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SPECIAL GUIDE
to
THAILAND
for
Professionals and
Long-Term Residents

By Alan Dawson
ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿
³ PART 2 ³
ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ

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º º
º (C) º
º Copyright 1989 º
º º
º Material in this publication is copyright in Thailand and º
º throughout the world. Private use of this material is hereby º
º granted to the user of any computer Bulletin Board service in º
º in Thailand. Material may not be changed, printed or included º
º in any commercial publication except with the written consent º
º of the author. º
º º
ÈÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍͼ

*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=**
| NOTE |
* *
| This publication is a collection of notes and ideas that I |
* gathered over a period of years. It is designed primarily *
| for foreign visitors, for those who intend to stay for a |
* while, or for people here for a while who are interested *
| in learning something beyond what the guide books offer. |
* *
| Thais and foreigners who have been in Thailand for a while |
* will know most of the background already. But I hope they *
| too will pick up the odd fact -- and enjoy the various |
* sections on recommendations. *
| |
* Alan Dawson *
| April 1989 |
* *
*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=**


Eating

Thailand has a lot of food. Thais love to eat. They like their food
prepared well, from fresh ingredients, and served so that it looks
appetizing.
The pepper-hot Thai food is something of a legend. Within Thailand,
there are various scales of "hot" (and many dishes which are not heavily
spiced). The hottest dishes come from the northeastern and southern parts
of the country. Bangkok-area and northern restaurants tend to go easy on
the spices.
Always beware the little pieces of "green beans" in soups and some other
dishes. They usually aren't beans, and they do tend to do a disservice to
the nerve endings in the mouth and tongue. If you accidentally eat
something a little too hot, steamed rice or fruit cools off the mouth a lot
more efficiently than cold drinks or ice.
Those wary of hot food should tell the cook or waitress "mai pet,"
literally "not hot." Otherwise, in all but the most touristy of places,
you'll be served exactly what the locals eat.
Full restaurant meals of Thai food are, ironically, some of the hardest-
to-find menus in Thailand. Thais, it seems, want to eat other types of food
when they go out. Highly recommended in Bangkok is the long-established
chain of restaurants called D'jit Pojana (and pronounced "Chit POE-chana"),
particularly the one on Sukhumvit Soi 20. A large number of huge garden
restaurants have recently sprung up in the suburbs, particularly along
Asoke-Din Daeng Road in northern Bangkok. Thais eat here, and you can't go
wrong.
Chinese food is the next most popular. A large number of restaurants,
ranging from luxurious to basic, carry the full variety of Chinese cooking,
with the accent on the southern regions, particularly Cantonese and Chiu
Chau. Peking and roast duck and goose are usually available.
European restaurants are common in Bangkok and other towns. Fast food
has become an institution. There are many South Asian, Middle Eastern,
Korean and Japanese restaurants.
Restaurants in Thailand open and close almost as often as a Patpong bar
door. In addition, chefs switch back and forth among them with hard-to-
follow regularity. It's a good idea to get a recommendation or opinion from
a local before heading out for a good meal.
At regular restaurants (as opposed to soup shops and markets), dinner
service tends to be from about 6 to 10 p.m. But you can get full meals 24
hours a day in the markets, smaller restaurants or (non-hotel) coffee shops
without much trouble.
Thais, by the way, eat with a spoon in their right hand and a fork in
their left, and you won't get chopsticks in a Thai restaurant. All Thais,
however, know how to use chopsticks for Chinese dishes. Many restaurants
serve a potpourri of Thai and Chinese food.

