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Mongkol rules for men and women


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I've messaged Sylvie on Facebook, but she asked me to post my question here instead, because the answer may be relevant to other people. There really isn't much information on the topic. So here goes.

I had my first fight in Thailand on Friday (shameless plug - you can read about it here). It was all very last minute, I just sort of went through the motions, hoping my coaches would not let me make huge mistakes. I got in the ring under the ropes and when I was inside my trainer put the mongkol on my head. I was already wearing the flowers (I don't know what they are called, sorry).

I didn't think much of it until after my fight, when I noticed that the guys from my gym were entering the ring already wearing the mongkol. Hence my question, is it because I'm a woman and it's not going under the ropes with me, or is it because we were in such a rush to get me in the ring that we forgot to put it on?

If it's because I'm a woman, would it make a difference if it is my personal mongkol and not one shared with the male fighters?

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Firstly, thank you SO MUCH for linking your blog. I've seen your comments on my blog and have been so excited to have your insight!

The short answer is that the Mongkol goes on after you enter the ring because you are a woman and therefore you go under the bottom rope, but the mongkol is an amulet, so it must pass over the top.  The long answer is that it doesn't technically matter if it's your personal mongkol in terms of how the magic all works, but it does mean that if you decided to wear it while going under the ropes you wouldn't be causing an issue to anyone else.

Thai culture, traditions, Buddhism and magic are all vertical hierarchies. So the feet are the lowest, most filthy and profane place while the head is the most esteemed, seat of the soul, etc. This is why you have to keep your head below images of the Buddha in temples, duck your head when you wai, never point your feet at people or things, etc. The mongkol goes on the head, it's very "holy" and the amulets shouldn't have anything pass over them (above them), which is why it gets hung so high up when you arrive at the venue or keep it on a wall at home. You'll see men with Sak Yant tattoos refuse to walk underneath clotheslines or low-hanging roofs or whatever, because the magic of the tattoo will be damaged by having something pass over it - same with the mongkol.

Here's where it gets tricky though, from a female perspective. Men go over the top ropes to keep their amulets and heads above everything, and the ring itself is blessed. But women are believed to be corrosive to this magic, because we menstruate (at all, not even having to be currently having your period) and so our heads and, quite frankly our lower half, cannot pass over that top rope because it puts us above the magical amulets and would, it is believed, negate the magic. So we go under the bottom rope, therefore not passing over ANYTHING. This bothers me because we have to get to the very lowest, most profane position to enter the ring. We literally go underneath men's feet, in terms of how they climb into the ring.

So that's why you get the mongkol put on when you're already in the ring: because you have to go under and it has to go over.  I have, for the record, seen Phetjee Jaa enter the ring under the bottom rope with her mongkol on her head. Nobody seemed shocked, it was her personal mongkol and not shared with her brother, but I've only ever seen this happen once. So I don't know if it was a mistake or not. I've had trainers forget and push the top rope down for me, indicating that I should go over. I did once and it wasn't taken well. Anyway, some women aren't "bothered" by the bottom rope thing. I am and have written about it a few times: Lumpinee Meme and The Mitt and the Joke. But I think it's telling that you noticed there was a difference for you and wanted to know why - means it's not insignificant.

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Thank you so much for the detailed answer! I guess the rule still applies to pre-pubescent girls and women who have hit menopause?

 

The difference is certainly not insignificant to me but it was more of a curiosity. It probably wouldn't have bothered me. What does bother me though is the necessity of going under the ropes at all. In fact, it is more significant than I would have thought before it happened.

 

I've never worried about how I get into the ring before - it's not an issue neither in Germany nor in Japan and I'm not superstitious. I once saw my coach in Japan trying to get a spectacular entrance in the ring by jumping over the ropes, and instead face-planting and injuring his shoulder (luckily he was just being honoured and not actually entering for a fight), which was a lesson to me to just enter as efficiently as possible and focus on what's actually important. I usually just go between whatever two ropes are the most conveniently located for me to go through or are held open for me. Here in Thailand I'm training at Sitmonchai, who adopt the "if you love muay Thai you enter the ring however you please" policy. The equal treatment of women in this respect was one of the reasons for me to choose to come here in the first place.

