Bangkok Burning!

Getting reports that the Red Shirts have started an “Arson Campaign” around the city.  Channel 3 News Station is on fire.  Central World and Paragon Shopping centers are on fire.   The Red Shirts seem to be setting fires everywhere and they’ve been said to be targeting Reporters in the affected areas.  There is smoke all over the city.  The looters are knocking off ATMs and rolling out with all of the money.

Chiangmai is also embroiled and various places have been set to fire up there as well.

These guys are desperate and have or are losing any popular support that they may have had with these latest acts.  They’re setting themselves up to be caricatured and treated as mere thugs instead of a true protest for social justice.

Michael Yon Sitting with a couple French journalists now. One has blood on his pants. Says it was from another journalist who was hit but no medics would come to him. Said he saw a soldier shot in half by a grenade and also saw a female freelance journalist named Vanessa who was slightly wounded.

The TV Stations are all playing what I can only describe as propaganda.  They just played 21 Guns by Green Day with scenes from the Red Shirts battling the Army and such.  Earlier they were playing paeans to the King.  Cartoons with music and such.

Got a message from a friend that a girl was shot while standing on her balcony.  No one knows if this was on purpose or if it was an errant shot.  Now people are fearful of standing near their windows or on their balconies.

Right now, they are announcing officially the curfew for tonight.  Guess we can’t go outside.  This is pretty crazy.  Afghanistan wasn’t this insane.

P.S.  but don’t worry Momma, we’re ok!  Thinking about getting out of the city tomorrow until this thing calms down.

photo by Nick Sivapon Fakthep

photo by Nick Sivapon Fakthep

Apparently, Central World has been damaged heavily as fire and rescue could not get into the area to put out the fires.

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Beatdown at Soi Cowboy!

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Unny, Bupe and I took a taxi over to Sukhumvit Soi 11 to eat some Mexican food at Charley Browns.  The food was decent.  A bit bland, but, near enough to Mexican food so as to please te palate.  Afterward, Unny and Bupe were craving Oysters and Somtam.  So we headed over to Soi Cowboy.

Soi Cowboy is one of the “SexPat” areas of Bangkok.  Go Go Bars and Prostitutes galore.  Everything an old guy who can still get it up with a viagra induced libido could desire.  And the old fellas were out in force as usual.  It’s hilarious walking around the SexPat areas.  You see everything there.  Let your imagination soar.  It’s probably there or right around the corner.

As we pulled up to Soi Cowboy, a group of men came running out.  Must have been ten or twelve of them.  Once we got to Sams 200o–the bar that serves Oysters, we were filled in on the details of all the excitement.  It seems that yesterday an ExPat attempted to depart Spice Girls Go Go Bar without paying his bill.  The bouncers ganked him up and proceeded to rough the guy up.  The next day or that same night, Mr. (s)Expat paid a group of Thai hooligans to go to the Spice Girls Go Go Bar and raise a little hell.  This was the group that we saw running out of Soi Cowboy as we pulled up.

Apparently, they ran into Spice Girls Go Go Bar and beat down at least one of the bouncers.  When we passed by the Spice Girls Go Go Bar, a crowd had gathered and was rubber necking the situation.  I laughed.  One of the bouncers was sitting on the floor of the deck at Spice Girls Go Go Bar looking dazed and confused.  Obviously, he’d gotten the worst of the beating.

There was an air of excitement on Soi Cowboy, but, for the most part, it was just another day for the gals on the strip.  I assume that they’re used to the violence and insanity that consumes their lives and the strip called Soi Cowboy.

I just laughed and yelled; “Get some!”  And laughed some more.

Later, the police showed up and probably took statements.  Nothing will come of it, of course.  I’m sure the hooligans were attached to some organized crime element in the city.  The police will be paid off or more than likely will let it quietly subside and go away.

That’s life in the big city.  Life on Soi Cowboy.

