Sleeping Buddha

The co-founder of Apple and one of the most influential people the world has seen, Steve Jobs, has been reincarnated as a “divine being,” according to an abbot from a Thai Buddhist sect, Phra Thepyanmahamuni. What about this boy?


Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Generally Speaking

Farangs relying on visa runs to stay in Thailand had reason to panic. The military junta announced in June that it was cracking down on visa runners. Anxious to show the Thai public that they mean business, the military started taking action against foreigners.

BANGKOK: — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok has informed the foreign Embassies and Consulates in Thailand and the Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates worldwide about the visa run crackdown, the former in a letter dated June 23, 2014, of which thaivisa.com obtained a copy of today.

For the first time in writing, the ministry confirms the Thai Immigration Bureau’s current crackdown on border runners.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the crackdown is aimed to prevent visa runners who abuse the visa exemption scheme from working illegally in Thailand.

In the letter The Foreign Ministry is confirming earlier information that visa runners will be prohibited from entering Thailand as of August 12, 2014.

Long stay visa applicants are advised to acquire appropriate (Non-Immigrant) visas at Thai Embassies or Consulates prior to their arrival.

Previously the Immigration Bureau has announced a crackdown for border runners. The published letter may also be a strong indication that the Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates now also might have been instructed to be restrictive in issuing multiple back-to-back tourist visas.

This was obviously done without much understanding the role that these seemingly parasitic foreigners play in the Thai economy. I wrote the follow comment on Facebook last month.

visarun

Fast forward to late August 2014.

True enough, Prayuth soon realised the repercussions that his latest crackdown on visa runners could bring. Fortunately, he made a quick U-turn. I’m not sure what he meant by “register with the bureau”. What I’m sure of is that things will quietly return to the status quo.

BANGKOK: — The military has told the Immigration Bureau to be flexible with “visa runners”, junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said Friday.

The runners can register with the bureau, which will find a sustainable resolution to the problem, he said in his weekly televised programme last night.

Foreigners had been exploiting tourist visas and visas on arrival by illegally working in the country, mostly as English teachers.

When their visa was about the expire, they entered a neighbouring country to apply for a tourist visa and returned to the Kingdom to illegally work again.

The authorities responded by tightening the rules by not re-issuing visas to the runners and they faced deportation.

Prayuth said the change of the visa system concerning visa runners had considerably affected certain groups such as English teachers and academics.

“So, this is an ongoing problem that needs to be resolved, as it can lead to a shortage of English teachers and guides,” he said during his weekly TV programme.


Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Nabber Nabbed


Some say that corruption is not a problem in Thailand. It’s simply a way of life and for centuries, Thailand survived pretty well in spite of all the corruption. A friend who travelled to Thailand overland through Malaysia once remarked that Thai policemen were honest as he didn’t see them collecting bribes from bus drivers at the border checkpoints while the Malaysian police did.

Well, I suspect that the system in Thailand is so well-oiled that it’s probably a lot more high tech than passing notes through open windows.

CHIANG RAI — A drug smuggler arrested with more than 800,000 tablets of methamphetamine this afternoon was discovered to be a high-ranking police officer tasked with cracking down on illegal drugs.

Pol.Lt.Col. Chamnarn Phoomphaichit was arrested at a checkpoint near the Thai-Myanmar border in Chiang Rai province after officers searched his vehicle and found large amounts of narcotics hidden in two bags.

According to a statement from police, the search of Pol.Lt.Col. Chamnarn’s car turned up at least 800,000 meth tablets and one kilogram of crystal meth. The confiscated items are said to be worth more than 200 million baht.

Police say Pol.Lt.Col. Chamnarn is the deputy commander of the Chai Prakarn Police Station in Chiang Mai province. He is also known as a tough anti-drug crusader among Region 5 police officers, police say.

Pol.Col. Wirat Soomnapan, an officer with the Chiang Rai police force, said police are interrogating the suspect to find out more about the drug network he allegedly works for.

I find this very strange. As drug enforcement officer himself, he should have known where his men were and what they were doing. He must have offended someone, perhaps by refusing to share the loot. Nothing to celebrate here. This is just a case of one crooked cop being nabbed by other crooked cops for being “uncooperative”.


Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Beautiful Endings

I only have a few favourite singers/musicians and I normally don’t pay much attention to the others – especially the boy bands and girl bands. However, a random search on YouTube turned out a tragically beautiful love story. I searched the Chinese engines to find out more and here is what I found.

