the toa Blog
The toa blog - August 8, 2007
For those of you who were ready to give up, the new toa website is a reality... almost. The new toa, a massive php-based headache is more or less complete in that all the old data is transferred, a working design is in place, and the linkage is in order. There is still work to be done before we can raise the curtain, but much work has been finished, some money has been paid, and that said, the beta version should be live before the end of the month.
Dengue is back
Though I'm usually one of the first to dismiss what are often hysterical disease warnings (i.e. SARS, bird flu), claims that this is turning into one of the worst dengue years on record in Southeast Asia are real. Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Singapore are all reporting record numbers of cases, with mortality rates, depending on the nation, from barely 0.1% (Vietnam, Singapore) to as high as 1% (Myanmar).
There's still no preventive medication for it. Just don't get bit by any of the larger striped mosquitos (Aedes aegypti) which tend to do their feasting by day. Given however, that you're probably not going to stand there examining each mosquito making moves for your flesh, best thing then, don't get bit.
I certainly wouldn't go cancelling travel plans over it... even if there are triple, quadruple the amount of cases this year your chances of catching it are still slim and if you do, a majority of cases, though not pleasant, aren't serious and nothing more than a few days in bed followed by a few weeks of lethargy and depression. I know, I had a not particularly serious case in 2001. Though not enjoyable, I've been sicker.
More info here:
Siem Reap airport taxis
I guess somebody with some sense finally learned that having customers pay in advance for their taxi at a desk at the airport wasn't a particularly good way to ensure that the customer would be delivered to where they wanted to go. As one of the renegade guesthouses in Siem Reap that refuses to pay taxi drivers commissions for delivering a customer (why the #$%& would I pay a driver a commission for doing his job as the passenger made the request in the first place????), we have on those occasions where customers did not contact us first for a free airport pick-up, had drivers throw them out on the side of the road, call us on the phone telling us they had a customer that wanted to come to our guesthouse but if we didn't give them money they would take them someplace else (never mind the customer *wanted* to come to Two Dragons), or simply drove them to five different places before finally giving up and bringing them to our place.
That's almost all a thing of the past now as the Siem Reap airport taxi folks have recently stopped the practice of having customers pay up front and done the intelligent thing of having the customer pay the driver upon delivery. Problem solved. Well, almost, there will still be a few troublemakers but thankfully faced with the prospect of not getting paid for the lift at all, the drivers are behaving better now.
A bit of a scare last month when an expat couple's dog, a really nice Golden Retriever, went missing. It's traumatic enough to have a dog wander off on you but over here it's not enough to drive around the neighborhood and check the local dog pound (there isn't one anyway). Nope, here you also have to go looking in on the half dozen or so Vietnamese restaurants that serve dog. And that's where they found her. Fortunately for both dog and owners she was still tied up in back, very much alive and very relieved to be reunited with her family. Keep an eye on your dog...
Quick Poipet update
I went through the border a week and a half ago. For better or for worse the association transport bus/taxi station is pretty much underwater and hence closed indefinitely. For better - it's a lot easier to avoid the more expensive transport. For worse - it makes getting transport a little more disorganized and while avoiding the cartel can result in a cheaper cab ride, it can also result in one a lot worse.
As for the road, there is plenty of construction going on, but that work notwithstanding, certain parts, particularly near Siem Reap (Puok area) are turning into lakes every time it rains.
Xenophobia in Thailand
This is a real story from a real newspaper.
Just as many nations have reciprocal agreements on visa regulations, I wonder how Thailand would handle it if other nations began reciprocal treatment on matters such as foreign business ownership laws, real estate ownership, residency status and rights? Not very well would be my guess.
Police punishment in Thailand
This is also a real story from a real newspaper.
While it's nice to know that small offenses won't go unnoticed it does make one wonder about large offences: extortion, extra-judicial killings, etc.? Seriously though, as a disciplinary measure for what are essentially office rules offences, I like it. Perhaps I ould implement something similar with my own staff???
Was watching Thai news recently and they had a video clip of a man getting stomped on by an elephant. The story was that the man was drunk and decided it might be fun to whack an elephant with a stick. The elephant didn't agree and spent about ninety minutes making its point.
Apperently efforts to pull the man from the elephant failed as the elephant wasn't letting anyone near, and any time somebody tried the elephant's response was another squash with its foot or to kick and toss the man around. When the elephant did finally grow tired of pummeling the drunk and moved off to pummel a pick-up truck - which it did as thorough a job with as it did on the drunk, rescuers were retrieving nothing more than a corpse for the mortuary.
Lesson to be learned: don't get drunk and whack elephants with sticks. But can we also ask why elephants are kept chained up in urban environments and not left in the jungle where drunks with sticks are few and far between?
The toa blog - July 5, 2007
Thailand is raising visa fees this month. Among the numerous new rates is the cost for a Cambodian citizen to get a tourist visa to Thailand, which is being hiked considerably from $10 to $35. The reason given by the Thai embassy is the appreciation of the Thai baht against the US dollar, which has gained 20%+ in the past year. If that was truly the case we'd be looking at a new visa fee of... let me get my calculator here... okay... umm, hold on a sec, this is complicated, here we go... $12, maybe $13 just for laughs, $15 because it's a nice round number.
On the other hand, while it is clear the Thai embassy is talking out of it's you know what and talking as if anyone listening is a complete idiot, given that the Cambodian government has always taken the attitude that any foreigner who visits Cambodia is rich and can afford most any price or price increase levied, perhaps to have the same logic turned on them is well, a case of sum muk na (serves you right). And this is the same government (Cambodia that is) which in its stricter drivers licensing requirements (you pretty much have to have one in Phnom Penh now - car or motorcycle) charges its citizens $30 per year for the privilege, which if you were to compare that to a US or UK license against the average salaries of its citizens, it would be the equivalent of paying quite a few hundred dollars a year for the license.
Recent Updates on toa
August 22: Updated the Cambodia Overland, Bangkok to Siem Reap section.
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