Wednesday, 30 September 2009

All Change

TV viewers in around 18 million homes in the UK who are with Freeview will need to retune their set-top boxes and TVs from today, as the multi-channel service is being upgraded to give more homes Channel Five, and also pave the way for the supply of high-definition (HD) television.

TV sets, set-top boxes and digital recorders will need retuning from around lunchtime, enabling more than 500 000 Freeview homes to be able to receive Five for the first time. However, around 460 000 households are also expected to lose access to ITV3 and ITV4 and it is also thought that about 20 000 older set-top boxes will no longer work.

Fingers crossed for you.


The boxes which will no longer work are: the Daewoo models DS608P and SV900, Labgear DTT100, Triax DVB2000T, Portland DP100 and Bush IDVCR01.

Surely False Advertising?

Click to Enlarge

Good & Bad

WORLD'S WORST LOVERS:

1. Germany (too smelly)

2. England (too lazy)

3. Sweden (too quick)

4. Holland (too dominating)

5. America (too rough)

6. Greece (too lovey-dovey)

7. Wales (too selfish)

8. Scotland (too loud)

9. Turkey (too sweaty)

10. Russia (too hairy)

WORLD'S BEST LOVERS

1. Spain

2. Brazil

3. Italy

4. France

5. Ireland

6. South Africa

7. Australia

8. New Zealand

9. Denmark

10. Canada

According to TTel and a new survey from OnePoll. I wonder why the reasons aren't given for the "best"?

From Obama to Hitler

And yet more conspiracy theories from TTel about Hitler this time:

Several prominent Nazis – including 'architect of the Holocaust' Adolf Eichmann and Dr Josef Mengele, the 'Angel of Death' – certainly did flee to Argentina.

And the arrival of two U-Boats in the South American country in the weeks after the war led to more speculation that Hitler joined his former underlings there. But Heinz Schäffer, one of the officers on the U-Boats, has alwas strenuously denied being part of a 'ghost convoy'.

The two U-Boats, U-530 and U-977, surrendered at Mar del Plata in Argentina in July and August 1945 respectively.

Hitler 'fled to Antarctica in a U-Boat'
Among the theories of Hitler's whereabouts after the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945 was that he was smuggled out of Germany and onto a U-Boat.

From there, the story goes, the Nazi leader was taken to a secret military base in Antarctic. In the late 1950s British and American forces found the base and destroyed it with atomic weapons.

The theory falls down on three major points. One, there was never a German military presence in Antarctica, despite a pre-war mission there to see whether a whaling base would be feasible.

Two, while the two U-Boats mentioned above did arrive in Argentina after the war, they could not possibly have made it to Antarctica. The sea ice in the winter blocks all access to the land where any base would have been.

Three, while atomic bombs were detonated in the southern hemisphere in 1958, they were atmospheric tests, hundreds of miles above the surface of the Earth. All three took place between 1400 and 2150 miles north of Antarctica.

Using secret rocket technology, Hitler fled to a Nazi base on the moon
The point when Hitler conspiracy theories lose touch with reality altogether. The Nazis' development late in the war of high-technology weapons – including the V2, an early ballistic missile, and the Me 262 jet fighter – inspired some to believe that Germany had secretly won the space race.

It was also suggested that the Nazis had made contact with UFOs and that they had made it to the Moon as early as 1942. Furthermore, Russian and American astronauts actually made it there in the 1950s, and stayed at a Nazi lunar base.

For added measure, it is claimed that the Moon is perfectly habitable for humans, but that NASA claims it is barren and airless in order to stop Third World countries visiting it.

Hitler is alive and well and staying in San Diego
Well, not really. This one is a joke – but there is a structure, visible on Google Maps, that might make you think otherwise. A barracks building in the US Navy base in San Diego's Coronado island, known as the 'Seal's Lair', is very definitely in the shape of a swastika.

In 2007, the US Navy said it was going to redesign the 1960s-built edifice, spending around $600,000 (£375,000) to make it less master-racy. They admitted they noticed the shape when it was built, but didn't think anyone would spot it from the ground.

The Low Down

An Illustrated History of Sex Toys

You'll need to follow the link (above) for the original article if the pictures appeared cropped. Enjoy

Not Today You Won't

Vintage Ads: Translation, Sex Appeal, and Innuendo
American advertising today has lost some of its edge—not Gillette, of course. But a look back at the 40s, 50s, and early 60s shows an innocence and boldness that brings about a good laugh today. I wonder what references in today’s ads will play out in 2030?

From sexual innuendos to brash examples of tomfoolery, the following ads are just a sample of the misplaced pun today.

Ivory Soap (1947)
I understand that the “soap floats” angle was actually a factory mistake where too much air was injected into the soap during processing. Voila! an advertising angle is born. Wonder if they ever really pictured how men in a shower bending over for a bar of soap would translate.





Griffin Microsheen (1957)
Advertising has drawn some bold connections over time, but I’m still at a loss as to how cleavage and shoe polish go together—or maybe that was the point. Somehow, I picture Mrs. Cleaver not allowing this particular brand in her home.




Mixed metaphors
I couldn’t help myself. The following ads are for everything from frankfurters to office projection equipment that had to have been over the top both now and then.








It's Not All Fun Being the President of the USA

America is well known as the land of conspiracy theorists, but President Barack Obama has endured more than his share of bizarre claims since he shot to public prominence, ideas that have spread rapidly via the internet TTel spills the beans:

1. Radical Muslim

Throughout the campaign and during his presidency, Barack Hussein Obama has been accused of being a Muslim. These rumours were based on his name, as well as the misinformation that he attended an Islamic school, from the ages six to 10 in Jakarta. Obama's Kenyan father was a non-practising Muslim while his American mother and grandparents do not appear to have been religious people. The president started attending church in Chicago 20 years ago.

2. The Odinga connection

Author Jerome Corsi claimed that Obama had familial, financial and political ties with Kenyan opposition politician Raila Odinga.

During the US campaign, Corsi was in Kenya, scheduled to give a press conference at which he promised to expose secret ties between Obama and Odinga and a mysterious plot that would be launched if Obama became president. He was, however, expelled because of visa problems. It turned out that Odinga, facing declining popularity, had made an unsupported claim that he was related to Obama.

3. Obama was not born in the US

The "birthers" contend that Obama was not born in Honolulu, Hawaii, as his birth certificate shows, and is therefore ineligible to be the president of the United States. The movement began after the Obama campaign put his Hawaii birth certificate online to to debunk rumours that his middle name was "Muhammad" and that his father was Malcolm X. The campaign made a mistake in blacking out a code number, and giving the copy first to the Daily Kos, a Left-wing blog.

It soon became the focus of amateur document analysis "proving" it was forged and before long a Hillary Clinton supporter called Philip Berg filed a writ. The movement quickly mushroomed. A handful of Republican congressmen have called on the president to show his birth certificate.

4. Gay Affair

The National Enquirer reported that Obama had a gay affair with paedophile Frank Marshall Davis. This rumour was started based on a reference in Obama's autobiography where he mentions a mentor. Davis is also an alleged communist.

5. Obama's "death panels"

This one was started by Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate and former governor of Alaska.

In a Facebook entry she claimed that the health care bill in the House of Representatives would enforce end of life choices on families.

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society', whether they are worthy of health care."

The bill in fact merely allowed for Medicare (America's free health service for the over-65s) to reimburse people for end-of-life care, setting up living wills and the availability of hospice care.

Obama and the Democrats were trying to cut the costs of care in the final month or two of life by encouraging people to discuss their demise in advance.

Going Downhill

The Unicorn Brewery in Cheshire is making what it calls "soft brews", a dry fizzy drink made with English hops and malt that look like a beer with a full frothy head, smell a bit like a beer, but are completely free from alcohol. The drinks are then flavoured with fruit juice, to add a small amount of sweetness to the otherwise dry drink with three flavours to choose from: citrus, apple and blackcurrant.

