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          Today let's come to learn about American history. The article "The US Expands West" is very long that makes

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Questions to Ask Before You Marry

February 11, 2019

FILE - On her wedding day, a Filipino bride fixes her gown before entering a Catholic church in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
FILE - On her wedding day, a Filipino bride fixes her gown before entering a Catholic church in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
by VOA
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Marriage. Is it a romantic situation with some practical parts? Or it is a practical situation with some romantic parts?

Couples and cultures differ. But experts on marriage warn that, in general, romantic love – you know, that excited feeling you have at the beginning of a relationship – lasts only for about a year. As the relationship continues, partners need to make sure they can still live together happily. In other words, they need to be compatible.

But how do you know if you are compatible with someone? Like in a job interview, you need to ask questions.

Several websites suggest questions you should ask your future bride or groom. We have collected here some of the ones that appear most often.

Huang Fusheng, right, 83, and his wife, Tang Lanfang, 80, pose with their wedding photo, taken in 1958, at Prince Fu Mansion built during Qing dynasty, where they worked together from 1965 to 1992, in central Beijing, China, Feb. 7, 2018.
Huang Fusheng, right, 83, and his wife, Tang Lanfang, 80, pose with their wedding photo, taken in 1958, at Prince Fu Mansion built during Qing dynasty, where they worked together from 1965 to 1992, in central Beijing, China, Feb. 7, 2018.

What kind of debt do you have?

2018 poll by the Pew Research Center found that money is one of the top five things couples fight about. Before tying the knot – another way of saying “getting married” – you should talk to your partner about any money each of you owes – such as student loans, house or car payments.

One reason to talk about debt is because married couples may want to make a costly purchase together, such as a house. Debt could limit your ability to do so.

And do not forget about credit card debt. This probably tells more about a person’s relationship with money than any other kind of debt. That leads us to our next question.

What are your spending habits?

Some people are good at saving money. They take comfort in having extra in the bank. Others are good at spending money. Shopping, for them, can bring comfort.

If you and your partner spend money differently it could lead to conflict. Now is a good time to talk about savings, budgets and how you will handle your finances together.

Oladipupo Baruwa, 45, an investment promotion officer, and Funke Baruwa, 43, a gender and development expert, pose for a photograph at home in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 9, 2018.
Oladipupo Baruwa, 45, an investment promotion officer, and Funke Baruwa, 43, a gender and development expert, pose for a photograph at home in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 9, 2018 

How do you feel about a clean house?

Cleaning up around the house may not seem like a big deal. However, the same poll noted earlier found that 62 percent of all Americans said sharing household duties is important to a successful marriage. How will you and your partner divide them?

When talking about cleaning the house, there is another related question.

How do you feel about clutter?

For some people, living in a house with things everywhere can be very stressful. Other people have a hard time throwing anything away. It is important to know how you and your partner will deal with the everyday stuff of life.

Couples take part in a competition during a mass wedding of 64 doctoral student couples at Harbin Institute of Technology, a university in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China, June 4, 2017.
Couples take part in a competition during a mass wedding of 64 doctoral student couples at Harbin Institute of Technology, a university in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China, June 4, 2017.

How much time do you spend on social media or other technology?

Some people can spend hours on Facebook or playing video games. Other people hate using their time in such a way. Maybe they like to go hiking or play an instrument for hours instead.

So, at the heart of this question is this simpler but all-important one: “How do you like to spend your time?” Couples who share the same interests -- whatever they may be -- are more likely to succeed at being married.

Do you want children?

Okay, whether or not to have children is a big question.

Noor Djait, 31, an architect, and Ismail Benmiled, 36, a businessman, pose for a photograph with their three-year-old son Said and four-month-old daughter Malek at their house in Tunis, Tunisia, Feb. 9, 2018.
Noor Djait, 31, an architect, and Ismail Benmiled, 36, a businessman, pose for a photograph with their three-year-old son Said and four-month-old daughter Malek at their house in Tunis, Tunisia, Feb. 9, 2018.