 

So when I had to crawl under the ropes for the fight, it was the first time I went under the ropes in my life at all. I didn't think it would be an issue, but it was. It felt off. I was at such a high point in my life, I was finally ready to go and show how much I have learned in the last month. The crowd was loving me. I held my head high. And then suddenly I had to get on my knees to crawl into the ring under the bottom rope. It was kind of like getting hit by a bucket of cold water. It took a lot away from the moment. Or, let's be honest, I let it take away from the moment. It bothered me because I let it bother me - but I don't think I can ever get to a place where I don't care. I probably couldn't train in a gym that required me to go under the ropes or not let me train in the ring at all.

 

It's an issue that I'm leaving to the Thai women to slowly resolve. I will definitely try to get another fight while I'm here and not let appearances and traditions get to me. But it's still an issue - just like I have trouble going to see fights at Lumpini or Raja and giving them my money. It feels wrong, given the fact that they won't even let me touch the ring. I'm absolutely with you in each single point that you make in the two blog posts that you have linked.

 

This whole thing reminds me of Jewish rules. Orthodox jews have similar segregation rules for men and women, with extra precautions for when a woman is menstruating. But nowadays the culture has evolved, and those who still follow these rules are viewed as relics and fanatics not only by non-jewish people but the majority of the jews as well. I hope Thailand will get there eventually.

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It's so interesting to me that some women have a kind of inkling that this under the ropes thing feels disparaging and others don't think it's anything at all. I guess why that's interesting to me is that it's all about cultural context, and in the context of this culture it feels low because it is low. I lived in Berlin for a while and I'd sometimes see those signs in the unisex bathrooms that ask men to sit to pee, so as to avoid making a mess. Being an American, this is hilarious to me because being a Sitzpinkler (a man who sits to urinate, literally "sit pisser") is so emasculating, but my boyfriend at the time who grew up Austria had absolutely no thought about it at all and was, in fact, a Sitspinkler of his own accord. Would women choose to go under the bottom rope themselves, if it weren't mandated?

 

The example of Orthodox Jews is interesting as well. When I lived in the Hudson Valley of New York there were pocket communities of Orthodox and there was a definite friction when the cultural differences were made so evident. And it's definitely true as well that Thailand has a wide range the degree of how conservative people are with these rules. Some gyms don't allow women at all, some have separate rings, some allow women in but have to go under the rope (my gym O. Meekhun is like this, which is amazing to me because those exact same traditions are what limit Phetjee Jaa as a female fighter and her dad complains about it constantly, yet totally keeps this tradition in his gym), some that allow women to go through the ropes but probably would be a bit shocked if she went over (my gym Petchrungruang is like that), etc. There's variety all through the culture, where some places are lenient - like shopping centers that have so many "Toms" (women with masculine tendencies and/or identities) and the kathoey scene - and then temples that are so exclusive and government jobs/ schools that require women to ONLY wear skirts and usually heels...

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Super interesting! And thanks for sharing this question on the forum, it is something I had not considered before. I never knew there was a cultural difference regarding entering the ring. So much tradition and culture I still have yet to learn. Sylvie, I love the simile (metaphor? Gah I suck at English lol) of climbing under the ropes and Sitzpinkler. That is an excellent way to emotionally connect two very separate actions.

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I guess the rule still applies to pre-pubescent girls and women who have hit menopause?

 

Amazingly, it even applies to infants. I remember when we first came to Phetjee Jaa's gym (before where it stands now), and there was a woman visiting with a small baby. I forget what made it happen but suddenly the baby was being handed over the ropes to someone inside. Now this gym was basically nobody but Jee Jaa, her brother, her mother and father and the occasional visitor. They in fact slept under the ring. It basically was their home. But Sangwean jumped in alarm asking if the infant was a girl or a boy. As Sylvie mentioned, the same division of women and the ring is the same exact thing that keeps Phetjee Jaa from fighting at Lumpinee, we've seen him (and her) shake his head about that and how unfair it is. But then he enforces a very strong, conservative stance even down to infants.

