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Blazing Saddles: Cycling to happiness

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: In 2006 the United Nations announced that more than half the world’s population was now living in urban areas and that by 2030 almost five billion of us will be urbanized.

Like most areas of rapid urbanization, Phuket has being deeply wounded by the rush to develop. Firstly, the island has become progressively reoriented around motorized traffic and secondly many public spaces and resources have been privatized.

This reorganization of our island is unfair and cruel as the urbanized residents of Phuket are increasingly denied the opportunity to enjoy simple daily pleasures such as walking on convivial streets, sitting around in public areas, or just playing together.

Children have largely disappeared from Phuket’s streets which have have been rendered dangerous and polluted by traffic volume. Phuket’s rapid urbanization is driven by people seeking a better life for themselves through increased prosperity.

Tourism workers, developers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, noodle vendors, yacht brokers and media types all share this common desire, and yet Phuket seems to be making people more miserable and stressed through this pursuit of prosperity.

The sad thing is that the more people flock to Phuket for the good life – money, opportunity, novelty – the more crowded, expensive, polluted and congested the island becomes. The result? Surveys show that Phuketians rate themselves as among the least happy people in Thailand, despite living in one of the richest regions in the country.

Is Phuket’s urban design really powerful enough to make or break our happiness? The question deserves consideration, because the most dynamic economies of the 20th century have produced the most miserable cities according to the World Health Organization. Surely not what we are trying to do here?

If one was to judge by sheer wealth, the last half-century should have been an ecstatically happy time for people in the US and other rich nations such as Canada, Japan and Great Britain. And yet the boom decades of the late 20th century were not accompanied by a boom in well being. Indeed the British got richer by more than 40 per cent between 1993 and 2012, but the rate of psychiatric disorders and neuroses grew exponentially.

Sadly an unintended consequence of Phuket’s urbanization and traffic density is that our human networks and the interactions are becoming degraded. People just don’t want to engage with the traffic to go out and see friends and relatives like they used to. Upon returning from the daily commute to work, many Phuketians collapse in a deranged heap in front of the TV and hibernate.

Much as we complain about other people, there is nothing worse for mental health than a social desert. The more connected we are to family and community the less likely we are to experience heart attacks, strokes, cancer and depression. Connected people sleep better at night. They live longer. They consistently report being happier.

There is a clear connection between social deficit and the shape of urbanization. A Swedish study found that people who endure more than a 45-minute commute were 40 per cent more likely to divorce. People who live in mono-functional, car dependent neighborhoods are much less trusting of other people than people who live in walkable neighborhoods where housing is mixed with shops, services and work places.

However, one particular group of commuters report enjoying themselves. These are people who travel to work under their own steam… they walk, run, or ride bicycles.

Why would travelling more slowly and using more effort offer more satisfaction than driving? Part of the answer exists in our basic human physiology.

We were born to move. Immobility is to the human body what rust is to a car. Stop moving long enough and your muscles will atrophy. Bones will weaken. Blood will clot. You will find it harder to concentrate and solve problems. Immobility is not merely a state that is closer to death… it actually hastens it.

Cycling gives even a lazy rider the ability to travel three or four times faster than someone walking, while using less than a quarter the energy. Cyclists report feeling connected to the world around them in a way that is simply not possible in the sealed environment of a car, bus or train. Their journeys are both sensual and kinesthetic.

So if we really care about freedom for everyone, we need to plan Phuket’s urbanization for everyone, not just the brave or foolhardy who are currently willing to risk their lives in order to cycle.

The TAT recently saw fit to try and capitalize on the global passion for cycling by declaring the country a cyclist’s paradise. This is of course pure hype, with no tangible initiatives to support the rhetoric.

But Phuket could quite easily be made more of a cyclists’ paradise by constructing cycling and walking pathways around perimeter areas such as Cape Panwa, the Nai Harn headland, Chalong Bay or through the central mountain peaks.

The investment costs would be minimal and could be readily amortized by charging a small fee to cycle or walk the pathways. Bike hire and cycle-friendly cafes along the way would offer locals employment and business opportunities.

