Aussie’s Car Shot at in Chiang Mai?

I didn’t see anything of this in Thailand – sure I miss stuff, but this seems like a big deal.

*****
Melbourne teacher’s car allegedly shot at in Thailand
Posted July 12, 2011 08:18:00
A Melbourne teacher was treated in hospital after her car was allegedly shot at during a school trip in the north of Thailand.
Two teachers, from Ringwood Secondary College, were travelling in a car near Chiang Mai when the front windscreen shattered on Sunday.
One of the teachers, Lynda Cody, suffered a minor injury to the back of her head.
Thai police are investigating the incident and told the teachers their car may have been shot at.
The teachers were escorting a group of students to Thailand, but none of the students was in the vehicle.
They are due to return home on Wednesday.
The assistant principal has travelled to Thailand to provide support for the teachers.

I found it here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/07/12/3267233.htm?site=melbourne

Update – apparently the woman was shot in the back of the head… luckily the bullet passed through glass and the headrest first before striking her! Christ, now we have this to worry about in Thailand?

Were Chiang Mai Deaths Caused by “Chlorpyrifos” – Bed Bug Spray?

A New Zealand group is saying they tested the rooms where some visitors died in a Chiang Mai hotel, and found Chlorpyrifos, a chemical used in Thailand to treat bed-bug infestation. They believe this is the cause of deaths at the Downtown Inn in Chiang Mai.

The chemical is banned from indoor use in some countries. In the USA it is used only agriculturally.

The chemical has a half life of 1 day. Meaning, it’s very hard to trace.

Is this the answer we’ve been looking for? Bed bug spray? Wow…

More reading:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/workplace/news/article.cfm?c_id=74&objectid=10724666

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1385379/British-couple-tourists-die-Thailand-bed-bug-pesticide-poisoning.html

If You Have This Snake As a Pet – Don’t (Videos)

I posted this on ThailandSnakes.com a couple of times, and wanted to make sure everyone knows – but, this snake is not one that is OK to keep as a pet anymore. It never was, but, recently there have been more bites that have caused serious issues.

Thailand’s keelback snakes are rear-fanged and venomous – though many sites might list them as non-venomous. Why is that? They weren’t considered dangerous to humans before this.

A couple months back a concerned father emailed me with an emergency. His son in Phuket had been bitten by his pet snake, and it happened to be the Rhabdophis subminiatus – Red-Necked Keelback that you see here.

They are gorgeous snakes. Unfortunately, they have a venom that specifically attacks the kidneys. The boy that was bitten was 12 years old, and was fighting for his life as the venom tried to destroy his kidneys. He remained in Bangkok hospital in Phuket for 14 days before being released – apparently OK. I didn’t hear much from the father – despite repeatedly asking if the snake bit down on the child for a long time – or, what exactly happened.

These snakes are capable of pretty severe damage – and the general consensus is that they need to bite down and chew the venom into the bite-site for either a length of time, or, repeatedly over a short time – to envenomate enough to cause any real problems.

Great care should be taken with these, and other keelback snakes – as their venom is likely more dangerous to humans than we have previously believed.

Another red-necked keelback video:

And another Rhabdophis subminiatus:

Flooding in Krabi, Surat, Nakhon, Most Southern Thailand Provinces

Krabi Flood - southern Thailand
In back of our house... a river emptying into the bay.

I shot some video of flooding in southern Thailand yesterday.

It was bad yesterday, some say will get worse over the next few days…

Krabi Flooding March 29, 2011 – Floods Over Southern Thailand. Part 1

Khao Phanom Bencha mountain – had a landslide and 10-12 are dead and 100-200 are missing.

Not a good time to visit the south for the next couple of days. Krabi roads washed out. A bridge was out – I think fixed now. Many didn’t go to work – so stores not open so much.

Damns in Surat and Khao Phanom to be opened to let off some water in next few hours. Hope that doesn’t flood us out again.