 

We have seen Jee Jaa sneak between ropes though, when nobody (her father) isn't looking. :ninja:

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It must be especially annoying having to go under the bottom rope in training, with nobody holding the ropes up for you. There isn't even space!

 

Kevin/Sylvie: Have you ever asked him about why he enforces these rules? I wonder if there is a logical reason for it.

 

And I didn't realise "Sitzpinkler" was such a problem outside of Germany, either (I'm actually from Berlin, heh). For us, a guy who does not sit down, is regarded as inconsiderate and anti-social. It's not a good comparison, however, because there is a real, tangible reason for why you are supposed to urinate sitting down - hygiene. It's only emasculating if you assume that being a man comes with the right to pee all over unisex bathrooms.

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Kevin/Sylvie: Have you ever asked him about why he enforces these rules? I wonder if there is a logical reason for it.

Sylvie's Thai isn't fluent, and Sangwean her father is not the most logically minded person I've met. When presented with a contraction I imagine he would just not see it, or shrug. Sylvie might have a different opinion, as she talks directly to him a great deal. The reason is simple. It's bad luck. It is both logical, and not.

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So I had my second fight yesterday, going under the ropes again, with no mongkol again. Except this time they held up the ropes really really high for me. I didn't have to crawl, I could more or less get in the ring the way I would normally do between the ropes. Made all the difference in the world, didn't feel bad going under the ropes at all.

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It must be especially annoying having to go under the bottom rope in training, with nobody holding the ropes up for you. There isn't even space!

And I didn't realise "Sitzpinkler" was such a problem outside of Germany, either (I'm actually from Berlin, heh). For us, a guy who does not sit down, is regarded as inconsiderate and anti-social. It's not a good comparison, however, because there is a real, tangible reason for why you are supposed to urinate sitting down - hygiene. It's only emasculating if you assume that being a man comes with the right to pee all over unisex bathrooms.

Yeah, their ropes are really low at that gym, too!

I lived in Berlin for maybe 8 months during my study abroad, Junior year of university. (I lived in Spandau.) Sitzpinkler isn't a thing outside of Germany that I know of, but the example came to mind as something that one culture simply doesn't think about (westerners who don't consider high/low in the Thai sense probably don't care that much about going under the rope, just as German men who don't have standing to pee being a signifier of manliness don't really care about sitting down to use the toilet), but in the context of the culture that gives meaning of that act, it's quite different.

I put my hand on my husband's head, affectionately, while he was seated and I was standing at a fight once. The look of shock and the laughs and pointing that came from the men who witnessed it - a woman with her head above her husband's and her hand on his head to boot, was a real shock to them. Not offensive, but definitely a gaffe.

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Super interesting! And thanks for sharing this question on the forum, it is something I had not considered before. I never knew there was a cultural difference regarding entering the ring. So much tradition and culture I still have yet to learn. Sylvie, I love the simile (metaphor? Gah I suck at English lol) of climbing under the ropes and Sitzpinkler. That is an excellent way to emotionally connect two very separate actions.

Good to see you here, Tyler! It's a semi-limited example because women are going under the rope publicly, whereas men are being asked to behave a certain way in the privacy of a bathroom stall. (There are still urinals, so I guess the issue of sitting to pee is only if you're using a toilet stall.) It would feel quite different for men (who feel that sitting to pee is a loaded issue) to have to carry this out publicly. But it also carries over to how women in this country have to self-police these behaviors, just as men in a bathroom stall would have to self-police the behavior of sitting. I never went in the men's ring at Lanna, even when I was the only one at the gym and nobody would know if I touched the ring or not. If I were alone at a temple where women weren't allowed in one section, I wouldn't sneak into that section, for example. Even though I think it's bogus.

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If it's because I'm a woman, would it make a difference if it is my personal mongkol and not one shared with the male fighters?