In marriage, many areas are negotiable. Couples can find a compromise. However, the question of whether or not to have children is not one of these areas. For many people the issue of children can be a deal-breaker.

So, find out before you walk down the aisle, find out if you both have the same expectations about babies – yes, no, how many and when?

Have you ever been arrested? If you have … for what?

This may sound obvious. But you may be surprised by what you learn. Before you marry someone, it is a good idea to find out if your partner has a criminal record.

But keep in mind that not having an arrest record may simply mean that they have never been caught. So, while you are on the topic, you could also ask about a history of gambling, overusing alcohol or drugs or, perhaps, violence.

How much time alone do you need to be happy?

You can’t spend every minute together. Or can you? Best to ask.

Brides display their hands decorated with henna around a bride as she poses for her own photographer during a mass marriage ceremony in which, according to its organizers, 70 Muslim couples took their wedding vows, in Ahmedabad, India, February 11, 2018.
Brides display their hands decorated with henna around a bride as she poses for her own photographer during a mass marriage ceremony in which, according to its organizers, 70 Muslim couples took their wedding vows, in Ahmedabad, India, February 11, 2018.

Some people are most happy when they are around others. In fact, some people hate to be alone. But other people may need large amounts of time by themselves.

It is important to share where you fall on this line. Some people may take it personally if their partner does not want to be with them all the time. And the people who need to be alone may feel trapped by being with someone day in and day out, even if it is someone they love.

These are just some of the questions you may want to ask before getting married. These topics may be uncomfortable. But a couple hours of feeling uncomfortable is better than a lifetime of conflict.

Also, experts warn to be careful of someone who does not want to answer questions such as these. That is perhaps the greatest warning sign of all.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report.

I’m Anna Matteo.

And I’m Bryan Lynn. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love and marriage

Love and marriage

Go together like a horse and carriage

This I'll tell you, brother,

You can't have one without the other...

Is there an important question we have forgotten? What advice would you add to the list? Let us know in the Comments Section!

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor. At the end of the story, Frank Sinatra sings “Love and Marriage.”

Quiz - Questions to Ask Before You Marry

Quiz - Questions to Ask Before You Marry

Start the Quiz to find out

Words in This Story

compatible – adj. capable of existing together in a satisfactory relationship (as marriage)

practical – adj. relating to what is real rather than to what is possible or imagined

romance – n. a love affair (romantic – adj. of, relating to, or involving love between two people

clutter – n. a crowded or confused mass or collection

negotiable – adj. able to be discussed and changed before an agreement or decision is made

compromise – n. a way of reaching agreement in which each person or group gives up something that was wanted in order to end an argument or dispute

walk down the aisle – idiomatic phrase to get married

deal-breaker – n. something that is important enough to you to prevent you from agreeing to something, buying something, etc.

obvious – adj. easily discovered, seen, or understood

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The U.S. Expands West

In 1801, the United States under the Constitution was very young — only about 12 years old. And compared to its size today, the country was very small.

 

By Kelly Jean Kelly

 

 

 

The United States of 1801 included 16 states and about 5 million people -- far fewer than the 50 states and 300 million people of the late 20th century. (University of South Florida)

The land was not crowded. Most people at the time were farmers who lived far away from each other. But some Americans wanted more space. They moved west, over the Allegheny Mountains. Many settled in today’s states of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Traveling was difficult. Few roads existed. People moved on foot, with horses, or by boat.

“There is on the globe one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans...”

Thomas Jefferson

Third U.S. president

Boats were especially important. Boats moved supplies from the East Coast of the U.S. to western settlers. And Americans used boats to send crops, furs and other goods to international ports. In other words, boats were like trucks, and rivers were like highways.

The major rivers in the U.S. at the time all flowed into the port of New Orleans. As a result, New Orleans was one of the most important places on the continent for Americans. The president, Thomas Jefferson, noted that over one-third of America’s goods passed through New Orleans to go to market.

There was only one problem. The United States did not own New Orleans.

Who did own New Orleans?

The port of New Orleans was part of a much larger territory called Louisiana.
For many years, France owned Louisiana Territory. In 1762, France gave the territory to Spain.