Excitement.  Insanity.  Laced with violence and sex and anything goes…

Took those two snaps with my iPhone.  Decent little cam on the thing.

Life in Bangkok

A couple of days ago, Arik and I strolled around Bangkok.

We ran into a group of Thai Catholics.  Something that you’d think would be pretty rare and I suppose it is.

It was Songkran.  So we hung out for a bit and everyone threw water on us and we drank some whiskey with them.  Arik ran down to 7-11 and bought them another bottle of whiskey and we sat for a while and watched them throw water on passersby.  All in good fun.  They put the white powder on us and we all sat around laughing and having a good time.  Later that night, we met Unny and Bupe at Thanon Khaosarn for drinks.  A little battle broke out around us with folks throwing beer bottles.  Unny and Bupe hid behind a beer tub and Arik and I went out and tried to get pics of the mob.

Good times all around on my 4th night in Bangkok.  ; )

Malalai and Sierra’s First Day Out

Unny and I decided that we needed to get them out.  Take them to the park.  Try to get them to poo somewhere else besides my Afghan rugs.  So we packed them up into my Afghan pack and rolled out.

We attempted to go to the Lumpini Park first.  No Dogs Allowed!

Next.

We head over to Suan Roe Fai (Old Rail Way) Park.  Technically no dogs allowed there either.  But we snuck them in.

We rented some bikes and tooled on over to a secluded and shaded area in the park.  I let my babies out of my backpack and watched their reaction.  I think they were in shock from the ride. They just sat there.  Scared.  Intimidated by their surroundings.  I forced the issue.  I put their leashes on and pulled them along.  Malalai wasn’t having any part of it.  I had to drag her for a bit and afterward she’d just stop and sit there.  Refusing to sally forth into new territory.  Sierra was a bit more adventurous.  She roamed around a bit.  She followed me and I didn’t need to pull her but every so often to make her move.

When we left, we placed them in the baskets and rode them back to the park entrance.  I had to lock Sierra onto the basket because she kept trying to climb out.  Malalai simply sat there and looked around until we neared the front of the park.  She started getting a little more interested at about that time.  So I held her with one hand and steered the bike with the other.

There were funny.  I laughed.  They whined.  I laughed some more.

Things I noticed.

Thai people really seem to love dogs.  Everyone pointed and talked about our pups.  Everyone was interested.  The Taxi drivers had absolutely no problem picking us up with our dogs. The ones who drove us to the parks seemed to actually enjoy having our pups along for the ride.

It was hot.

I think three crows were interested in making more than casual acquaintance with Malalai and Sierra.  I had to shoo them away twice.  I think they wanted a nice little snack.

The Red Shirts were out in force.  Don’t know if it was full force but there were a lot of them.  They were announcing over their hand held bull horns that today was not a day for Red Shirts or Yellow Shirts but a day for Democracy.  Apparently, the Reds love their King and aren’t bothered by the dichotomy of love for a King and love for Democracy.  Kind of schizo if you ask me or it may simply be that they haven’t thought through their actions to the full spiritual, emotional and political extent.  It’s their country.  I’m simply a guest.  It’s an observation.

Malalai and Sierra were or seemed to be dizzy and in calm shock for most of the trip and were exhausted afterwards.  We took them for their 2nd and 3rd car ride.  1st moto taxi ride.  1st bike ride.  1st trip to a  park.

I accidentally knocked Sierra into a creek or tributary of some sort to the Chao Phraya.  She didn’t like that too much.  I placed Malalai into the basket of my bike.  She just lay down and went to sleep.  I did the same thing with Sierra.  She moved around too much and the bike crashed to the ground.  That might be why she kept trying to climb out of the basket later.

A bird strafed Malalai while she was sleeping in the basket of the bike that I had rented for the park.  Funny but disgusting and I had to clean her.

On the way back in the taxi, both of them fell asleep on me.  Malalai on my leg.  Sierra on my shoulder.

