“We all (in Bangkok) celebrate the birth of a Jewish man, who’s a messenger to the Muslims, God to the Christians and another reason to get drunk for the Buddhists”
Voranai Vanijaka, The Bangkok Post.
I hope you all are enjoying your holidays
TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
1. A brief trip to Paradise by the Sea.
To celebrate my free day, observe the ending of the world and visit Bill’s new venture the “Winchester Gun Club,” a “gentleman’s club in Jomtien Beach, I decided to travel to Paradise by the Sea and spend a few days there. After a not too unpleasant two-hour bus ride, we arrived and tried to find a room at the little guest house that we usually stay in.
Alas, it was the time of the year for the mass migration of Russians from the frozen Steppes south on to the ragged edges of the Indian Ocean. The only similar migration of which I am familiar was the sweeping of the “alters” from the frigid streets of New York and the depositing of them like dice rolled in a street corner craps game upon the burning sands surrounding Biscayne Bay, there to remain until their internment in some recently reclaimed bit of the Everglades.
Even though the area in which the little guest house was located was downscale even by Russian standards (but not so for American expats on Social Security) there were no accommodations available in any of the 50 or so small hotels in the two block area. All that was left were a few tiny windowless rooms usually reserved for short time rentals. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term “short time,” try to think of what activity requires the rental of a hotel room for three hours or less.)
The streets, hotels restaurants, bars and massage parlors in this little neighborhood teemed with Russians; Slavs with their inverted banana ski-jump noses and the denizens of the Caucuses and the Steppes with their grand potato schnozes.
Now some of you have commented on my obsession with probosci of all sort. That infatuation, however, is not engendered by a fondness for my Mediterranean ancestors spread along all sides of that remarkable inland sea who sport some of the most gargantuan and bizarre examples. You probably do not know this, but one of the first physical changes that separated us from our cousins the chimpanzees and bonobos was movement of our nostrils from within the plane of our facial plate outward, to dangle in space at the end of a slightly flexible hunk of cartilage. So when you hear the phrase, “follow your nose,” it does not mean to follow the smell since that sense had diminished greatly from the capabilities exhibited by our simian relatives when we obtained our proboscis, but to follow the ascent of the various permutations of civilization these inquisitive appendages, for better of worse, have gotten us into.
We chose a room in the place I usually stay at. The street level floor is an open shop front with a counter. The proprietor sits behind the counter. She is almost always accompanied by her child who appears stricken with severe birth defects, rendering her immobile and deformed. When not dealing with customers, the woman spends her time rubbing down the child’s limbs, feeding her or speaking or humming something softly into her ear. The woman has a look of intensely deep sorrow. It is beyond anything I have ever seen in Thailand. Everyone else in the country seems to hide their feelings behind either the ever-present smile or a blank emotionless face that leaves one often wondering if anyone is at home. I do not know why I always chose to stay at this particular guest house, but I do.
As I said our room is windowless that means if there is a fire we die. Since the world was going to end in two days anyway, I was willing to take the risk.
The next morning we got up early and went out for our walk along the beach. When we got on to the sand we were greeted by the sight of hundreds’ of exposed boobs, both male and female glistening brightly like bleached bones in the morning sun, destined to glow a bright cherry red when the sun reached it zenith and turn a dark mottled brown like burnt toast when the sun sets that evening over the gulf of Thailand. On a pure tonnage basis, including my own not unsubstantial addition, I reckon that the males have the females on that beach beaten by the proverbial country mile.
As long as I am discussing humanities difference from other simians, I should point out that at about the same time the protuberance made its appearance in the middle of our ancestors faces, perky little sprouts bloomed upon the chests of their pubescent females that contrasted greatly with the determinedly consistent flat chested aspect of our ape cousins. Another advance in the humanity’s march to dominate its environment. Another time, if asked, I will explain the role in the development of civilization of the disappearance of hair from most of our ancestors bodies and the Sophie’s Choice that it presented to the human body louse. (Speaking of Lice, did you know that Napoleon’s army was not destroyed by the Russians but by typhoid bearing lice. It was a lousy way to go)
I took a long walk along the water’s edge. The water was as warm as freshly spilled blood. Now and then I would leave the sand and run across the road to look at the condo sale and rental ads in the windows of several of the real-estate agent’s shops that lined Beach Road. I still hoped to return to live there some day.