In 1800, Spain secretly gave the territory back to France.

The situation made President Jefferson uneasy.

Unlike Spain, France was very powerful. Jefferson was afraid France would limit Americans’ ability to use the port of New Orleans. So Jefferson offered to buy it. The French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, refused.

Napoleon had a plan to extend the French empire into North America. First Bonaparte sent French troops to the Caribbean island of Saint-Domingue (today’s Haiti). He wanted to secure the island’s valuable sugar trade.

President Jefferson grew even more worried. He tried again to buy the port of New Orleans. This time American diplomats increased the offer to $10 million.

Bonaparte again refused.

But then the French leader received a surprise. In Saint-Domingue, former slaves defeated the French troops. So Bonaparte sent more French troops to Saint-Domingue. The former slaves defeated that army, too.

“I was born a slave, but nature gave me a soul of a free man...”

General Toussaint L'Ouverture

Led an army of enslaved people to defeat the French and secure independence

Napoleon realized that France would not take Saint-Domingue and profit from the sugar trade. It could not support a French empire in North America. And it needed money for the wars it was fighting in Europe.

So Napoleon called American diplomats to an office in Paris. A French official asked if the U.S. would like to buy New Orleans after all – as well as the rest of Louisiana Territory. France accepted $15 million for the entire area: over 2 million square kilometers. The cost was very low, about four cents an acre.

In the U.S., we call the deal the Louisiana Purchase. Historian Joseph Ellis describes it as “the greatest achievement of the Jefferson presidency and … one of the most consequential executive actions in all of American history.”

What made Napoleon give up on his dream of a French empire in North America?

Choose 2 correct answers above.

Why was the Louisiana Purchase so important?

The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the U.S. at the time. Even today, the land accounts for about one-third of America’s territory. It includes all or part of 15 current U.S. states.

The Louisiana Purchase also includes the Mississippi River – one of the biggest rivers in North America – and all the rivers that feed the Mississippi.

 

Louisiana Territory extended from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada, and from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. (University of South Florida)

President Jefferson understood the value of the area. The fertile, diverse territory was good for farming and trade.

Jefferson believed it was good for America’s system of government, too. He hoped the U.S. would remain an agricultural country, populated mostly by farmers who governed themselves. He spoke of the country as an “empire of liberty”— even though about one in five people living in the U.S. was a slave.

The Louisiana Purchase was also important for U.S. foreign relations. It ended the French presence in North America. It increased American political and economic stability. And it established the U.S. as one of the largest countries in the world, with enough natural resources to be an international power.

But what – and who – was in Louisiana Territory?

The American diplomats in Paris who bought Louisiana Territory were surprised and delighted by Napoleon’s offer. But they did not really know what they were buying. The exact borders of Louisiana Territory were disputed. And few Europeans – let alone Americans – had traveled there.

“Shall we without a struggle, give up our homes, our lands ... I know you will say with me, Never! Never!”

Tecumseh

Shawnee chief who united a large group of Native Americans to oppose the U.S.

But the area was not empty: native people had lived there for centuries. A number of American Indian groups – including the Osage and Sioux – hunted, traded, fought and made their homes across the territory.

President Jefferson was aware of these Indian groups. But he did not offer them any money for the land. Instead, he wanted the native people to enter into treaties with the U.S. government.

Americans would offer them protection and trade. The native people, he hoped, would give up control of their land, adopt American farming practices and make alliances with the U.S. government against England and Spain.

In the meantime, he believed the U.S. government had “absolute authority” over Louisiana Territory.

What were Jefferson's thoughts about the native peoples in Louisiana Territory?

Choose 2 correct answers above.

Jefferson sends explorers west

On the same day U.S. newspapers announced the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson officially sent his personal secretary to explore the country’s new land.

Meriwether Lewis was 29 years old. He grew up near Jefferson’s home in the southeastern state of Virginia; his father and Jefferson were friends.

“This day I completed my thirty first year... I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the hapiness [sic] of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. ... [I] resolved in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself.”

