Facebook Etiquette

My recent facebook addiction has made it possible for me to reconnect with high school friends that are all around the globe and doing many exciting things. It is almost incomprehensible that this single web tool is such a powerful social networking forum than with a simple search you can find so many people that you have simply lost touch with over the years. I came across this article that discusses those awkward facebook situations like removing friends or unknown friend requests.



The Facebook Commandments
How to deal with unwanted friend requests, the ethics of de-friending, and other social networking etiquette predicaments.
By Reihan Salam
Posted Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007, at 11:06 AM ET

Last week, I launched the Great Facebook Purge of 2007. In one fell swoop, I whittled down a list of 274 “friends” to a more manageable … um, 258. Even weeding out this tiny amount of people was difficult and unpleasant. Almost every subtraction made me wince. While my intention had been to de-friend every hanger-on and casual acquaintance, I just couldn’t do it. All I could stomach is eliminating everyone I’ve literally never met in my life. I still have three “friends” I know only via e-mail, though given that we’re firmly in the Digital Age, I figure this is acceptable.

Chances are you’ve faced a similar dilemma. At around 40 million members, from high schoolers to middle managers to old folks, Facebook is now one of the most popular Web tools. Facebook makes it easier to keep in touch with old friends, track your acquaintances’ every minuscule movement, and learn that all of your “cool” pals love Grandma’s Boy more than life itself. There is a downside to the site’s sudden rise to ubiquity. If you’ve been on Facebook for more than a week, you’ve probably gotten a friend request from someone you don’t know, someone you hate, or someone you don’t want snooping around your profile. Before promiscuous friending turns into a full-blown crisis, it’s about time we came up with some basic guidelines for social networking etiquette.

What should you do when someone you don’t like or don’t know sends you a friend request?

Most of you will hold your nose and accept the request. But why? This is like allowing a corsair-wielding pirate to board your vessel without a fight. Once you’ve accepted too many faux friends, Facebook becomes a real slog. One of the site’s great strengths is that it allows you to manage privacy settings: Do you want everyone you went to college with to see your photos, or only actual friends? That ability to customize is great, but once you’ve accepted someone as a friend, policing these subtle gradations can be a drag.

There’s also an information overload problem. When your friends update their profiles, the new info filters out to you via the News Feed, a constantly updated digest of seemingly mundane facts that can, over time, give you a neat, evolving portrait of your friends’ outer lives. (And, of course, your updates also filter out, so anyone who cares will eventually discover, say, your affinity for Grandma’s Boy.) The further your online social graph veers from your real social life, the less useful your News Feed becomes. Soon you’ll find that most of the headlines are about people you barely know. And who wants that?

So, back to that unwanted friend request. Assuming there will be no social fallout, just ignore it. They probably won’t notice, particularly if we’re dealing with a promiscuous friender. (You know, the kind of person who thinks, “I need to break 700 friends so I can rid myself of my crippling sense of shame.” Trust me, it won’t work.) And if you fear a backlash, just say,

Um, hey, this is really awkward, but I actually only accept friend requests from other Muslims. Allah commands it. Sorry, man.

I find this works pretty well. If you are very fetching, it’s possible that your would-be friend is—let’s be frank—cyber-stalking you. This behavior is so pervasive as to be almost unremarkable, but that doesn’t make it right. Ignore the request or, if you must, apply a privacy setting that will keep prying eyes at bay.

What about work colleagues whom you don’t want in your personal business?

There is no easy answer to this. Basically, you’re screwed. If you work for a huge company and the person is totally random, you’re fine: Ignore. If it’s your boss, well, how gutsy are you? Any boss with a sense of decency will not friend you. If you accept the request, slap a limited information block on her. Keep in mind that any boss clueless enough to friend you will be clueless enough not to understand that you’ve applied these restrictions.

Is it OK to de-friend someone?