Isn't that what we used to call lemonade? What with Nanny State the new weak beer, what is the UK coming to?

It Just Never Ends

BLiar is to end his exile from British politics at the next general election to “fight hard for Labour” in its toughest battle for almost 20 years.

I'm sorry? Why is he even allowed back onto the country? He should be arrested and tried as a war criminal.

More at TTimes.

DIY Snouts

More than one in four adult smokers now use pouch tobacco and roll-up cigarettes, with a particularly sharp rise in the proportion of women users. Analysis of smoking habits in England suggests a cultural shift in the use of tobacco, with one in five white-collar professionals who smoke now using roll-ups rather than conventional cigarettes.

While roll-ups may once have been the habit of the working man and the spit and sawdust pub, their use among women has risen sharply in recent years. In 1990 just one in 50 female smokers used hand-rolled tobacco, compared with one in five in 2007.

For a bog full more of factuals on fags and stuff, have a gander at TTimes.

Scrape & Polish

8% of "stuff" removed during a routine dentist appointment is in fact bone matter.

Almost Shandy

The brewers, BrewDog, who were criticised for making what it claimed is Britain's strongest beer (Tokyo* with an 18.2% alcohol content- yuck) has unveiled an ale with a 1.1% alcohol content, which it has called Nanny State. The founder of the company, James Watt, wrote on his blog: '

"Anyone who knows BrewDog, knows beer, or anyone has more common sense than a common (or garden) gnome will know that the scathing and unrelenting criticism we faced was pretty unjustified. If logic serves the same people who witch-hunted and publicly slated us should now offer us heartfelt support and public congratulations. However I fear that this, unfortunately, is an arena devoid of logic and reason.''

Well said, and a cracking title for a beer.

See TTel for more info, but if you want some, Nanny State will be available online at www.brewdog.com with bottles costing £2.49 each.

Black Caps Take England

England fell to a four-wicket defeat as New Zealand reached the Champions Trophy semi-finals by winning Group B. However, it's not too hard to be disappointed as both teams are now through to the semis on Friday (2nd October).

Group A: Australia (1), India (4), Pakistan (5), West Indies (8)

Group B: South Africa (2), New Zealand (3), Sri Lanka (6), England (7)
(Teams in bold are through to the semis)


Former winners:
1998: South Africa
2000: New Zealand
2002: India and Sri Lanka (joint winners)
2004: West Indies
2006: Australia

On the Big Screen

I miss my footie on the telly (the Bayview Hotel in Georgetown) had ESPN (and other sports channels) and you could watch almost any Premiership match on a weekend but they do show the games downstairs.

We were just leaving as the Tottenham v Burnley game kicked off and I was most tempted to stay and watch it. However, the night market beckoned for some scran and so we (I) reluctantly left the game after the first few minutes were shown.

The big screen was on at the bar and so I asked if they could show the game. That was difficult as only Thai was understood by the guy, but he quickly picked up my pathetic attempts at charades and he put the game on for us.

Great evening out, five goals, good food and the odd beer(s)...

Another Good Find

If you look out of our window at the hotel, we can see both the On Nut Sky Train station and the Tesco Lotus supermarket. In between, we have the car park and recently we noticed there were one or two mini vans parked up in a couple of the bays.

Whatever they were advertising was lost on us as it was in beautiful Thai script but then on one bus bus we spotted the word "airport". On enquiry with our Reception staff at the front desk downstairs, it turns out this is a new venture and they do runs to the airport (official title is Bangkok International Suvarnabhumi Airport) for THB 40/head.

Yes, it may take longer to reach, but if the flight is at a reasonable time and you don't have huge amounts of luggage, it saves you a fortune. The cost of a taxi is at least THB 300, usually more.

We'll be giving it a shot next time.

That Time of Year

When wifey has to step back in time and don her accountants head again. We have to prepare our tax returns (we still pay in the UK) and she needed loads of printing doing. At least fifty pages worth...


The hotel did them all without fuss and charged us a super THB 200- £3.65. For 50 pages? That is sure some "mate" rate.

Success

Not only did the card fit into the Vaio with its converter, but it took the files I wanted to load onto it without problem. It also fitted the MP4 player without problem and read the information without fault. Voila, I can now even watch films on it, although the small screen makes it a fair challenge.

I wonder how long the battery lasts?

And the Reason

I was at Pantip? I've just picked up an MP3/4 player and it has an expansion port that takes micro SD cards to increase memory size. Locally similar cards cost around THB 500 for a 4GB card but here they started at THB 390.

As you went up the levels and poked around in the shops at the back, the prices dropped and in the end I picked one up for THB 309. That's about £5.60 for four gigs of memory. :o)

The Quicker Way to Pantip

Instead of staying on the Sky Train past the Stadium and then walking around the block, get off at Zen and walk from there. Quicker to reach by foot and fractionally cheaper on the fare too.

Pantip is the mega mall I mentioned which is an IT geek's Mecca. It's a must see for anyone with a passing liking for 'pooters, hardware, software, and anything in between, including all manner of shonky gear and filums.

Hold Up

Do you know, I really thought today was the beginning of October? Suggest you ignore the new ticker tape messages at the foot of the Blog until tomorrow.

Looking Good

It doesn't appear to be firing on all cylinders, but at least we're stable and there isn't too much delay in loading pages. We can also access The Telegraph via Firefox and so hopefully we'll be back on track today. :o)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

That's It For Now

What with a slow connection and lack of access to certain sites, we'll be taking a break to see if things improve later.

Even the latest version of CCleaner has taken over seven minutes to download at a speed of <10.3KB/second.

Hopefully we'll be back on form tomorrow.

It's Coz I am Black, Innit?

In 2007, 2.5% of all green olives produced were used in martinis.

I wonder why black olives don't get a look in?

Why is McBroon Still PM?

Ask A Stupid Question Day comes to Britain’s schools, encouraging pupils to ask teachers the daftest things they can think of. What's new about this? It happens in parliament all the time...

The tradition dates back to the 1980s in America, and took place on 28th September or the last day of the school year, where pupils are encouraged to ask their teachers ridiculous questions. TTel checks out questions asked by users of the Any Questions Answered (AQA) text service for inspiration:

Q: What's the opposite of a camel?
A: The opposite of a camel is a soap dish: it has dimples instead of humps and lives in a mostly moist area.

Q: How long would it take to roast a fully grown Indian elephant?
A: An Indian elephant, average weight 5000kg, would take 2916 hours and 40 minutes to roast to perfection (based on 35 minutes a kilogram). You would need an extremely large serving dish.

Q: In Mars Bars, how much taller is Jeremy Clarkson than Tom Cruise?
A: A Mars bar is four inches long. Jeremy Clarkson measures 19.25 Mars Bars (six feet five), while Tom Cruise is 16.75 Mars bars high (five feet seven). That's a 2.5 Mars bar difference.

Q: How long would it take a snail to slide around the world?
A: 34,519 days at 0.7 miles a day or 0.03 miles per hour, the average speed for a garden snail.

Q: What’s the funniest word in the world?
A: The funniest word in the English language is fartlek (an athletic training regime); other funny words include furphy, pratfall, parp and firkin.

Q: What is the best type of biscuit to make a mattress from?
A: The best type of biscuits to make a mattress from would be fig rolls or strawberry Newtons. They would be soft, but still provide some back support.

Q: I want to write a film script which makes me millions: what should it be about?
A: Based on the top-grossing films, your script should be about a young wizard and a robot looking for a ring on a pirate ship which sinks. Good luck.

Q: In an average lifetime, how much gas will a human expel?
A: The average adult has 14 occurrences of flatulence per day. Total expulsion is about 538ml, making approximately 14,727 litres of gas expelled in a life time.

Q: How long is a piece of string?
A: A piece of string is twice as long as half its length. It is usually shorter than the amount you need to wrap a parcel, but always long enough to tangle.

Q: When will I die?
A: You will die in a freak parachuting accident aged 98. Your memorial service, attended by more than 1,000 of your closest friends, will be at Wembley.