Thailand Tsunami Information – and Subscription to SMS or RSS Alerts

If you want a quick look at whether Thailand or anywhere in southeast Asia could be affected by a tsunami – check this website:

http://www.weather.gov/ptwc/?region=3

Region 3 is the Indian ocean – and covers Thailand’s western and eastern costs.

If you want to subscribe to receive email when there are earthquakes in your area (create an area to watch on a map – drag the outline of the area – I created a square all around Thailand from Africa to Thailand to Philippines to Australia.

https://sslearthquake.usgs.gov/ens/register

To subscribe to RSS feeds – (for your news reader) click the Indian ocean region link at this site:

http://www.weather.gov/ptwc/subscribe.php

If it doesn’t work. Hit the back button in your browser, and right click the link – copy the link – and paste it into your RSS reader.

Driving a Car is a Horrorshow in Thailand

We’re buying another motorbike. We gave the 4 year old Yamaha MIO with 90,000 KM (one rebuilt engine) to my wife’s aunt on our trip to the northeast. That made me feel good. I don’t make big bank, but, the woman is about 70 and driving a Yamaha from 25 years ago. She has trouble starting it – and could use the electric starter of the MIO to her advantage. Damn I hate to see people suffer through a penniless state.

We got a car, and since i’m the only driver – if you can call me that without cracking a fucking rib laughing – I’ve been driving all over the place.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Thais behind the wheel are completely intolerable on a 1 lane road, and complete fuckmonkeys on a 2 or 2+ lane road.

Yes, this is another Vern rant on Thai people that don’t know what in the world they are doing.

It’s half expected… I mean, Thais have not been driving for too many generations now. But, with the recent advent of 14 million tourists visiting the country, and the rubber prices going through the roof – many people can afford cars. Oh – and credit… if a Thai has a job – the employer can fake a receipt showing years of steady work at a rate the employee will never see in his/her life – and get the car of their dreams in just a couple of days.

Anyway… If you’re contemplating driving in Thailand I strongly suggest you reconsider.

Thais are probably the most ignorant fucking drivers you’ll ever come across. In Thailand. I haven’t driven everywhere… but, in the USA I drove in New York, Miami, Tampa, Honolulu, and Los Angeles a few times. Thai drivers are more fucked up than all of that put together.

I am not embellishing for the laughs either – they are horrendous godawful drivers.

I drove a motorbike in Thailand for 6 years with one minor accident my first year – when a car in front of me – a new driver from a city far from where we were, MASHED the brakes for no reason whatsoever and I swerved and caught the left bumper of her car. I gave her 2,000 THB for a 1,000 THB repair and we said our goodbyes.

Now, I’ve had some near misses on the motorbike that curled my toe-nails. I have had a couple of instances of escaping INSTANT death at 100+ Km/hour on the motorbike… but, since I’m usually paying attention – I lived.

Ok, back to driving vehicles.

Thais can’t follow a curve for SHIT.

That’s saying it VERY politely.

They cannot stay in their lane around a curve of any sort. Just know that – and adjust EVERY time you go around a curve.

If you are beside a vehicle in your vehicle and the idiot next to you puts their turn signal on – regardless whether the fuck they can move over in front of you safely or not, they are going to try. If you don’t adjust and compensate for the assmonkey that’s cutting you off – you will have an accident, and since you are farang – well, you have probably heard how that goes by now.

Thais park wherever the fuck they want to. We pulled into a bank parking lot today. It goes under the building. Bam… some jackass has parked right in the middle of the lane – so their car could be in the shade – there was plenty of room in the back where the sun was shining brightly – but this numbnuts parked right there under the building, blocking not only all traffic coming in – but, 4 cars that, if they wanted to pull out – could not.

To top this off – some ass-strap was hired to DIRECT PARKING in the parking lot!!!!!!! Yeah, so this dumbfucker is getting my 2 minute 45 second stare as I cannot come to grips with how he let someone park in the middle of the fucking road. How does he do that? Fire that jackfruit and make him go do night security where he can sleep off his stupidity.