Say you’ve been too generous with your friending policy, and a gaggle of strangers is now hogging your News Feed. You too can launch a Great Facebook Purge. The beauty of this is that no headline or notification pops up in your ex-friend’s inbox announcing, “You’ve suffered a humiliating rejection at the hands of _________.” It’s all very stealthy, thus making it the perfect way to deal with promiscuous frienders.

But what if your so-called friend scans through their friend list and notices that you’ve gone missing? First off, anyone who is policing their Facebook account this rigorously is morbidly obsessed and thus best kept at arm’s length. If she confronts you about it, the best strategy is to plead ignorance: Perhaps the site’s massive growth has led to some unexpected technical difficulties? Re-friend, then wait at least six months before trying another de-friending.

How do you decide whether it’s OK to friend someone?

After all, it’s always better to be the rejecter rather than the rejectee. I will now contradict myself: Friending strangers is permissible. If you are going to approach a stranger, don’t do it out of the blue. Never, ever send a random friend request without undergoing some preliminaries, such as trading a few wry observations. The beauty of this “Facebook foreplay,” to use an unfortunate analogy, is that you can always refuse to respond.

Had I not sent just such a random missive many moons ago, I never would have met Reyhan Harmanci. This was way back in 2003, when Friendster was all the rage. I noticed that she was friends with about a dozen of my friends and that she was my homonym. For those of us with obscure, highly foreign, or otherwise odd names, this is no joke. I also sensed that we occupied similar spaces in the social pecking order: small, ethnic, and extremely lovable, not unlike pandas. Despite never having met in person, I felt compelled to drop her a line. After a few back-and-forth messages, we quickly formed the “Re_han Club” and became bosom friends. While I was writing the piece, Reyhan—no longer a stranger—sent me a Facebook friend request, which I enthusiastically accepted.

How long should you wait to send a friend request to someone you’ve just met?

Say you chat someone up at a dinner party. You have a brief but intense conversation about the mostly unseen Kevin Costner thriller Mr. Brooks that leads you to believe she’d be a good person to have in your cyber-circle. Perhaps you trade business cards or e-mail addresses. While you never quite make it to comparing tattoos, bobbing for apples, or other intimacies limited to close friendships, you sense that friendship could indeed blossom at some future date. Why not send a very meek and humble friend request?

Hey, this is _________. We met briefly at __________. This is a little presumptuous, but your awe-inspiring Sudoku skills compel me to ask: Do you think we can be cyber-friends?

This is a little like asking someone out on a first date, but way less threatening. The same logic applies: Send the message soon (within a day or two) after your initial meeting, so the object of your friend-crush has some idea who the heck you are. Keep in mind that your would-be friend has every right to ignore you. You were bending her ear about Mr. Brooks, after all.

What’s the right number of Facebook friends?

It all depends on context. Noted anthropologist Robin Dunbar found that the mean clique—a group of primary social partners—consists of around 12 people. Average maximum network size—a group of real friends plus friends of friends—is around 150. I don’t know about you, but most of my primary clique isn’t on Facebook. My social graph and my social life overlap, but not nearly as much as they would if all of my close friends were on Facebook.

That’s why college students find Facebook so addictive. An undergrad who doesn’t have a Facebook profile is regarded as a Luddite, the social equivalent of leading a survivalist lifestyle complete with flintlock rifle and bandana. In this case, Facebook works as it should. Even if you have 700 friends, the site susses out your real bosom buddies—they post on your wall, they trade messages with you, and they pop up on your News Feed way more often.

While college kids can get away with huge numbers of friends, the geezers among us should be a little more selective. And by “geezers,” I mean everyone born before Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration. A group of 150 Facebook friends, right around Dunbar’s maximum network size, will let you feel comfortable about broadcasting your status, whether it’s “Reihan Salam is triumphantly pumping his fists” or “Reihan Salam is slowly dying of dengue fever.”