Super Scooby

The Super Scooby: Britain's most fattening burger goes on sale

The Super Scooby is being hailed as Britain's fattest burger and comes loaded with four 1/4lb beef burgers, eight rashers of bacon, eight slices of cheese, 12 onion rings, heaps of salad and three sauces. And at 2 645 calories, it exceeds the daily recommended limit for men by 145 calories. It stands at six inches tall, has a circumference of 13 inches, weighs in at 1.5kg (the same as a family-sized roast chicken) and it also comes with an extra side portion of chips.

The Jolly Fryer takeaway in Bristol, are offering customers the meal for £10, and provide a free can of Diet Coke for anyone who can finish it in one sitting.

Classy touch with the free drink, wouldn't you say? :o)

More at TTel and here's how it "stacks" up:

The Super Scooby's calorie count:

* Four 1/4lb beef burgers: 1,160 calories

* 12 onion rings: 300 calories

* Eight rashers of bacon: 275 calories

* Eight slices of cheese: 480 calories

* Two lettuce leaves: 4 calories

* Six slices of tomato: 25 calories

* Four slices of onion: 15 calories*

BBQ sauce, burger sauce and relish: 40 calories

* Mayonnaise: 90 calories

* White burger bap: 256 calories

Doodle Google Dandy

Google’s "doodles" have been making the headlines again, with a misspelled "Googlle" celebrating the search engine’s birthday, and a Chinese-themed logo marking the birth of Confucius. TTel takes a look at some of their other best efforts:

Pop Art Doodle – 6 August 2002
For Andy Warhol’s 74th birthday the logo was recreated in four garish colours, reminiscent of his 1967 painting of Marilyn Monroe.

Einstein Doodle – 14 March 2003
The first O of Google was turned into a crude caricature of Albert Einstein for the great physicist’s 124th birthday. His famous equation describing the conversion of mass into energy is also included, with the E of the logo forming the beginning of e=mc2.

DNA Doodle – 25 April 2003
A double helix replaces the two Os as the 50th anniversary of James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery of the shape of the deoxyribonucleic acid molecule, better known as DNA.

Flyer Doodle – 17 December 2003
The centenary of the first recognised heavier-than-air aircraft’s maiden flight – the Wright Brothers’ Flyer – is remembered here, with the two propellors of the Flyer forming the Os of Google.

Leonardo Doodle – 15 April 2005
The 553rd birthday of the great Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci is commemorated with a series of sketchings in his style, with a version of the Vitruvian Man forming the first O and the Mona Lisa the second.

Braille Doodle – 4 January 2006
Five blue dots, three red dots, three yellow dots, four blue, three green and two red: yes, it’s Google spelled out in Braille. This was issued in celebration of the 197th birthday of Louis Braille, who invented the embossed-point alphabet for blind and visually impaired people.

Scream Doodle – 12 December 2006
The entire logo was re-imagined as Edvard Munch’s Scream for the artist’s 146th birthday in 2006. The screaming figure’s head forms the second O; there is no G.

Michael Jackson Doodle – 29 August 2009
A couple of months after the death of Michael Jackson, the two Os in Google were replaced with two feet, en pointe, wearing patent leather shoes and shiny white socks below slightly-too-short trousers.

The logo was in honour of the late King of Pop’s 51st birthday, which would have fallen on that day.

The UFO Series Doodles

More recently Google caused a rush of speculation across the net with its UFO series:

Unexplained Phenomenon Doodle – 5 September 2009
A flying saucer floats above the logo, a tractor beam lifting the second O in an apparent abduction. Clicking on the doodle took the user through to a search page for “unexplained phenomenon”. What could it all mean?

A few internet conspiracy theorists suggested, in apparent seriousness, that it meant aliens had finally contacted the Earth – presumably via the switchboard at Google’s head offices.

Crop circle Doodle – 15 September 2009
Released just two weeks after the Unexplained Phenomenon doodle, it showed a UFO hovering above a cornfield, the word ‘Google’ written in crop circles beneath it.

The image linked through to the search page for “crop circles”.

A Google Twitter post contained a string of coordinates, centring on Woodham Road, Woking, Surrey.

This was soon followed up by…

Martian Invasion Doodle – 21 September 2009
Another doodle showing a UFO, this time with three long-legged ‘walkers’ trampling over the Surrey countryside.

After this, Google finally admitted what it had been up to: celebrating the 143rd birthday of science fiction pioneer HG Wells. Micheal Lopez, a Google web designer, wrote in a blog post: "We’re finally acknowledging the reason for the doodles with an official nod to Herbert George Wells, who would be 143 years old today.

"The invasion of the logo by alien crafts and pods makes our series complete, but you'll have to read the book to find out how Wells' story really ends."

Some users had already worked this out after the second doodle, as Woodham Road, mentioned in the coordinates Tweet, is near Horsell Commons, the location of the first alien landings in HG Wells' 1898 novel War of the Worlds.

Check out the link for the images to each mentioned doodle.

Very Strange

I can access The Telegraph on Internet Explorer but not on Firefox, which just hangs...

Wino Britain

A few factuals on how Britain likes a tipple:

- 1.6 billion bottles are imported to the UK every year

- £2.6 billion is spent on wine drunk in licensed premises

- £5 billion is spent on wine drunk at home

- 27.9 litres of wine are drunk per head in the UK every year

- Chardonnay is Britain’s most popular white wine, followed by pinot grigio

- Alcohol production and retailing employs 650 000 people in the UK

From TTimes.

Walking Through Treacle

Our internet access seems a bit stodgy still, but we'll try and muddle through. Oddly enough, IE8 seems better than Firefox (we use both search engines as they both have merits) as that is usually the other way around.

IT, it's all black magic,

Damn

Just heard from our agents in the UK that our tenant in the flat doesn't want to extend his stay. Apparently it's not a problem with the flat, but down to "personal reasons". We wish the chap well and hope he can resolve his problems and in the meantime we have to look for a new tenant. :-(

Monday, 28 September 2009

Four Star

From when it is manufactured to when it is taken off the road, an average car will use almost 11 000 gallons of petrol.

Holiday Deals On-Line

There are great travel deals to be had on-line; you just have to know where to look. TTimes picks the best bargain websites:

BEST BARGAINS

Travelzoo.co.uk

Every week, Travelzoo trawls through more than 1,000 travel websites, whittles down what’s on offer to the 20 best deals, then sends an e-mail alert to its subscribers. They’re as good as they sound, too — a colleague recently bagged a swish hotel in Sicily for half-price, with a room upgrade and 25% off food and drink thrown in. Another good one-stop shop is Travelsupermarket.com, while both Vouchercodes.co.uk and Codes.co.uk list discount vouchers for everything from flights to guidebooks.

HOTEL DEALS

Hotelchatter.com

A blog with the lowdown on all things hotel-related — whether that’s celeb sightings, interviews with “hot hoteliers” or thorough video reviews. The Hotel Deals section flags up offers such as the ­recent £1 room sale at the Hoxton Hotel, 20% off Marriotts and half-price suites at the Setai, Miami. Search by hotel name or city, or see the lot at hotelchatter.com/tag/hotel%20deals. The only draw-back? It’s heavily America-focused. Sister site Jaunted.com does the same thing for flights, car hire and general travel deals, while Vegaschatter.com does exactly what you’d expect.

BLIND HOTEL ROOMS

Hotwire.com

Hotwire takes chain hotels (three- star and up) and sells rooms at a discount of up to 60%. The catch? You’re not told the name until you book — just the star rating, the area of the city and amenities — so narrow it down by matching the amenties and star rating of the hotel you’re offered with the cheat lists on Betterbidding.com, which details hotels’ amenities. I recently booked the W in Atlanta for $95 (£59), when going through the hotel would have cost $229. And a friend who paid $54 for a four-star in Las ­Vegas arrived at Planet Hollywood to find she’d been upgraded to a $1,000 suite. The site is biggest in America, but has hotels worldwide; it also does flights, car hire, cruises and packages.

