April 2010 through June 2010

Second quarter 2010

This and that from re Thai r ment. June 30 2010

I have just returned from my weekly Wednesday afternoon BBQ. The feast is held at a place called the Jade Palace owned by a German expatriate and caters to mostly American white males. In addition to the copious amount of BBQ meat oozing the melted fat of various species of ruminant (A cuisine favored by the American bull male but treated with disgust by the Thai), the bar was flooded with scantily clad young Thai women who cluster around, like flies on offal, the mountainous flesh of the American whales gathered there . My age and limited financial resources (and no, not the common sense that my mother always told me I have in short supply) prevented me from indulging in anything more than consuming my weekly ration of burned animal flesh.

Nevertheless as I ate I grew contemplative. Why that scene prompted such meditation I refuse to guess. However a number if the emails I have sent and received these last few days have got me thinking about life and my role in it (always a bad sign). I thought, that for me at least, life was in the experience and not in what I have done or what has been done to me. I guess, as I have mentioned before in these emails, the words of one of my favorite philosophers Scarlett O’Hara rings ever true “Tomorrow is another day.”

Speaking of tomorrow or thereafter, I plan to go back to Chiang Mai at the end of next week to visit Hayden. Since his mother plans on returning with him to San Francisco in September, this may be one of the last chances I will get to see him, or even communicate with him. His imminent departure has presented me with a quandary. Do I stay here in Paradise by the Sea attending my weekly BBQ and enjoying the occasional massage or do I do something else?

It has been suggested by some (mostly by me) that I move around a bit, to live for a while in other low-cost jurisdictions. I have found that it is the traveling and governmental fees that tend to break my budget but if I stay in the same place for two or three months, I actually save money.

I would like to spend some time in India and Srinagar where I have never been, believing I was not yet mature enough to experience India. I have also been looking at New Zealand and Australia as places to stop for a few months along the way. Ghana has been suggested as a good place to live for a while before proceeding on to Megiddo where I have planned to meet my friend Irwin on December 21, 2012, to watch the world’s end play out below us on the Plains of Armageddon, not so much because I believe the world will actually end but because it gives me something to plan for.

If the world does not end, I can make my way back to Thailand along the silk route.

Maybe I can find a sponsor. AARP may want to sponsor me in return for an article on “How far can a 70-year-old go on social security go before he starves to death, dies of exposure or some dread disease or is slain by bandits.”

Or I can just take a nap…Which I think I will do now.

Ciao…

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This and that from re Thai r ment. June 29, 2010

In the last few days I read in the editorial pages of the Bangkok Post, one of the two major english language newspapers in Thailand, that, as I surmised, the military is in firm control of the governmental process through an organization set up following the Red Shirt demonstrations to manage the post demonstration investigation process. This probably means that any reconciliation process must go through the military and assure its interests are protected. Also, several articles over the past month have criticized the Police, competitors to the military in the Thai governmental system for their less than enthusiastic behavior in putting down the protests.

Today’s photograph. While trolling the internet, I came across a site that pro-ported to identify the 10 or so best restaurant views in the world. One of them was of the Lorelei Hotel in Sorrento, Italy. What makes this significant to me is that at least 5 generations of my family have stayed at this hotel, most recently my son and daughter. In my last visit I stayed in the room on the upper left. My daughter and Margaret Azevedo stayed in the room behind that one. The Hotel, when we stayed there almost 20 years ago, had fallen a bit on hard times.

Ciao

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This and that from re Thai r ment. June 28, 2010

The wi-fi internet hot spots have been down in the lobby and in my breakfast cafe. They tell me they will be up and running tomorrow (today is Sunday). I think I will try to find another spot in the area this evening. Otherwise I do not know when this will get posted. Obviously, if you received this, I found a place.

The conflict between the condominium association and the developer has taken a nasty turn (I guess we can call this the “Lesser Game” as opposed to the “Great Game” I mentioned in a prior email). Apparently when the new Board of the HOA assumed control, it was unaware that the developer never granted to the condominium control over the only access road to the building. The developer still owns the road and is threatening to close it off if he is not reinstated as the manager of the building or paid blood money in compensation. I guess the developer is within his Thai property and capitalist rights to bugger his neighbor.