Types of Food

A word, first, about pork. Thai pork is rated by many as among the best
in the world. It all has to do with the way the pigs are raised, according
to the experts. For one thing, swine are not generally force-fed in
Thailand.
Now, Mom wasn't wrong when she warned you that pork had to be cooked
clear through. But that applies only in temperate regions. THERE IS NO
TRICHINOSIS IN THAILAND, or in other tropical areas. Thais have several
dishes involving raw pork, and it is not unusual to see pork dishes where
the meat is still pink. Your cultural upbringing may rebel, but it's all
perfectly safe.
Traditionally, the Thai people ate rice and fish, with some green
vegetables and fruit thrown in. Most Thais still do, because the nation
still consists of 70 per cent farmers. But the times, they are a-changing.
The Gulf of Thailand is about fished out, and most fish today come from
farms. Chicken and pork is cheaper, and these now are staples in any urban
area of the nation.
Good beef is becoming more common. As late as the mid-1970s, beef was
mostly water buffalo, but more and more beef in the markets comes from
cattle raised for slaughter. The price of beef and fish is roughly equal at
the market. Imported beef from the United States and Australia is commonly
available in hotels and supermarkets.
Thais generally do not like meat that "tastes strong." They do not eat
dog, and mutton is rare (and is virtually always goat in any case). "Wild
boar" is eaten occasionally, in restaurants, but always in tiny pieces and
with much flavoring and heavy spices.
Rice is the staple starch, of course, although both bread and potatoes
are widely available and consumed these days. Glutinous, or "sticky," rice
is common in the North and Northeast, and in Thai restaurants throughout the
country which feature dishes from those areas.
Canned, frozen and preserved vegetables or fruit are uncommon, but widely
exported. Thailand is one of the world's major exporters of food, and its
citizens demand, and get, fresh food for themselves.
Virtually all food consumed in Thailand originates here. McDonald's may
not feel right about bragging about it, but it too uses Thai-raised beef for
the burgers and potatoes for the French fries. By 1990, the plan is for all
McDonald's outlets in Asia to be using Thai-grown Idaho potatoes.
The major exceptions to this "home-grown" rule are certains meats --
particularly beef -- in restaurants, and some non-tropical fruit sold in
markets and supermarkets. Apples are all imported (usually smuggled, if
truth be known). But "imported" pears, grapes and other non-tropical fruit
now are grown in Thailand.

Thais, according to the common saying, don't eat much, but they eat
often. The noodle cart is perhaps the most ubiquitous form of life in
Thailand. The citizens here demand that their food be fresh, and it is.
You can buy a Swanson's TV Dinner in Thailand, but you'll have to search
high and low to find it.

Recommendations

Establishments listed here are popular among local residents; have been in
business for some time, and are generally known for reliable service and
fair prices.

RESTAURANTS

(Prices indicate a typical dinner for two, without alcohol)

Thai
Bussaracum, Pipat Soi 2, Convent Road. Plush surroundings, fine service,
and a menu of "Royal" cooking style. Highly authentic. B600-800

D'Jit Pojana, Sukhumvit Soi 20. The best branch of a chain. Very good food
in a garden atmosphere. Not on the menu, but a specialty of the house --
Volcano Chicken. B300-500

Thai Room, Patpong Road 2. A "coffee shop" with a huge menu and a good Thai
chef. B250-400.

Ruen Thep, the downstairs restaurant at the back of Silom Village, Silom
Road. Outdoor, up-country atmosphere, usually with Thai-style
entertainment. B400-600.

City Talk, 4/1 Dejo Road, off Silom. Superb food in modern atmosphere. B300-
500.

Lai Kram, 120/12 Sukhumvit Soi 23. New branch of an old and reliable
restaurant. Bangkok-style cooking with a great array of noodle dishes. B400-
600.

Chinese
Tien Tien, Patpong 1 Road near Silom. Usually crowded, with sometimes
perfunctory service, but the best Cantonese food in Bangkok. Great dim-sum
at lunch, but try to arrive early. B300-500.

Coca, Henri Dunant Street, Siam Square. "Thai sukiyaki," more commonly
called steamboat. A big, crowded food factory, and a lot of fun. B200-300.

Scala, across from Scala theater, Siam Square. A huge variety, with Peking
Duck the dish that packs the place out almost every night. Fun, but
definitely frantic. B500-700. (Late note: Scala closed or moved!)

Rose La Moon, Sukhumvit Soi 21. A house specialty is pigeon cooked in coffee
grounds, and there is a wide selection of Cantonese food. B300-500.


