Archive for December, 2009

One Night in Prasat

December 20, 2009

As I have said before, I live in the province of Surin. I don’t live in the main town of Surin, but in a small town called Prasat that is about 30 km from the main town. If you take the bus from Bangkok, it is the town that you have to go through before getting to Surin.

Last Friday (December 18, 2009) night, I went to one of the few bars in town that caters to foreigners. I was there because my boss at my school wanted to play the trivia quiz at this bar. He thought that my smarts would come in handy.

My boss and me arrived at precisely at the same time. An American teacher from the same school as me and my boss was already there. The bar owner told us that there was no trivia quiz due to the fact that everybody was there for the music. This would not be the worst news of the evening.

My boss then told the American teacher and me that the British teacher from my school and his Chinese wife had gotten into some sort of altercation with the landlord of their rented house. The wife had ended up in the hospital with her two front teeth punched out. They had refused to pay the 200 baht that they had owed. They wanted the landlord to clear out the trash before they would pay. Obviously, the landlord disagreed.

After this altercation, they can not live at this house any more,  They will have to live at a house that belongs to the schools.

For the rest of the evening, I played pool with the American teacher and listened to the music. At 10:30 pm, I wanted to go because I wanted to go home. I explored the bars nearby and ended up at a karaoke. I ordered a Coke for me and two hostesses. I told them that I did not want to have any songs. They preceded to sing songs anyway and charged me for singing anyway. Fortunately, I stopped them after 2 songs for I would have ended up being charged a lot more for their singing This was my big mistake of the evening.

At noon the next day, my boss knocks at my door. He has come to tell me that he is looking for the American teacher who I partied with. He needs to talk to him because the landlord wants all the foreigners who live in the house to leave. The American teacher lives in the same house as the British teacher with the Chinese wife. He needs to find the American teacher to tell him to move. He tried to look at many hotels, but he could not find him. All I can tell him is that he may have left with a Thai lady and went to a hotel that is on the same side of the school that we teach at. The hotel is 150 baht a night. The boss then leaves to go look for the American teacher again, using the what I know to hopefully find him.

After last Friday night, the teachers at my school should know this:

  1. Pay your rent, no matter what and then negotiate what you want. Thais are actually quite strict about when you owe them money.
  2. When you go to a Karaoke bat in Thailand, you should make sure that they do not overcharge you. You should make sure that you only get charged for things that you want.
  3. You should always bring your mobile with you if you have one. My boss could not find him because he did not have his mobile phone.
  4. Just because you live in a small Thai town, this does not mean that bad things can not happen to you.
  5. You should not underestimate a Thai girl that you pick up at a bar. Just because they are small, pretty and do not seem to be very smart, this does not mean that they are not trouble.

This Monday morning, I hope that all the teachers show up and that we have learned our lessons.

The 2010s: My First Enemy in Surin

December 16, 2009

Currently, I live in the province of Surin, teaching English at a local high school. I have only been here about a month, but unintentionally (to me, anyway) I have made an enemy.

            Every weekday, I walk to school, pass a house, owned by a fat, corpulent white man. Without me hearing or noticing, he has said good morning to me at least three times. I can only say that I have not heard him because I am about half asleep when I pass his house. It is about dawn when I walk past his house. Sometimes, his dog barks so I may not have heard him over the barks of his dog.

            Today, I am walking home and it turns out that the man is having a party right in front of my apartment building. He has blocked off the street with tables, chairs, and stage. 

            I want to know what is going on because I am a curious fellow. The Thai people direct me to the rich white fat man and it turns out that he has been offended by my rudeness for not saying good morning to him. All he can say to me is, “Good night!” and why he is acting this way.

            He will not tell me what is going on. Only a white man next to him will tell me what is going on to me. It is a birthday party. 

            Now, I will have to listen to the music emanating from this party all night long and I will not be able to take part because I offended the host.

            I created my first enemy in Surin and I guess that I will just have to be punished for it.

My Decade in Thailand

December 13, 2009

I have been here since August of 2000 and I have spent the last 9 or 10 years here. I have not gone back to my country, not even once.

            In those 9 or 10 years, I have been raped, molested, abused (verbally and physically), beaten nearly to death twice, had sex with women as well as monsters (don’t ask), had a wife, lost the same wife, had a son, lost a son and been to the police station at least three times. I have lied as well as been lied to. I have stolen as well as been stolen from. I had a son, only to lose track of him as well as his mother. My own mother won’t even talk to me. My father and my brother barely tolerate my existence. They rarely talk to me by email and I am afraid that it is the same for me. I have been homeless twice and I feel like I have done more in ten years then in the first thirty years.