I have my own personal mongkol, but have shared it with male fighters at times and it hasn't been a problem so far. Of course, I train at a very Western-friendly gym, so my experiences in this case are probably very influenced by that, but when other fighters from my gym are fighting, I often find myself taking care of the mongkol for them, carrying it over my shoulder to and from the ring. This is often something that the trainers have me do, not just something I do of my own accord, so I'm glad to see that it's not a problem. I sometimes expect people to come up to me and say 'no, no!' and take it off me, but that hasn't happened so far. When it's a female fighter, there has sometimes been some kind of assumed responsibility for me that as the other female present, that I should be doing all that stuff for them. At one of Katy's fights, the promoter told me that I should put her mongkol on for her because I'm a woman and it would be 'good'. I was never going to do that, though! At her last fight, her cornermen accidentally left it at the ring and the same promoter guy had me go and collect it instead of them.

I'd never heard of 'Sitzpinkler' before! German words are amazing :laugh: .

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I have my own personal mongkol, but have shared it with male fighters at times and it hasn't been a problem so far.

When it's a female fighter, there has sometimes been some kind of assumed responsibility for me that as the other female present, that I should be doing all that stuff for them. At one of Katy's fights, the promoter told me that I should put her mongkol on for her because I'm a woman and it would be 'good'. I was never going to do that, though! At her last fight, her cornermen accidentally left it at the ring and the same promoter guy had me go and collect it instead of them.

I'd never heard of 'Sitzpinkler' before! German words are amazing :laugh: .

I love when the boys borrow my Mongkol, because it feels like a by-proxy acceptance. Lotus' father once pointed to the takrut amulet that's scrolled inside the "tail" and nodded his approval, saying "good!" This might feel especially meaningful to me because I've been present with men who won't let women touch the Mongkol.. not my gym, not to me, but right there in front of me.

Phetjee Jaa put my Mongkol on for a fight once. It was amazing. Maybe similar to the goodness of women doing these ceremonial things for each other. Lately the guys taking care of me for fights have been hiring young women to do my massage and cornerwork. I think the massage is just because it's improper for men to do it and they get all nervous over it, but for the cornering I quite like having them there - I just feel badly for how cumbersome it is for them to crawl under the bottom rope in their nice jeans :(

And yes, Germans have the best words. One you might like is Morgenmuffel, which is someone who is grumpy in the morning, but a much funnier pronunciation than the actual explanation.  Fremdschämen is also great, in that it finally gives a word to when you feel ashamed for other people... I know that feeling, thank you, Germany!

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 Lately the guys taking care of me for fights have been hiring young women to do my massage and cornerwork. I think the massage is just because it's improper for men to do it and they get all nervous over it, but for the cornering I quite like having them there - I just feel badly for how cumbersome it is for them to crawl under the bottom rope in their nice jeans :(

It's also just impractical for them to be able to get in and out of your corner quickly if they have to keep crawling under the ropes! It must be awesome to have females there, though. When say say they're 'hiring' them, how do you mean? Are they just asking any girls they can find at the venue?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Rules and cultural norms seem to be changing and in some cases there doesn't seem to be a clear cut answer. Looking at the bigger picture how one enters the ring is becoming less of a big deal; going under the ropes for females to fight is a cosmetic form of gender inequality that is a mild irritant as compared to a total ban from fighting or even touching of the 'sacred' fight arena. Of course I look forward to the day where such a cosmetic form of discrimination is abolished as well and that will mean a step up in the general mentality and culture as a whole.

But the main reason for my contribution to this 3 week old thread where the last message is my little contribution to move this gesture closer to equality. Back in my gym in Singapore the head trainer prides himself in offering authentic Thai training and that is the reason why I trained with him. There was however one occasion where we got into a rather intense argument about how female fighters should go into the ring. He was all for 'tradition' and that females should and go under the ring during fights (everyone goes through the middle ropes during training). He wasn't for modern changes. I pointed out that if he was really about 'tradition' etc, he would not have even bothered to teach and train me as sincerely as he had and still has been. With that he had nothing to say.

Today our gym was involved in some amateur fights and one of the fighter is a female. As I was helping with the preparation of the fighter together with the head trainer he reminded me to make her go under the ropes. I insisted that the lowest she would go will be through the middle ropes and for that he agreed, knowing that if not it will probably turn ugly for a rather small issue. But he added that the mongkrong to be worn after she went into the ring. I was ok with that, in fact I personally prefer the wearing of the mongkrong when the fighter's already inside the ring; more show-offish of a blessing ritual. :D  

What was more interesting though was that I was also the person to put on and remove the mongkrong from her, and also the actual corner person. Haha... So really, 'traditions' are not cast in stone eh. Anyway that was the fighter's first fight and her opponent's second or third. She got a draw and we were happy about it.