Chiu Chau, in the Ambassador Hotel, is named after Thailand's dominant
Chinese minority, whose food tends to focus on seafood and soups, both thick
and clear, as well as dishes similar to Cantonese. B700-900

Shangarila, off Thaniya Road behind Alia Airlines. The biggest and most
garish of the three-restaurant chain. Peking duck and beggar's chicken are
the specialties. B400-600.

Galaxy, Rama IV Road near the Montien Hotel, is a huge night club/restaurant
in the grand Chinese manner. An annex holds Bangkok's best-known "no-hands"
restaurant. B800-1,000.

European
Nick's No. 1 is no longer in the haunted house (it's on Sukhumvit Soi 16),
and Nick died in 1986. But it's still a legend and still thriving. Beef and
seafood are the attractions, with some Hungarian specialties. B1,000-1,200.

Neil's Tavern, Soi Ruamrudee near the U.S. Embassy, is named after astronaut
Neil Armstrong (it opened on July 20, 1969) and has a menu similar to Nick's
Heavy on atmosphere and good service. A very large menu. B800-1,000.

Charly's, 66 Sathorn Road at Soi Pipat, is the epitome of the perfect Swiss
restaurant -- clean, meticulous service and a multi-lingual menu. Fondues
are a feature, but there's much more. B800-1,000.

Two Vikings, Sukhumvit Soi 35, is another of the old-timers' favorites.
General European menu, but heavy on the Scandinavian side -- trout, fresh
salmon and the like. Close Sunday. B1,200-1,500.

Normandie Grill, Oriental Hotel, requires a tie in the evening for dining in
the French style, overlooking the river. Impeccable service, very French
menu. B1,200-1,500.

Angus, 9/4-5 Thaniya Road off Silom, has one of the tiniest menus in town,
but each of the steak, fish and chicken recipes is superb. Small and
intimate. B800-1,000.

Le Metropolitaine, Gaysorn Road near Le Meridien President Hotel, has Pierre
Segui as host -- he played the evil Corsican in The Deer Hunter. Menu is
provincial French, and extensive. B700-900.

La Grenouille, Sukhumvit Soi 1, is a homey, French-provincial place with
appetizing food and good service. B600-900

Italian
Pan Pan, Sukhumvit Road near Soi 33, is the priciest -- and probably the
best. Ham and cheese from Italy; pasta homemade. Ice cream is perhaps the
best in Bangkok. B800-1,000


Trattoria da Roberto, Patpong Road 2, over the Italian Connection bar, is a
real pick of the locals. Run by the popular Bobby Dee, moderate prices, and
right beside the night life. B400-600

Italian Pavilion, Sukhumvit Soi 4, is the original Italian place in Bangkok.
The food isn't fancy, but the selection is wide and the chef's an Italian.
B500-700

Toto, Sukhumvit Soi 63 near Ceasar's Massage. Named after the Italian
comedian, this is a oner -- a true Florentine menu. Good atmosphere and a
congenial host. B500-700

Paesano, Soi Ton Son off Ploenchit. Run by a pleasant and young Montreal-
educated Thai. Low prices, homey atmosphere and a surprisingly large menu.
B300-500.

Narai Coffee Shop, Narai Hotel, Silom Road. One of the best Italian
restaurants around, and open virtually around the clock. Excellent pizza.
B300-500.

German
By Otto, Sukhumvit Road across from the entrance to Soi 19, has gained a
large following in a short period. The usual Bavarian fare, in an informal
atmosphere, but definitely a cut above the norm. B400-600

Weinerwald, virtually next door to By Otto, is one of Bangkok's originals.
Good, wholesome and filling food at very reasonable prices. B300-500

Haus Munchen, Soi 15 Sukhumvit, is a beer garden with a restaurant. Very
popular with the local Germans and their friends. What else is there to say?
B400-500

Singha Bier Haus, Soi 21 (Asoke), Sukhumvit Road, is run by the brewery, and
features Singha on tap. Large restaurants in the Munich tradition,with
excellent desserts and, often, German entertainment. B600-800

Japanese
Tokugawa, in the Ambassador Hotel, is clean, fast and reasonably priced. One
of the wider arrays of local sushi and sashimi, and a large menu. B500-700.