Will any of this happen? While holding your breath is probably wise while cycling along Phuket’s main arteries, doing so in anticipation of such positive cycling initiatives appearing here is probably a fast track to asphyxiation!

While the search for happiness continues, chances are you’ll get there on a bike.

— Baz Daniels

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thai Life

Top 5 accounting firms in Thailand

Cita Catellya

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If you own a business in Thailand, there is one service you can’t do without, which is accounting. Accounting, just like human resources (HR), plays a vital role in most businesses. Therefore, hiring an accounting firm can help your business grow and expand, even when your business is still small. In other words, if you want your business to become successful, you can’t ignore the importance of accounting firms.

Accounting firms help you handle critical financial tasks, such as calculating your withholding TAX and VAT and completing your financial statements. In addition, they also ensure that you comply with Thai law. Therefore, it’s only natural that you want the best accountant, someone you can trust, to do these tasks.

When talking about the best accounting companies, the first names that usually come to mind are the Big 4 – PwC, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and KPMG. On the other hand, there are also numerous other main players in Thailand’s accountancy field. Accounting companies are always in tough competition among themselves, so it can be hard to choose the best one. However, we have narrowed it down to the top 5 accounting companies in Thailand.

5 Best Accounting Firms in Thailand

Best of Thailand’s accounting firms, listed below.

1. HLB Thailand

Previously known as BDO Thailand, HLB Thailand is one of the most reputable accounting firms in Thailand. It is an HLB International member, which is a global network of independent advisory and accounting firms. HLB International has hundreds of offices across 160 countries. In 2020, HLB International won ‘Network of the Year’ at the 2020 Digital Accountancy Awards. This award certainly drives up their reputation among those in needs of accounting services.

HLB Thailand expertise in audit and assurance, transfer pricing, and outsourcing. Their client base covers a wide variety of industries, such as telecommunications, manufacturing, constructions, and hospitality. Furthermore, they also offer service to real estate, healthcare, and not-for-profit industries. The firm is led by Co-Managing Partners Andrew Jackomos and Paul Ashburn. The firm’s tax services in Thailand provide a combination of local attention and global capabilities. Furthermore, they also provide financial audit and risk assurance service.

Main Areas of Service: Advisory, Audit and Assurance, Tax.

Locations: Bangkok and Phuket.

BANGKOK: 14th Floor, CTI Tower 191/70-73 New Ratchadapisek Road Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110, Thailand.
PHUKET: 20/90 Moo 2, Thepkasattri Road T. Koh kaew, A. Muang, Phuket 83000, Thailand.

Website: https://www.hlbthai.com/

Contact Info: hlb@hlbthailand.com
BANGKOK: +66 (0)2 260 7290
PHUKET: +66 (0)2 260 7297

Top 5 accounting firms in Thailand | News by Thaiger

2. PKF Thailand

PKF Thailand is a member of PKF International’s global family of legally independent firms with over 400 offices in 125 countries. Therefore, the firm is known to provide global solutions to its clients.

As one of the oldest accounting companies in Thailand, PKF Thailand has built its strong reputation for years. Today, it has successfully established itself among the leading accounting firms of choice for both international and local clients. This accounting firm is licensed by Thailand’s SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) to perform audits on public listed companies. PKF Thailand presents highly qualified international and local professionals, so they can help bridge the gap between international business and the Kingdom.

Headquartered in Bangkok, PKF Thailand has active branches on the Eastern Seaboard in Phuket, Hua Hin, Sri Racha, Pattaya, and U Tapao. Therefore, they can offer services to businesses around Thailand.

Main Areas of Service: Advisory, Audit and Assurance, Corporate Finance, Business Solutions, Tax, and Transaction Services.

Locations: Bangkok and Eastern Seabord.

BANGKOK: 28th Fl., Sathorn Square Office Tower, 98 North Sathorn Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand.
EASTERN SEABOARD: 63/14-15 M.10, South Pattaya Road, Nongprue, Banglamung,
Chonburi 20150, Thailand.