Today was a real lively experience.

Today I had an 18 wheel truck – which I was in the middle of – at about the 20 foot mark (they are 40+ feet)… start coming over into my lane because the fucker didn’t want to slow down for slower traffic in his lane.

Know this – there isn’t a fuckhead driving a big truck in Thailand that:

1. Knows what the hell they’re doing behind the wheel of a large KILLER truck.
2. Cares whether or not you go flying over the median trying to avoid tires that are higher than your car.
3. Isn’t on meth and with piss-poor judgement.

Know this – Thailand is a country built on agriculture. There are so damn many big fucking trucks lugging palm seeds, and fuckknowswhat, up and down the highways – at all hours – and you cannot have a decent drive without dealing with hundreds of them fucking up the fast lanes of the country as you go from province to province.

We drove from Ubon to southern Thailand and it was horrific. It was like every jackmonkey with a fucking cracker jack license to haul buffalo shit in the 2 dump-truck Killer Trucks was on the road every fucking time we got in our car to drive.

Solution:

We are buying another motorbike and driving that anywhere we need to go within 150 KM. That’s IT. I am so fucking over driving imposters manning vehicles they couldn’t have possibly qualified to drive. I just know I’m going to pull someone out of their truck and beat them with an idiot stick.

Oh, and just for the record, driving a motorbike in Thailand – is about twenty fucking nine times safer than driving any vehicle in the auto lanes. I was worried that our daughter (16 months) was facing more danger on a motorbike!

Hell no!

It’s significantly worse driving anything in the auto lanes.

Trust me.

Someone please back me the fuck up on this.

Please.

Brunty? You had about 185 near accidents yet as you drove your VIOS over the past couple years?

The Million Baht Thai Scam

This Thailand scam sounds like it could have come from gypsies anywhere in the world. It’s playing out across Thailand right now – and many people are losing boatloads of Thai baht after being scammed this way. It will probably hit the expat world soon – or maybe it started with the expats… it’s a pretty ingenious scam and goes right along with Thai culture – and what Thai people want. What everyone wants that has money – more money.

We visited our Thai friend we hadn’t seen in 4 years the other day. He is 66 years old, and a really smart guy with money. He was a mental health technician in a local hospital, and married a younger Thai woman that was a teacher. They have 2 great kids – boy and girl twins, studying in Bangkok.

When “Pichet” retired he realized he couldn’t make it on his small retirement income from the hospital. He started selling insurance for AIA. He started going to the train station with his truck and trying to talk to foreigners so he could transport them to Chong Mek, Laos or Cambodia… some of them even stayed at his house where he’d rent them either a room in his house or the entire house – like he did for me when I was there. I rented his giant 5 bedroom house for 3,500 THB per month for a year while he slept in a dorm room with his wife – so they could make money off renting their new (just finished) house to me.

Twenty years ago Pichet started building cheap dormitories for students. There are many students attending tech schools, Rajabhat, Polytechnic, and other schools in the area – and he wanted to supplement his small retirement income.

He built the most basic dorms he could afford – with a community shower and restroom area in back of his house – and a row of 10 one story rooms on the other side of his driveway. Soon he was filled to capacity and after a couple years he got a loan from the bank to build more of the same next to those. Now he had 20 rooms. He kept 20 simple rooms like this for a decade. He charged the students whatever they could afford – 1,000 Thai baht per month – no matter how many girls lived in one room. He only allowed girls to stay in the dorms, as guys drank too much and were trouble.

Over the years Pichet’s rooms were almost always completely full because they were cheap, and he provided some security with guys not even allowed on the property after 8pm. I once saw him forcibly remove a drunk guy that was in a girls room and that refused to move. When Pichet pointed the silver gun at the guy’s chest – he walked right out – no problem.

Within the last two years Pichet upgraded all his rooms, flattening the basic dorms and creating new concrete buildings with 2 levels. He now had 40 very nice rooms and was charging 2,500 THB per month which included tv, fans, big bed, refrigerator, hot water shower, and internet.