They were cute.  It was a nice day at the park for all of us.   When we arrived back to the Condo and I let them out of my backpack, they looked around as if to say; “How’d we get back here.”  Then they took a nap.

Big day out for our Pups.  I think they enjoyed it.  I know Unny and I did.

Walking around Camp Stone on a Friday morning

Art for Unny's Bangkok Cafe

I walked over the bazaar to say a final farewell to a friend.  Hossein sells bootleg DVDs at Coalition Camps all over Herat.  I’ve run into him all over the place.  Primarily at the RTC, Camp Stone and Camp Arena.  I’ve seen him tooling around downtown Herat once or twice as well.  We struck up a friendship of sorts over the past couple of years.  So I stopped by to say farewell.

While I was doing that, I ran into the Tea Pot.  Unny wants to have a small cafe in Bangkok.  So I figured it would make a nice piece to display at such a place.  I picked it up for her.  It’s inlaid with turquoise, lapis and some kind of red stone.  I like it.  It’s a nice little piece that I think she’ll like as well.  It’s decorated with figures from Hindu and Buddhist mythology which ties in nicely with Thailand.  Garuda is front and center in the picture.

The other pics are just random shots taken as I waswalking about the bazaar area and the camp.

Ladyboys of Thailand

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So!  You head on over to Thailand.  You land at Bhumi Airport.  You’re in Bangkok.  Krung thep.  City of Angels.   All there is left to do is jump in a Taxi and head on down to Khaosarn Road or Sukhumvit Road.   Ya check into your hotel room.  Ya take a nap to prepare for the parties that are surely to be roaring up and down KSR and the Suk later that night.

You’ve heard all about the parties and clubs around Bangkok, but, it’s your first time there.

You get up.  Get showered.  Dressed and are out on the town.  Ready to get it on.

You meet the lady of your dreams.

But…something seems a little off.

She’s tall.  You heard that Thai ladies are too short.

She’s got perfect breasts, but, they’re surgically enhanced.  There are other things that hit you as odd, but, you keep blowing it off as paranoia.  You might also notice other Thai gals looking at you occasionally with what seems like a knowing glance and other Western men glancing in y our direction and chuckling or outright pointing and laughing at ya.

You figure you’re just paranoid.  You spend the night drinking and dancing with your new lady friend.  She seems friendly, shy, reserved.  She’s polite.  Doesn’t talk a lot.

As the night goes on, your drinking and feeling your buzz.

Suddenly, you seem to notice that her shoulders seem a bit too wide for a lady.

A hazy memory comes to you.  Something you read in a travel book or in a blog before you flew to Bangkok.

KATOOEY! pops into your head.  LADYBOYS!  The blog said to watch out for Bangkoks many transexuals.

You start to freak out a bit.  You might even lose your cool.

Don’t.   Just calm down and ask her.  If she is, she’ll probably tell you.  If she’s not,  you might get smacked or she might laugh at you and you just broke the ice with a hot, unusually tall Thai chic.

Katooey or Ladyboys are just a part of life in Thailand.  Much of Asia actually.  It’s no big deal to them.  If you make it a big deal, Thais will look at you like you’re a fool.

The way I see it is that they’re just another group of God’s creatures.  I don’t  understand it.  Probably never will.  I don’t need to understand it.  It’s their life.  Not mine.  As long as they’ve been truthful with me and not tried to trick me into anything that is not for me, I’ve got no problem with it.  To each his own.  Some men like it.

I’ve noticed that Brits, Aussies and Japanese tend to be the big group that gets into the transgender dating/sex scene.  If you sit in a bar on the street on Walking Street in Pattaya or Bang La Road in Phuket or off Nana Plaza on Suk Soi 4, it seems that most of the guys talking to the Katooey are from those islands.  I may be off on that assessment, but, I noticed it during my first trip to Thailand back in 2004.  Since then, I’ve paid attention when I see a dude with a Ladyboy.  Almost without fail, they’re from one of the aforementioned island nations.  Don’t know why and it may just be a string of coincidences over a five year period.  Who cares.