            My life in Thailand would not be celebrated by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Despite all that has happened, I would not trade those 9 or 10 years. For one thing, I did produce a son, something that I thought that I never would do in my home country of the United States. I am an English teacher and have tried my best to make Thais’ lives better by teaching them English. I did try to volunteer in the US for certain things, but that is different. My full-time job is to help people. I think that I can proud of that.

            Why have I not been back in the United States? As an adult, I found that the efficiency and the perfection really annoying. In the United States, everything runs on time. The phones always working. The banks always doing their job for you as they should. The electricity and water are always working. The trains and buses leave and arrive almost on time. Things are just so perfect. There is nothing to test you as a person. There is almost nothing to test your anger. There was nothing to my soul. My soul was not growing because there was nothing to test it. In Thailand, there is plenty to test your soul and to find out who you are. I would never have changed in the States while I have changed a lot in Thailand.

            Another thing that I did not like about the United States was that Americans complain too much. They complain about the schools, the government and each other endlessly. They have many outlets to do it such as radio talk shows, TV talk shows and the Internet. It became a cacophony and I just got really got tired.

            With all the complaining, you would think that the States is one of the worst places to live on the planet. The States is actually as perfect as a country can be on this planet and the Americans should appreciate more what they have.

            Thais are quite the opposite, even though they have good reasons. They have one of the most corrupt governments on the planet. The people in politics are also quite divided about the direction of the country. Their education system is indeed one of the worst on the planet and nobody seems to be doing anything about it.  Bangkok’s traffic would try the patience of saints and priests. Despite all this, Thais will sit back and smile. “No problem” is one of their favorite phrases.

            Another thing is that some Americans are just obsessed with conspiracy theories. They wonder who killed JFK and build shrines to their obsessions, They go to conventions who have the same obsession. Their whole life is devoted to their obsession and they have no room for the full life that they could have. Their obsession has become their life and I don’t like people who do not embrace the fullness of life. I came to Thailand to embrace life and it has made me a better person.

            Thais don’t believe in government conspiracies because they know that their government is out to get them. They know that people in power care more about maintaining their power then helping them. They only call the police if it is absolutely necessary since they are not sure what side the police are on. They could even be on the side of the criminals if the criminals give them enough money. A country’s people only believe in conspiracies if overall, their government is good.

            I am probably crazy to stay in a country that is as bad as Thailand. I guess that you would say that I am in love in Thailand and you would be right. I am crazy in love with Thailand and that is probably not going to change.

Thai Crime in the 2000s

December 11, 2009

The Stupidest Thai Criminal of the 2000s

            Once upon a time, Tesco Lotus fired a security firm made up of former soldiers. They did not like being fired so they hired a man to do some damage to Tesco Lotus. They hoped that he would do enough damage to prove that they were better than the new firm that Tesco hired.

This man’s first action was to put a grenade in a shopping cart. A store clerk moved this cart and the grenade exploded. She lost an arm.

Somehow, he got an anti-tank missile launcher and fired a missile at a branch of Tesco Lotus. The missile missed the branch and hit a neighbouring building.

The police tracked him down to his house and surrounded it. He killed himself instead of surrendering.

This is Thailand Criminal of the 2000s

        At a medical school somewhere in Thailand, a love triangle had formed between one man and two women.

The Thai man decided that he wanted to be rid of one of the two women. With the help of the woman that he actually loved, he killed the one that he did not like in this love triangle.

After killing the woman and dumping the body on the side of the road, they went to a karaoke. Because after  you kill someone, you just have to go and sing a song. It is the only way to relax and get rid of that pumped energy.

The Thai Serial Killer of the 2000s

One year in this decade, a Thai man moved from province to province. He killed as he travelled and he mostly killed sex workers.

When the police finally caught up to him, he told the police the reason that he killed was that the sex workers kept on changing the price for the sex.

