’m amazed at the trust buyers have in buying my items. They readily transfer money Atm to Atm and it ends up in my bank account.

I usually attach a signature to my email when responding to buyers that lists like 6 of my websites. It wouldn’t be hard to track me down. I hope that’s the reason why – and I hope they aren’t just that trusting.

I know there are some very trusting people here in Thailand though. I’ve met some of them.

Are you a trusting person – or a cautious person?

I’m way over the edge with being cautious – and it’s served me well in Thailand. I hope you choose that option too – you’ll be happier for it.

How can you stay safe in Thailand?

You can start by getting “the book”.

For a current state of the country because it’s updated often – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

Thai Black Book information site- >

Thailand’s Red Shirts, Thaksin, Military

I spent today with the TV running – which, though I hate it – I’ve found it invaluable to keep up with what’s going on with the red shirt protests in Thailand. TV news here has been dumbed down and is on a serious delay – hours or tens of hours in some cases.

Some say that the media is controlled by the Yellow shirts – who don’t have a real interest in reporting the red shirt protests except in a negative way – biased. I can go for that. The news I”m able to see on Thailand TV on ASTV, Asian News Channel and other Thai channels are pretty lame.

Twitter!
If you’re very interested in what’s going on in Thailand or even anywhere in the world you best shot at this is Twitter. Now is the time to get to know Twitter because it’s a hell of a news source. I’ll create another post somewhere and link to it from this one to show you how to use Twitter to follow the goings on – breaking news in Thailand -and you can generalize the info to apply it to finding out about ANY breaking news event in the world. It’s an AMAZING tool. The entire world should be using it. Anyway, more on that later.

Red Shirts
So – recently the red shirts have crashed the Royal Cliff Hotel in Pattaya and caused the leaders of Asian countries to escape by helicopter from the rooftop. They’ve parked gasoline trucks in residential areas with the idea that they would blow them up – I heard. Not sure if that’s true. If true that is more akin to terrorism than just protesting the government and wanting it to change.

They’ve hijacked about 30 city buses and parked them places to block the roads and set their tires on fire – some say to negate the effects of tear gas police might fire, others say – which I find much more likely, they ignite the fires to make it much harder for the police to move the buses.

Rumors!
Rumors run crazy in times like this – on Twitter I heard that the Thai government was ORDERING Americans to leave the country immediately. This same idiot on Twitter also said there was mass food poisoning in Singapore – though I found nothing about that on CNN, BBC, or elsewhere. I didn’t look again – that was about 6 hours ago.

So, everything that comes across Twitter is not the complete truth – like no news source is.

Thai Military
The military was promising to keep control of Bangkok, and so far that’s not been realized at 6:30pm Monday evening, the first day of Songkran, Thai New Year 2052.

The military was videotaped shooting at protesters – and military authorities said they were using blanks – packed paper bullets in that case. They were also seen firing their automatic weapons into the air – and they say – these were real bullets. Then there were seen on tv and in photos online (linked to from Twitter users) that show clearly some red shirt protesters with serious wounds – some said they were absolutely bullet wounds.

Expats in Thailand
Many foreigners have taken sides in the situation – most, surprising to me – seem to favor Thaksin and the red shirts. Apparently they can overlook everything that’s been said negatively about the guy. Corruption seems to be embedded in the government – no matter who is in charge. There may be 50 more years of corruption here before that kind of thing changes.

Anyone think it can happen sooner?

The current government may or may not have a right to be in power. Another election isn’t going to resolve anything at all. There is no good alternative, nor will there be – for about 50 years in my guess. Why 50? I’m not sure, I think when the current crop of politicians all die off and the next generation, or the next is growing up in this amazing place – someway, somehow it’s all going to move toward less corruption. Maybe they’ve got another 100 years or more.

Thaksin
Thaksin was rumored to be staying in a resort on Ko Chang. I think that’s a rumor, who knows. I’d believe anything about him – he’s pretty resourceful. I think it’s more likely he’s pulling the strings from far away until he knows whether this red shirt effort will be successful. Most Thais I know and have talked to about this believe Thaksin is pulling out all the stops to try to save his 2 billion USD locked up in Thailand by the current government. Sounds like a good reason.