It was this tendency of the traders and land owners in the middle ages to screw each other with impunity that forced them to turn to whichever biker gang was in control of the area at the time, to enforce rules of fairness in commercial conduct that allowed the capitalistic system that we all so pledge our allegiance to thrive. I wonder if the masters of finance today have the wisdom of the burghers of old or do they see themselves as the successors to the biker gangs instead?

Whoa Joe— that was quite a trip — from an obscure conflict over an access road in Paradise by the Sea, through the middle ages and ending in the board room of Goldman Sachs. That’s what happens when ones mind becomes unmoored and he is reduced to talking to himself.

Having lost access to the internet and become less and less fond of talking to myself, I have abandoned all common sense and flung myself into watching Thai television. Not the english language channels mind you but the Thai soap operas and historical epics. I do not understand what is being said but I find that I have begun to understand the story lines. Unlike in American stories where plot generally is the traditional boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again, in Thailand the plot appears to be boy meets girl, second girl plots to separate boy from girl while an older woman is up to no good and an older man acts like an idiot.

I hope your day has been at least as rewarding as mine,

Ciao…

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This and that from re Thai r ment. June 26, 2010

I have returned from Paradise in the Mountains to Paradise by the Sea. That trip was a sad one for me. Hayden appears to be doing better. One can see the growing maturity on each visit. He was still cool towards me, the residue of his mother’s antipathy. Nevertheless, he appeared to warm up to me as our time together progressed although when I left, I could see another disappointment in his eyes.

His mother plans to take him to live in San Francisco in September and I assume with that, that chapter of my life will be closed. The house in Paradise in the Mountains is up for sale. Hayden tore down the “For Sale” sign twice and told his mother that is was his home, and asked where would he keep his toys.

On the other hand, the trip provided the occasion to visit with friends I made in Chiang Mai these last few months. I had dinner with an acquaintance from San Francisco who introduced me to a pretty good French Restaurant in downtown CM. My friend lives in CM and plays guitar in a band that performs in a club called “Guitar Man” located near the French Restaurant. And of course it is always great to visit with the principal at Hayden’s School and her husband and son. The son, Leo, is Hayden’s best friend. Gerry, the husband, is from New Zealand and my source for all things about Northern Thailand, Music and Old Movies. The Missionaries who befriended me in the vain hope of saving my soul are off in India for a month or so saving souls for the “nailed god” and the Southern Baptist Convention. I was also introduced to a retired DOJ agent who lives with his Thai wife in Paradise in the Mountains. I sometimes amuse myself contemplating what a DOJ agent in a foreign country actually does.

Back in Paradise by the Sea, nothing much changes. The condo now offers, for charge, connection to the internet in the units. The free internet connection in the lobby where I am writing this remains.

Since I have returned, I spend some of my time listening to “Old Time Radio” thanks to cuzin Irwin who turned me onto the sites. I still feel a bit of the thrill of fear I felt as a child when the CBS Mystery Theater came on with the squeaking door and e.g. Marshall would, in his sepulchral voice, introduce the nights mystery. That is when I used to turn the radio off and hide under the covers. Now, I still hide under the covers, but I leave the radio…Computer audio…on.

I guess the news scares me more than Mystery Theater now. I have taken to turning off the TV when the news comes on and hiding under the covers.

Ciao…

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This and that from re Thai r ment. June 18, 2010

This is the so-called slow season in Thailand, heat, monsoon storms and a dearth of tourists. All three are ok especially the last. Not that I have anything special against tourists, but with their declining numbers the prices decline as well. It also appears as though everyone has lost about 100 pounds. I guess it is good for the Thai environment if not so for the economy.

I plan to travel to Bangkok on Sunday to handle some business at the American Embassy and then I am off to Paradise in the Mountains for a few days. It seems as though Hayden is having some minor problems and since SWAC is not there, I will try to help out. I will probably return depressed.

Nothing on the Thai political front of note. Even “Red Shirt Gossip” network has been silent.

Not too far away, it looks like the “Great Game” is afoot again in the too many consonant Stans. For those who have not taken world history in a while, in the 18th, 19th and early part of the 20th Centuries, Russia, Great Britain and China engaged in an extended game of “Spy vs. Spy” over control of the passes through the high mountains between north and south Asia, a portion of which was called the Hindu Kush. It seems they are at it again except the US has taken Great Britain’s place at the table.