Website: https://pkfthailand.asia/

Contact Info:
BANGKOK: thailand@pkf.com / +66 2 108 1591
EASTERN SEABOARD: esb.th@pkf.com / +66 38 195 252

Top 5 accounting firms in Thailand | News by Thaiger

3. HUMANICA

HUMANICA is a business solutions provider in Thailand. They are pioneers in the HR and ERP industry in Thailand. However, they also offer finance and accounting services in the country. Their finance and accounting services are designed for companies who need to outsource tiresome office tasks. Moreover, they have provided accounting service and system advisor for SME businesses in various industries for over a decade. Their clients range from manufacturer and construction to trading, e-commerce, and services.

Located in Pathum Wan, Bangkok, HUMANICA is part of the Human Resources Consulting Services Industry. They provide accounting, finance, and taxation services. Their taxation services include value-added tax, withholding tax, and corporate income tax.

Main Areas of Service: Accounting, finance, and taxation.

Locations: 2 Soi Rongmuang 5, Rongmuang Rd., Rongmuang, Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand 10330.

Website: https://www.humanica.com/

Contact Info: sales@humanica.com / +66 2 636 6999

Top 5 accounting firms in Thailand | News by Thaiger

4. Mazars

Mazars is a French accounting, audit, and consulting group. This accounting firm set its foot in the Thai market for the first time in 2008. However, they are quick to establish a reputation of being one of the top accounting firms in the Kingdom.

Mazars boasts a multinational team, with its consultants consisting of Thai, British, German, Dutch, Indian, Korean, Japanese, and Australian nationals. As a result, they are among the leading companies in the country that provide accounting services globally. In addition to their accounting services, they also offer legal and consulting services for businesses across Thailand. Mazars is committed to helping their clients succeed. They understand and respect your business, so they will adapt their approach accordingly.

Main Areas of Service: Audit and assurance, financial advisory, tax, outsourcing, and international services.

Locations: Empire Tower, Tower 2, 12th Floor, South Sathorn Road, Bangkok 10120, Thailand.

Website: www.mazars.co.th

Contact Info: +66 2 670 1100

Top 5 accounting firms in Thailand | News by Thaiger

5. M&E (Thailand)

M&E (Thailand) Co., Ltd. is a German-Thai organization. It is a well-established accounting firm offering comprehensive services to a wide range of industries, such as manufacturing, IT, food and beverage, and payment gateway. As a result of their personal and individualized service, their client can focus on their business growth instead of dealing with the accounting department.

In addition to its excellent accounting service, M&E (Thailand) also provides company registration service and financial consultation. Thus, they can be considered as a one-stop solution for your business needs.

Main Areas of Service: Bookkeeping, taxation, and financial reports.

Locations: 159/40 Sermmit Tower 26th Floor, Room No. 2608 Sukhumvit Road (Asoke), Klongtoey Nua Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand.

Website: www.mandethailand.com

Contact Info: info@mandethailand.com / +66 2 0461200

Top 5 accounting firms in Thailand | News by Thaiger

Being a lucrative market for businesses and foreign investments, it comes as no surprise Thailand is seeing the rise in accounting firms competition. With the number of businesses in needs of accounting services, the competition for accounting firms in the country seems to never end.

 

 

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Food Scene

Cooking food at home more? Most Thais are during Covid-19

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Ramen noodles again? More people are eating in because of Covid-19.

Are you an excellent chef? Did Covid-19 force you to learn how to cook food? Or maybe it caused you to pay closer attention to how healthy, how clean, and how well packaged your food is? A new Suan Dusit Poll found that Thai people are eating healthier and eating at home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The poll, conducted last week by Suan Dusit Rakabhat University, asked 1,192 people about their eating habits.

The poll found that nearly 76% of people were cooking at home more often and 71% responded that since Covid-19 they have paid more attention to the importance of food. Only 3% said they pay less attention to their eating since the Coronavirus outbreak.

Most of the poll answers aren’t too surprising, with lockdowns forcing more home meals, and fear of a contagious virus creating more awareness of hygiene practices. Nearly 48% of those polled believed that healthy eating helped against the Coronavirus while 38% were unsure. Nearly 50% were interested in knowing about foods that could build a Covid-19 resistance.

55% though herbs helped strengthen Coronavirus resistance, while Pad Ka Phrao, ginger, tom yam soup and kaeng som maroom (a sour moringa soup) were also mentioned favourably (51%, 49%, 43% and 32% respectively).