Mizu's Kitchen, Patpong Road, is fast, cheap and a Bangkok original. The
specialty is Saba, but all familiar dishes are available. B300-500

Daikoku, Rama IV Road next to the U Chuliang Building, is the ne plus ultra
of Japanese eateries. Much of the food, and most of the waitresses, are
imported. B700-900 but can be much more.

Suehiro Teppan Yaki is on Thaniya Road, also known as "Soi Nippon." Japanese
steak is the specialty. The sashimi is among the freshest in town. B500-700

Korean
Arirang Balcony, deep in the little soi known as "Patpong 3," serves a
regular menu, but also has Korean Royal cooking. At night, the incongruous
entertainment is a fun piano bar. B500-700

Koreana, in Siam Square next to the British Council, has Bangkok's best kim-
chi, plus the usual bulgogi, etc. A lunchtime best-seller. B350-500

First Korean Restaurant, 543 Silom Road, is an old favorite. It's small, and
has very moderate prices. B300-500

Indian
Himali Cha-Cha, in a tiny soi off New Road near Surawong, is run by a man
who started in Mountbatten's kitchen. Bangkok's best tandoor, and a good
selection of North Indian dishes. B300-500

Moghul Room, Soi 11 Sukhumvit Road, is heavy on the yogurt of the Indian
north. A good tandoor oven, and excellent massala. B300-500.

Cafe India, 460/8 Surawong Road, is one of the old reliables. Excellent
northern and Moghul curries and the like. As in all Indian restaurants,
there is neither beef nor pork on the menu, and Muslim dishes are Halal.
B300-500.

Muslim Restaurant, Charoen Krung (New Road) near Soi Oriental, is a no-
frills place with an extensive menu reaching even outside the sub-continent.
B150-300.

Vietnamese
Le Dalat, deep inside Soi 23, Sukhumvit, is a trendy, busy and clean place.
The usual spring rolls (cha gio), shrimp on sugar cane. The servings are
small. B400-600

Cherie's Kitchen, Charn Issara Building on Rama IV Road at Surawong, is also
a bit trendy, but the food is delicious and the prices moderate. The
owner/manager is southern Vietnamese. B400-500

Vietnam Restaurant, in the soi known as Patpong 3 off Silom Road, is run by
the highly personable Helene. Healthful food, good service. B300-500

Saigon Bakery, Silom Road at Convent, serves up a melange including good
French bread. The spring rolls, cooked or uncooked (cha gio and goi cuon)
are fresh and good. B250-450

Le Chanceclier, Sukhumvit Soi 1, has a mixed Vietnamese-French menu.
Atmosphere is plush, but the servings are large. B400-600

Seafood
The Sea Food Restaurant, 1980 New Petchburi Road, is a huge garden place
with seats for 3,000. It also has delicious food at moderate-to-expensive
prices. "If it swims, we have it" is the motto. B800-1,000

Ambassador Seafood, in the Ambassador Hotel, is a real bargain, especially
on the weekends with a B140 buffet.

Savoie, on the terrace in front of the Royal Orchid Sheraton, is not part of
the hotel. Great riverside atmosphere. Pick your own food from the "market"
displays. Very popular with locals. B600-800

Mexican
Newcomers direct from America will be disappointed in Mexican food in
Thailand. The Thai Room (Patpong 2) puts together some edible dishes,
however. The Derby King bar (Patpong 1) has decent tacos.

Coffee Shops
Some of these have to be seen to be believed -- or at least the menus do.
Forget the coffee shops in the hotels if you want to savor your food, and
get out to the local variety. A 12-page menu with Thai, Japanese, Korean,
Japanese, Western and specialty sections is ordinary. So is a 30-cook
kitchen. Service is good, and seating is often discreet. B200-400

Food Centers
Individual booths and tables, and a semi-cafeteria style. The two biggest,
and best, are in the Mah Boon Krong Center (Tokyu Department Store Building)
on the fourth floor, and on the ground floor terrace of the Ambassador
Hotel. Huge selections, cheap prices and informal atmosphere. B150-300