Pichet was smart with money – as I’ve said. As I’ve shown. The guy knew the value of a baht. He would bargain with people over the cost of his rooms, motorbike rentals, and everything – as if the last baht was the world to him. He started out with no money at all – and over time, grew it and grew it to something that could be called a legacy to give to his kids when he passed.

A Thai man, Somchai, showed up asking Pichet about a room for his daughter that would be attending the university close by. Pichet showed him the rooms and talked to him – the guy was very friendly and Pichet liked him immediately. The stranger saw that Pichet had a truck for sale for 700,000 THB and told him that he might know a lady that is looking for a truck like that.

Somchai gossiped about the woman a little bit – giving Pichet the idea that the woman had tons of money due to a very rich husband that was now disabled. The woman spent money freely – and the guy said, if she wants the truck – she’ll buy it cash.

They said goodbyes, exchanging phone numbers.

Somchai didn’t call for 3 days, Pichet said he feared the rich buyer wasn’t interested. But then Somchai called, and Pichet was really excited about possibly selling his truck for 700,000 because that was just his initial asking price and it wasn’t worth but 500,000. Somchai said he would pick Pichet up – they’d go meet this rich woman and have lunch with her at one of the nice restaurants in town.

Off they went.

At the restaurant Pichet was introduced to what he thought was an exceptionally rich woman – and there were a couple other people at the restaurant too.

The woman’s purse was open at some point during the lunch – when she went to the rest room – and the people sitting there saw that she had thick rolls of cash – over a million baht in cash in her bag she carelessly left at the table.

While the woman was in the restroom Somchai told the group of people at the lunch table a story about the woman having a weakness for gambling – and that she was always ready to play some cards if she could find others willing to bet a lot of money. Somchai said she was notoriously bad at cards – and always lost. He said he had seen her lose tens of millions of baht over the last year alone. She didn’t care – she had money to burn if she wanted to.

When she returned to the table they all talked about gambling and the woman of course offered to play some high stakes poker but only for 5 million baht if anyone could afford it. Somchai, and the two other women and one man in the group all said they would come up with the money and everyone was looking at Pichet to see if he could come up with 1 million baht to play too. So as not to lose face, and, facing the prospect of huge gains of money – he said yes, he would get 1 million baht to play too.

The group met at a house 2 hours later where the card game was supposed to take place. There were some security guys there – the rich woman’s bodyguards. The plan was that Somchai would put the 5 million in a pool of money and one of them would play the woman in cards for it.

Somchai asked who wanted to play the game… nobody answered. He asked Pichet – and Pichet said, oh no – I think better for someone good to play her. Pichet suggested Somchai play for it because Somchai knew his cards – so he said.

Everyone in the group gave their 1 million baht to Somchai and he went into another room with the woman who was sitting there with her bodyguards and a table in front of her – everyone saw that she had about 5 million in cash on the table.

The woman insisted on closing the door while the card playing was taking place – for security.

At first the group outside the room heard people there – talking and some gasps and things… then for a long while it was very quiet.

They were all starting to ask questions about the outcome because they were dying to know – did they just make a lot of money off the rich but horrible card playing woman?

They sat another hour sweating – dying to know – what happened. Wait, what was going on? There was no sound in the room.

They started to knock on the door. No answer. Bang. No answer… They went around the house and saw that the window was open and nobody was in the room anymore.

They had just been scammed for 1 million baht each.

But really, only Pichet had been scammed for 1 million baht – as the others were ALL in on it.

It was like a gypsy scam… many people in on it and Pichet was the “mark”.

Pichet just couldn’t come to grips with the idea that it was a scam because he felt he KNEW Somchai and that somehow Somchai was a good guy. The others in the group felt the same – thinking it was just the old woman that ripped everyone off – and maybe they killed Somchai!

A month later Pichet gets a call from Somchai.

He said he was knocked unconscious by the old woman’s bodyguards and they carried him to a car – dumping him off in a trash yard. He was in the hospital for a month.

