This issue of
Citylife

This is Thailand

1. I am trying to learn Thai in my spare time, but can’t afford classes; do you know of any good free resources?

Grace:
Yes, there are plenty of language resources online available for free, you could also supplement them with a few simple books which are easy to come across and fairly cheap. I recommend www.womenlearnthai.com, the full name of the site is ‘Women Learning Thai…and some men too’, so no sexism there, there are many helpful lessons, links to free online courses and discussion topics. See http://womenlearnthai.com/index.php/resources/learning-thai/.

2. It’s got so hot recently, I have to have the A/C on every night and some day times, my electricity bill has more than doubled. I’m being charged 7 baht per unit of electricity, my bills are around 1,500 baht per month, this seems a lot for a small condo?

Grace:
Condos, serviced apartments and studios rooms tend to have pricier bills as the landlords usually make a profit on the bill by pushing up the standard price that the electricity company charge, which is around 4 baht. These types of accommodation can charge anything from 4 to 11 baht per unit. There is not much you can do if this is their system. Electrical equipment is rated in watts. They calculate electricity units for each 1kw (1000 watts) per hour (a kwh). So if you are charged 7 baht per unit, and use the A/C and it uses 1kw of electrical power per hour, having the A/C on costs 7 baht per hour, if it’s on for ten hours per day that’s 70 baht per day. When added up the cost per month can easily reach into the thousands.

3. I thought all these new wine bars would bring the cost of plonk down a little, though no such luck.

Grace:
I agree, it’s a shame wine is still so pricey in Thailand. Wine in Thailand often costs double what it would be in Europe, Australia or America. Back home you can usually get a decent bottle for about 200 baht, whereas in Thailand the same bottle would cost around 600 baht. Thailand does produce its own wine, though many are sweet fruit wines. Also many Thai wines are still the same price as imported ones. Wines are slapped with a large luxury tax. There are wholesalers like Wine Connection which sell a range of good wines, supermarkets like Rimping and Tops also have a good selection, Makro and other big supermarkets sell wine at a competitive price, look out for the bargains or buy in bulk.

4. I am looking for a place in Chiang Mai that does Brazilian waxing, any ideas?

Grace:
Try ‘Robin Beauty & Barber’. The owner, Kung, having met her myself, is very friendly and has 12 years of professional experience. She offers – pain free! – waxing and various salon treatments. She uses an organic wax recipe which she learnt from studying the technique in India. The salon is clean and the prices are very reasonable, Brazilian waxing is under 450 baht, whereas other places can charge up to and over 1000 baht. You can call her on: 083 152 1971, the salon is on Moon Muang Road soi 8.

5. Please could you tell me if drivers of public service vehicles, i.e. trains and buses, have a limit to how many hours they can drive without taking a break?

Kwan (Intern):
I phoned up Nakhon Lanna Transport Cooperation, which is a company for red cars, vans, and bus services. Their spokesperson said drivers must take a 30 minute break between every four hours of driving and that drivers can only work two shifts, so eight hours, without sleeping/per day. As to trains Thailand’s Railway association said that it is required that train drivers do not drive for longer than eight hours per day, and must take a break for one hour every six hours.