The latest flare up on the road to Armageddon is in the what I call the lesser Stans, Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Tajik ( As opposed to the Greater Stans. Afghan, Pak and Kazakh–I do not know whether Turkmen is a Greater or Lesser Stan).

Old Joe Stalin, the almost forgotten beloved “Uncle Joe,” did not have enough white Russians to resettle on this portion of the Russian Border to protect mother Russia from the Turk or whomever. Remember at this time 20 million or so of them were busy being slaughtered in the most recent Slavic-Teuton struggle over who would have the right to kill the jews in the Pale. So crafty old Uncle Joe took a large fertile valley, the only piece of land in the area worth anything since most of the rest was mountain. and gave it to the Uzbeks, except that the Uzbeks lived on the other-side of the mountains and the only way into the valley was through a very long narrow pass that that scamp Uncle Joe gave to the Tajik and to add to the hilarity of the situation, Joe the Comedian gave the foothills surrounding the valley to the Kyrgyz who although they could look down on the Uzbeks in their happy valley from their towns on the foothills they could not defend those same towns because they also lived on the other-side of the mountains from the valley on the side opposite the Uzbeks .

Now the USA , assuming the role of merry old England in the Greater Stans of Afghan and Pak (The role of winning the battles and ultimately losing the war) decides to put its supply bases in the land of the Kyrgyz over the mountains from Happy Valley and make many of the Kyrgyz rich. The Kyrgyz than take that money and begin a pogrom against the Uzbeks living in the foothills overlooking their brethren working their farms below. The new Kyrgyz government although gaining power through a nationalist revolution claims surprise at the continuing turmoil. They also need help to stop the pogrom before the Uzbeks decide to assist their oppressed cousins across the border.

What to do? What to do? They cannot ask the Americans because the Americans being the new English do not see the Lesser Stans as in their interest and it would piss off the Russians to wake up with the Anglo-americans acting on their turf so to speak, so they have asked the Russians for help. What happens next? Will China, with its already unhappy Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in its western provinces feel threatened? What the hell is everyone fighting for anyway? The great game was about trade routes. Is this all about mineral resources? Is it another man-thing? Stay tuned for as the world turns.

Meanwhile in the Greater Stans the Nato forces are engaged in a war of attrition to punish and retaliate against the ex Afghan government for allowing their country to shelter a tall skinny ex CIA operative lunatic on dialysis while he was plotting to send citizens of an ally of the US using funds obtained from that same ally to launch a terrorist attack on the US for the purpose of creating enough turmoil the US would respond as Russia did in the same area and destroy itself economically by spending too much money on war and the things of war.

Meanwhile,….. is it getting hotter or is it just me?……

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This and that from re Thai r ment. June 13, 2010

I few of you have wondered why I have not written in a while. I thank you for the reminder and for helping me break from my ennui.

I am not sure why this past week or so I have been so lethargic. It could be that the heat keeps me indoors for most of the day. I have become a bit of a recluse sitting on my balcony in Paradise by the Sea and staring out across the landscape to the Outskirts of Hell. Somedays, I promise myself to travel those two miles so that I may fall from grace, but in the end I choose to watch re-runs of Law and Order or the Sci-fi Channel which seem to be the only english language stations with programming other than news.

The news channels are relatively bereft of american news. Except for Faux News, my choices are Al Jazeera, a French station that reads the news in english with a heavy French accent, a Japanese english language news channel, one from Australia that I can understand no better than I can the french channel. Every now and then there is a BBC and CNN broadcast but they are not regular broadcasts for some reason. I have been surprised that of them all, Al Jazeera seemed the most professional and its production quality was second only to Fox Noise.

As for my writing I have been a little disappointed in the response to my political diary on the left-wing blog. After a promising start my readership began to fall off. I guess my harangues began to become tiresome. So like all entertainers, I decided to try to become more outrageous in an effort to recapture my fading fan base(all 20 or 30 of them).

With the recent contretemps on the high seas off of Israel, I, like everyone else, thought I found a subject on which I could burnish my reputation for sharp-eyed insight and analysis. And, although my analysis was confirmed by later reports and almost everyone else writing for the blog on the subject readership skyrocketed, mine remained mired in mediocrity.