He said he could get Pichet and the other players’ money back for them.

He just needed 100,000 more Thai baht.

Pichet wired it to him.

And you can guess how that went.

So, this scam is making the rounds ALL OVER Thailand at the moment. There have been many victims of it.

It is well put together. Well rehearsed. And a pretty perfect plan which goes down really easily in Thai society. Most Thais are gamblers – or want to be. Most Thais really want some extra money – and if they can get it illicitly – they will try. To save face in front of the group of people – Pichet said he could come up with the money to play the game. He wanted to be part of the group. He didn’t want to miss out on the gains. Pichet, is a good person inside. That’s obvious to me. He trusts people quickly – foreigners too, when they come to his house to stay. I have warned him about a few guys that I thought were out to rip him off. One guy took a motorbike of pichets for a month – that was supposed to be for 2 days. Recently a foreigner stayed for 2 months – delaying rent payment – and then didn’t have any cash at all to pay.

So, the scam is going around – be careful for it – and variants of it that hit the expat world. There must be many similar scams going around the country… the world.

Yet ANOTHER Bus Overturns in Thailand – Killing 5, Injuring 30

I don’t take buses in Thailand. Ever. I just refuse. The last time I was on a bus, it was for an English camp about 4 years ago. We, and all the M3 kids, were headed on a 400km journey that was straight from a Rod Serling script. It was fucking outrageous the way the bus driver was driving.

I was seating immediately in back of him – so I saw it all from his perspective. He was racing with the other buses in the convoy – trading places dozens of times as one “outsmarted” (outrisked) the other. It was  a fucking horrorshow – no less.

I made over 50 comments to the guy – in Thai and told him to relax and drive like a normal person – we had like 60 kids in the bus and nobody wanted to die that night – except maybe him.

He was fuming by the end of it because when I comment – I can be pretty harsh. I brought his driving to the attention of all the Thai teachers on the bus – who, of course – raised their eyebrows but dared not say a word to the driver. That isn’t “Thai style” as you might know.

So – from that day forward I didn’t take a Thailand bus any damn place it is MUCH too dangerous in my opinion.

Do you know how many buses overturn in this country? Jesus. I wish now I had kept track. I guess I could track it by Google searches and find a portion of them – most I probably miss. I don’t scour the news for these accidents – but, they are constantly getting my attention because they are so horrific.

For transportation here is what I recommend:

1 – Plane

2 – Train

3 – Taxi driver in a car

4 – Rent your own car

5 – Motorbike if you are a skilled rider – or, very cautious.

I would never recommend you take those vans either. My recent trip on one to Phuket was a frightfest. We saw someone in a Mercedes in front of us go crashing aimlessly up over the center median and into a thick tree – head on at about 120kph. Probably fell asleep.

The roads in Thailand are scary to me – and should be scary to you.

The bus drivers that are crashing the buses in Thailand are either:

  • Overworked
  • Overwork themselves
  • On narcotics
  • Drunk
  • In competition with someone
  • In competition with the clock
  • Mentally unstable

I wouldn’t trust my life to one of them – I suggest you don’t either.

Here is the article about the latest bus crash and fatalities:

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/5-killed-30-injured-in-bus-accident-30146461.html

Disclaimer – I am speaking of the A/C VIP buses and not the local Thai buses – which, for the most part – go very slow and are not involved in the tragic accidents of the scale the VIP buses are. The overnight buses, and those that run at night – are more dangerous than the daytime buses. If it is raining and you are about to take a bus, cancel and reschedule. Really, that is my advice. It just isn’t worth the risk.

Stop for a Deadly Accident in Thailand? Nope.

We were taking a van from Krabi to Phuket. I hate taking vans or buses – or any damn thing really where a Thai is driving me around because all van drivers, bus drivers, and taxi drivers that I’ve experienced in 6 years – could give two shits for safety. That’s not a joke – that’s my opinion 100%.