Markets
Most locals, and an increasing number of with-it visitors, eat their food
"off the street." Individual cooks run their cooking stalls, and the
customers sit at tables run by cooperatives and order whatever crosses their
mind, from any stall operator
.
Actual marketplaces include Suan Kwangtung, near the top of Yaowaraj Road
in Chinatown, which is one of the biggest and best for dinner time.
Pratunam Market, near the Indra Hotel, doesn't really get going until
perhaps 10 p.m., and is a tourist attraction in itself after midnight. B150-
300
In the recent past, several street corners in Bangkok have expanded well
past the noodle-shop stage, and have exploded into full-fledged eating
areas. Silom and Convent Roads near Patpong, and nearby Siphya Road fall
into this category. The mouth of Sukhumvit Soi 38 serves up delicious, full-
course meals from noodle carts and other contraptions from late evening
until virtually sunrise. B100-200

Tourist-Recommended

A poll sponsored by three reputable organizations in 1988 selected 21
restaurants as the choice of residents and visitors. The Siam Wine Society,
the Wines and Spirits Department of Diethelm's (a major Bangkok company) and
Business Traveler Magaz
ine named 10 hotel restaurants and 11 private ones.
One major surprise was the lack of imagination by the participants. The
winners in general were the established, well-known restaurants named even
in the most superficial tourist brochures. The other shock was the
dependence on Western food. Only one hotel restaurant and two independents
featuring Thai food made the list. Just one Chinese restaurant (some among
the best in the world) made it.

For the record, here are the Top 21.

Hotel Restaurants Independent Restaurants
Normandie Grill (Oriental) Le Bistrot
Fireplace Grill (President) L'Opera
La Tache Grill (Shangri-La) Le Metropolitan
Ma Maison Grill (Hilton) Lemon Grass*
Lord Jim's (Oriental) Two Vikings
Le Cristal Grill (Regent) Bussaracum*
Rib Room Grill (Landmark) Neil's Tavern
Mayflower Grill (Dusit Thani) Paesano's
La Brasserie (Regent) Seafood Market
Spice Market* (Regent) Heritage Club (Private)
*Thai Restaurant Prime Beef


Another poll was conducted by American Express, the credit card company,
and results were announced in December, 1988. Amex claimed it received
9,871 votes in the incentive contest. Its results:
Best Western/Continental Restaurant: Le Bistrot
Best Thai/Seafood Restaurant: Nathong
Best Asian Restaurant: Fuji Japanese
Best Chinese Food & Service: Tai Tong

Something Different

DANCING SHRIMP (Goong Den) sounds innocent enough for the name of a
restaurant. But this is the most accessible of the numerous "wild game"
restaurants in Bangkok's suburbs. The cobra cage is in the middle of the
establishment so that you can choose your own. Also on the menu: deep-
fried gecko (lizard); field rat; wild boar, and whole frogs. Tasty dishes
from more traditional animals are available -- the barbecued chicken is
excellent. Two notes: the menu is in Thai only, so it's best to have a
Thai speaker along; and the restaurant has only Singha beer and Mekhong
whiskey in the way of alcohol, so you might want to take your own (no
corkage fee). Goong Den is on Soi 103 Sukhumvit (Soi Udomsuk), opposite the
Bangkok Bank Sports Club, and not far from the southern end of the
Expressway. The neon sign features a large king cobra.

KALAPAPRUEK RESTAURANT is traditional Thai, and all-Thai. It specializes in
the Thai meal-desserts known as khao chae, iced sweets designed to take the
warmth out of the hot season. It is a bowl of specially polished rice,
served with tidbits, but it tastes better than that. The restaurant also
serves other Thai dishes, at incredibly low prices. It is on Pramuan Road,
which runs off the main Silom Road.

LE DALAT has become the "in" Vietnamese restaurant in Bangkok. Some purists
claim it is living proof that good Vietnamese food can't be found in
Bangkok. But it's clean, the prices are reasonable and the menu has all the
favorites. It is on Sukhumvit Soi 23, just before the Indian Embassy on the
west (left) side of the quiet street.