So, undaunted, realizing that those events occurred not too far from Megiddo where the final battle of Armageddon is to occur, I wrote a short piece on Marching to Armageddon that demonstrated clearly that, as many in the previous administration prayed for and predicted, we were clearly entering the final days. This produced the comment from one reader “So what, we all have to die sometime. Hahahahahahaha!.”

Undeterred by this response, my next post contained the argument that the problems affecting the world were caused a massive human induced testosterone poisoning of the globe (Global testosteroning) occasioned by the existence of too many men in the global environment. From an evolutionary standpoint, I maintained, the world would be much better off if they were reduced to only bout 1% of the population. I then pointed out some of the improvements that could be expected with the reduction in these mobile testosterone emitters, like fewer BBQ’s resulting in less meat consumed and… well you know where that is gong. I included other similarly appropriate examples. This received a relative outpouring of comments (10) from irate men whose sole argument seemed to be that women could be just as bad as men. They then usually mentioned Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter as examples of the evil to which women can aspire. Now given the ambiguity of Ann’s sex, I have to dismiss that example since after all she may only be in disguise. But as for Sarah, even though I am no fan of hers, as the exemplar of evil in the same class as Vlad the Impaler, Hitler and all those paragons of maleness, really now……

Anyway, since then I have temporarily halted publication of my submittals to that esteemed blog while I reconsider this career path. Nobody understands me……

Ciao

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This and that from re Thai r ment. June 3, 2010

Despite the wonders of my newly invented calendar, I have begun to lose track of time.

The Thai political situation has devolved into posturing. Abhsit the Unready, the current prime minister beat back an attempt by the Red Shirt party in the Thai legislature to force a no confidence vote over the government’s handling of the protests. Abhisit the Unwilling is now playing coy with the promise he made during the protest to hold new elections before his term expires.

Meanwhile, Charlern the New Pretender, the leader of a faction of the Red Shirts who strategically withheld support for the protestors during the riots, has now moved into the position of the most likely Prime Minister should elections ever be held and prepares for his presumed ascendency.

And what of Thaksin the Omnipresent, the deposed prime minister and the putative cause of it all? Well, the government with great fanfare branded him a terrorist and threatened to contact Interpol to find him so that he could be extradited and stand trial in Thailand as a terrorist. Subsequently, the threats have mostly disappeared from the press as the government promises to study the issue. And of the man himself, Thaksin the Nonpareil what of him? He is reputed to be purchasing an island off the coast of Montenegro from where he may settle and like Napoleon at Elba to plot his eventual return. Sic transit gloria.

And of the Red Shirt masses little is heard. My masseuse, however, belongs to some type of cell phone group called “Red Shirt Gossip”. Her phone rings every 10 minutes or so with the latest “gossip”. She refuses to tell me what it is. Very annoying.

Ciao

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This and that from re Thai r ment. May 27, 2010

Having nothing really better to write about, I thought that I will describe my typical day. I say this up front so that those of you that feel inclined to can press your delete key now.

As for the rest of you, I start my day at about 7AM and try to be back in bed by about 9:30 to 10 PM. I spend between 7 and eight hours of the day on what I call “work”. Actually, work to me now is what is left over after deducting the time I spend sleeping and taking naps, eating, staring at the walls or the ocean, swimming or engaged in various erotic pursuits. This latter for me, at my age, generally consists of surreptitiously staring at the tall thin blond russian women sunning themselves by the pool. This activity always makes me contemplate the wonders of metamorphosis (and no, not cockroaches). How amazing is it, that these tall thin creatures, obviously in their larvae stage can in a few short years in their adult stage change into the 300 pound monstrosities, lying snoring and drooling on the deck chairs near by. Do young people snore and drool when they sleep? I forget.

Maybe the 300 pound beached manatees are really the cocoon stage and just as the sun begins to set, giving everything a rosy glow, they will split open and out come the tall, thin beautiful blond women (and yes men too) and they will turn, wink at me, shake themselves off and walk off into the sunset. I have been too long in the sun. Time to get back to work.