We were 10 minutes from the Phuket airport. I’m in the first row of passenger seats holding our 1 year old and my wife beside me. The driver was a total fuckoff from the time we got in. He knows the road – that’s obvious. What he doesn’t know is any out of the ordinary circumstances that could have happened since the last time he drove the road. He drove with absolutely ZERO margin for error.

He took almost every single bend at 120 KPH. Many of the bends were marked – 60 KPH. Sure – 60 KPH is a joke too as they can be taken at 80 or 90 maybe, safely. Not 120 though, of that I’m sure.

So – we were just minutes from the airport when our driver said – OH!!! Loud – and I was also looking at the road ahead and saw a big dirt cloud kick up about 150m ahead of us as a Red Mercedes launched itself up over a 10 inch curb up onto a hill median with trees and SLAMMED into a tree. There was no other car around that one that crashed. The driver likely just fell asleep.

Our driver was all worked up about it – as we drove by. We could plainly see – someone was really hurt in that vehicle and yet all he did was beep a couple of times – for what reason – I’m clueless… We drove right to the airport and he dropped us off.

Did he stop to help the people in the accident? Fuck no. Would you want someone to stop to help you if someone saw you drive your car into a tree at 100 KPH?

Yeah, me too.

I don’t know what the law is in Thailand about stopping for accidents you didn’t cause – but, this is about the 4th one I’ve seen while driving with someone else  – in which the driver didn’t stop at all.

This one was pretty tragic, but I’ve also seen some horrible accidents before this that my driver didn’t stop for.

Anyone else have that experience in Thailand?

I’m not saying nobody stops – there were people outside their houses and store already when we drove by the totaled vehicle – but nobody was making a run toward it either.

WTF?

Cobra Kills Guest House Owner with Bite on Toe

I was headed to a hike 4 days ago when it started to really rain. I stopped at a large open-air restaurant and parked the bike under the overhang and talked to the woman that ran the restaurant for a while. She spoke pretty decent English – so most of our conversation was in that language.


I asked her – were there many snakes right here where the restaurant was. She said, NO! It was an overreaction, but I couldn’t have known why. I told her I collect snakes – venomous – or any snakes. Then she told me what happened to her 3 months ago in March 2010.

She and her husband had owned a guesthouse for 20 years. They’d been married for 20 years. They have a 13 year old daughter. Their life was nice… low stress, her husband was a very good man she said over and over… Many foreigners came to the guesthouse and that’s how she knew English to the degree she did.

Her husband walked to the beverage refrigerator in the guesthouse – and opened the door to get a soda to drink. The instant he opened the refrigerator door a small cobra snake popped out of the interior engine compartment between the vent slats – and bit him on the toe and slithered away. They knew it was a monocled cobra. The wife said quickly – oh, be careful – you have no shoes on it will get your foot. He said, “it already got my toe.”

They went to the public hospital and his heart raced for a number of days before they said they couldn’t do anything else and sent him to Bangkok-Phuket hospital. There they said they need to amputate his leg to the knee – which was fine with them – they thought – oh great, he’ll live after that.

After the operation he got worse… and couldn’t move – but could open his eyes and cry. So, for 9 days she stayed with him as he slept when he opened his eyes, he cried…

On the 9th day his heart raced and he died.

There were tears in her eyes… and it was obviously quite fresh – being only 3 months ago. It was a shocking tale and, though I love to find venomous snakes in the wild, I’ve never once given any thought to one jumping out from under my refrigerator to bite my foot.

Have you?

A monocled cobra’s venom is about 10 times more toxic than the banded krait venom… which is more deadly than the king cobra venom. One bite – a quick one on the toe – can kill you, even WITH treatment.

That’s a sobering thought.

I wanted to write this up quickly for all of you that have guest houses, restaurants, anything that is open air where snakes can get in. Cobras are mostly ground dwellers, but they do well in the bushes too… they could come through an open window. I’ve had friends that used to get cobras in their kitchen REGULARLY in Surat Thani.

Stay safe!