PHAW KRUA THUAN is a Chinese market-restaurant that specializes in soups
(but also has a wide variety of very good Chinese food). Many patrons make
a meal out of different soups. You can browse among the simmering pots.
There are a number of specialties, but one worth trying is the kai dam
(black chicken). Feathers, skin, meat and bones are all black -- although
it tastes like regular chicken. Folklore has it that the kai dam builds, or
restores, virility. The restaurant is on New Road (Chalerm Krung), across
the road from the Menam Hotel and set back behind the roadside bus stop.

COCA RESTAURANT is a huge food factory specializing in what is known locally
as Thai Sukiyaki. In the west it's usually called "hot pot" or "steamboat."
Raw food and vegetables are dipped in a simple, boiling soup at the table,
and dragged through a secret-weapon house sauce. Delicious, and very cheap.
The restaurant has several branches, but the big one at Siam Square is the
most popular.

SIMLA CAFE is perhaps the most unpretentious popular restaurant, serving
some of the best Indian and South Asian food, in Thailand. It's a little
hard to find, it's open to the street, and the chairs verge on the
uncomfortable. But the colorful Sikh who runs Simla Cafe, Kishan Singh,
supervises the making of outstanding curries, massalas and tandoor dishes.
You can have anything on the menu "regular or hot," and the "hot" is
something straight out of Madras. Simply stunningly good food, from
an English-language menu. It's near the New Road end of Silom Road. Go
down little Soi Tat Mai near the Victory Hotel for about 50 meters, turn
right at the tiny cross-soi, and look for the sign.

Drinks

All bottled drinks are safe in Thailand. Coke, Pepsi and the whole range
of Western soft drinks are easily available throughout the nation. A bottle
of soft drink at a store or take-out shop runs about 4 baht, or just over 15
cents. Canned soft drinks are about twice the price. Soft drink bottles
have a deposit and are returnable. No shop will give you a bottle, and most
are reluctant even to sell you one. The alternative usually offered is to
put the drink into a plastic bag with ice, and sip it through a straw.
There are four major beers, all heavy and alcoholic compared with the
American brands. They are modeled on European beers, and the main
distillers have German braumeisters. By far the most popular is Singha
(pronounced "sing"), which a novelist once described quite correctly as
the best beer in the world which produces the worst hangovers. Singha is available everywhere, at all hours.
Amarit, which comes in a Singha-like brown bottle, is also heavy but is
noticeably more bitter. It is the most common beer in Thai restaurants in
the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Kloster comes in a green bottle, is slightly more expensive than Singha
or Amarit, and was brewed specifically for foreign tastes. It has become
very popular in only 10 years. It is the head-and-shoulders favorite among
foreign residents. Singha Gold is also a light beer by Thai standards, and
runs a little sweeter than Kloster. Its target is the yuppie generation.
Besides these, there are many small breweries in the provinces. Their
products have enormous alcohol content (pure alcohol is usually added for a
kick) and are generally undrinkable.
Local whiskey (brown) is more technically a rum, distilled from glutinous
rice and molasses. It is 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof), and therefore
lighter than most foreign alcohols. It is eminently drinkable, usually with
water or soda and a cut of lime. The national brand, the best-known, is
Mekhong, named after the river. Other popular brands are Saen Song and Hong
Thong. There is virtually no difference among them, although "connoisseurs"
disagree with this statement. All sell for about $3 for a liter bottle.
Local whiskey (white) is Thailand's version of skid row stuff. It burns
like mao-tai, the Chinese whiskey, and flambes beautifully.
There are two brands of local wine. One, in rose only, is Massala, and
can be drunk cold in a pinch. The other, called simply Thai Wine, comes in
white and red and is very cheap. It is also very sweet because of the high
sugar content of Thai grapes. Most foreigners consider it undrinkable.
There is, however, a perfectly acceptable local brandy called Regency, which
has a very good brandy taste and which has won awards overseas.
Rye, bourbon and Scotch whiskeys are generally available at very
reasonable prices, usually less than at home because of lower taxes. All
other alcohols from abroad are equally available, but at prices about equal
to, or even higher, those encountered at home, again because of taxes. Good
imported wine (Europe, Australia and the U.S.) is available in supermarkets
and restaurants at high prices. Thais are only just beginning to drink
wine.