During my work hours, I attend to my email correspondence like this and other things. I work a bit on the diary that I write for a so-called radical liberal blog where I gleefully warn those dear hearts of the ravening hordes of tea drinkers with their photographs of the President sporting a Hitler-like mustache and their “We are all Arizonans Now” signs, stalking the streets and by-ways of the country searching for them. “Get up,” I tell them. “Put out your joints, go out into the streets and organize.” “But please don’t refer to yourselves as some namby-pamby ‘coffee party’. Use some imagination dammit. Call yourselves the ‘Crack Cocaine Party’ or the ‘Crossing the Border Illegally Party’. You are liberals for christ sakes. Get a backbone. Get a life. Get a job”.

When I am not rabble-rousing, I some times work on the calendar I invented. In my calendar all the days of the week every month fall on the same day. So, the first day of the month is always on Sunday and the seventh day is always on Saturday. And every special calendar day, like one’s birthday, falls on the same day of the week and the same day of the month every year. And Winter Solstice is aways the first of January and summer always begins on the first of July. Of course, it has no practical application but I amuse myself with it. I now am trying to figure out how I can personally use it. For example today is Thursday, May 27 in the standard Gregorian calendar but it is Tuesday, June 3 on my calendar and June 3 will always fall on Tuesday.

One quirk of the calendar is that every year following the last day of the year and before the first day of the new year there is a day that falls outside of the calendar, outside any month and any week. It is a free day. You can call it anything you like. I call mine “Joe’s Day.”

I thought it would be nice if on that day, if my calendar were ever adopted, no one would be compelled to work. And at the same time no one would be entitled to receive pay for work they do perform. So, we all would have to consider volunteering for the jobs that need to be done that day. I like volunteering for hopeless tasks, like becoming a traffic control officer in downtown Pattaya for the day, or working as a volunteer on the Palin for President in 2012 campaign although now that I think about it, I probably worked on the Arlen Specter campaign. That’s enough, I need a nap.

Ciao..

Categories: April 2010 through June 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment. May 25, 2010

I did not mean for my last post to spark a controversy. I only was trying to thank those (like my daughter Jessica) who expressed concern for my safety . I did not mean to imply that they or anyone had criticized the subject matter of the emails. My bad.

On the other-hand, I am pleased to learn that there are those who read this stuff and feel passionate about it.

You know, there are a lot of reasons why I write these emails. One of them is that being alone here as I am, seeing your names in the “To” box makes me feel that in some small way you are here and I am talking to each of you. Another reason is that I often get bored writing in my journal, like earlier this afternoon when I recorded how long it took me to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yes, old habits die hard, even though the cost of obtaining american peanut butter and jelly raises the price of the sandwich to rival a lobster diner.

Of course, I do not write everything that I record in my journal. For example, as a parent whose children and grandchildren are recipients of these emails, it had been impressed upon me that in order to be a good parent, I should never let my children know, that I use foul language, that I have sex of any sort, that I doubt just about everything that I do and that I know next to nothing about child-rearing. As for the last, those of you who are parents probably, like me, had the worst teachers imaginable, their own parents who in most cases married too young to know anything and had to muddle through it like everyone else. Or in the case of my parents who were so poor and ill-educated they had to fumble through old world nostrums to figure out which fit the new order they found themselves in.

Anyway, I am no longer your reporter from the front, since there no longer is a front. Each of the contestants have retreated to their respective corners (and in Thailand there are a lot of corners) plotting their next moves. And make no mistake about it there will be more moves. Rumors of new demonstrations and crackdowns flood the daily press reports.

Recently in the english language press, there have been a number of articles calling for the government to crack down on the police for their alleged sympathy and assistance to the Red Shirts. This reflects the ongoing conflict between the police and the military in Thai society. They along with the Monarchy, the government and the Chinese-Thai business community make up the more or less independent institutions that govern Thailand (no checks and balances here).

The police resent the military because its officer corps are reasonably well compensated and comfortably housed on their military bases and the military has never had to fight a real foreign invader since almost the beginning of the creation of modern Thailand, while the police must confront corruption (often their own), politics, violence and criminal gangs on a daily basis for very low pay. The resentment and jealousy increases by the fact that the military officer corps is mostly immune from responsibility to the police and the country’s court system for any civil crimes that they may commit.