Will the country be better under Thaksin? The country is pretty seriously divided between those that hate him and those that love him. Way too divided to ever agree he should rule – even if by majority of the voting population he’s elected. The group that hates him wouldn’t let that stand. Looks like the group that loves him won’t let Abhisit stand as PM either. I’ve no affinity toward either one. Educated Thais seem to have taken the yellow shirts side, and support Abhisit. Many think he’s the best chance for the country. Maybe he’s the better choice of the two – but, in an election – would he be chosen?

It’s amazing to me that Thaksin, with more money than god – can have the poorest people in the entire country fighting in his name. The wrongs don’t matter to those that love him because he DID make their lives better. For once someone seemed to care about farmers and poor in the northeast region. They didn’t forget it – they’re ready to die for this cause – many are saying on TV.

You can be sure that, if Thaksin gets another chance at an election and actually WINS – he’s going to solidify his position there. The guy is a brilliant player in Thai society – you’ve gotta give him that.

So – that’s the situation. I don’t side with either group – any group. I don’t see anyone that deserves to rule the country at this point. I don’t see anyone – any person or any group that has Thailand’s best interests at heart. That’s what Thailand needs. Not more of the same corrupt politicians.

Do you see anyone that’s fit to rule Thailand?

Foreigners Head Dangling on Rope Off Bridge

You’ve got to read this article and see who stated the ultimate truth in this case… keep in mind, the head was severed before being hung from the rope – “with a sharp object”.

Bangkok Post article, foreigner’s head dangling off bridge…. Thailand’s news is always the full of the funniest stuff… even as serious an article as this obviously is / or should be. Don’t miss the photo of the foreigners head dangling from a rope and the crown craning their necks to get a glimpse…

Thailand Tips #17: I’ve Been Hit and I Can’t Get Up

This is an extension of tip 16, but it deserves it’s own post.

IF for some reason in Thailand you’ve been hit by a car, truck, bus, or anything big enough to kill you if it ran over you a few times…

PICK YOURSELF OFF THE GROUND QUICK.

Why do I say this?

Certain unscrupulous Thai drivers of huge dump trucks, buses and other vehicles have been known to back up over someone laying in the street that they just crashed into.

Why?

To make sure they’re really dead and can’t press charges in court.

Why?

In Thai accidents if you’re judged to be responsible for someone’s injuries and they’re severe and put the person out of work for a while – or a lifetime – the court will insist you pay for that person’s living expenses for however long it takes to get back to normal.

There are well known – reported cases of even Bangkok bus drivers doing this.

Bang, they smack into a motorbike rider or a pedestrian. They hit the reverse and make sure they really flatten the person so there is no court case.

No, not joking. No, it’s not an urban myth. The frequency it happens might be partly myth – but the actual practice is real.

I wrote another post about this same crazy Thai driver phenomenon and more about driving in Thailand earlier.

How can you stay safe in Thailand?

You can start by getting Thailand Survival Guide 101.

Thai Black Book.

For a current state of the country – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

Thai Black Book information site- >

Even More on Counterfeit Money in Thailand

The Nation had a little more information that I haven’t seen elsewhere about the counterfeit bank note problem in Thailand.

Apparently if you’re withdrawing money from the bank ATM you need not worry says one official. ATM’s cannot be fooled – they don’t have ANY fake bank notes. The banks screen their cash thoroughly and there’s no need to worry.

The second piece of new information mentioned specific serial numbers that one should pay close attention to… here’s the quote from this The Nation article:

Can ATMs be fooled?

Some people are even worried about the possibility of receiving fake notes from ATMs.

“That possibility is nil,” Thai Bankers’ Association secretary general Thawatchai Yongkittikul insists. “Banks have effective systems to detect counterfeit notes. Our automatic machines can distinguish the fake from the authentic too.”

Members of the general public are being asked to look out for the forgeries.

How to spot one

According to a Bangkok Bank source, notes with serial numbers starting 9A650 and 2D150 should be examined carefully.

More on Counterfeit Notes in Thailand

Official site links with great images to help you identify if you have valid notes.

You’ve gotta check every note you receive because you might lose that amount when someone you try to give it to refuses.

I think the Thai word for fake bank notes is same as for other objects that are not “jing-jing” (original). They call it “blawm”. Anyone correct me if I’m wrong.

Counterfeit deterrence >

Counterfeit deterrence 2 >

Counterfeit deterrence 3 >