This issue of
Citylife

This is Thailand

1. I thought there was supposed to be fewer mosquitoes in the Thai winter time? Anyway, I still seem to be getting attacked by them, are there any remedies or methods of prevention you can recommend?

Grace:
Mosquitoes are one of the most annoying insect pests on this earth, and unfortunately the winter does not kill them off. The mozzies are still around, though perhaps slightly less in number. Mosquitoes are worse in the summer months as the warm weather conditions are more favourable for female mosquitoes to develop their eggs. Personally, I think the best remedy for annoying bites has always been tiger balm. It doesn’t get rid of the bite, but masks the aching and stops them from itching, in exchange for a cool menthol sensation. I prefer to use the liquid menthol roll-on sticks as they are easy to apply. If you use regular tiger balm avoid the reddish variety as it can stain clothes. A mosquito squatter resembling an electric tennis racket is very handy in Thailand. They are available from most good home shops and markets, for around 100 baht. This nifty device needs charging only once in a while, then get ready to match your opponent, with a satisfying sound and electric spark every time you trap a mozzie, making the gadget almost indispensable in any Thai household. If possible avoid areas prone to mosquito infestations, especially standing and dirty water. Apparently those with diets high in sugary or processed foods are more attractive to mosquitoes, though eating foods heavy in onions and garlic can make you less attractive to the pests. It is recommended to avoid wearing floral or fruity scents from perfumes, sunscreens, soaps, laundry detergent, and similar products. Some people swear by taking vitamin B-1 (thiamin) tablets, though it did not seem to make any difference for me. Lemongrass is also apparently good to plant around your home to ward off mosquitoes.

2. I’ve seen people here with exotic pets, and I’m thinking about getting myself a monkey? Where the hell would I find a monkey?

James:
It’s not easy to get your hands on a monkey, though rats, hedgehogs, squirrels might be found in local markets. I owned a rat once, but it ate paper and passed away after a bout of serious ink poisoning. Death by bad poetry, a hard way to go for any animal. They used to sell those rats in the market at Rincome Junction, but it seems these days they only sell dogs that look like rats. At www. siamreptile.com you can find lots of snakes and lizards, etc, but those things are hardly exotic here. I’ve heard that Chatuchak (JJ) market in Bangkok has some under the table monkey stalls, though surely they would be happier in the wilds, even though they have to forego your company. You can also buy ‘real’ Hello Kitty cats, which are an endangered species here in Thailand! On the way to Mae Sai from Chiang Rai you can go to Tham Pla temple, where there are lots of very ugly macaque monkeys. For 10 baht you could buy some nuts and tempt a nipper down from a tree, and then you might bag it. That would be extremely unethical.

3. I have heard the ‘reverse osmosis’ water treatment method removes all the minerals from water. A lot of drinking water in Thailand has been through this process, to what extent is reverse osmosis water ‘bad’?

Grace:
I have been reading up on this and have come to the conclusion that it really isn’t that bad at all. Reverse osmosis (RO) technology holds top status as the most convenient and thorough method of producing contaminant free clean water, at the same time RO has been criticised for being unnatural water because of its purity. This process of water filtering removes 90-99% of all contaminants from water, including inorganic minerals, some of which are good for human health.

However extensive scientific research, carried out since the late 1950s when the process was developed, has never documented any negative health effects from people dinking RO water. RO systems do remove vitamins and minerals found in tap water, though looking at the bigger picture the vitamins and minerals gained from drinking water are minimal compared to those which we get from food. I hope that helps!

4. Can I get child benefits here?

James:
If you have social security you can get 200 baht a month for each child before it/they reach 6 years old. For all laws concerning SS go to their website: www.sso.go.th.

5. Do you know if there are any Quaker meetings in Chiang Mai?

James:
After searching for you I could not find any Quakers that meet in Chiang Mai. If any readers know of any please tell us and we will pass the information along.