Until this fundamental conflict between the forces of order in the country is resolved one can expect to see the Red Shirts, the Yellow Shirts and the other institutions of Thai society try to take advantage of that conflict for their own advantage.

In short, little has been resolved except that now one can get to most of the major shopping centers in downtown Bangkok to shop.

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This and that from re Thai r ment. May 23, 2010

Of those of you who spend the time reading these posts, some of you have expressed little interest in the machinations of Thai politics other than concern for my health (for which I thank you). Others have asked some searching questions about the situation.

Since things have quieted down here quite a bit on the military front, this will probably be my last post on the subject and I will happily get back to describing my ongoing struggles with short pants and Thai immigration.

As you know from my prior post, the non-combatant Red Shirts surrendered to the military sweep, its leaders jailed (perhaps to be soon disappeared) and the others sent back home to the provinces to make out best as they can. The Red Shirt fighters mostly melted into the background as the final assault was launched, inflicting what damage on the military and property that they could as they retreated. I expect, as is often the case in these situations, they will become, first guerilla groups, then terrorists and finally undistinguishable from any of the criminal bands that have always haunted Thai Society.

The hard-line military is firmly in control of the government, although from a less public position then in the past. Rolling curfew’s and roadblocks are the order of the day, while government spokespersons call for order. Calls for national reconciliation come not from the government so much as from the press, opposition parties not associated with the Red Shirts or from the Red Shirts themselves. To put this in perspective, one of the pro-government articles in the Bangkok Post, the leading english language daily in Thailand, explained that although Thaksin, the deposed prime minister, had done much of lasting good for those who had previously had been ignored by the Thai political establishment, the gradual takeover of the all the elements of Thai society for the benefit of his own financial interests and that of his family, friends and political supporters reached an unacceptable extent when it threatened the independence of the military and the monarchy itself.

Recently several people have told me that they heard rumors that the government had retained Cambodian mercenaries to lead the assault on the Red Shirts because the Thai army troops resisted killing fellow Thais. I suspect this to be Red Shirt propaganda in an effort to appeal to the ordinary Thai solider while throwing suspicion on the government and the general staff. What I believe actually happened is that he elite troops who spearheaded the attack who are stationed in the far eastern portion of Thailand adjacent to Cambodia, contain a number of Cambodian speakers and the rumor began when some were overheard speaking in their native tongue.

Although many are calling the rout of the Red Shirts a defeat for Thaksin, he still retains influence and some control over the opposition to the military and the government. He will remain a rallying point for unhappiness with the current political ascendency in the country.

[A bit of history, the original Thaksin was a Thai general who rallied the troops after their defeat by the Burmese and the destruction of the Thai capital of Ayutthaya and the unprepared and inept monarchy. He eventually defeated the Burmese, drove them back out of Siam and established a new capital in Thonburi, a suburb of modern Bangkok. Over time, he became gradually more and more arrogant, paranoid and insane until he was usurped by one of his generals who became the first king of the current monarchial dynasty.

It should be noted that during the period of the great conflicts between the Thais and the Burmese, it was often the women and not the men whose martial exploits saved the country. There are statues honoring these women throughout Thailand. In Korat a large city in the east of Thailand by the main gate to the old walled city a statue of en elderly woman stares menacingly out from the ramparts. It honors a woman, the wife of the lord of Korat whose husband was off fighting the wrong enemy when the city was attacked. She assumed command of the defenders of the city and defeated the Burmese and their allies in several attempts to conquer the city. After the Burmese were dispatched her husband and his army returned.

In the center of the Island of Phuket stands a statue stands honoring two sisters who after the Burmese had invaded the island and driven off the male defenders, rallied the women, children and elderly and drove the Burmese back into the sea.

Even the dynasty that was destroyed by the Burmese along with its capitol city, had its warrior queen. She led the royal troops in several battles against the invading Burmese defeating them every time until at last she was overrun in the final battle. She may have even had achieved victory there had she not died in a futile attempt to singlehandedly save her monkish and definitely unwarlike husband from a Burmese assault. And just so you will not mistakenly believe that I have been in touch with my feminine side, I leave you with this little misogynist note: remember, even in the land of smiles, a Thai woman can be a real bitch if you try to mess with her property… or if you are Burmese…or….]

Categories: April 2010 through June 2010 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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