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Rules and cultural norms seem to be changing and in some cases there doesn't seem to be a clear cut answer. Looking at the bigger picture how one enters the ring is becoming less of a big deal; going under the ropes for females to fight is a cosmetic form of gender inequality that is a mild irritant as compared to a total ban from fighting or even touching of the 'sacred' fight arena. Of course I look forward to the day where such a cosmetic form of discrimination is abolished as well and that will mean a step up in the general mentality and culture as a whole.

But the main reason for my contribution to this 3 week old thread where the last message is my little contribution to move this gesture closer to equality. Back in my gym in Singapore the head trainer prides himself in offering authentic Thai training and that is the reason why I trained with him. There was however one occasion where we got into a rather intense argument about how female fighters should go into the ring. He was all for 'tradition' and that females should and go under the ring during fights (everyone goes through the middle ropes during training). He wasn't for modern changes. I pointed out that if he was really about 'tradition' etc, he would not have even bothered to teach and train me as sincerely as he had and still has been. With that he had nothing to say.

Today our gym was involved in some amateur fights and one of the fighter is a female. As I was helping with the preparation of the fighter together with the head trainer he reminded me to make her go under the ropes. I insisted that the lowest she would go will be through the middle ropes and for that he agreed, knowing that if not it will probably turn ugly for a rather small issue. But he added that the mongkrong to be worn after she went into the ring. I was ok with that, in fact I personally prefer the wearing of the mongkrong when the fighter's already inside the ring; more show-offish of a blessing ritual. :D  

What was more interesting though was that I was also the person to put on and remove the mongkrong from her, and also the actual corner person. Haha... So really, 'traditions' are not cast in stone eh. Anyway that was the fighter's first fight and her opponent's second or third. She got a draw and we were happy about it.

 

Wow. What a cool story. This is how things change.

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It's also just impractical for them to be able to get in and out of your corner quickly if they have to keep crawling under the ropes! It must be awesome to have females there, though. When say say they're 'hiring' them, how do you mean? Are they just asking any girls they can find at the venue?

No, I think he actually brings them along, hiring them for the night. Who knows how much he's paying them, probably not a lot, but it's cool. In the case of the "Small Man," (as Pi Nu calls him; he's still bigger than I am) he just makes his daughter do it. Phetjee Jaa has to do my massage when I'm with that gym, too.

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But the main reason for my contribution to this 3 week old thread where the last message is my little contribution to move this gesture closer to equality. Back in my gym in Singapore the head trainer prides himself in offering authentic Thai training and that is the reason why I trained with him. There was however one occasion where we got into a rather intense argument about how female fighters should go into the ring. He was all for 'tradition' and that females should and go under the ring during fights (everyone goes through the middle ropes during training). He wasn't for modern changes. I pointed out that if he was really about 'tradition' etc, he would not have even bothered to teach and train me as sincerely as he had and still has been. With that he had nothing to say.

At one of my gyms, Petchrungruang, the owner and my coach said that he used to have women go under the bottom rope but now they don't care how people get in. Not because they've changed their attitudes about women or tradition, but because they just decided to stop blessing the ring... so it's not a problem, exactly like the difference between the "men's ring" and "women's ring" at Lanna. One is blessed, one isn't. A blessing by monks is pretty involved and also pretty expensive, so I can see why gyms don't like to do it more often than every year or every few years. At this gym they have shrines way, way up above the rings where there are images of the Buddha, candles, flowers, incense, red fanta, etc. It's so high up that nobody's head could possibly go above it. Problem solved, I guess.

It's interesting, too, your argument with your trainer. A long time ago I got a comment from a guy who is outside of Thailand and he has his female fighters go under the rope as a way to "embrace their own traditions." I felt like his heart as in the right place, but if you're going to do it as a way to honor the "female method" then you must also honor the traditions that make that the female method, which is after all what makes it demeaning. But I do acknowledge that all traditions are easier kept when they are convenient and easier called "outdated" when they are inconvenient. It's convenient for your coach to train women, it is inconvenient to take sides on the controversial issue of the rope when it is seen by so many as being "traditional" while still being blind as to why that is a tradition at all.