Meriwether Lewis

Writing in his journal on the evening of his birthday

As a young man, Lewis became a soldier in the U.S. army. He learned to take care of himself in the wilderness, to observe his environment and to lead groups of men.

When Jefferson took office, he asked Lewis to live with him at the president’s house. Jefferson wanted Lewis’ help with political duties. He was also preparing Lewis for an important mission.

For a long time, Jefferson had wanted to send a team of explorers west. Mostly Jefferson was curious. He wanted to know about the geography, plants, animals, rocks, weather and native people of North America beyond the Mississippi River.

“Ocian in view! O! the Joy!”

William Clark

Writing in his journal at the estuary where the Columbia River starts to meet the Pacific Ocean. "Ocian" was Clark's original spelling.

He also wanted to establish good relations and trade with Indian tribes.

And, he hoped to find an all-water route across the continent – what some called the Northwest Passage. Such a route could make trade easier and more profitable for some Americans.

In a stroke of good luck for Jefferson, France offered to sell Louisiana Territory just before Lewis left on his journey. Much of his trip would be over land the U.S. now claimed. The rest – through today’s states of Montana, Idaho, and Oregon – was uncharted and largely unknown to Americans. The journey remains one of the great adventure stories in U.S. history.

What were Thomas Jefferson's goals in sending explorers to the West?

Choose 3 correct answers above.

Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery

 

 


The Corps of Discovery traveled about 6,000 kilometers in 17 months from the current Midwest to the Pacific Ocean. (University of South Florida)

Lewis asked a friend from the army to co-lead the trip, or expedition. William Clark was also from a well-known Virginia family. But he had moved to the western state of Kentucky.

Clark asked several other young men from Kentucky to join them, as well as his slave, York. Lewis and Clark also recruited soldiers from western army posts.


A page from Lewis' journal describing a candlefish (Missouri History Museum, St. Louis)

In the end, 33 people were part of the permanent group. It was called the Corps of Discovery. The word “corps” suggests the military nature of the group: the U.S. government paid for the trip, and Captains Lewis and Clark led it like a military operation.

Historian Jeff LaRock of the National Park Service calls the Corps of Discovery “basically a Special Forces team.” He points out that each member had at least one special skill: hunting, fixing guns, making things out of iron, navigating rivers or interpreting French or native languages.

When the Corps started the expedition in May 1804 near St. Louis, Missouri, they had several boats and a few horses. The load was heavy: they brought guns and ammunition, scientific instruments, things to trade with the Indians, food and even a writing desk.

Lewis’ journals, along with those of other members of the Corps of Discovery, remain one of the most important contributions of the expedition.

Imagine you are William Clark, choosing members of the Corps of Discovery. What qualities do you want in your travel companions?

Choose 2 correct answers above.

For the most of the journey, the Corps of Discovery traveled upstream. First they pushed, pulled or dragged the boats up the Missouri River into today’s state of North Dakota.

There, they spent the winter with the Mandan Indians. They also added several new interpreters to the group: a French-Canadian fur trader and one of his two wives, Sacagawea, a young Native American woman from the Shoshone tribe. Over the winter, Lewis helped deliver Sacagawea’s baby, whom she carried for the rest of the journey.

Lewis wrote in his journal that “[Sacagawea], we find, reconciles all the Indians, as to our friendly intentions — a woman with a party of men is a token of peace.”


Sacagawea translated native languages for the Corps, showed them plants to eat and helped identify landmarks she recognized from her childhood.

The following spring, when the weather turned warm, the group continued pushing up the Missouri River. They entered an area unknown to Americans, at the western edge of the Louisiana Purchase. In the words of National Park Service ranger Jeff LaRock, “After Fort Mandan, they’re walking off the map.”

Montana landscape

The Corps of Discovery traveled through today’s state of Montana. On the eastern side, they enjoyed flat land, mild weather and plenty of buffalo and deer to eat. (They did not enjoy the mosquitoes or the prickly pear cactus that tore their soft leather shoes and pierced their feet.)

On the western side, they came to a rock wall of mountains.