Of course, even after the Great Facebook Purge of 2007 I still have 258 friends. In theory, a huge number of friends means you’re really, really popular. In reality, the omnidirectionally friendly typically strike us as untrustworthy and maybe even a little lame. What can I say—I am a very friendly fellow. Adjust your privacy settings accordingly.

Reihan Salam is a writer in Washington.

Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2174439/

Copyright 2007 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

Tiger tracks identified as a Fishing Cat

It has been an exciting couple of days, but after the first two days things have calmed down. Experts from the Dusit Zoo have confirmed that our “tiger” is not a tiger at all but a member of the cat family, a Fishing Cat or Prionailurus viverrinus. Casts of the footprints were taken and the zoo people noticed that the prints had evidence of claws. Tigers would have no claws present in their tracks because they have retractable claws. Also, the size of the prints indicated a much smaller animal than an Indochina Tiger.

On Wednesday, the wildlife officials came to the school and took the school children to observe the tracks and educate the children about our wild neighbor. Although the fishing cat  is unlikely to come into the school where many people are present, it can potential harm an unattended child. The school has taken precautions by reinforcing our back fence and the wildlife officials have installed night cameras to get a visual identification on our wild cat. Hopefully, the increased education about the fishing cat and ways to keep safe when at the school will help alleviate some of the fears of the parents. I hope that our school can learn to coexist with our fishing cat, as it has a right to exist in Bangkok as much as we do, if not more.

Fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus)


These animals are described as robust and powerful. Native to riverbanks from India through Southeast Asia, these cats love to fish. They have a double layer of fur so when they go in the water they don’t get wet down to the skin. The pelt is grizzled grey, often tinged with olive brown. The fur is marked with dark round spots which run in longitudinal rows. On the face fishing cats have white stripes running from the eyes to the crown of the head, and there are six to eight dark lines running from the forehead over the crown and along the neck. Contrasting white spots mark the backs of the short, rounded black ears. The head is thick and broad and the muzzle is somewhat elongate. They are about the size of a basset hound, the body of the fishing cat is notably deep chested, and the relatively short tail is unusually thick and muscular near the base.

Fishing cats don’t have full claw sheaths (similar to the cheetah) so their claws are partially visible even when retracted. It is often thought that fishing cats have webbed feet but this is not so. They have a partial membrane between the toes but no more than in other wild or domestic cats. There are two subspecies of fishing cat described as:

P. v. viverrinus India, southeast Asia and Sumatra

P. V. risophores Java and Bali

Principal Dimensions                   

                                                      Overall    Males    Females

Head and body lengths (cm)             65-100

Height at shoulders (cm)                   25-33

Tail lengths (cm)                                   38-41

Weight (kg)                                            6-15            11-15           6-7

Distribution and Habitats

Fishing cats live in a variety of watery habitats: mangrove swamps, marshy thickets and reed beds, up to an alititude of 1,500 meters. They seem to prefer areas where there is substantial thick cover near open water. Geographically they are found discontinuously throughout southern Asia, from Malyasia, parts of Indonesia (Sumatra and Java), and Sri Lanka to the Himalayan foothills of Nepal.

Fishing cats are often persecuted because they will live close to human dwellings. They can survive in suburban situtations and are often found stealing livestock, such as calves or chicken.

Conservation Status

CITES: Appendix II. IUCN: Insufficiently known 

Felid TAG 2000 recommendation: Although not an endangered species, this species’ lowland habitat is under stress. The Fishing Cat has a Species Survival Plan SSP.

In the wild they are listed as Near Threatened. Although they have a substantial range in tropical Asia (over 1 million square kilometers), its actual area of occupancy is much smaller as it is strongly associated with wetlands. A survey showed that more than 50% of Asian wetlands are faced with moderate to high degrees of threat and are disappearing. These threats include settlement, draining for agriculuture, polution, and excessive hunting, woodcutting and fishing. The result is a similar decline among the fishing cat populations.

School children reported sighting of tiger behind school

Amazingly two students at my school claimed that they sighted a tiger behind the school fence. There are many rumors flying around the school and it has been reported on the Thai news. Whether it is a tiger or not remains to be seen.