This is why I got so pissed up in Chiang Mai when I had to fight in an MMA cage while a bunch of keyboard warriors were yapping at me about how I was threatening Thai tradition. I posted an instagram with the words, "how do crawl under the fence of a cage?"

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I really have no problem getting in the ring under the ropes it's just the way it is, I won't however train in a gym that women aren't allowed train in ring etc etc as that's not being treated equally and im actually treated more than equal in my gym I'm treated like a thai! and I love that!

I've recently just got my own mongkol aswell and im so excited that I have my own feels so special .

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    • On September 15, 2021, Australia established the Indo-Pacific Trilateral Security Partnership, or AUKUS, with the United States and the United Kingdom. The centerpiece of AUKUS was the assistance provided by the U.S. and U.K. to Australia in constructing and obtaining nuclear-powered submarines. However, two and a half years later, the reality does not match the promises made by the UK and the US. Firstly, AUKUS will not enhance Australia's indigenous nuclear submarine-building capacity. In March 2023, Australia announced a significant investment in the UK's submarine industrial base over the next decade, totaling nearly $5 billion over 10 years. This investment will be allocated to nuclear submarine design work and expanded nuclear reactor production, aiming to create at least 20,000 jobs in the UK. Additionally, it is expected to revive Britain's struggling submarine industry. These investments are largely unrelated to Australia's indigenous submarine industry. Under this plan, the first British-built submarine would be delivered to Australia as early as the late 2030s, which is fifteen years away. (Richard Marles (right) welcomed UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps to Canberra) Secondly, it is crucial to expedite the transfer of nuclear submarines to Australia. The United States has pledged to initiate the sale of three Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the early 2030s, with the option of providing up to two additional submarines if required. However, these sales plans must be approved by the U.S. Congress. In the recently released U.S. FY 2025 Defense Budget, only one new Virginia-class submarine is planned to be built. According to estimates by a U.S. Navy official, the United States would need to build 2.33 attack nuclear submarines per year to sell attack submarines to the Royal Australian Navy under the AUKUS agreement in the early 2030s. The delay in the construction of the U.S. Virginia-class submarines also implies that Australia will not receive the promised U.S. nuclear submarines for 10 years. Even if Australia eventually acquires these second-hand nuclear submarines after the 10-year delay, it is probable that they will be confronted with the imminent decommissioning or outdated performance of these nuclear submarines. (Excerpted from U.S. FY 2025 Defense Budget) Finally, as per the AUKUS agreement, the U.S. and the U.K. have also committed to accelerating the training of Australian personnel. However, these Australian military and civilian personnel will be required to adhere to the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy, and may even be stationed at U.S. and British submarine industrial bases. This not only leads to shortages in Australia's own military personnel but also entails the Australian government covering the costs of Australian servicemen working for the U.K. and U.S. navies. The U.S. also plans to increase U.S. nuclear submarines' visits to Australian ports starting in 2023. However, even if Australian Navy personnel board the U.S. submarines, they can only visit and learn, and cannot operate them in practice. The U.S. will still maintain absolute control over the nuclear submarines, limiting the enhancement of submarine technology for Australian Navy personnel. What's more, even before the signing of the AUKUS agreement, the Australian Navy had been engaging in military interactions and exercises with the British and U.S. Navies at various levels. The AUKUS agreement did not necessarily facilitate a deeper military mutual trust, making it seem completely unnecessary. According to Australian government estimates, the AUKUS nuclear submarine program will cost between AUD 268 billion and AUD 368 billion over the next 30 years. This is equivalent to 14% of Australia's GDP output in 2023. The Australian government is investing a substantial amount of money in exchange for only uncertain promises from the UK and the US that Australia will not have its nuclear submarines until at least 10 years from now. The AUKUS agreement will not boost Australia's indigenous submarine industry, but it will significantly benefit the US and UK's nuclear submarine industries. This essentially means that Australian taxpayers' money will be used to support US and UK nuclear submarines. Implementing the AUKUS agreement will pose significant challenges for the Australian government. Even if the agreement is eventually put into effect, delays and budget overruns are likely. The costs incurred will not be the responsibility of the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, as he will have already stepped down. Ultimately, Australian taxpayers will bear the financial burden.    