Sacagawea’s tribe, the Shoshone Indians, helped them cross what are today’s Bitterroot Mountains between Montana and Idaho. The passage was the most difficult part of their journey. It showed them that President Jefferson’s dream was not a reality: there was no all-water route across the continent, at least not on the route Lewis and Clark took.

Finally, the Corps of Discovery reached the Columbia River, where they quickly sailed downstream through present-day Oregon to the Pacific Ocean.

Why was Sacagawea an important member of the Corps of Discovery?

Choose 3 correct answers above.

The effects of the journey

Lewis and Clark’s complete journey took a little over two years and covered over 11,200 kilometers. When they returned to St. Louis, Missouri in September of 1806, the people who lived there greeted them with relief and interest. Many believed the group had died.

The Corps of Discovery not only survived, but brought valuable information. They described over 300 kinds of plants and animals that were new to science. They developed a map of today’s Pacific Northwest. They recorded weather and geographical data. And they wrote their ideas and observations about the Native American tribes they met.

Back in Washington, DC, President Jefferson was eager to learn and share the information. All of it was useful to the U.S. government, even if the lack of a Northwest Passage was bad news.

The information also helped American and European settlers, trappers, traders and explorers push further into the western part of the continent.

What were the effects of the journey by the Corps of Discovery?

Choose 2 correct answers above.

Oregon landscape

In most places, Lewis and Clark were greeted as heroes. Americans admired their courage and ability to cross the continent.

Jefferson rewarded them with important jobs in St. Louis, Missouri. Clark married, settled there, and became an advisor on U.S.- Indian relations. He also helped educate and raise Sacagawea’s son.

Lewis had a more difficult time. He died of a gunshot wound three years after he returned from the journey. His friends William Clark and Thomas Jefferson believed Lewis killed himself. Most historians agree.

Lewis wrote on his 31st birthday that he had not contributed much to the world. But he left an important record of his experience that shaped U.S. history. His aims were good: to advance the happiness of the human race, and to add to the knowledge of the next generation.

His journey achieved these goals for many. But it also threatened and ultimately destroyed much of the land and culture of Native American people.

And it had an additional consequence Lewis likely never imagined. The Louisiana Purchase and the Corps of Discovery created the possibility of new western states. Those lands would become a battleground over the issue of slavery.

How was life for Lewis and Clark after they returned from their journey?

Choose 3 correct answers above.
 

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The English We Speak

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL

Giant killer

EPISODE 190211 / 11 FEB 2019

Summary 

Rob's favourite football team has beaten a much bigger and more successful one. There's an English expression to describe this situation, which gets Feifei a bit worried. Watch this programme to find out what it is and how to use it to describe sporting success.

Transcript

Feifei
This is The English We Speak. I'm Feifei.

Rob
And hello, I’m Rob. Hey, Feifei. Did you see the match last night?

Feifei
The match? No, Rob. I had better things to do!

Rob
Oh, you should have done. My local team beat Manchester United 3-0! It was a giant-killing!

Feifei
Well I'm glad I didn't watch it – who wants to see giants being killed?

Rob
Feifei, nobody was killed and there were no real giants. The giant is the team that is usually stronger, more powerful or skilful than the other team – and the killing happens when the weaker or less skilful team beats them. And that's what happened last night. It was brilliant!

Feifei
I see. So a giant-killing describes a situation when a weaker or less skilful person or team beats a stronger or more skilful opponent.

Rob
Yep. And we call the winning team 'giant killers' – so my team can be called 'giant killers'!

Feifei
So is this phrase used for sporting competitions?

Rob
Yes it is. It's not just used in football – although the giant-killing in the game last night was amazing! I mean, did I mention the score was 3-0?

Feifei 
OK calm down, Rob. Let's hear some other examples of the phrase 'giant-killing'…

Examples
We're celebrating our village cricket team's giant-killing over a professional county team!

There was a giant-killing at the tennis match today – a brand new player beat the third- seeded player in straight sets!

The non-league team have become giant killers in the FA Cup – they could go all the way to the final.