To recount what little we know so far: two fourth grade students were playing PE on the school yard on Monday when they saw a large animal by the fence at the back of the school. It is not uncommon for their to be water buffalo behind the school, but the students looked again to confirm what they saw because it appeared to be a large orange cat (we’ll call it a ‘tiger’ from now on). The boy told his friends about the tiger sighting, but they laughed at him and so he didn’t tell anyone else.

Of course, the students talked about what the boy had said and finally the teachers got wind of it. This afternoon as I went to teach my 1 o’clock class the two students were called to the principal’s office to retell what they had seen. The student drew a picture of a tiger to clarify that they had seen a tiger and not a water buffalo. The boy was offended that no one seemed to believe that he knew what a tiger looked like.

The principal took action and called the authorities. Several rescue units arrived at the school and investigated the area behind the school’s fence. Indeed there were foot prints that resembled a cat’s. These footprints were very large, larger than a human’s hand, and indicated a large cat. However, there have been no further sightings of the tiger. The news reporters caught wind of the story from the police band radio and the story of the tiger sighting in the area of the Loatian Embassy has been on the Thai news as early as 15:00, although nothing is offical yet and confirmation from an expert from the Dusit Zoo is still pending.

In an event that the tracks do belong to a member of the big cat family, the authorities have assured us that they will be taking the necessary steps to remove the animal from the vicinity. The school, in the meantime, is take the necessary precautions to keep the students safe by keeping them in the school buildings and as far from the school fence as possible. Teachers are surprised at the recent events and are keeping watchful survellience over their students. Authorities are standing guard around the fence, hoping to sight the tiger or the animal that has caused all of this commotion at our little school.

Complete List of the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

Even though keeping up with US shows while living in Thailand is tough, I do my best to watch the go shows when they come out on DVDs. The Emmy Awards are a great opportunity to note the shows that were nominated so that when you visit MBK in Bangkok you know what shows to ask for. It’s the best way for expats to keep up with American culture and watching those DVDs are a cheap way to entertain yourself.

Winners at Sunday’s 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences:

Drama Series: “The Sopranos,” HBO.

Comedy Series: “30 Rock,” NBC.

Miniseries: “Broken Trail,” AMC.

Variety, Music or Comedy Series: “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central.

Variety, Music or Comedy Special: “Tony Bennett: An American Classic,” NBC.

Made-for-TV Movie: “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” HBO.

Reality-Competition Program: “The Amazing Race,” CBS.

Creative Achievement in Interactive TV: Current.

Actor, Drama Series: James Spader, “Boston Legal,” ABC.

Actor, Comedy Series: Ricky Gervais, “Extras,” HBO.

Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Robert Duvall, “Broken Trail,” AMC.

Actress, Drama Series: Sally Field, “Brothers & Sisters,” ABC.

Actress, Comedy Series: America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty,” ABC.

Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Helen Mirren, “Prime Suspect: The Final Act (Masterpiece Theatre),” PBS.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Terry O’Quinn, “Lost,” ABC.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Jeremy Piven, “Entourage,” HBO.

Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Thomas Haden Church, “Broken Trail,” AMC.

Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Katherine Heigl, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Jaime Pressly, “My Name Is Earl,” NBC.

Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Judy Davis, “The Starter Wife,” USA.

Individual Performance, Variety or Music Program: Tony Bennett, “Tony Bennett: An American Classic,” NBC.

Directing, Drama Series: “The Sopranos: Kennedy and Heidi,” HBO.

Directing, Comedy Series: “Ugly Betty: Pilot,” ABC.

Directing, Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: “Prime Suspect: The Final Act (Masterpiece Theatre),” PBS.

Directing, Variety, Music or Comedy Program: “Tony Bennett: An American Classic,” NBC.

Writing for a Drama Series: “The Sopranos: Made in America,” HBO.