EAT FOR CHEAP

Toptable.com

About 30,000 restaurants around the world are on the books, of which plenty — 1,510 at the last count — have special deals (mostly free drinks and up to 50% off). After you’ve made seven bookings, you qualify for a free lunch (really). Squaremeal.co.uk has half-price deals in the UK.

SPORTY SAVINGS

Skiingholidays.com

Sorry, lazy people — your excuse that sports holidays are too pricey for your impoverished selves just ran out. The newly launched Skiingholidays.com lets you build a European snow break and compare it with package deals from seven of the main operators. Meanwhile, Yourgolftravel.com has spec­ial offers on 1,500 resorts worldwide, as well as a weekly special offer, a “bargain bunker” section and regular one-off deals — such as this summer’s two rounds and an overnight stay for £1 if three others pay £79 each.

SAVE ON EXTRAS

Lifebooker.com

Economic resolve can fade fast when you’re dealing in foreign currency — because a holiday’s not a holiday if you don’t treat yourself. The glut of salons in America means they discount like crazy on Lifebooker.com, which offers 50% off anything from haircuts to Botox in LA and New York.

Broadwaybox.com has special offers for shows in New York, London and Vegas (the musical Chicago on Broadway for half-price, for example).

The UK-specific Show-and-stay.co.uk does fantastic deals on West End packages (£100 for a train to London, show and hotel). Finally, keep an eye on Groupon.com — a brilliantly innovative way to bag hefty savings (50% and up) on anything from NFL match tickets and skydiving trips to restaurants and boat tours in 17 American cities. At the moment, it accepts only US credit cards, but the site promises to let us in on it in a few months’ time.

CHEAP FLIGHTS

Kayak.co.uk

Kayak gives you options. If you know where you want to go, it’ll tell you when prices are lowest; if you just want to escape British shores, hit the Fare Buzz option, choose a continent and a date, and it’ll tell you where’s cheapest. Best of all is the “weekend” option, where you enter a destination and it tells you which of the next five dates is best value. Cheapflights.co.uk is another good site, with a laudably clear layout, while Skyscanner.net has the advantage of listing Ryan­air as well. Cheapoair.com is America’s discount offering: you need an American credit card to book (time to hit up expat friends), but UK ones will work from next year.

STAY AT HOME

Airbnb.com

An upmarket version of Couchsurfing.com (which offers you the chance to crash on a local’s spare sofa), Airbnb.com lists residents in 1,332 cities who will let you stay in their spare room for cash. Prices aren’t rock bottom, so if it looks cheap, there’ll be a reason (like the cockroach I shared a bed with in a $35 room in Texas), but you’ll skip the extra charges hotels are so fond of and (possibly) make new friends. Also, remember the rental market isn’t confined to holiday villas or week-long rents — Homeaway.co.uk has plenty of bargains, including a flat in the Marais disctrict of Paris for £55 a night. Holidaylettings.co.uk is also worth a gander for its late and early deals (up to 50% off).

DRIVE CHEAP

Carhire3000.com

Car rental can rival hotel bills once firms are done adding the sneaky charges, and most of the comparison websites are so bewildering you’ll be tempted to fling your credit card at the nearest Avis. Don’t — give it to the nice folk at Carhire3000.com instead. They broker for all the main hire companies, so prices are low. We spent days (seriously) trying to book a complicated rental recently, and this site beat the competition by a mile. What’s more, the people on the end of their free­phone help-desk number were delightful. Avoid those excessive excess charges by using Insurance4carhire.com. Annual policies start at £50.

CUT-PRICE PACKAGES

Sunmaster.co.uk

This is the website to go to for last-minute deals from tour operators, including Thomas Cook and First Choice — two weeks in Turkey for £159, anyone? Latedeals.co.uk works the same way. Lastminute.com is good for cities — its “weekend break brow­ser” tells you when it’s cheapest to go to the most popular places in the near future. (You could have been in a four-star ­hotel in Copenhagen right now for £172 — that’s flights and two nights’ B&B — had you booked on Thursday.) Even if you want to ­retain some control over where you go, it’s usually cheaper to use “dynamic packaging” (booking elements together): you can do this on a number of sites, including Expedia.co.uk and Travelocity.co.uk. Even BA.com got in on the act in April — book a flight and hotel, or flight and car hire, and you’re guaranteed to save compared with booking separately (and if you’re an Executive Club member, you’ll get bonus BA miles, too).

Naming Names

And if you need a nudge on buying the book, here are a few more names to tempt you.

The other guilty parties on the list include:

Roman Abramovich
Sam Allardyce
Mike Ashley
David Baddiel
Tony Banks
Joey Barton
Ken Bates
Sid and Doris Bonkers
Billy Bragg
Ashley Cole
Gary Cook
Hunter Davies
Didier Drogba
Martin Edwards
Sven-Goran Eriksson
The Fans
Paul Gascoigne
Geordie Blubber
The Golden Generation
Alan Hansen
Derek Hatton
Nigel Kennedy
Richard Keys
Lord Kinnaird
Nick Love
Steve McLaren
Piers Morgan
Jose Mourinho
Graham Poll
Antonio Rattin
Charles Reep
Don Revie
Peter Risdale
Robinho
Cristiano Ronaldo
Richard Scudamore
Bill Shankly
Bob Shennan
Peter Swales
Sir Harold Thompson
Terry Venables
Ian Wright
Pini Zahavi

That's certainly some name dropping...

Controversial and Subjective

Just what we like here at ktelontour. :o)

After a lifetime in love with football, Michael Henderson is appalled by the excesses of the modern game. In extracts of his highly provocative new book, exclusively serialised in The Times, he names and shames the guilty parties:

There is no joy in English football today, and little dignity. The game is richer, to the tune of many billions, yet it is poorer in spirit. The big grounds are full, but the bonds that yoked club to town or city have been sundered. Where clubs used to reflect civic pride, now they exist to make or - take a bow, Mike Ashley - lose money for the people who own them.

Failure to win a trophy can bring public chastisement for even the best managers. When Arsène Wenger, who has transformed Arsenal into a side everybody loves to watch, is pilloried by Sid and Doris Bonkers, what hope is there for others?

I used to cover football. In two decades I reported from more than ninety Football League grounds, and it would be wrong to pretend that life was always miserable. Trips to Old Trafford and Anfield usually brought rewards, and you generally saw a good game at Nottingham Forest and Ipswich Town. But in time I too grew tired of the excesses, the lies, the equivocations.

Football has been shamed by people who do not hold its best interests at heart. Too few love it as a game should be loved, with affection balanced by the critical detachment one must apply to all things that are worth doing. This may be an indignant book but, as George Sand wrote, indignation is the highest form of love.

Sir Alf Ramsey

When England met West Germany, at Wembley 22 months after their 1970 World Cup quarter-final, for a place in the semi-final of the European Championship, the teams were less evenly matched than they were in Mexico.

It was the night that Günter Netzer, the brilliant Borussia Mönchengladbach midfield player, played England almost on his own. The 3–1 victory showed how much ground Ramsey’s team had ceded to opponents who had begun to embrace the Dutch notion of “total football”.

For the return leg in West Berlin Ramsey packed his team with defenders. Peter Storey, the Arsenal defender, who should never have been let anywhere near an England team, was selected alongside Norman Hunter, Emlyn Hughes, Roy McFarland and Paul Madeley, and England duly secured a goalless draw.

Afterwards Netzer joked that every England player had autographed his leg. England lost dignity that day, and it was Ramsey’s doing.

Total football, a fancy foreign term for something he didn’t understand, was beyond Ramsey. He was a meat-and-two-veg Englishman, and there is a time and a place for basic fare. There is no virtue in bending the knee to foreigners simply because they are foreign.

In this case, though, English suspicion of the exotic was pure ignorance. The Dutch, led by the great Johan Cruyff, were changing football before everybody’s eyes, and only the English affected not to notice.