I’ve met a few and they seem nice.  Normal.  Outside of the fact that they are women who used to be men.  Chances are, if you’ve been to Bangkok for a while, you’ve met one and didn’t know it.

When I was traveling with my friend Becca, I was pretty good at spotting them.  So we made a game out of it.  If we wer out and about and I saw one, I’d rub the back of my neck as I passed her so that Becca could spot her too.  It was pretty funny.  About half of the time, Becca couldn’t tell.

What’s that tell you about your chances.  lol

Like I said earlier, it’s no big deal.  If it’s not your thing, don’t freak out.  Just tell her and leave gracefully.  If it’s your thing, well, that’s between you and her.

https://i2.wp.com/www.theforumbarrow.co.uk/images/lady-boys.pngIn Thailand, it’s so normal that they have Miss Thai LadyBoy Beauty Pageants in the larger, mainstream shopping malls.  Everyone gathers around and watches them in their gowns and bikinis and everyone applauds them.  I saw one beauty pageant with a talent show.  One of the girls was belting out Whitney Houston and sounded damn good.  It’s remarkable only for how unremarkable that the ladyboys are for Thais.  It was the same in Cambodia, Malaysia and, though a bit more subdued, it was the same for Vietnam.  I saw them in India as well.

Like I said, if you meet one of these ladies and you’re not comfortable around them, just depart the scene gracefully.  Otherwise, you’ll look like the ass.  No reason for it to ruin your evening or your trip.  After a few days, you’ll be able to spot them and know which ladies to talk to and which ladies to avoid.

Almost everything can be surgically altered.  Hips, voice box, Adam’s apple, derriere, breats, jaw structure.  I mean everything.

Well almost. First things first.

Height.  If they are taller than 5′ 6″, it’s almost certain.

If you want to be certain, check out the feet.  Big feet.  A sure sign.  Never met a Thai lady with big feet.

Last thing that is almost always a dead give away is the shoulders.  If they’re rail skinny and still have wide shoulders, they’re probably a Katooey.

That will probably save  you.

Now.  All that said, they’re still just people.  No reason to be disrespectful to them or treat them badly.  Just as you don’t know them or their interests until you meet them and get to know them, they don’t know you and don’t know if you are interested or not until you tell them that you are or are not.

If you aren’t, no need for a scene.  Some of them are nice folks just like anyone else.  Some of them are scamps just like anyone else.  You’ll find transgender and transvestite all over the social strata of Thailand.  They work at 7Eleven, they work as bartenders, wait persons, Executive, Mall Store Clerks, Government Office personnel.  All over.  That gal whom you cursed out or spat on or belted the night before may be your bartender the next night.  She might be the customs clerk that handles your Visa.  Don’t get yourself in a bind and make a fool of yourself.  It’s just as easy to politely excuse yourself and walk away.  After all, you’re in Thailand to have fun.  You’re not there to cast social judgments.  By demurring gracefully, you might impress that beautiful little Thai girl standing next to you enough that she approaches YOU.  It happens.

And then, who knows…

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Getting Scammed Around the World

 

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Today, I sat down and was hit with a distant memory from 2004. It was my first time in Bangkok. 2nd or 3rd night. I was drinking it up at Bedsupper Club. I walked outside and as it was closing and asked a couple of people if there were any after hours bars. Someone mentioned Spice Club. So I walked out to the parking lot and asked a Tuk Tuk to take me there.

Well, old Dude took me for a ride. Charged me 100 Thai baht (3 USD) and deposited me exactly one hundred feet down the road from where I started.

To get there though, he drove up past Q Bar around to Soi 5 down to Sukhumvit and back up Soi 11.

I didn’t really figure it out until about 3 months later when I partied at BSC again but this time with some friends. BSC closed. One of the gals said; “Let’s go to Spice!” I said; “Cool. Let’s do it.” and started to get a Tuk Tuk. The chic looked at me like I was an idiot and was like come on you lazy moron.

