This is Thailand

 |  April 30, 2009

1. Someone told me Thailand had one of the world’s highest buildings, is that true?
James: The Baiyoke Tower II in Bangkok was the world’s 28th highest in 2007, I’m not sure if that still stands, skyscrapers sprout like weeds. It is 304 metres high and 200 baht will get you a good panoramic view of BKK (if not too polluted).

2. Will I receive my state pension living over here?
Hugh: For the U.S pension plan, called Social Security, you, like million of others, US citizens or not, can get your payments while you are living abroad. The money can be sent to you by check or deposited into a US account. For some reason they cannot automatically deposit into a Thai bank. To apply you must first ask the embassy or consulate for a Social Security questionnaire. You can email them this request. You send in the questionnaire (fax is better), and they will decide if you are eligible. If you are, they will send you the application. All forms you send in with the application need to be verified. The US consulate can do this for you. Medicare, the health plan, can be applied for when you are 65 but it will not pay while you are abroad. For more information check out

John: You can receive your UK retirement pension while you are a resident in Thailand. The only snag is that the amount is fixed forever, there is no cost of living increase.

3. After the recent gay pride parade spoilers, I was wondering if homosexuality is actually against Thai law.
James: Sodomy was decriminalised in Thailand in 1956. In 2002, homosexuality was no longer considered to be a mental problem or disease in Thai law. Before 2002 gays were considered mentally unhinged _ by the government _ and were regularly kicked out of the army. Buddhist laws _ depending which strain of Buddhism you’re into _ can forbid gays to enter monkhood. Lanna culture, according to the Lanna_mob dressed in red, is not down with same sex love. In answer to your question, presently, homosexuality is not against Thai constitutional law.

4. What is the average IQ here?
James: It’s very low according to various studies, the average for adults is around 88-91 (global average 100). After a survey was conducted _ reported by The Nation _ on children, 8.5% (2-3% global average) of the kids were found to have IQs of less than 70, which is classed as retarded. As many as 16.4% of children in the north fell into the ‘retarded’ category. But all is not lost, averages in Laos, some websites claim, are a couple of percent lower and the average in first world Ireland, according to some sites, is only fractionally higher. Then again, searching the infinite internet, lots of different stats can be found.

5. How can I make compost from my garbage? I will tell my neighbours the answer to this question!
James: It’s easy. Just collect your kitchen scraps and put them in a bin – call it a compost bin for verisimilitude – put an equal amount of leaves on top, and then leave cooking until it’s composted. It does all the work for you. Some folks say you must turn your mixture now and again. You can also compost: leaves, grass clippings, twigs, branches, weeds, vines, thatch, plants, flowers, straw, human hair, feathers, small amounts of wood ash, wood chips, dead insects and vacuum bag contents.
Meat, poultry, oil, sea food, fatty products, and dairy, should be kept to a bare minimum.
An aside: I asked an Australian man (he has green hands and leather skin, used to working out in the bush) recently, as a joke, how you can get rid of a human body, he replied, with all sincerity, “Easy mate, should throw ’em down a hole, add a bit of lime and throw in a coupla ‘roos.”