SHOPPING

There are a lot of good deals in Thailand's stores, shops and markets.
The country has good natural resources and a cheap labor force to turn the
resources into finished products.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that a certain percentage of the sellers figure that an
exorbitant profit today is much better than a good reputation and continued
sales into the future. It's very much caveat emptor trading. The aware
buyer should ask locals for recommendations and warnings, and shop around
before committing his hard-earned money into the pockets of a rapacious
salesman. Never use touts, simply because in capitalist Bangkok, they are
unnecessary.

Gems

Thailand is a bargain-seeker's delight. Besides a rich national store of
sapphires and rubies, Thai gem dealers to import duty-free raw gems for
finishing and setting here. An estimated 500,000 Thais cut, polish, design,
set and sell gems.
But there is no national quality control. There is absolutely no legal
protection for a cheated buyer. The person who does not know either his
gems or his salesman could be in for a financial hiding. Experts import
cheap white sapphires from Sri Lanka, and heat them into gorgeous blues.
Zircons sell as diamonds. Karat-fineness of gold is routinely upgraded.
The list of fiddles is a mile long, complicated because each purchase
must be strongly bargained for the best price. At times, it seems that
every North American used car salesman has been reborn as a Thai gem dealer.
Try to learn something about the stone or stones you wish to buy. Shop
around at a lot of dealers to try to get an idea of a fair price. Talk to
local citizens and residents, and get their recommendations of the more
trustworthy dealers.
A shop displaying the logo of the Tourism Authority of Thailand is more
reputable, but the problem is that (a) salesmen receive commissions and (b)
TAT has no legal recourse against cheating shops.
One of Thailand's largest jewelry dealers has established a unique store
that's worth a visit. It's called The Supermarket of Gems, at Silom and
Surasak Roads. It has a one-price policy; prices are marked, and the sales
staff is less intense than the Bangkok norm. Browse here and check prices,
because at least they can be used as a benchmark of sorts for when you place
yourself in the clutches of other stores, where prices are never marked.
Always bargain for gems, and bargain long and hard. Don't be afraid to
walk away, or to return another day and resume the battle.
Every resident of Thailand has his own pet store. There is no doubt that
the best bargains come from the shops where the owners themselves do the
dealing. There is no doubt either that personal recommendations provide a
guarantee of sorts that you'll get what you pay for.

Thai Silk

Silk weaving is a traditional industry of Thailand's poor northeastern
area, but it had virtually died out by World War II. An American OSS agent
from the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater changed all that when he settled in
Thailand after the war and introduced new design and marketing ideas.
Silkworms again flourished. The industry today remains a cottage industry -
- until the silk reaches shops, where it's every buyer for himself.
The American agent, Jim Thompson, disappeared in 1967 in Malaysia. But
his Thai Silk Company (Jim Thompson) maintains a large shop at 9 Surawong
Road, close to Rama IV Road. It has the most original, and costly, silk in
the country. Hundreds of other stores, shops and markets sell silk bolts
and products, of varying quality and prices.
The Central Department Store chain maintains stocks of good quality Thai
silk of various weights and colors. Their fixed-price policy allows
browsers to check out what's available, and the going price. Silk weight is
measured in "ply." A lightweight dress would use, say 3-ply silk, while a
sports jacket or suit would need 5- or 6-ply.

Thai Cotton

This is another cottage industry rescued from oblivion by several Thai
businessmen. The best known is John Fowler, who has cotton and T-shirt
shops throughout Bangkok and Thailand. An expensive shop called Design
Thai has a wider range of cotton and cotton products.

Silver

By law, Thai silver products must be at least 92.5% pure, so an idea of
price may be gained from the daily newspaper commodity listings which show
the price of pure silver. Hilltribes manufacture most silver, which is
obvious from the designs.
Most "antique" silver was produced last week.