She turned and started walking down the street. I followed. When I saw Spice, I remembered the tuk tuk ride from earlier. I just started laughing. Everyone was looking at me like I was crazy. So I told them the story. And they all laughed at me.

Luckily, though, the first time that I went to the Grand Palace, I’d read lonely planet and been warned about the touts and “it’s closed today, let us take you to thirty gem stores and 14 tailors” so we can get gas coupons and what not.

I did ride around with a tuk tuk guy for free once or twice. He drove me around the city for free. I saw everything and every once in a while, we walked into a Tailor shop or a Gem Store and I acted interested and promised to return the next day with my credit cards because I was “fearful of carrying them with me in the big bad city of Bangkok.”

It was actually a fun day and the tuk tuk driver was a cool old guy. I’ve got his pic somewhere. Nice old dude.

I’ve done some weird things in Bangkok.

Still looking for that damn two story after hours bar with the big tree trunk and a circular platform around it in the middle of the dance floor. I’d love to party there again. Been there three or four times, but, each time too drunk or tired to remember the name of the joint.


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In Sanjaree, right outside Camp Hovey in the north of the ROK. There are several of what we called “Drinky Bars.” These bars are strikingly similar to the bars of NaNa, Soi Cowboy, Pattaya and Patpong. You walk in. Girls surround you. Ply you with drinks and try to get you to by them “Lady Drinks.” Usually, some kidn of fruit juice. Some of these bars have dancers on stages or platforms. Some pool tables. What they all have is SEX for SALE.

I did two tours in Korea. A little over two years on station.

It never failed to amaze me that guys would frequent these establishments and actually FALL IN LOVE with the girls from whom they and every other Tom, Dick and Harry were purchasing sex. Boom Boom.

These bar owners. Mamasans. They’d bring girls in from the country side. Poor girls with little to no education. After bringing them, these girls would have a “bar debt” to the Mamasan. The money for room and board. New clothes and make up. Food and whatever else Mamasan and the bar provided for their survival/livelihood until they were established and taking in customers.

One girl. Amazingly pretty. She had an excellent scam going. Before she was found out, she scammed three different guys. She would get some poor soul. A sucker. To fall in love with her. They’d start “dating” while she was working at the bar. She’d be “working” all the while. Raking in the dough, but, telling him that she was only serving drinks and what not.

So she got the first one. The first sucker. She got him hemmed up. They made marriage plans. Old Dude would start supporting her while she was supposedly not “working” at the bar and just serving drinks. The guy would pay the bar debt for her. Somewhere between 3 and 5 thousand dollars. They’d start the VISA process.

Once everything was paid off. Bar debt, etc. And old girl had soaked the poor sucker out of his hard earned money, it would usually be time for GI Joe Loverboy to PCS back stateside.

At this point, the gal would disappear. All of the money with her. Up in smoke. She’d make some excuse about going home to see her family before she went to the land of the Big PX or whatever.

Loverboy would be sitting at the Airport waiting for the love of his life who would, of course, never show up. She having absconded with all of his money.

This gal was able to do this three times before she was caught. I’m sure she wasn’t the first or the last to run the scam.

Broken hearted GI Joe on the airplane headed back to America sobbing. The gal and Mamasan splitting his money.

After the guy PCS’d, the girl would come back to work for the same bar. Find a new sucker and do it again.

Beautiful scam.

The hell of it is that you’d think that only dumb farm boys from Kentucky or West Virginia would fall for this kind of scam.

Nope!

Two of this gals victims were Officers. One was a Major. I guess education doesn’t help in matters of the heart.

Bunch of numb-nuts, if you ask me.

The same kind of scam that happens in lower Sukhumvit to naive farang (foriegners) happens all over the world. Same scams in Panama as well. I saw similar scams and set ups there as well. And I laughed at the suckers there too.