Writing, Comedy Series: “The Office: Gay Witch Hunt,” NBC.

Writing, Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: “Prime Suspect: The Final Act,” PBS.

Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC.

Travel Aspirations – 50 Places to See Before You Die

For those of you who haven’t come across the original BBC list of 50 places to see before you die, here it is. After this list came out, many others followed that described destinations or activities that are deemed to be worthy of special note. Of the places on the list I’ve seen 11 that I can remember for sure and possibly 1 or 2 more from my childhood that I can’t remember, so I’m not counting those. I’ll be adding Aukland, New Zealand in a few weeks and I hope to continue crossing places of this list. I’m actually living in one of the places on this list as well, Bangkok!

Living in Bangkok and being able to travel around Thailand is pretty amazing, but let’s not forget the rest of the world is out their waiting to be seen as well. May it bring you thoughts of the future experiences you can have if you look beyond the daily grind of life. Bangkokians, get out of Bangkok whenever you can!

For those of you who haven’t come across the original BBC list of 50 places to see before you die, here it is. After this list came out, many others followed that described destinations or activities that are deemed to be worthy of special note. Of the places on the list I’ve seen 11 that I can remember for sure and possibly 1 or 2 more from my childhood that I can’t remember, so I’m not counting those. I’ll be adding Aukland, New Zealand in a few weeks and I hope to continue crossing places of this list.

Living in Bangkok and being able to travel around Thailand is pretty amazing, but let’s not forget the rest of the world is out their waiting to be seen as well. May it bring you thoughts of the future experiences you can have if you look beyond the daily grind of life.

BBC Holiday’s List of 50 Places to Visit Before You Die:

  1. The Grand Canyon (Arizona, USA).
  2. Great Barrier Reef (Queensland, Australia).
  3. Florida (USA).
  4. South Island (New Zealand).
  5. Cape Town (South Africa).
  6. Golden Temple (Amritsar, India).
  7. Las Vegas (Nevada, USA).
  8. Sydney (NSW, Australia).
  9. New York (New York, USA).
  10. Taj Mahal (India).
  11. The Rockies (Canada).
  12. Uluru (Ayers Rock, Australia).
  13. Chichen Itza (Mexico).
  14. Machu Picchu (Peru).
  15. Niagara Falls (Canada/USA).
  16. Petra (Jordan).
  17. The Pyramids (Egypt).
  18. Venice (Italy).
  19. Maldives.
  20. The Great Wall (China).
  21. Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe).
  22. Hong Kong.
  23. Yosemite National Park (California, USA).
  24. Hawaii (USA).
  25. Auckland (New Zealand).
  26. Iguassu Falls (Argentina/Brazil).
  27. Paris (France).
  28. Alaska (USA).
  29. Angkor Wat (Cambodia).
  30. Himalayas (Nepal.
  31. Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
  32. Masai Mara (Kenya).
  33. Galapagos Islands (Ecuador).
  34. Luxor (Egypt).
  35. Rome (Italy).
  36. San Francisco (California<, USA).
  37. Barcelona (Spain).
  38. Dubai (United Arab Emirates).
  39. Singapore.
  40. La Digue (Seychelles).
  41. Sri Lanka.
  42. Bangkok (Thailand).
  43. Barbados.
  44. Iceland.
  45. Terracotta Army (Xi’an, China).
  46. Zermatt (Switzerland).
  47. Angel Falls (Venezuela).
  48. Abu Simbel (Egypt).
  49. Bali (Indonesia).
  50. French Polynesia.

Joey has his 15 seconds of fame

My co-worker was in the right place at the right time to have his earthquake experience recorded and publicized. He has been a Bangkokian for several years now and writes of a few earthquake experiences that he has had over that time.