Thailand Political Players 2006

December 5, 2009

If you live in Thailand or have read about this country in the last months, you know that the political situation is quite messy. It is so messy that it would certainly take more than 900 words to describe the situation fully. The best I can do is at least tell you who some of the players in this mess:

  1. Thaksin Shinawatra: The last official prime minister of Thailand and the instigator of the mess. He was a police officer in Chaing Mai, Thailand, and resigned from the ranks to start his own company, using his police contacts. His company was the Shin Corporation and it became the biggest corporation in Thailand by running a mobile call service called AIS. For some reason, he stepped down from this company and he started a political party called Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) (rak meaning love in Thai). He became the prime minister in 2001 and did a lot of things that eventually would cost him his job. He viciously put down his critics. He called NGOs (non-government organizations) lazy lunatics when they didn’t like what he was doing. When there was a drug war by the government in 2003 that killed 3000 people and the UN human rights complained, he said that the UN was not his father. He had some scandals. The Burmese government bought a Shinawatra Corp. satellite with a loan from the Thai government. The buying of a bomb detector in the new international airport in Bangkok was very suspicious. The big scandal that brought him down was Temasek, a Singapore company, It bought Shinawatra Corp. for 1.9 billion dollars and he had to pay no taxes. This is when the Thai people finally got angry and he had to resign as prime minister.
  2. Chavalit: A former prime minister who is partly responsible for the Thai economy collapsing in 1997. He became a part of the TRT government as a Deputy Prime Minister. Thai soldiers were inspecting bombs at an arsenal and accidentally caused one of them to explode, destroying a nearby village, When he went to the village, he criticized the villagers for living too close to the village. He retired then he rejoined the government to help the government help fight poverty despite his bungling of the economy in 1997
  3. Chalerm: A mobster who occasionally gets involved in politics. He has three sons. Two of them who are police officers spent 5 years starting fights in Thai bars. The only thing that stopped them was that bar owners were beginning to bar them from their establishments unless they stopped their fighting ways. The youngest son was accused of killing a cop in a nightclub and was found not guilty due to lack of evidence even though he did it in front of 200 people. He ran for the governor of Bangkok in the last election and lost. What he is currently doing has not been reported by the newspapers.
  4. Chuwit: He bribed police officers and military people to demolish property that he was having legal problems with. He was not punished for this act and actually became famous for this act. He became a politician and ran for the governor of Bangkok. He lost. He formed his own political party then quickly dissolved it to join a more established party. He became a Thai Senator and he is a not Senator now because he did not run in the last election due to more legal problems. Once his problems are resolved, he will probably come back. He did run for governor again, but had to stop because he punched a reporter. 
  5. Samak: The last governor of Bangkok and future Thai Senate speaker. As governor, he did not very interested in the position; he seemed more interested in his cooking show. He had a website that was devoted to his cooking show, not the Bangkok government. He said that the Bangkok flooding was due to mother nature. He said that all rubbish bins should be removed to beautify the city of Bangkok during a summit of world leaders that was held in Bangkok once. A year before the end of his term, he said that the problems of Bangkok were too much for him. He did not run for governor and ran for the Senate this year. He won.
  6. Apirat: The current governor who actually seems to do constructive things for the city of Bangkok and has not made any strange statements or has had any scandals.
  7. Abhisit: The head of the Democratic Party and wants to be the next prime minister when they resolve the mess caused by Thaksin’s resignation. He seems to be competent and has not done anything to question his competency.     
  8. Banharn Silpa-archa: The head of the Chart Thai Party. His nickname is The Eel. His party usually forms a coalition with the party that has the most seats, but not enough to dominate Parliament. It makes sure that his party is part of the people in charge. It does mean that you are never sure what he is going to do. He is slippery like an eel.                                                                                                        