Feifei
This is The English We Speak from BBC Learning English and we're hearing about the sporting expression 'giant-killing' – that's when a strong or skilful player or team is beaten by a less strong opponent. The winners are called 'giant killers'. So a giant-killing is quite an achievement?

Rob
It sure is. It's unexpected but it's great when it happens.

Feifei
I understand, Rob – it comes as a surprise because you're so used to losing!

Rob
Never mind, Feifei. If you're not a football fan, you'll never understand.

Feifei
Hmm, I suppose this programme is a bit like a giant killing.

Rob
Why's that then?

Feifei
The weaker, less skilful presenter beats the stronger, more skilful presenter by getting more lines to stay in the script.

Rob
Errr, I don't think so, Feifei. You always have more to say.

Feifei
That's true. Now, isn't it your turn to make the tea?

Rob
OK, if you say so. See you later.

Feifei
Ha! 1-0 to me. Bye.

 

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Princess out of PM list

politics February 12, 2019 01:00

By Kas Chanwanpen 
The Nation

2,199 Viewed

EC to set up committee that will investigate thai raksa chart’s controversial nomination

Citing the King’s royal command issued late on Friday, the Election Commission (EC) did not include Princess Ubolratana’s name among prime ministerial candidates announced yesterday

The statement, signed by EC chief Ittiporn Boonpracong, listed 69 PM candidates nominated by 45 political parties.

“[The list] excludes the name of Princess Ubolratana, nominated by Thai Raksa Chart Party,” the press release read. “Members of the Royal Family are above politics and politically non-partisan. They cannot take up a political position, as it will be against the Constitution and tradition as cited by the King’s royal command [issued on Friday],” the statement said.

Ubolratana is the elder sister of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn and the eldest child of late King Rama IX.

Though she relinquished her royal titles nearly five decades ago when she married an American, the royal command said she was still a member of the Royal Family and hence should stay above politics. 

Her short stint in politics appears to have set off a political tsunami. Apart from stirring much controversy both online and offline, inside and outside Thailand, it has also given rise to public fears of another coup. During the weekend, some netizens reported sightings of military tanks on Bangkok streets. 

The Army later denied rumours of a coup, saying the military vehicles were being moved for training purposes. Later, it even placed “For Training” banners on the tanks.

Meanwhile, the EC yesterday decided to set up a committee to investigate Thai Raksa Chart’s controversial nomination. The panel will decide if the EC should take the case to the Constitutional Court and seek dissolution of the party, a source close to the EC said. Since the case is sensitive and involves the monarchy, the five- to seven-member panel will have a majority of non-EC staff. The agency will discuss today who will be on the panel. 

It is widely believed that Thai Raksa Chart, which has links to former fugitive premier Thaksin Shinawatra, will have a short lifespan following its decision to choose a Royal Family member as its PM candidate. 

Thai Raksa Chart’s offices were quiet yesterday, with no sign of its leader Preechaphol Pongpanit. The party was scheduled to hold an executive meeting as well as a press conference. However, it was later revealed that there were too few members available to form a quorum, so the meeting had to be put off. 

 

The party also cancelled the promised press briefing at the last minute.

Meanwhile, party staff decided to put up a display of King Rama X yesterday. Such displays are common among public companies and state agencies in Thailand as it is seen as a formal way of expressing loyalty to the monarchy. 

Meanwhile, social activist Srisuwan Janya yesterday called on the EC to consider dissolving Thai Raksa Chart to set an example, as it had inappropriately relied on royalty in politics. 

He submitted a petition to the EC and urged the agency to take the case to the Constitutional Court. 

He said things could get complicated if the party gets dissolved after MPs get seats in Parliament. 

 

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who is in charge of the government’s legal affairs, said yesterday that Thai Raksa Chart could face legal consequences if its decision to nominate the Princess had been influenced by outsiders. He was apparently referring to Thaksin. 

However, Wissanu said, since the party could not be charged with lese majeste, he was not sure what charges could be pressed against it. 