It’s amazing. The ingenuity and artfulness of the deceit of some of these characters.

Private Dancer by Stephen Leather

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It’s a damn good read.

I read this book about 3 months ago.  It’s a fascinating read.  At the time I read it, though, I thought it to be all fiction.  Recently, I found out that it’s based on real events and real people.  Even if loosely based, it’s still amazing to me that anyone could be as foolish and idiotic as Pete.  It’s mindboggling that anyone could do anything remotely resembling his acts of stupidity and treachery.

I have, in my travels, been witness to similar events.  Bar girls using their wiles to goad foolish, naive men into handing over large sums of money.  Men using women for sex while telling them that they love them and are going to marry them and take them home.  Relationships began on completely false pretext.  Everything.  I’ve seen it somewhere.

But this book takes the cake.  It was a fast and easy read.  Stephen Leather gives a glimpse into the seedier side of Bangkok life.  When you read it, realize that this is only a part of that life.  It’s a small part as well.  I’ve met hundreds of regular women and men in Thailand who aren’t constantly working a scam on some dumb farang.  I’ve met people who straddle the line as well as the voyeurs who interact and watch but never participate.  Life is fascinating in Bangkok.  It can really twist up a weak soul.  Wrap you around the wings of the dark angels and drag you down.  DEEP into murky waters.  It can also be a pleasant experience and uplifting.  Depends on what and where you are seeking your experience.

Just be careful.  It’s all about situational awareness as we say in Afghanistan.  Keep your eyes open.  Don’t be a fool.

Peace.

‘I don’t know if it was love at first sight, but it was pretty close. She had the longest hair I’d ever seen, jet black and almost down to her waist. She had soft brown eyes that made my heart melt, long legs that just wouldn’t quit and a figure to die for. She was naked except for a pair of black leather ankle boots with small chrome chains on the side. I think it was the boots that did it for me.’

Thailand 1996. The Year Of The Rat. Pete, a young travel writer, wanders into a Bangkok go-go bar and meets the love of his life. Joy is the girl of his dreams: young, stunningly pretty, and one of the Zombie Bar’s top-earning pole dancers. What follows is a roller-coaster ride of sex, drugs and deception, as Pete discovers that his very own private dancer is not all that she claims to be. And that far from being the girl of his dreams, Joy is his own personal nightmare.

For many years Private Dancer was only available as a free download through my website. It became something of a cult classic and over the last five years was downloaded sixty thousand times from more than forty countries. I gleaned much of the information for the book sitting in a bar called Jool’s in Sukhumvit Soi 4, just down the road from Bangkok’s infamous Nana Plaza red light area. The owner, Big Dave, knows pretty much everything there is to know about Thailand, and he’s the basis for the Big Ron character in the book.

Hodder and Stoughton didn’t want to publish Private Dancer as it is so different from my regular thrillers, so I decided to publish the book myself in Thailand, through my own publishing company, Three Elephants. (Three Elephants is an anagram of Stephen Leather!)

The striking cover photograph, of a naked girl holding a cut-throat razor behind her back, was taken in Anglewitch Bar in Nana Plaza and features one of the bar’s top showgirls. It took us ages to find the right girl. When I originally wrote the book, the fashion was for the girls to grow their hair long. But these days they trend to cut it short, make it curly, or dye it red or blonde. I sat with my friend Andrew Yates for hours outside Nana Plaza in search of the right girl, but it seemed as if the only ones with long straight hair were the ladyboys! My pal Paul Owen took the photograph. I borrowed the cut-throat razor from my barber and it took us almost an hour to get the shot right. I’m really pleased with the result – think it’s one of my best covers.

The book got great reviews from Bernard Trink at the Bangkok Post and the Pattaya Mail, both taking the view that Private Dancer should be required reading for all visitors to the Land of Smiles. Forewarned is forearmed! I think it works so well because it gives the story from so many viewpoints, including several Thai characters. Most books about the Thai bar scene only give the Westerners point of view.