Joey Bourgoin of Bangkok, Thailand
I am a Canadian living in Bangkok and had taken friends up to the 61st & 62nd floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel’s rooftop restaurant to get pictures of the sunset. I felt some swaying and as I mentioned it to my two friends, they, too, felt it. The staff started looking a bit surprised and was looking around and asked if we were feeling the earthquake, because we obviously had. Security was quickly speaking into his radio and everyone just stood around waiting for direction. It lasted a few minutes and nothing else was said from the staff, so we left, unsure of what had happened. When I got home I checked my e-mail and immediately found my CNN Alert and found out about the earthquake. I was here for the ’04 earthquake and felt that one as well in my 18th floor condo, and small cracks were found throughout my building from that quake. Many building were evacuated for the ’04 quake but I have seen nothing so far about any evacuations this time in Bangkok.

MINI showroom in Soi Ekkami

Driving back from Thonglor last Saturday my head made a quick whip back while passing the new Mini dealership on Soi Ekkami. This is the place for Bangkokians to drool over the sweet MINI coopers in the showroom and take a look at the NEXT Mini coopers for preowned coopers. I had seen the location earlier when the building was being built but had yet to see the finished product. The showroom is definately a place that I plan to visit when I have a little more free time to enjoy looking at beautiful cars.

I must say that when I was in the States the MINI was just another cute car to be put in that category of cars that I believed to be overpriced and that I would probably never own. Even though I think it’s adorable, as well as the PT Cruiser, Plymouth Vibe, VW Beetle, it just seems like too much money for too little car. What did I buy when my first handme down car broke down? I settled on a 2004 Nissan Frontier pickup with a few options that cost around 14,000 $US brand new. Loved it to death, but unfortunately it’s in America while I’m living in Bangkok.

Of course, in Thailand the price issue becomes even more extreme since a Honda Civic jumps from around 18,000 $US to around 28 $US for the top of the line models in US and Thailand. There are a myraid of reasons for the increase in price between the US and Thailand, the major one of those being luxury taxes on cars. When it comes to the MINI cooper the prices are exorbatant. Try forking over 2.4 million baht (68,000 US$) for a car that cost around 21,000 $US. It about makes you want to cry.
Below is the Nation article announcing the opening of the MINI cooper showroom on Soi Ekkami:World’s biggest Mini showroom opens in Soi Ekkamai

Sat, May 19, 2007 : Last updated 21:45 pm (Thai local time)

Thailand has become home to the largest Mini showroom in the world with the opening of Mini Square on Soi Ekamai.

The six-storey facility cost Bt150 million and has a total area of 6,000 square metres according to Sanhavuth Thammachuanviriya, managing director of the Millennium Auto Group.

Millennium customers previously had to visit the company’s Langsuan facility, which consisted only of a Mini showroom, while servicing was done at Millennium’s BMW service centre in Lat Phrao.

“Millennium has been in the Langsuan Mini showroom since 2002, and after five successful years we decided it was time to expand our facility,” Sanhavuth said.

There are 1,200 Mini customers in Thailand.

David Barry Panton, senior vice president for sales and marketing in Asia-Pacific (except China), the Middle East and African and Caribbean markets for BMW AG, said: “Apart from the main markets in the US and Europe, Asia represents an important market for Mini’s continuous growth.”

The new car showroom and an Internet cafe are located on the first floor, while the Mini “Next” used-car showroom is on the second floor. Floors three and four are for servicing and parts inventory, with eight service bays that can be expanded to 16 in the future. Parking is on the fifth floor. An Italian restaurant called “Fuzio Stylish Restaurant and Bar” sits on the sixth floor and features a panoramic view of the city.

Sethipong Anutarasoti, general manager for Mini in Thailand, said the facility was expected to serve as a gathering place for Mini-owners and enthusiasts.

“Mini showrooms used to be incorporated in BMW showrooms, but now it is solely Mini,” he said. “When this facility is fully ready, we will be linked directly with Mini in Europe.”

Kingsley Wijayasinha

The Nation

Loatian and Thai Language

In Bangkok people primarily speak Thai and a large portion of the population also speaks another major language such as English, Chinese and Japanese. All three of these languages are major languages of commerce in Thailand. However, I’m fairly certain that there are many more languages being spoken in this megatropolis of ours.