60% of those surveyed said they were choosing more healthy food, and 56% paid closer attention to the importance of food packaging. Somewhat surprisingly, 39% of respondents said they were spending more on food during the pandemic, about 37% said the amount was unchanged, and nearly 24% spent less money.

Food spending in Bangkok averaged 268 baht a day, while other provinces averaged 207 baht, creating a national daily food spending average of about 227 baht.

So how do Thaiger readers compare? What are you spending on food – more or less? Are you eating healthier? Are you dining out less? Perhaps some have become experts at cooking the #1 food in the world? Any recommendations for superfoods that ward off Covid-19?

The Thaiger looks forward to your responses in the comments on this story.

SOURCE:Bangkok Post

 

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Tourism

‘One Night In Bangkok’, an unlikely hit about a bygone era in Thailand

Tim Newton

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“One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free”

When ‘One Night In Bangkok’ was released in 1984 it was an unlikely hit. It was the opening song from a (at the time) little-known stage pop-opera called ‘Chess’. The song made Number 1 in South Africa, West Germany, Switzerland and Australia, and Number 3 in Canada and the US. It has remained a staple of Classic 80s Hit radio ever since. Have a listen (below).

The musical was the first outing for the two ‘Bs’ in ABBA – Benny Andersson and Bjoern Ulvaeus. Their pop grooves had made ABBA one of the most famous music groups in the world between 1973 and 1982 with a string of hits including 20 singles in the Billboard Top 100 from 8 albums, etc, etc. The lyrics of the song were penned by Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Joseph and his amazing technicolour dreamcoat, Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast).

In the opening song of ‘Chess’, the American chess champion Freddie Trumper gets ready for a chess game with his Russian counterpart. He ridicules Bangkok’s ‘pleasures’ and tourist attractions – the Chao Phraya River (“muddy old river”), Wat Pho (“reclining Buddha”), and the red-light distractions. The choruses are more complimentary about Bangkok’s well-documented excesses.

Thailand’s ladyboys feature too… “You’ll find a god in every golden cloister, And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she“. And the famous Oriental Hotel (these days a little less ‘oriental’) is mentioned where girls are “set up in the Somerset Maugham suite“. But the singer says he isn’t interested… “I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine.

At the time the sarcasm of the song didn’t go down well with the Thai Mass Communications Organisation (now the NBTC) issuing a ban on the song in 1985, saying its lyrics “cause misunderstanding about Thai society and show disrespect towards Buddhism”, a line still trotted out when Instagrammers and vloggers shoot in front of Thai temples dressed in a flimsy singlets and short shorts.

37 years later the song still paints a picture of a contrasting ‘oriental’ city alive with lights (including red lights), colour, pungent smells, culture and a vivid history.

We’re not sure if the ban was ever lifted but I hear the song played on Thai stations from time to time. At the time, when Bangkok was less on the tourist map than now, the song was a lone reference point for westerners.

How does it stand up 37 years after becoming a world-wide hit? Leave your comments below..

One Night In Bangkok

Bangkok, Oriental setting
And the city don’t know that the city is getting
The creme de la creme of the chess world
In a show with everything but Yul Brynner (referring to the actor’s starring role as the King of Siam in ‘The King and I’)

Time flies, doesn’t seem a minute
Since the Tirolean spa had the chess boys in it
All change don’t you know that when you
Play at this level there’s no ordinary venue
It’s Iceland or the Philippines or Hastings or,
Or this place!

One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One town’s very like another
When your head’s down over your pieces, brother
It’s a drag, it’s a bore, it’s really such a pity
To be looking at the board, not looking at the city
Whaddya mean?
Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town
Tea, girls, warm, sweet
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite
Get thai’d, you’re talking to a tourist
Whose every move’s among the purest
I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

Siam’s gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would a
Muddy old river or reclining Buddha
And thank God I’m only watching the game… controlling it

I don’t see you guys rating
The kind of mate I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you
So you better go back to your bars, your temples
Your massage parlours

One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

Songwriters: Tim Rice / Benny Goran Bror Andersson / Bjoern K. Ulvaeus

 

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