After the walk, we returned to the room to rest and escape the midday heat. While dozing I dreamily watched a television news program showing a security camera tape of a child, about two years old, playing near the rear wheel of an automobile. Suddenly the car backed up running over the child. It then moved forward running her over again. Shocked, I screamed, ran into the bathroom and started retching. I could hear the television reporters describing the scene as they played the tape over and over again. When I finished retching, I returned to the room and quickly shut off the TV, threw on some clothes, left the room and ran down the steps to get some air. LM ran after me, “Wait,” she said, “Good Luck. Baby lived.” I ignored her. Outside, I walked rapidly back and forth in front of the hotel wondering what kind of culture would show such a thing on television. At least there were no hoards of reporters seeking out the child’s pre-school classmates in order to get exclusive interviews on what they thought about the situation.
I no longer felt like visiting Bill’s new place and after a brief evening walk along the beach, I went to bed and slept badly. Thankfully, my dreams were not about run over little children or even those shot with assault rifles. Instead the blackness of my dreams were filled with giant translucent jellyfish like those that wash up on the beach here in great numbers. They resembled giant oozing glowing boobs that loomed up out of the darkness. They chased me along the beach. I tried to scream when they caught up to me but I couldn’t because they began to smother me, and then of course, I woke up. Interestingly, I did not dream about noses. I probably do not fear them as much.
In the morning, another walk on the beach followed by a van ride back to Bangkok. For the first time in over a decade, I did not feel sad at leaving Paradise by the Beach. I guess that will pass, eventually.
2. Twas the night before Christmas.
It actually began the morning before Christmas. The depression that had been building for a week now crashed in on me and I could hardly move from bed. It simply may be the traditional despondency I (and probably many others) feel during holiday season. I do not know. By midday it had blossomed into full-blown despair. It was not so much that I no longer wanted to wake up in the morning, every morning for as long as could to see how things turn out, but I no longer cared if I ever got out of bed again. Desperation, hopelessness and guilt had gotten to me.
LM wanted to go to the movies. So that afternoon I dragged myself from the apartment and we went to see “Life of Pi” at the theater in the Terminal Twenty-One shopping mall. The movie managed to blow away much of the melancholy I was experiencing. It was not so much because the movie was simply another a feel good film with their usual 5 minute shot of euphoria. Rather it was because, to me, the film seemed to be saying that in life perseverance was all that mattered but even so, all you ended up with are stories. Stories, perhaps meaningful to you and perhaps not, but to others whatever it is that they see in them that makes them feel good is OK. For some reason that cheered me up.
Just before going into the theater, I received a call from Nikki. He said that the man who SWAC decided to spend the holidays with in Vancouver called him distressed by her beating Hayden. Later after I told LM what Nikki had called about, she said, “Why would she do that. Nikki sends her enough money?” I will never understand this culture. Their cupidity is moderated only by their passivity.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
1. Street Sweeping in Bangkok.
The Bangkok Post reports the beginning of a crackdown on foreign prostitutes with the arrest of a number of Kazakstani (or Kyrgyzstani; I am unclear about which) prostitutes working the streets of Bangkok. The police spokesman said that the reason for the crackdown was that prostitution is illegal in Thailand and it posed a threat to the moral fiber of the nation. During the 20 or so years I have been coming to Thailand I have observed a number of crackdowns on “foreign” prostitutes, but never any on domestic Thai ladies and ladyboys of the morning, evening and night. I assume that is because there are no Thai prostitutes. However payment for performances of traditional Thai erotic art still appears to be permitted.
2. The law is the law.
The political party in power, unable to gain amnesty for the deposed, fugitive and exiled Prime Minister Thaksin the Terrible because of the committed opposition by the minority party (which, as far as I can tell has no other issue it really cares about.*) has decided to charge two of the leaders of the opposition party with murder and other crimes. The opposition party understandably has cried foul. Spokesmen for the party in power have said the action has nothing to do with their deposed leader. Anyway he really does not want to come back if there is anyone left who does not want him to.
(*The leader of the of the opposition party, Abhsit the Unready, in commenting on the ruling party’s plans to rewrite the Nation’s constitution said that he did not care what they wrote into the Constitution as link as they did not change that portion that prevents TTT from returning.)
3. Say what?
The Thai military that has governed the country through a succession of coups for most of the last 80 years, has announced they have no interest anymore in the government or the country but only in protecting the honor of the monarchy that they deposed 80 years ago.
