Category Archives: South East Asia

How did ’15 WEEKS’ become an Amazon No.1 best seller in ONE day?

15 WEEKS  has been republished and is NOW available as a FREE eBook. The 2017 edition was only released today and it is already topping rankings at Amazon.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,523 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Asia > Thailand
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Specialty Travel > Budget Travel

I am using Pronoun to  publish the 2017 editions of Thailand Diaries – 3 eBooks. Continue reading How did ’15 WEEKS’ become an Amazon No.1 best seller in ONE day?

Fires already?

I have written many times on the subject of atmospheric pollution and although I am taking a break from blogging for a while I cannot contain my emotions when it comes to being exposed to deliberately started forest fires.

While I am managing a building project in Northern Thailand I am staying on the hill slopes of Huai Kaew village, 30 kms north of Chiang Mai, bordering the forests. The climate at this time of year is comfortable. Cool at night and early morning rising to 30c + in the day with no rain except the occasional shower.

But now the burning season starts when the monsoon rains have gone and farmers burn off the dry dead grasses and stubble to stimulate new growth next year around May/June’; then Cutting back excessive growth, clearing land and deforestation for fruit and vegetable farming.

Unfortunately making a living takes preference over self- health and the health of others. The natural environment, habitat and animal life are hardly a consideration.

Despite the annual government warnings and penalties, seldom imposed, slash and burn techniques continue unabated. Ask the locals and they will tell you ‘This is the way it has always been.’

Ask if they think it is OK and you will probably get a shrug of the shoulders or, at best, ‘What can I do’.

In other words, total apathy.

Having nearly choked to death in Phuket, due to the horrendous forest fires in Sumatra, in September/October I have a more than a vested interest in finding a solution to the Global air pollution problem.

Apart from helping to raise awareness in a small way I am virtually powerless.

And so the global problem of Global warming continues on its merry way and we all suffer the consequences.

You may say ‘The Sun will eventually destroy us so what does it matter anyway.’

I say I am thankful I have no grandchildren!!!

I leave you with this hurriedly written poem induced by indignation and wine and would like you to look at my picture of the beautiful forest I am looking at tonight which is burning as I write.


Why are you killing us?

Burning our land.

You have no rites of passage.

You have no right to stand


I watch in despair,

Each night as I laze.

Your fires that destroy us;

My lungs are ablaze.


The world is at war

With natures reaction,

To warming the globe

And our interaction.


The ice caps are melting.

The land is enveloped.

Species facing extinction.

No chance to develop.


I ask you again,

Please consider your brother.

Remember your learning and

How you treat your mother (Earth).



Are we human?

As Koh Phuket suffers from deliberate crop burning in far-away Sumatra and Northern Thailand prepares itself for the same treatment in February and March each year, I wonder are we obsessed with fire?

Rawai Sunrise – September 2015

Air pollution drifting in from Indonesia changes the landscape in Rawai Bay, Phuket
Air pollution drifting in from Indonesia changes the landscape in Rawai Bay, Phuket

Rawai Sunrise – August 2015

Sunrise in Rawai Bay - August 2015
Sunrise in Rawai Bay – August 2015

We are human after all – or are we human at all?

Do those who cause the problems feel guilty that 50% of the people of Northern Thailand suffer from respiratory problems? If they don’t care for their own health then the answer is obvious.

In March 2014 I posted on this topic in ‘Is North Thailand a Health Hazard’  In the light of the recent fires in Indonesia it seems appropriate to air the issue once again.

In that post I wrote:

“Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai only have populations of between 2 and 3 million. Pollution is mainly caused by subsistence farmers employing outdated ‘slash and burn’ techniques used for hundreds of years to clear forest and scrub land and grow crops. The government is well aware of the dangers to health but is failing the people miserably. Together with the many ‘Forest Fire Control Centres’, throughout the provinces, the authorities are once again proving to be either unwilling or powerless to prevent the recklessness of ignorant rural people. It would seem that most have little or no concern for their own or others health and safety.”

We know that the very star that gives us life will eventually destroy us; consuming us in a fire of cataclysmic proportions.

Surely this cannot be the reason we are committed to prior self-destruction by the constant burning of our planet?

Is the knowledge that the Sun will take away the life it gives reason for our own pre-emptive strike on the World.

Forest fires, wars and crop burning rage across the world with never-ending regularity.

Despite the fact that laws are in place governments are powerless to stop the destruction of the planet by its inhabitants. Ignorance prevails and prosecutions are few and far between.

Have we such disregard for our neighbours that we continue to burn our lands and stand by as the smoke drifts on the wind thousands of miles across the seas to choke our brothers?

And let us not forget the never ending environmental problems and the silent suffering animals, birds, sea creatures and insects affected by our actions.

Despite all the knowledge at our disposal it seems we still fail to understand that we desperately need nature but nature does not need us.



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Foreign retirees in Thailand – New rules

90 day reporting

Foreigners who live in Thailand on a one year Retirement Visa are now faced with added restrictions on their movements.

The 90 day reporting procedure used to be a routine affair taking a few minutes at any Immigration centre. All you needed to do was complete form TM47, copy your passport and Bob’s your uncle. No fees and no hassle. But now form TM47 is no longer and if, at the time of your check in, you are not in the province of the residence on your Visa you have to get the owner of the premises you are temporarily staying at to fill out some forms. He or she must also provide a rental contract, a copy of his ID and Blue House book. I imagine this applies even if you are only there for one day. Continue reading Foreign retirees in Thailand – New rules

If the jungle doesn’t get you the mushrooms will

IMG_0011The villages of Northern Thailand are surrounded by densely forested hills (jungle to the locals). Apart from wild plants and herbs the damp dark tropical forest floor gives birth to numerous varieties of wild mushrooms. Many villagers, who seem oblivious to the possible dangers, still go deep into the jungle in search of the highly prized delicate fungi. The experienced know the terrain and regularly collect mushrooms to sell in the local markets. Cultivated mushrooms are considered a poor alternative to the wild kind.

English: Amanita phalloides. Piacenza's mountains
English: Amanita phalloides. Piacenza’s mountains (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several times a year search parties are gathered and go out into the jungle in search of missing mushroom hunters who haven’t returned by nightfall. Despite the obvious risks attached, particularly at monsoon time, the lure of the mushroom draws the unprepared off the beaten track. Without the foresight to carry a compass, enough water, protection against mosquitos or mark their trail they can easily get lost by nightfall. And they do with great regularity and sometimes torrential monsoon rain makes it impossible to travel any distance. Even if they have a cellphone the likelihood of a connection in the forest is remote.

For the careless there are hidden dangers in the prize itself. The incidence of mushroom poisoning causing serious illness and even death is remarkably high. Guess work when it comes to picking wild fungi is not recommended and even the experienced hunters make mistakes. In Chiang Mai province alone hundreds of cases of mushroom poisoning are reported each year during the monsoon season and numerous deaths result.

A Burmese refugee in Thailand. From Big Ear Ka...
A Burmese refugee in Thailand. From Big Ear Karen (a Hill Tribe). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Only a couple of months ago a family of Karen hill-tribe people died through eating poisonous fungi. If you are a mushroom lover you may be tempted by what you see in the local markets. Personally I don’t love mushrooms that much and there are plenty of alternatives when it comes to nutritious produce in our neck of the woods. So you won’t find me eating wild mushrooms.