On my way home on Friday, I was stuck in front of the Loatian Embassy long enough to notice the sign on the fence of the embassy fence. It was a trilingual sign featuring Loatian, Thai and English. I chuckled at myself as I have a particular fondness for signs and I’m forever seeing humorous signs in the Land of Smiles. This  sign was not intriguing because of a mistake or interesting saying, instead it was the comparison between the Loatian and Thai languages that can be made when you see the two languages written side by side.

In the sign the Loatian part is on the left and the Thai part is on the right. Based on what the English part says below, I assume that the sign says “Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic” or the equivalent in all three languages. Since I have some basic Thai reading skills, I tried to compare the Thai part to what I saw in the Loatian part and I noticed that the script was similar. The common basis for the written aspect for both languages, Sanskrit, is evident except that the Loatian writing appears to be more curvy and loopy than the Thai writing. I’m not sure if this is due to the particular fonts used on the sign or a feature of all Loatian writing. Additionally, some of the characters look different or are used differently, but many of the characters are quite similar. Lastly, Loatian seems to have fewer abbreviations than Thai.

Sometimes it can be difficult to read Thai if you are unaware of the character reductions that sometimes appear or if you are not sure which characters together make a particular sound. In Loatian, there seems to be less of this problem as the vowels are not reduced and are still written where in Thai they would be absent. There also seems to be fewer character choices so that the same sound may only have one character to express it, unlike Thai were the “t” sound could be a few different characters.

Disclaimer: This is just my observations from this sign and I do not claim to be a linguist.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Hygenie of Street Fruit Vendors

One of the nice things about Thailand is that you never have to carry food and water with you. Everything is so easy to by while on the go, especially in Bangkok. I never bring lunch to work unless I’m craving a particular homemade item. If I want something in particular for lunch other than what’s avaliable in the cafeteria, it is really easy just to go out to a local noodle shop or one-dish restaurant. As a rule Bangkokians never cook for themselves. It’s just too easy to go out and buy something instead.

Every morning at around 9 or 10 I’m likely to be sneaking away from work to get a little something to eat or drink. A short drive or 10 minute walk away from my work is a mini-mart, food court, pharamacy and street vendors collected in an area called “Soi 39” by the main street. It’s here that I get my caffeine fixed when needed or satisfy that weird craving. It’s also the place where I can get fresh fruit at one of those 3 wheeled carts with fruit on ice.

If you ask me about the sanitation of these street fruit vendors, I’d say that it is most likely pretty clean because it’s cut and put on ice before it’s sold to you. The only scary thing about these fruit carts is the actually person handling the fruit. Some vendors are pretty handy and don’t ever even touch the fruit. Instead they use a bamboo skewer to stab the fruit of you choice, put it in a plastic bag and then cut the fruit through the plastic bag with a knife. You’ve got to see it for yourself. These are the most skilled of the fruit vendors and I prefer these fellows to any others. Less dexterous vendors might have gloves on their hands for touching the fruit. These vendors are acceptable as well, although not as cool to watch, as the level of hygiene should be adequate.

I would only worry about one type of fruit vendor and that the fruit vendors that handle the fruit with their bare hands. Generally these street fruit carts aren’t equipped with proper hand sanitizing equipment (ie. soap and water) and more often than not the vendors wipe their hands on a damp cloth. If the vendor is touching the fresh fruit that you are going to eat without any type of protection, I’d feel slightly wary about putting that fruit in my mouth. Let’s not even consider if he washed his hands after visiting the restroom.

So that next time you by fruit from a street fruit vendor, notice his fruit handling technique. You might find yourself buying fruit from one fruit vendor and not other. Thankfully, most fruit vendors that I’ve encountered are the more hygenic variety. This is probably because a sick customer won’t come back and buy fruit from you.