Gold

Jewelry made from 24-karat gold is one of the great bargains in Thailand.
But always purchase gold from a gold shop -- never from a jeweler.
The greatest array of gold shops is on the main street of Chinatown,
Yaowaraj Road. Gold sells by baht weight (one baht is almost exactly half
an ounce) and fixed prices for gold bullion are posted in all shops daily.
The only bargaining possible is for the workmanship -- i.e. the
difference between the cost of the bullion and the finished jewelry -- which
usually is tiny.

Bronzeware

Thai bronzeware is among the best in the world. A variety of products is
available in many shops, but the most popular are the sets of flatware.
Beware of flatware with wooden handles, however. It is not, as a rule,
dishwasher-safe.

Leatherware

Leather products are an increasingly popular export item from Thailand.
Americans in particular should beware, however, since many of the skins used
-- snake, crocodile, elephant -- are not permitted into the United States.
This foolish blanket ban may be changed, but as of this writing is still in
effect.

Piracy

There's no doubt about it. Piracy in Bangkok is rife. Whether it is big
business or not is a matter of some dispute. Most experts on the subject
seem to agree that piracy is usually a family-backroom enterprise and
involves tiny profits to the pirates.
Such experts are generally stupid. Most live in an ivory tower world
divorced from reality. Reality is that when a lot of little people start to
make money in a production industry, a big business will try to step in and
take over that business.
Music and video cassette copying, to pick the two biggest pirate
industries are in the hands of no more than six major companies between
them, about evenly split between the two fields. Music albums and movies
often appear in Thai stores and rental outlets before they appear in the
United States or Europe.
The question of faking goods is slightly more complicated. Any visitor
intelligent enough to fill out his passport application form knows that you
can't buy a Rolex watch for $35 or a Gucci handbag for $15. He is getting
something that looks like a Rolex. In fact, the Rolex (or whatever) company
is not cheated out of income because the buyer of the fake doesn't want an
original at the moment.
More insidious than the publicity-grabbing Rolex problem is the faking of
patented products and their sale as originals. Businessmen produce medicine
in unsupervised, illegal backstreet shops and sell it as the real thing.
Automobile parts are common products for faking. Local residents have
bought brand-name whiskey, perfume, cosmetics and other consumer goods, only
to find later that they have been substituted in the container with inferior
goods.
In essence, the visitor is free to follow his conscience on the pirated
goods. He knows from the start that he is buying a product that by
international law is illegal (and he may have such goods seized by customs
officials outside Thailand). Pirates don't pay royalties on pirated music
cassettes, after all. On the other hand, a $1 Michael Jackson album may
prove a difficult bargain to pass up.
Faked goods are also subject to seizure during the onward voyage. The
copied watches here, for example, are perfectly good watches, usually with
Seiko or Bulova quartz movements inside the copies of the classy Swiss
cases. A fake Vuitton bag may last as long as the real thing.
Another major bargain in Bangkok, illegal in much of the world, is
computer software. Programs sell for about $3 per computer disk, no matter
what their list value. Like the $6 video cassettes, these are real
bargains, no doubt about it. Many a computer owner is running such programs
on his home PC, since few foreign customs officers are going to go to the
trouble of testing each computer disk that enters their country in a
suitcase.
Copyright and patent laws are complicated. Some pirated and fake goods
sold here are illegal right at the source. In other cases, the goods are
legal in Thailand, but illegal in many other countries.
At least one widely-copied company executive decided in 1988 that if he
couldn't beat 'em, he'd join 'em. The Lacoste company of France spent
several years trying unsuccessfully to close down copiers of their
"alligator brand" sports shirts. When that failed, Lacoste set up official
offices in Thailand -- and hired some of the pirates to make "real" Lacoste
products.

  3 Responses to “Category : Science and Education
Archive   : THAILAND.ZIP
Filename : TH2.TXT

  1. Very nice! Thank you for this wonderful archive. I wonder why I found it only now. Long live the BBS file archives!

  2. This is so awesome! 😀 I’d be cool if you could download an entire archive of this at once, though.

  3. But one thing that puzzles me is the “mtswslnkmcjklsdlsbdmMICROSOFT” string. There is an article about it here. It is definitely worth a read: http://www.os2museum.com/wp/mtswslnk/