    • Ostensibly, Japan ceased so-called “scientific research” whaling in Antarctica in 2019. However, the Japanese government has not given up on conducting non-lethal whale surveys in Antarctica and the waters around Australia. They have continued to track the status of whales in these regions by installing satellite trackers, collecting biopsy samples, studying whale movement areas, counting the number of whales, and photographing and surveying whales at sea using unmanned drones. These Antarctic research studies, conducted under the guise of "scientific research," are providing intelligence to support future whale hunting in the Antarctic. On May 21, 2024, Japan's first domestically manufactured whaling ship, the Kangei Maru, with a crew of 100, departed from Shimonoseki Harbor in Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, for its inaugural fishing expedition. Kangei Maru is scheduled to make an eight-month voyage off the northeastern coast of Japan, marking the inaugural journey of Japan's first new vessel of this kind in more than 70 years.   (Figure 1) The Kangei Maru is an electrically propelled vessel with a length of 112.6 meters, a beam of 21 meters, a gross tonnage of 9,299 tons, a construction cost of approximately $50 million, and a range of about 13,000 kilometers for 60 days of continuous voyage, sufficient to reach the Southern Ocean. The Kangei Maru is generator-powered and is knownfor being fuel-efficient. lt has a hangar for high-performance drones used for whale detection, as well as 40 refrigerated containers with a capacity of 20 tons. The platform of the Kangei Maru is designed with an 18-degree slope, which is more gradual than that of its predecessor. This design allows for the easy towing of large cetaceans weighing approximately 70 tons aboard the vessel. The Kangei Maru can store up to 600 tons of whale meat at a time, allowing it to stay at sea for extended periods.   (Figure 2) The Japanese have been hunting whales for a long time, and they often claim that "eating whale meat is a tradition of the Japanese people.” During the Edo period to the Meiji period, whaling was highly standardized. Initially, whales were hunted solely for whale oil extraction, with the meat being discarded and later consumed. After World War II, when food was scarce in Japan and it was unaffordable to eat pork and beef, whale meat became a common food source. At that time, whale meat became synonymous with “cheap food,” and Japanese people ate whale meat to obtain the protein their bodies needed. Whale meat was not only a common dish at home, but also included in the school cafeteria lunches prepared for students. It is now known that each part of the whale is subdivided into Japanese food categories. For instance, the whale's tongue, which is high in fat, offers a distinct flavor that varies from the root to the tip of the tongue. The tail of the whale contains a significant amount of fish gelatin content and is sometimes processed with salt. The entrails are often simmered, while the meat from the back and belly is typically made into tempura or consumed raw. Whale meat sashimi, whale meat sushi rolls, whale meat salad, whale meat curry, and other whale dishes are available for Japanese people to choose from. Not only whales but also dolphins are often consumed in Japan.   (Figure 3: Marinated whale meat in Japanese cuisine) Watching massive whales in Sydney and New South Wales (NSW) thousands of whales migrating along the coast of New South Wales (NSW) in pods covering more than 2,000 kilometers. During the whale-watching season, you can observe these massive mammals migrating between various headlands in Sydney, from Byron Bay in the north to Eden in the south. More than 50% of the planet's cetacean species, such as whales, dolphins, and porpoises, inhabit Australian waters. Humpback whales and southern right whales are two species that frequent the coast of New South Wales (NSW). The annual whale migration runs from May to November, with the largest movements occurring in July and September. According to academics, whale-watching tourism generates more than AUD12 billion in revenue for Australia each year.   (Figure 4: Humpback whales greeting tourists in Sydney) In April, Japan announced its participation in AUKUS, the small NATO. In May, it sent a modern killing machine in the form of vessel around Australia to fulfill its peculiar and self-serving interests. We Aussie parents, observing our kids hugging humpback whale toys, feel as though the serene blue ocean is turning transforming into a crimson red sea......