The sadness is that, with the likes of Colin Bell, Colin Todd and the young Trevor Francis, England had players who might have adapted rather well. What “total football” really meant was a dissolution of hard distinctions between defending and attacking. Ramsey preferred limited football.

The world-beating manager had not moved with the times; nor had England. The beauty of Holland’s football in the 1974 World Cup showed the world just how the game could be played, although it was Franz Beckenbauer’s West Germany team who carried off the prize in Munich, with Gerd Müller, the home-town hero, scoring the winner.

When England failed to qualify for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, they dropped out of the game’s top stream, and have never regained their place.

Ramsey cannot be held entirely responsible for that. But the rot set in on his watch, when he sent out cloggers like Storey to silence ball-players like Netzer. They were grim days.

Freddie Mercury

The English have traditionally mistrusted overt displays of emotion. We like to remember Bobby Moore preparing to collect the World Cup from the Queen at Wembley in 1966 as a captain of his country should. Is my shirt tucked in? Are my hands clean? Do I look presentable? Very well, I shall proceed to meet Her Majesty.

These days, no sooner has a team won a trophy than a hundred rockets go off, the sound system is turned up full blast and players are encouraged to bounce up and down for the benefit of the great god television.

Oh dear, that coarse triumphalism. There is no need for false modesty when you can boast: “We are the champions.” Which brings us to Freddie Mercury. An exotic bird of a pop singer, dead before his time of Aids, he contributed the most horrible element to the undignified modern victory rite. We are the Champions, Queen’s hit of 1977, has become a Radetzky March for two generations of excitable victors. Every time a winner is unveiled, Mercury is reborn to tell us he has “no time for losers, ’cos we are the champions of the WOOOORLD!”

Wayne Rooney

In November 2004, playing for England against Spain in Madrid, he was withdrawn during the first half by Sven-Göran Eriksson, the head coach, who feared he would be sent off.

To his shame, Rooney tore off the black armband that the players were wearing, to honour the memory of Emlyn Hughes, the former England captain, who had just passed away.

Some observers passed it off as the behaviour of a young man. They were less eager to offer excuses when he was sent off at the 2006 World Cup, after stamping on Ricardo Carvalho, the Portugal centre half, in front of the referee.

Nor can his mood swings excuse those tiresome strops when perfectly sound decisions go against him. There is grace in his play, none in his manner. “A crazy man” was the description given to him by Fabio Capello, the present England manager. The Italian was joking — up to a point.

Rooney radiates aggression, which is useful to a sportsman only if he can master it. Untamed, it will devour even the most talented.

The history of games and games players leaves little doubt. English football can only hope that Rooney overcomes his youthful indiscretions, for he is a player of considerable talent. He could even become that rare creature, the great player, the one who eventually leads England to a World Cup triumph.

So it is important that he grows up.

Alan Green

Tune in to Radio 5 Live by day or night, and you will hear Mr Toad in human form. Alan Green sounds so tremendously pleased by the sound of his voice, and the firmness of his convictions, that no agency short of fire, flood or pestilence can prevent him from bestowing his opinions upon the public.

“Next week,” he once informed listeners, in the manner of a flunky drawing up the social diary for minor royals, “I shall be in Barcelona.” Others went as well, of course. Green, who is not the most collegiate of reporters, has no time for such niceties. Listeners want to hear him, and hear him they certainly do.

Here is a man who speaks almost exclusively in capital letters. “Awful. Disgraceful. Quite Unacceptable.” And that’s just at breakfast. His other mode, when he hosts the confederacy of dunces known as 606, is bafflement, followed by mellifluous suggestion. When listeners approach him to crave a boon, in the manner of peasants petitioning a medieval monarch, he becomes positively unctuous. “I’ll tell you what. D’you know what I think?” Oh, go on, Greeny, tell us what you think. You know you want to.

He can’t get enough of referees. “I hope I won’t have to talk about this chap,” he will announce as the game is about to kick off. In that case don’t talk about him. But he does, incessantly. Rather like those boggle-eyed folk who deplore pornography, but have to read it to make sure it is deplorable, Green feels he has to talk about the referees who were put on earth to spoil his fun. He talks over the heads of summarisers, too, even when they have something to say. Sometimes he talks about himself more than the men on the field. As often as not, he is wrong, but never is there a suggestion of mea culpa.

Gordon Taylor

The chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association receives a seven-figure annual salary, so it is not only the top players who earn a handsome living from the game. Yet how often has anybody heard him criticise the offensive, occasionally criminal behaviour of his members?

He has to tread carefully, it is true. His job is to offer advice on professional and personal matters to his members, not all of whom are big stars. But the wider football public would like to hear a clearer voice from time to time with regard to the significant minority of players whose antics have defiled the game.

For all the talk of “rights”, and Taylor is entitled to defend them, footballers must also be aware of their duties. The PFA seems to have spent more time assisting troublemakers, in their various rehabilitation periods, than helping the victims of their trouble. Some people are simply not worth bothering with.

George Best

We should remember the brilliant boy who arrived in Manchester from Belfast, and caught the mood of the Sixties. If Johnny Haynes was football’s first big star of that decade, released from the prison of the maximum wage, Best became the game’s first multimedia star, known simply as George, or Georgie. That kind of fame, his allies have said, would have broken stronger men. Well, Pelé, a World Cup winner at 17, survived it.

Perhaps we should be thankful for what Best gave us. We have to be. There was precious little to celebrate in the last three decades of a life that ended so desperately. The cult of Best even ran to his funeral, which could have been mistaken for a state occasion.

One might have thought the departed had been a great man, not an abnormally gifted footballer who had drowned his talent in a vat of booze. There is a difference.

Victoria Beckham

Before his head was turned, and football interests took second place to brand recognition, it was easy to admire Beckham the pro. But the values of the pop world he married into were bound to leave some kind of mark because they have more to do with marketing than talent. As John Giles, the former Leeds United and Ireland midfield player, said, publicity was oxygen for Mrs Beckham, cyanide for him.

Soon Beckham the one-time footballer was doing any number of daft things to keep his name before the public. He changed his barnet every month, and painted his body with odd symbols. He wore his wife’s undies, and became a gay “icon”. He posed, Christ-like, at Easter, for Time Out, the London magazine, although it wasn’t clear he knew what Easter was. Mrs Beckham said they would like the children to be baptised, but weren’t sure about the faith. And they wondered why people laughed.

They can sit on thrones at their wedding. They can build a house with mock Roman columns. They can be photographed, looking moody (him) and bored (her), at every party from Chingford to Burbank, and lavish extravagant birthday gifts on their children, but the Beckhams will only ever be Terry and June with a few bob.

This ludicrous pair are “best friends” with Elton John, “best friends” with Tom Cruise, “best friends” with anybody who happens to be passing. Such longing for stardom is cyanide, as Giles realised. Not for the lady, whose role in life is to attend an endless round of fashion shows and parties, but for Beckham.

Before he exchanged his soul for the foul dust of celebrity, he was a pretty good footballer.

Ashley Cole

You may not admire his decision to arrange a clandestine meeting with the manager and chief executive of another club who happened to have more money, and the lack of class to flaunt it. You may think that a player nurtured by a club from his school days should remain loyal to that club, unless there was something fundamentally wrong. In which case you may be amused when he was fined £100,000, reduced to £75,000 on appeal, for breaking Premier League rules.

You might think that players do not always receive the best possible advice. But then you might think that a player who writes in his autobiography (or has written on his behalf) that he “nearly drove off the road” when he heard his club were prepared to pay him only £55,000 a week to be incapable of acting sensibly upon any advice he might receive. You might recall Wilde’s remark about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Knowing all this about the player, you might not be surprised that his behaviour did not improve, on or off the pitch, when he got the transfer across London he was angling for. It reached such a level of petulance that, having switched clubs, he abused a referee in the most explicit terms during a Premier League match, belittling Mike Riley in such a vile way that, by turning his back, he let the world know he had no respect for any kind of authority. The world was not surprised. As a consequence of his behaviour the Wembley crowd, upset by a blunder that led directly to the loss of a goal against Kazakhstan, decided to boo the offender. Not so much for the error, because all players make them. Rather, as a commentary on the player’s conduct and general attitude over many years.