In a related development, Thai Raksa Chart member and law expert Ruangkrai Leekitwatana also filed a petition with the EC yesterday challenging junta leader Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s status as Phalang Pracharat’s PM candidate. 

He said the junta chief’s candidacy was illegitimate as Phalang Pracharat had agreed to nominate him even before they had sought his permission, he said, explaining it was against the party’s regulations.

 

SOUTH

Boom boom on the border – Thailand’s unlikely red-light district

The Thaiger

Published

 1 min ago 

on

 February 12, 2019
Boom boom on the border – Thailand’s unlikely red-light district | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: The attractions of Thailand’s southern border town usually become apparent after sunset

On one side of the Thai/Malaysian border is Sungai Golok, on the Malaysian side it’s the town of Rantau Panjang. The two towns are separated by the Golok River as well as decades of furious fighting between Muslim separatists who want to reclaim some of the southern areas in Thailand under the Malaysian flag.

The Thai Buddhists on the other side are happy for it to remain part of the Kingdom of Thailand. Enough of the politics…

The real story in Sungai Golok is the thriving little border town that attracts Malaysian men nightly to enjoy the ‘pleasures of the flesh’, loud music, karaoke, copious booze and ‘the ladies’. All the same ‘lifestyle items’ frowned upon just south of the river in Malaysia.

Although the border town’s most infamous days are in the past it still lures plenty of traffic across the river nightly.

Thai merchants, nowadays cross the major border checkpoint in Sungai Kolok to enter Kelantan, the Malaysian border city, to sell food and household goods as the neighbours now have more purchasing power than before.

Poised at the very south of Narithawat Province, Sungai Golok is ground zero for border boozing and debauchery. With a population of around 38,000 it’s hardly a thriving metropolis but when the sun goes down the men from south of the border flock across the river to enjoy entertainment unavailable to them in the strict Muslim province of Kelantan.

Boom boom on the border - Thailand's unlikely red-light district | News by The Thaiger

The death toll in the deep south is equivalent to the toll in the Gaza Strip

If it wasn’t for it’s strategic location on the main road heading south from Thailand you would never hear of Sungai Golok. But apart from its rising reputation as the southern red light district it’s also a strategic target for bombings and outrage from people south of the border who see the town as the epitome of everything wrong with ‘Thai and Western decadence’.

The death toll in the deep south is equivalent to the toll in the Gaza Strip conflict – around 7,000 since 2004. But the violence in the Deep South is rarely reported in international media.

Violent attacks happen almost daily in the southern provinces of Thailand – Pattani, Yala and Narithawat  -with little sign of any drop in attacks from the insurgents.

Back in Sungai Golok it’s just part of the nightlife where the noise from the discos is occasionally interrupted by a bomb. Does it deter the men heading across the border for their nights of revelry or the Thai women working in the bars? Hell no.

Boom boom on the border - Thailand's unlikely red-light district | News by The Thaiger

The Golok River is very small and easy to cross without using the main bridge road – Malay Mail

The nightclubs and bars are regular targets for the indiscriminate home-made pipe bombs and car bombs, almost daily, but it does little to dampen the enthusiasm for a good night. In fact the reputation of Sungai Golok as the ‘place to go’ for a good time continues to rise – which just puts it higher up the target list for the insurgents who want to make their point.

The troubles in the town do little to dampen the enthusiasm for the men that visit and most of them will head home after their night of fun to the conservative Malaysian state over the river unhurt. But for the girls that work in Sungai Golok it’s a constant threat to their lives. The stakes are high.

The men are paying good money for the services provided in the town – the girls are eager to part the men from their money and are willing to take the risks of plying their trade in such a dangerous location.

With a single bridge across the Golok river you would think that police and army can control the flow of traffic across the river but many of the visitors slip across the small river by boat and cross the border undetected, usually without passports or any means of identification if the worst happens.

If you’re heading south from Thailand and wanting to cross the river border into Malaysia there’s only one official road, through Sungai Golok. So it seems the little towns future, and reputation, will continue to grow along with it the violence that sees no signs of abating.


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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in South Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

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FINISHED

February 12, 2019

 



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