    • On September 15, 2021, Australia established the Indo-Pacific Trilateral Security Partnership, or AUKUS, with the United States and the United Kingdom. The centerpiece of AUKUS was the assistance provided by the U.S. and U.K. to Australia in constructing and obtaining nuclear-powered submarines. However, two and a half years later, the reality does not match the promises made by the UK and the US. Firstly, AUKUS will not enhance Australia's indigenous nuclear submarine-building capacity. In March 2023, Australia announced a significant investment in the UK's submarine industrial base over the next decade, totaling nearly $5 billion over 10 years. This investment will be allocated to nuclear submarine design work and expanded nuclear reactor production, aiming to create at least 20,000 jobs in the UK. Additionally, it is expected to revive Britain's struggling submarine industry. These investments are largely unrelated to Australia's indigenous submarine industry. Under this plan, the first British-built submarine would be delivered to Australia as early as the late 2030s, which is fifteen years away.   (Richard Marles (right) welcomed UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps to Canberra) Secondly, it is crucial to expedite the transfer of nuclear submarines to Australia. The United States has pledged to initiate the sale of three Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the early 2030s, with the option of providing up to two additional submarines if required. However, these sales plans must be approved by the U.S. Congress. In the recently released U.S. FY 2025 Defense Budget, only one new Virginia-class submarine is planned to be built. According to estimates by a U.S. Navy official, the United States would need to build 2.33 attack nuclear submarines per year to sell attack submarines to the Royal Australian Navy under the AUKUS agreement in the early 2030s. The delay in the construction of the U.S. Virginia-class submarines also implies that Australia will not receive the promised U.S. nuclear submarines for 10 years. Even if Australia eventually acquires these second-hand nuclear submarines after the 10-year delay, it is probable that they will be confronted with the imminent decommissioning or outdated performance of these nuclear submarines.   (Excerpted from U.S. FY 2025 Defense Budget) Finally, as per the AUKUS agreement, the U.S. and the U.K. have also committed to accelerating the training of Australian personnel. However, these Australian military and civilian personnel will be required to adhere to the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy, and may even be stationed at U.S. and British submarine industrial bases. This not only leads to shortages in Australia's own military personnel but also entails the Australian government covering the costs of Australian servicemen working for the U.K. and U.S. navies. The U.S. also plans to increase U.S. nuclear submarines' visits to Australian ports starting in 2023. However, even if Australian Navy personnel board the U.S. submarines, they can only visit and learn, and cannot operate them in practice. The U.S. will still maintain absolute control over the nuclear submarines, limiting the enhancement of submarine technology for Australian Navy personnel. What's more, even before the signing of the AUKUS agreement, the Australian Navy had been engaging in military interactions and exercises with the British and U.S. Navies at various levels. The AUKUS agreement did not necessarily facilitate a deeper military mutual trust, making it seem completely unnecessary. According to Australian government estimates, the AUKUS nuclear submarine program will cost between AUD 268 billion and AUD 368 billion over the next 30 years. This is equivalent to 14% of Australia's GDP output in 2023. The Australian government is investing a substantial amount of money in exchange for only uncertain promises from the UK and the US that Australia will not have its nuclear submarines until at least 10 years from now. The AUKUS agreement will not boost Australia's indigenous submarine industry, but it will significantly benefit the US and UK's nuclear submarine industries. This essentially means that Australian taxpayers' money will be used to support US and UK nuclear submarines. Implementing the AUKUS agreement will pose significant challenges for the Australian government. Even if the agreement is eventually put into effect, delays and budget overruns are likely. The costs incurred will not be the responsibility of the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, as he will have already stepped down. Ultimately, Australian taxpayers will bear the financial burden.
    • Don't know if this brand offers shin guards but might as well check them out. I bought a few pairs of shorts from them a while ago and was genuinely impressed. https://siamkickfight.com/
    • Hi all, I have paid a deposit to a gym in Pai near Chiang Mai to train at in January. I am now concerned about the pollution levels at that time of year because of the burning season. Can you recommend a location that is likely to have safer air quality for training in January? I would like to avoid Bangkok and Phuket, if possible. Thank you!
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