This Taiwanese 2-girl group, formed in 1987, was known as 忧欢派对. It was the SHE of the 80s. The girl on the left is 蔡雨伦. The long-haired girl on the right is 于佳卉 Yu Jia Hui, better known as 欢欢, the daughter of a general in the Taiwanese army. In spite of her privileged background, Huan Huan embarked on her career as an entertainer at the tender age of 17. She later graduated from Kaoshiung University with a degree in Literature. Though 欢欢 started her career in singing, she made her mark in 9 Mandarin drama serials, capturing the hearts of many TV audiences in Chinese communities all over the world.

Not surprisingly, 欢欢 had no shortage of admirers, one of whom was singer Zhang Ke Fan. At the age of 24, she married director Zhang Xiao Zheng. With him, she had 2 children. She later accused Zhang of having an affair (which he vehemently denied) and divorced him. She then married actor Jiang Guo Bao and had a child with him. Huan Huan’s second marriage lasted only 5 years. The reason for divorce was never made public. Below is a video from a Taiwanese TV show made not long after Huan Huan’s second divorce. The hosts seemed to be trying to cheer her up by bringing her first love Zhang Ke Fan on the show.

It was almost like an unrehearsed reality show. Everyone was so spontaneous. Many were touched by Zhang’s song, but I wonder how many people noticed the awkwardness here. There was no script, but Huan Huan was acting. She was not herself. She was desperately trying to conceal something deeply troubling. They put up a good show for the audience. At the end of the show, the audience just move on to the nest show. The actors are left to face their own realities. The relationship between Zhang Ke Fan and Huan Huan never happened again and I suspect that the resistance came from both directions. He might still be the same old Zhang Ke Fan (apart from the weight gain), but she was definitely not her former self.

On the 1st of June 2014, Huan Huan was found dead in her home. She died of carbon monoxide poisoning. It was only then that it was revealed that Huan Huan had been suffering from depression. Her father’s passing in 2012 could have been the last straw.

It is a mistake to think that people suffering from depression will appear moody and withdrawn all the time. They may well behave or appear that way when they are left alone, but when given the right situation, they may exhibit immense creative energy. I wonder if Zhang Ke Fan and her ex-husbands had known about it all along.

Huan Huan died a beautiful woman. Zhang Ke Fan can go on writing his love songs, remembering how it was and imagining how it could have been. If this is how the world remembers her and their love story, then who is to say that this is not a beautiful ending?


Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

High Standard Busking At Ximending

I chanced upon this duo at Ximending, Taipei while I was on a facial aesthetics course in Taiwan. Local girl Tina told me that Ximending only comes alive after 10.00pm. It was indeed a rather happening place full of unpretentious eateries and glaring neon (LED?) lights advertising all kinds of services from massage to hairdressing salons. There are street artists and youths in flamboyant outfits eager to strike a pose even for strangers with cameras. This is where Ximending exudes a character of its own. There is a culture here that allows people to make themselves the centre of attraction with whatever abilities and resources they can muster. Brought here blindfolded, no one will mistake it for Clarke Quay.

Both of these street musicians sing very well. I don’t know what sort of permits are required in Taipei, but how I wish talented Singaporeans, even those without any disabilities, can have a similar platform to engage a drifting, impromptu audience. How I wish I had such a casual platform when I was younger – not because I had any intention of becoming a performer full-time, but at least I could have written another memorable chapter in my life.

It’s a lovely song, but I couldn’t find it on YouTube. The first question that came to mind was: “Who sang it?”. The answer, it’s an original song by a “nobody”. Yes, this young lady wrote the song herself. Again I wonder why busking in Singapore has to be be just another legalised and sanitised form of begging? Why can’t we allow our able-bodied youngsters to perform as they please? Because “concerned parents” want them protected and funneled through the “proper” channel? As the night wore on, my tired eyes began to blur, but the answers to the lack of local talent in the arts scene became clearer than ever.

Here’s the studio-recorded version of the above song. I hope she makes a name for herself one day. And if there are any Singaporean musicians like her. I hope they could go to Ximending.


Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Buying Direct From The Publisher

pop

At the rate property prices are rising and the reading habit is falling, bookshops may soon go the way of CD shops. Actually, a lot of what you pay for in a book goes to distribution and the use of precious retail space. The books that you see on display at bookshops are all on consignment. They are brought there by the distributor who in turn buys from the publisher at 60-70% discount!

times

If the publisher sells the book for $10, he is only getting $3 for every copy sold – if it gets sold. If not, the book will be returned to the publisher. The bookshops which operate the showcase so to speak, usually get the biggest share of the profit. Even then, they may not make it because they have to pay for rental, workers and utilities.

kino

For people who still read, doesn’t it make more sense to buy direct from publishers? We can then price our books lower, send out autographed copies and benefit everybody. Look out for our Paypal buttons and buy a book direct from us today.


Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.