When he needed to reform his behaviour, it got worse. With his wife, a pop singer, out of the country on a television jaunt, he was found in a tired and emotional state one night outside a South Kensington bar. This time it was the police officers who felt the rough edge of his tongue, and he was taken to the cells, where payment of a statutory £80 fine earned his release. It did not release him from the judgment of the public, which convicted him for being drunk, disorderly — and a footballer.

Bill Shankly

How did this outstanding manager foul up football? For one overwhelming reason. It was Shankly who said, in a television interview in 1981, that the game was “more important” than life and death. Not just more important, but “much more” important.

Whether it was uttered in jest, as some have maintained, he never disowned it. Trotted out from time to time as an example of his lacerating wit (although it proves nothing of the sort), the easily impressed have used it to justify all kinds of unpleasant things in the years since, in the expectation that others will swell the laughter of recognition.

“Aggressive self-pity” was the phrase that Edward Pearce, the journalist, applied to Liverpool. These are deep waters, for the city has many attractions, and there is another Liverpool that people do not always see. It is to Shankly’s credit that he gave his adopted home so much to be proud of at a time when Liverpool’s main commercial function, as a port that looked outward to the world, found itself facing the wrong way.

But it is an ambiguous bequest. Liverpool fans have been spoilt by being told too often they are a breed apart, and Shankly did nothing to dampen that sense of exceptionalism.

Sport is not “much more” important than life or death — as those Liverpool fans who lost loved ones at Hillsborough could have told him — nor can his remark be laughed away as a merry jape by “good old Shanks”. Football should only ever be a pleasant diversion, even in Liverpool.

Geordie Blubber

The sight of supporters having a jolly good blub, which never fails to attract the attention of television producers looking for post-match “colour”, has ensured that “Geordie Blubber” has become a well-known and, if truth be known, much-mocked character.

There is a lot of talk, much of it sentimental, about Newcastle letting down their supporters. But some of those supporters are part of the problem because their expectations are impossible to fulfil.

After Bobby Robson was sacked, having taken the club to a fifth place that was considered unacceptable for such a “big” club, one of those puddled fans who turn up for the ritual coronations told television viewers that the Newcastle job was “one of the biggest three in Europe”.

When some observers say those fans deserve “better”, it is wise to remember that tosh and say: “No, not all of them do.” Thousands, dazzled by silly talk of a Geordie Nation, will remain part of the problem until they revise their expectations. Newcastle are not a big club, if size is determined by achievement.

They are a club with a proud history loved by thousands. Geordie Blubber deserves sympathy.

Newcastle have wasted millions on poor players, yet sympathy is a finite quality where Newcastle are concerned, and Geordie Blubber has earned his place in this inglorious parade.

He’s not difficult to spot — he wears a black-and-white shirt in all seasons. When it is cold, he likes to take it off. At all times he carries a freshly peeled onion.

Richard Keys

For a man who possesses few qualities that viewers traditionally value in their broadcasters, Keys has done very well. He has the sort of voice that is more commonly heard reading out badminton results at the local rec, and a chummy manner (“Jamie’s with us again”) that falls a few furlongs short of authority. But that is what his masters want: a nonentity who can be relied upon to tell white lies. At all times he must stay “on message” and the message could not be more simple: on Sky, football is always wonderful.

This is no David Coleman or Des Lynam, who had strong screen personalities. He is not even a Jim Rosenthal, an able all-rounder with a pleasing smile. Nearly two decades into his role, Keys comes over as a malleable, one-dimensional chap who is doing the job during the vac until the big boys return, full of vim and vigour, from their Tuscan adventures.

The obsequious lightweight should not carry the can for Sky’s coverage. Rupert Murdoch and his henchmen, Sam Chisholm and David Hill, rewrote the book on sports broadcasting. But, as the most visible symbol of their coverage, the one who sets up the studio experts (“Big Sam has joined us tonight”), he has become a fixture in televised sport. Suit, tie, coat-hanger smile, bran-tub of clichés. All present and correct. Off we jolly well go.

The coverage is uncritical enough to have been scripted by a Russian commissar of agriculture who has just received the latest figures on grain production.

The players are there to be petted, and joshed with (“Stevie G is with us — you were in fine form tonight, Stevie”), until, in the fullness of time, they can swell the ranks of the recently retired in the studio, where Keys will lap up their ungrammatical “expertise” with the ease of a man whose purpose in life is to be deferential. The result of this endless verbal smooching is the lionisation of second-raters.

Richard Scudamore

World domination is what Scudamore is after, and he will not cease from mental fight till he has built “Jerusalem” in every green and pleasant land beyond his own.

This policy of Lebensraum propelled his idea to introduce a 39th game in the Premier League fixture list, to be played in cities outside England, and one can almost hear him talking up its attractions. The prospect of watching some of the league’s lesser lights going hammer and tongs should have the good folk of Kuala Lumpur racing to the ground to bag the best seats. Who wouldn’t part willingly with $100 to watch Kevin Davies or Emile Heskey slice a sitter into the crowd? Roll up, roll up!

One hopes that Scudamore fails, for it cannot be right for the Premier League to trample into foreign lands like a conquering army. Nor is it easy to see how English clubs could fit a 39th game into their schedules when many of them are stretched to bursting point as it is.

Far from putting a few eggs into foreign baskets Scudamore would do well to keep a tighter rein on events at home. For, while he was drawing up his plans to dazzle foreign audiences, a tale was unfolding in London that did his reputation no good.

The Carlos Tévez affair has become a cause célèbre for good reasons. Why did the Premier League not dock West Ham points instead of issuing a fairly useless fine? There were calls for Scudamore’s head but, cushioned by all that money, he’s not a man who is troubled by self-doubt.


Michael Henderson is a writer and columnist on football and cricket. If you want to get hold of his book, 50 People Who Fouled Up Football, it is to be published by Constable & Robinson on 15th October for £12.99.

Yellow and Red

Interesting tale of how red and yellow cards were introduced into football.

Ken Aston, an English referee was having difficulty in sending off Antonio Rattin, of Argentina. He refused to leave the Wembley pitch in 1966, later claiming that, because he spoke no English, he did not know that he had been ordered off.

On the drive back to his home, Aston was trying to work out ways of clarifying sanctions in international matches and inspiration struck when he reached a set of traffic lights. Bingo.

Half Day Today

We seem to be experiencing some difficulty with our internet access following last night's downpour. Some sites are fine, some only open half way and then hang and some just don't get accessed at all.

The Telegraph seems not to want to play and so I'm afraid we can't review what's in the news there today. Hopefully it will be back tomorrow. Even The Times was a tad sticky today. :-(

Fish is Good For You

Eating four sardines (with the bones in) will meet an adult woman's minimum daily requirement of calcium. Eating two dozen or more will cause her to ingest and excessive amount of mercury.

Two dozen? Four is bad enough...

Birthday Boy

One of the barmen had his birthday yesterday and so we sent over a jug of beer to the staff table. He couldn't have been happier and rushed up, glass in hand to say thanks.

A small gesture but as ever, received with enthusiasm and a beaming grin. I rather think that their already impeccable service will continue until we sadly have to leave.

Lovely Weather for Ducks

Back at our usual haunt, the night market, we had just sat down down when the skies opened up and absolutely threw down a month's worth of rain in one go. Usually they take about 15-30 minutes and it all reverts back to "same, same", but last night it just kept going and going until even the market was flooded and were we were sitting ended up in an inch or so of standing rain water.

Life goes on here though and no one seemed too stressed as sparks flew out of extension blocks where the rain dribbled in and people kept cooking. The beer flowed, the band played on and everyone just kept on laughing and smiling.

What a wonderful country.