From Harper’s Index:
Percentage of Canadians who believe in global warming : 98
Of Americans who do : 70
Of Republicans : 48
Percentage of Republicans who believe in demonic possession : 68
Percentage of the population of Valencia, Spain, that is currently unemployed : 28
Price of a weeklong prostitution training course offered there since May : $127
Cost of a pair of “all-American” blue jeans designed by Glenn Beck : $129.99
The question this raises is whether someone in Valencia is possessed by demons if they buy Glen Beck’s jeans instead of learning how to get fucked or are they all really Republicans from Canada? Does anyone actually read Harper’s Magazine? How many people even know what it is?
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
The drop in income after 2005 among the 90-95% may have been caused by the collapse of the real estate industry at that time.
B. Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (chapter three or four).
I got back to the Mo Chit Skytrain station without too much difficulty and took the train a few stops back to where it meets up with the elevated railway that goes to the airport. I crossed over to the Airport train station and paid my fare. I discovered that I had paid a three dollar fare for the luxury express. I did not know there was such a thing. Normally I would have chosen the lower fare train, but I guess in my hurry I was not paying attention. When the train arrived and I entered the car I was surprised. Normally the rail cars have the usual bench like plastic seats aligned along the walls facing each other. Here they were upholstered airline seats in orderly rows facing forward. As I took my seat and the train started up I was pleased despite my extravagance. I was comfortable and the trip would be much shorter than the local giving me time to get my business done at the airport and return to the Immigration Offices.
Although the existing Skytrain had been built through the center of Bangkok, touching almost all the tourist and commercial areas and had already been extended halfway to the airport, the powers that be, both financial and governmental, decided it would be in their interests to create a separate company and transit line just to service the airport. They would place their stations where the airport line intersected existing mass transit lines . The theory being, I suppose, that the people, in the tourist and commercial areas and the like who wanted to get to the airport by less expensive mass transit would be willing to lug their suitcases on to one mass transit facility, travel for quite some time to the transfer point and then lug their things over to the new line for the final trip to the airport. Everyone was surprised when it didn’t work and the expected ridership failed to occur. Since then there have been the usual marketing campaigns, promoted by marketing mavens who convinced the powers that be that poor marketing was the problem and not any defect in the concept. That has not worked either.
Anyway I took my seat and stared out of my window as we rode high above the city. In an effort to reduce costs, in addition to scrimping on the quality of the stations, the roadway and the rolling stock, a route was chosen that avoided the developed portions of the city. From a point some where not too far from the palace grounds on the river and extenuating almost all the way to the new international airport there extends a relatively undeveloped strip of land about a half a mile wide. I have no idea what urban development dynamics caused this. Through this stretch the airport rail line travelled.
As I looked out my window I could see that in this stretch of land the jungle still existed. Not the jungle one sees in documentaries with thick gnarled trees and multi-storied green terraces, but a marsh jungle of grassland, clumps of thick vegetation with wispy leaved trees and black waters peeping through from beneath it all. In the distance the shining high rises gleamed and the pressed in on the margins. Here and there a collection for shacks of what I have learned are referred to as informal communities appeared. Rusted corrugated roofing covering dwellings and shops made from a variety of urban detritus, Narrow little lanes teeming with people zigzagged through each community. The structures were either built on stilts over the black waters of the marsh, or crowding over remnant canals.
I was enjoying the view and my contemplation when the first attack occurred. Fleas began their relentless assault of stinging bites all over my body. I wanted to run from the train howling, but it was the express, so I had no choice but to sit there. When the train rolled into the airport, I left it quickly. I already had started to feel the little red welts rising all over my body. I thought I must have looked as though I had come down with a case of measles.
At least I had arrived. I consoled myself with the thought that the protagonists of Conrad, Kafka and Coppola who furnished the material for this extended and convoluted metaphor faced worse. (Next – Disgust, loathing and redemption at the Airport.)
“Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”
– Robert A. Heinlein
“There isn’t bad weather, only wrong clothes…”
Could this mean that Americans hate other Americans more than Muslim terrorists hate Americans?
- What now Bangkok! – Bangkok, Thailand (travelpod.com)
- I GET EVEN – Bangkok, Thailand (travelpod.com)
- More Wi-Fi hot spots (ttrweekly.com)
- Simple Joy of a Beach – What Exactly Is Paradise? (landlopers.com)
- Thailand Named 9th Best Country for Overseas Retirement (virtual-strategy.com)