Thailand Taboos

December 5, 2009

Every society has rules that you must follow and it is no different in Thai society. One rule that you usually read about in guidebooks is that you should not touch someone’s head. This should be an easy rule to follow as even Westerners do not go down the street touching people’s heads as they walk. It should be noted that you also can not throw something over a Thai’s head. I was a teacher at a school where I threw a bag over a Thai’s head. I was nearly fired. The only reason that I was not fired that a representative from my agency was at the school and could explain to the school my actions. I did not mean any disrespect and that I probably did not know about the rule. I did not know about that rule even though at the time, I had been in Bangkok for 3 years. The only exception to the rule is that an older person is allowed to touch the head of a younger person. For foreigners, you probably should not do it since it could be misinterpreted. One guidebook says that you should never wear shorts. This is NOT true. Thais, of course, wear shorts. It is a very hot climate and it would be crazy if you could not wear shorts. The only place that a person has to wear shorts is in a Thai temple or wat. An exception would probably be given to foreigners, but it would be probably be best to know if you are visiting wats, you should wear shorts. A rule that you probably have not read in guidebooks, is that no matter when you are in public area and hear the national anthem, you must stop whatever you are doing and stand respectfully for the anthem. I was at the central train station in Bangkok and I stood for the national anthem. The other foreigners did not. After the national anthem ended, a Thai thanked me for standing. It is really not so much to ask. The national anthem is only about 2 minutes long. Is it really so bad to do nothing for 2 minutes except listen to the national anthem? The most important rule that you should know is that you should not say bad things about the King. You may feel like saying that the King’s son looks like Herman Munster’s grandson or Jabba the Hutt’s cousin; you should keep it in. You may think that the King looks like a Nerd: you will just have to wait until you leave the country. Again, you should avoid talking with Thais about the Thai since they could misinterpret what they say and put you in jail. As you should probably know, it is against the law to say bad things about the King. It is called the lese majeste law. You should only with foreigners about the Royal Family. It should be noted that no foreigner has ever been arrested for saying bad things about the King. It is usually used by Thai politicians to get their opponents into trouble. You should probably be fine. There are other rules, but there is not enough room in this space to describe them. You’ll just have to wait the Thai Rules for Dummies book that I might publish someday.

The 2000s: Thailand Vs. The World 2006

December 5, 2009

Last week, the Thai military took control of the government, and as usual, the world condemned it.

In normal circumstances, I would agree with the world. I can see why they would condemn and why this military coup is unacceptable. However, in this case, I think the world is wrong in condemning this military coup.

To begin with, the leader of the old government was going to do a coup of his own. He was going to call on his friends in the military to take over the government. He used a clash between his opponents and his supporters as an excuse to declare a state of emergency. He instructed his supporters in the police force and the military to quash this clash and seize power.

This coup was meant to prevent another coup. A coup engineered by the democratic government would have been violent, as it would involve clashes between people. The overthrow of the government by the opponents was peaceful, as nobody clashed when they took over. It was so peaceful, that tourists took pictures of the military taking over the government. This would not have been possible if the democratic leader had succeeded in his attempt. Many people would have perished. In the end, it was better than if the military had taken over.

Thailand has had no government since February of this year. The last democratic government conducted the last election so badly that nobody was elected. The opposition parties refuse to participate because they don’t trust the prime minister of the last government to do so in a fair manner.

However, he managed to jury-rig the election in his favor.

In the Thai courts, they declared the election illegal and the election commissioners were sentenced to prison for two years.

Having a government after months of uncertainty is not what Thailand wants, but it is better to have a government now than nothing at all.

It was becoming more and more a dictatorship. It would not allow the media to say anything bad about its policies. The prime minister was using corruption to remake the government in a way where he could seize full power eventually.

The military is saying that Thailand will eventually have a democratic government no matter what. I’d also give them a chance to prove they’re serious.

As long as the King supports them, I support them too. I hope we are both right.

Regardless of what has happened in the past, the world should support it. It should try to see it as a good thing in light of the current circumstances. I hope someday the world will understand.

The 2000s: The Fall of Thaksin Shinawatra

December 5, 2009

Recently, Thailand’s military dethroned Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin brought his downfall by engaging his critics in a destructive manner. He never seemed to respond constructively to criticism. He always acted like a petulant child. He has called his critics lazy, crazy, and senile.
Some of Thailand’s most respected men criticized him. Most of them were elderly so he referred to them as senile old men. How can you respond to someone like that? That is the only way you can be as childish as Mr. Shinawatre. You didn’t discuss with Mr. Shinawatre; you had a shouting match.
A Bangkok reporter misquoted him because of his strange northern Thai accent when he said things like devils were in the taxis. He said the reporters misquoted him because of his strange accent
When his government launched a war against drug dealers and executed 3,000 of them without a trial, he claimed they were killing each other in a gang war. This seems to be a gang war in which there would be no gang members left and nobody to sell the drugs except if you wanted a job where you were going to die very soon.
In Thailand, people could not take these lies any longer and cheered when the military took control. He said a bomb placed in his car was being used to kill him even though the bomb was not even operational.
The man had no self-control. He could not control his impulses or keep his temper in check. He always had to respond when a critic said something. He couldn’t just let go. It’s okay not to say anything at all. A politician doesn’t have to say everything. They can just shut up. Thaksin never learned that lesson.
In the summer, there was a mysterious powerful person to blame for his problems. The person to blame for his problems was the person he sees when he shaves every morning.
Although he may not know this, Thaksin is responsible for his own fall and hopefully, he will learn from it.