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Fear not the Bangkok scams

When my cousin inquired over Christmas whether she'd be held hostage by police-sanctioned bandits for shopping in the Bangkok airport's duty-free plaza, I knew another salacious Bangkok scam warning had become legend. Turns out she's been reading Travel + Leisure, which just compiled the "World's Worst Travel Scams." Surprise! Bangkok makes the list twice. In addition to potentially scaring my cousin from ever visiting, these panicky travel warning lists build an impression that Bangkok is a nest of pick-pockets, hustlers and conmen.

Thailand: Stay off my rice paddy

BANGKOK, Thailand — To many tiny, overdeveloped or arid nations, Southeast Asia’s jade-green fields have never looked more desirable.

Travel hot spots: From paradise to hell?

BORACAY, Philippines – White Beach, a 2.8 mile stretch of paradise an hour south of Manila by plane, has long been one of Asia’s worst kept secrets. Conde Nast Traveler has called it one the best beaches in the world and The New York Times listed the island on which it lies one of the 44 places to see in 2009. In an unfortunate bit of foreshadowing, the paper anointed Boracay “the new Phuket.”

8 wacky holiday traditions

CHICAGO — It’s hard to think of anything wackier than honoring the birth of Jesus — a man who preached peace, love and charity — by maxing out your credit cards, gorging on turkey, fighting with in-laws and drinking yourself into a stupor. But that’s largely what we Americans do.

Thailand, where Santa is the father of Jesus

BANGKOK, Thailand — These days, even Santa Claus outsources to Asia. Here at Bangkok Christmas Decoration Exporters Ltd. — global supplier of synthetic trees, plastic reindeer and assorted Christmas kitsch — Thais in flip-flops have assumed the work of workshop elves. If your tree-in-a-box reads “Made in Thailand,” it was likely assembled here. The company, currently swamped with orders, mostly exports to the Western world.

Putsch Shy in Thailand

BANGKOK – In the land of smiles, even military takeovers can turn jubilant.

Dog Meat Morality

About this time last year, I was sitting in a musty hotel room in Northeast Thailand, a coil of dried dog meat resting on my lap.

Burma: Is that conflict timber on your patio?

BANGKOK, Thailand — Though America’s relations with Burma shows signs of thawing, the regime-run country still suffers some of the U.S. government’s heaviest sanctions. To punish the Burmese government for human rights abuses, the U.S. government won’t let Americans invest in Burma or import its goods. These prohibitions are meant to prevent Americans from buying up Burma’s most desirable resources — such as rare timber and jade — and inadvertently funding the oppressive regime.

On Location: Ta Rae — The Dog Meat Mafia

The Dog Meat Mafia: Conscience

[Editor's note: The Dog Meat Mafia is a four-part special report on Southeast Asia's booming dog meat trade — a crime-ridden, multi-million dollar industry that stretches from upcountry Thailand, through Laos and into Vietnam.
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