Bloody Good Playing

On our walks to and from the supermarkets, we come across some truly heart wrenching beggars who have some awful injuries or inflictions. We always try and do what we can and today I came across a young blind girl who was haplessly tapping a well worn tambourine,

As I got closer, I was amazed at how good she sounded; it was almost as if Dr Feelgood were jamming Down to the Doctors behind her and I gratefully lobbed her a cupful of notes and change.

Then I realised I had my new MP3 player on...

:oD

Boots

The walking kind as per Nancy Sinatra or the chemist kind as per the UK. I don't think I really appreciated how good it was back in England and it's only now that I realise just how useful their products are. They were expensive in Britain (Superdrug was always a good, cheaper alternative) but here in Bangkok, they aren't so bad and they offer almost a full range of items other chemists don't stock.

Best of all, they've just opened up a new branch at our local Carrefour, which means we don't have to travel into town.

Merkel Stays Boss

Angela Merkel surged back into power last night at the helm of a pro-business Government that is committed to cutting taxes and ending a ten-year taboo on the use of nuclear power. With her main challenger conceding defeat, the German Chancellor told cheering supporters that a new Government made up of her Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats would lead the country out of crisis. She said:

“I’m happy that we have a stable majority in a new Government with the Free Democrats.”

More at TTimes.

I'd Like to Pay More, Please

Click to Enlarge

Twother?

Beer will be served in mugs containing two thirds of a pint, unwrapped loaves of bread will be permissible in any size and small measures of wine will be legalised to assist with tasting sessions. New weights and measures regulations will soon change all of the units we've been acustomed to and supposedly offer us all more choice.

The arrival of the new mug, nicknamed the “twother”*, follows pressure from the pub trade to be allowed to serve smaller amounts of beer and cider, especially of stronger brands.

You'd have thought being in the trade and therefore "expert" that they would perhaps have turned to that other great receptacle, the half pint glass, no?

More at TTimes.



*And what a stupid name. You won't feel much of a berk asking for a "twother of Fullers, please", eh?

And Speaking of Music

I treated myself to a new MP3/MP4 player.

I don't like the idea of the iPods as everyone and their dog has one and I've heard that iTunes are a pain and so I've always been more than happy lesser known and smaller capacity players. We've had a couple of Creative (wifey still does) players and they're absolutely fine, until the memory runs out. Which is why I wanted something a little bigger and found a Soken in the sale.

Still a tad titchy on the HD at just 4GB, it does however have a microSD card slot for expansion and can play filums too, on it's 3" screen. Could be fun on longer journeys, but the most important thing is that I have the option of listening to my music again. :o)

First Trip to Thailand?

This will help:

Custom
Thailand is a Buddhist country where Buddha images are held sacred. Sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if committed by foreign visitors.
Thai people hold their King and Queen and the Royal Family in great reverence, and so won't tolerate foreigners showing disrespect to them.
Generally Thai women are conservative. So don't touch them without their consent.
Dress properly when entering a Buddhist temple. Miniskirts and shorts are not allowed. Take your shoes off before going inside the hall of worship. Ladies must not on any account touch a Buddhist monk, give things direct to him or receive things direct from him.
Intimacies between man and woman should not be shown in public. Sunbathing in the nude is prohibited.
Call Thais their first names; use the title "Khun" for adults.
Normally, Thai people address others by their first names and with the title 'khun'. So don't be surprised if you are addressed as 'Khun Mary' or 'Khun John' instead of by your surname.
Traditionally, Thais greet each other with a wai (by pressing the palms together at the chest). If someone wais you, you should wai back (except wai-ed by a child).
Thai people smile to express gladness and happiness, to thank for small services, to return the wai of children and inferior persons, and even to excuse small inconveniences.
Don't touch a person's head, nor ruffle his hair. The head is the noblest part of the body. A sincere apology should be offered immediately if you touch someone's head unintentionally.
Avoid placing your feet on the table while sitting. Never use your foot to point things out or to touch any part of the body of anyone, which is considered rude.
Entering a Thai house, you're expected to remove your shoes.

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Visa
The following information about Thailand's visa information is obtained from the Office of the Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tourist Visa Exemption
The Thai government allows nationals from 39 countries to stay in Thailand for tourism purpose for up to 30 days without an entry visa.

List of 39 countries are as follows:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam,
Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan,
Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands,
New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar,
Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland,
Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA, Vietnam.
Temporary Tourist Visa : Visa on Arrival
Passport holders from 14 countries may apply for visas at the immigration checkpoints for the purpose of tourism for the period of not exceeding 15 days.
Documents required: Valid passport, visa application form completely filled in, confirmed air ticket paid in full, one recent photograph
( 2 1/2 inches), and application fee of 1,000 baht.
Validity of stay: 15 days
The visa is granted by Immigration officers at Thailand's international airports -- Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hatyai, and at other points of entry into the country.

List of 14 countries are as follows:
Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Czech, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan,
Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Russian Federation,
Saudi Arabia, Ukraine
Transit Visa
Documents required:
1. Passport or travel document with validity not less than 6 months
2. Visa application form completely filled out
3. One recent photograph ( 4 x 6 cm)
4. Confirmed air ticket paid in full
5. Evidence of adequate finance
(20,000 Baht per person and 40,000 Baht per family)
6. Visa of a third country in a passport or travel document

Visa fee : 800 baht per entry
(The fee may be changed without prior notice.)
Validity of stay: 30 days
Tourist Visa

Documents required:
1. Passport or travel document with validity not less than 6 months
2. Visa application form completely filled out
3. One recent photograph ( 4 x 6 cm)
4. Confirmed air ticket paid in full
5. Evidence of adequate finance
(20,000 Baht per person and 40,000 Baht per family)

Visa fee: 1,000 baht per entry
(The fee may be changed without prior notice.)
Validity of stay: 60 days

Extension of Stay

Those who wish to stay longer or may wish to change their status of visa must file an application form at the Office of Immigration Bureau located on Soi Suan Plu, off South Sathon Road, Bangkok. The extension of stay as well as the change of certain type of visa is solely at the discretion of the Immigration officer.

The above information is subject to change. For more details, contact the Immigration Bureau, South Sathon Road, Bangkok,
tel. 0 2287 3101 to 10

For your convenience, you may contact Visa & Immigration Law Consulting Service, a professional company offering a variety of services with many years experience in Bangkok.
Embassies & Consulates in Thailand
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Health Regulations
In Thailand, as in most countries, vaccination certificates are not required for foreign visitors except those from or passing through a designated contaminated area. Anyway, there is a risk of malaria in some forested and hilly areas. If you plan to travel in endemic areas, it is highly recommended to take tablets to prevent the onset of this desease.

Currency & Money Exchange
Foreign visitors may freely bring in foreign currencies or other types of foreign exchange. Cheques or drafts brought in, if the owner desires to sell, must be sold to a bank. Upon leaving Thailand, they may freely take out all foreign exchange they have brought in. For residents, unlimited amounts of foreign notes and coins may be taken out for travelling expenses. The amount of draft or cheque is subject to the approval of the issuing bank.
Foreign visitors may bring in an unlimited amount of Thai currency. For travellers leaving Thailand, both Thais and foreigners, the maximum amount permitted to take out without prior authorization is 50,000 baht per person or, if they are going to one of Thailand's neighbouring countries, 500,000 baht per person.
The basic monetary unit in Thailand is the Baht. A baht is divided into 100 satang. The following coins and notes are currently in use:

Coins : 25 and 50 satang; 1, 5 and 10 baht
Banknotes : 10 (brown), 20 (green), 50 (blue), 100 (red), 500 (purple) and 1,000 (grey or brown) baht
see pictures of Thai Banknotes

Major foreign currencies can be exchanged for Thai baht with banks and authorized money changers. For buying baht, US dollars are the most readily acceptable , though travellers' cheques get a better rate than cash.
Major credit cards are also widely accepted in tourist centres. The most commonly accepted cards are Visa and Master Card, followed by Amex, Diners and JCB.
Bangking hours: Monday to Friday, 08.30 - 15.30 hrs. (except public and bank holidays)
Major banks such as Bangkok Bank, Thai Farmers Bank and Siam Commercial Bank operate currency exchange centres in most tourist areas from 07.00 - 21.00 hrs., seven days a week, including holidays.
20 Currency Exchange Rates

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Customs Clearance for Passengers
Passengers arriving in the Kingdom of Thailand have to fill in the "Passenger Declaration Form" (Form No.211) and submit it to the Customs officer while bringing their luggage or belongings through the red or green channel. In case there are no dutiable, prohibited or restricted goods, please mark "nothing to declare" on the Passenger Declaration Form and submit it to the Customs officer at the green channel.
In case there are dutiable, prohibited or restricted goods or the passenger is unsure whether or not goods are subject to any of the three aforesaid categories, the passenger should mark "goods to declare" on the Passenger Declaration Form and submit it to the Customs officer at the red channel.

