This is Thailand

 |  February 25, 2009

For those of you with any questions regarding Thailand, Thai culture, history, tourism, laws, rules, food, nightlife, sub-cultures, dating; generally anything as long as it is relevant,
we have a panel of three experts who will respond to your enquiries.

1. If a farang should purchase a winning Thai lottery ticket number, can he/she actually claim the prize?

I called the GLO (Government Lottery Office) and they told me that you can indeed have a flutter on the Thai lottery and collect your winnings even if you are only here on a two week holiday. Just take your passport and winning ticket to the nearest GLO (go to the lottery market on Hai Ya Road, it’s the road on the way to the airport, opposite Niyom Panich, where there are lots of pet shops and a cemetery), if the win is less than 20,000, winnings will be taxed at 1-3%. If you win large then you’ll have to collect from the GLO in Bangkok, there you will be taxed at 0.5%.

2. Is it illegal to have an abortion in Thailand? What could a foreign resident do if they wanted an abortion?

It is illegal in Thailand to have an abortion, although in special cases such as rape or a prognosis of difficulty during childbirth, a woman may be able to have the procedure. Only seven to eight percent of abortions in Thailand are legal. There are underground doctors I’m told, working mostly for the fiscal benefits rather than freedom of rights for women. I have also been told where there are other avenues for abortion, you should ask a Thai friend about this or contact me here are Citylife. Many people – mostly women’s rights groups – think the anti – abortion law (1956) should be abrogated as it’s not only archaic but representative of a patriarchal society. Women found seeking an abortion or undergoing one themselves will be met with punitive measures. Women have been known to be arrested while waiting in the clinic and then marched in front of TV cameras. Thailand has a strict zero tolerance to abortion in the state run, often pious media. For a foreigner the same rules apply while you are here. There is help though, so you might also contact the Chiang Mai Community Clinic, 167 Ratchamankha Rd., Tel 053 277806, they will be able to advise you well.

3. Can you explain the local interpretation of karma? I mean, if say I get over charged at a shop or some girl lies to me do they go make merit? And after merit making, is the crime gone? It seems all a bit twisted and wrong to me.

The original Sanskrit meaning of karma is ‘action’ or ‘deed’. The theory of karma is that all our actions have results. What any person knows about karma depends on his/her intellectual and spiritual ability to understand the concept. Some, at a lower level of understanding, avoid doing negative actions (over charging, lying) because the results will come back to hurt them, not because it is a ‘crime’ or a sin in the Judeo-Christian sense. Positive actions (making merit) are done to balance out negative ones. This is a very simplified version of karma but works for many and it gives a person an incentive to do good deeds and avoid bad ones. Someone higher up the ladder of understanding will attempt to do good and avoid bad, not out of fear of the results, but simply because it is the right thing to do. Thailand, as everywhere else, has people at all levels of understanding.

For a really clear discussion try reading the great Thai teacher of Buddhism, the Reverend Buddhadasa’s Handbook for Mankind which can be bought at any good bookstore in the country.

The philosophical explanation of karma is that the effects of all deeds actively create present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one’s own life, and the pain and joy it brings to you and others. In Thailand where people believe in reincarnation, karma extends through one’s present life and all past and future lives as well.

Roman Catholics believe that you can confess a sin and be absolved. This concept is quite foreign to Theravada Buddhist beliefs. If you do wrong – bharp – or if you make merit and do good – boon – then your karma, and therefore your happiness in this life and the next, is accordingly affected.

4. Hi guys, just one question. Lately I moved house, what a hassle, but for the life in me I could not find any cardboard boxes anywhere, where can we get boxes in Chiang Mai?

There is a used cardboard box seller on Suthep Road, behind the university, on the same side of the road as the university. He is usually there in the evening and has just about every size of box there is.