1.1 Duties for goods brought into Thailand will be assessed according to Customs Acts, Customs Tariff Decree, and other associated laws.
The following are subject to duty charges (30% of the goods' value):
Goods which are brought into the country in a limited quantity as personal effects and are not for a commercial purpose.
Goods not exceeding 80,000 baht in value.
Duties shall be paid in cash on the date of arrival.
In case goods do not comply with the above conditions, they will be sent to Goods Accompanying Passenger Section of the Import Formalities Sub-Division at Customs Warehouse 1, Import Customs Warehouse Building, Bangkok International Airport Customs Bureau or any local respective Customs House to comply with normal Customs procedures. The passenger will receive a delivery order form (Form No.466) as evidence.

1.2 Personal effects for personal or professional use which accompany passengers in an amount not exceeding their needs with the total value not exceeding 10,000 baht, will be exempted from customs duties.
Personal effects such as clothing, cosmetics, jewelry, shoes, glasses, perfume, etc., purchased abroad must have a receipt to show before the Customs; if there is no such receipt, the Customs officer will consider other available evidence.
The following accompanied goods can be brought into Thailand in amounts not exceeding as stated below;
200 cigarettes or 500 grams of cigars and tobacco
10 liters of alcoholic liquor

1.3 A certain amount of used household effects accompanying a passenger due to change domicile will be exempted from Customs duties.
Used household effects such as television, radio, video, etc., will be exempted from Customs duties; however, passengers are required to declare the mentioned items to the Customs officer at the red channel by submitting a passenger declaration form (Form No.211)

For further information, contact the Customs Bureau,
Tel. 0 2535 1269, 0 2535 1569 or 0 2535 1153
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Customs Formality (Outbound Passengers)
Cameras, video cameras and portable computers must be declared to the Customs officer in order to confirm outbound accompaniment upon re-entry to Thailand.
Jewelry and ornaments are required to go through the Customs formalities at the Outbound Section, Passenger Control Division, Bangkok International Airport Customs Bureau (3rd floor, International Terminal 1).
Prohibited Goods and Restricted Goods:

Prohibited goods are goods for which either the import into or export out of the kingdom is prohibited, e.g. drugs, pornographic materials, protected wild animals or related products, etc. Violators of laws related to illicit drugs, e.g. having and holding, holding for use, or being a producer, seller or transporter are subject to the death sentence.

Restricted goods are goods the import and export of which are restricted by law and therefore require a permit from the related government agencies. The following items require a permit from the government agency concerned in order to go through the Customs formalities.

Firearms, ammunitions, explosive objects (Office of National Police)
Buddha images, artefacts and antiques (Fine Arts Department)
Radio transceivers and telecommunications equipment (Post & Telegraph Department)
Plants and planting materials (Department of Agriculture)
Live animals and animal products (Department of Live Stock Development)
Medicines and chemical products (Office of Food and Drugs Administration)

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Dining
Drink only bottled or boiled water.
You can find places to eat 24 hours a day, but better avoid sidewalk stalls where, though food is cheap and palatable, hygienic conditions may not be up to standard.
Most Thai food is already cut into small pieces before serving or made soft enough to be cut with a spoon or fork; thus, a knife is unnecessary.
Saltshakers are rarely found on Thai dining tables, so add a little caramel-colour fish-sauce (called nam-pla in Thai) instead, if you find your food not salty enough.
English is spoken in large restaurants in tourist provinces and most establishments have menus in Thai and English.
Beckon waiters with a wave of a hand. Don't clap, snap fingers or hiss.
Tipping
Normally most hotels and restaurants add a 10% service charge to the bills but a tip for waiters is appreciated. For porters, a tip of 20-40 baht is acceptable.

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Shopping
Be careful with your bag and valuables while shopping in a crowded area.
After buying and before leaving the shop, check that the goods are the same that you bought. Some shops do not exchange or give refunds, and make sure you keep the receipts.
In the case that you have the shop send the goods by mail, ask for a receipt for sending the goods, so that you can be certain that there is an actual mailing service.
Bargaining is an art long practised in Asian countries including Thailand. So feel free to ask for a proper discount when shopping in places where prices are not marked.
Be careful in dealing with sidewalk vendors who may not offer genuine goods at fair prices.
Souvenir stores in hotel arcades and department stores may ask for higher prices than general souvenir stores and street shops for they have to pay high rents. Yet these shops mostly offer high quality goods.
To shop gems, make sure that you shop from a specialist in that field instead of buying from a simple souvenir store.
Before making your decision to buy, especially precious objects, compare prices at several shops.
Receipts should be obtained for the goods you buy. For jewellery you must get a certificate of guarantee as well.
Some shops can offer a money-back guarantee but you should clearly determine all conditions with the shopkeeper beforehand.
Ask for a written agreement to full refund on any goods returned within 90 days.
Do not let a new acquaintance take you to shopping, for he or she is very likely to get a commission from the store. And the commission will be added to your payment.

Related Link : VAT Refund for Tourists

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Travelling
Don't get involved with any kind of narcotic drugs, gambling, child prostitution or other illegal activities that violate the law.
Don't walk in isolated places.
Strictly observe the warning signs at tourist attractions. Don't violate the law, as this may result in severe consequences.
Be careful with your bags and valuables when travelling. Don't leave them unattended.
Don't accept any complimentary tour offered by a stranger. Reliable tourist information and safe tours are only provided by a tour agency with a license.
Before using any service, check the information before making a final decision and keep all the important related documents in case a problem should arise after using the service.
Don't take any foods, drinks, or candies offered by a stranger.
Don't spit saliva or phlegm, discard cigarette stubs, or throw away any garbage in public areas, on the streets, or on the ground. Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of 2,000 baht.
Consult Thaiways web or Thaiways magazine, the most comprehensive guide to Thailand , or obtain information about the tourist destination from the Tourism Authority of Thailand before travelling. Check the weather conditions, especially when going to the sea, and your health, so that your trip will go smoothly.

If you have any problems while travelling, please contact the Tourist Service Centre, tel. 1672 (24 hours) or Tourist Assistance Centre, tel. 0 2505 5686 (Mon - Fri, 08.30 - 16.30 hrs.)

Related Links : For a Safe Road Trip

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About Wildlife & Environment
As the environment has become more polluted and many wildlife species have become extinct, or are in danger of extinction, partly due to the development of tourism, visitors are requested to help keep the environment clean and protect wild animals for the benefit of the later generations.
Styrofoam and other types of plastics thrown into the sea or discarded in the forest are harmful or even deadly to animals.
Never buy and keep wild animals as pets in which condition they are never meant to be. Never purchase any product or souvenir made from wild animals or their organs.
Avoid patronizing restaurants that serve food consisting of any wild animals. It is against the law to slaughter wildlife for food in Thailand.
Related Links :
Tips for Tourists : Regarding Coral Reefs
Some Hints for Swimmers & Boat Passengers
Jungle Trekking Regulations
Prepare for Jungle Trekking
Guidelines On Visiting Waterfalls

Thanks to Thaiways Magazine for the details.