Private Dancer is available at all good book shops throughout Thailand, especially Bookazine and Asia Books outlets, and is also on sale at the airport. There is still a free download available of an early version of Private Dancer. CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE DOWNLOAD. The book has more detail on what happened to the characters so if you enjoy the download you’ll want to buy the book eventually!

In 2005, Phil Tatham, who runs Monsoon Books in Singapore, wanted to add the book to his growing stable of publications, and I agreed to let him have publication rights for Singapore and Malaysia. You can also buy it on line through his website, www.monsoonbooks.com.sg.

A few pics from a recent trip

awgreenWat Arun and Angkor Wat in dramatic repose…

plus the silhouette of my beautiful girl.

I shot the Angkor Wat photos at dawn and then took the one above and photoshopped it a bit to obtain the pink, green and blue effects.  Just thought it looked cool.

The Wat Arun photos were taken at dusk.  I spent a night at the wonderful Arun Residence.  Just across the Chao Phraya from Wat Arun and only a short walk from Wat Pho and the Grand Palace.

These are just a few shots of some of my favorite places in Asia.  Hope you enjoy.  If you like ’em, leave a note.

Habibi and the Egyptian Papyrus

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I bought this in Cairo.  Usually, I’m simply not into this kind of art.  The whole papyrus thing has never excited me.  But this darker piece and the three ladies interested me for some reason.  The feminine is always fascinating to a man, I suppose.  So I asked the proprietor his price.

He tells me “1500 EGP.”

I laughed.  Loudly.

That’s about two or three hundred dollars.

I haggled back and forth with him.

Finally, I told him that I’d give him 50 bucks for it.   “AND NOT A PENNY MORE!”

He tried to get me to accept the same painting on a smaller piece of papyrus.

I just laughed at him again.  Told him that his store looked pretty empty to me so he’d better take the sale while he had it.  Because it was about to walk out his front door.

He acquiesced.

I think he finally saw the wisdom in making a sale rather than attempting to bugger another tourist.

I was wrong.

He carries the piece over to his counter and starts to retrieve packaging for it.  A tube and some wrapping paper and a certificate of authenticity.  He hands me a receipt on which he’s written 300 EGP as the sale price.  I laugh at him.

I say;  “Dude, 300 EGP is 60 bucks.  We agreed on 50.”

Achmed the Papyrus Proprietor replies; “It’s only 10 dollars more.”

I tell him; “That’s ten bucks more than agreed.”

And I start to walk out of the store.

He tells me that he’ll change the price on the receipt and tells me to pay at the cash register.

I tell him;  “NO WAY!  Wrap up my purchase and hand it to me and I’ll hand you the 250EGP.”

He and his compatriots stare at me.

I tell them; “Dudes, if you want the money, wrap up the papyrus in one of those pretty little tubes and hand it to me.

You do that.  I’ll give you the money.  Until then, no one gets a dime out of me.”

Finally they relent.  I get my papyrus in the handy dandy little scroll carrying tube and a quaint little certificate of authenticity.  They get their money.

After returning to Herat in mid August, I unpacked.  Found the papyrus in my bag and threw it into the corner.  Wondering why I’d bought it.  It was a nice piece.  And the three ladies are brilliantly done.  And, admittedly, it’s a gorgeous piece.  But what was I gonna do with it.  Certainly not tack it to my wall in my hooch.

So it sat in the corner.  Forgotten.  Until…

December 25th.

On the 24th, I arrived in Bangkok for my R&R.  I had a lunch date.

But…

She called me and told me to meet later.  5 PM.  AND…she’s bringing a friend.

I agreed.  I’m excited to meet this girl but now I’m a bit apprehensive.  Thinking that maybe she is going to blow me off.  Call again and tell me that she can’t meet me.

We agree to meet at Gulliver’s Tavern on Sukhumvit Soi 5.

So I walk down there a bit early.  Want to make sure that I’m not late.

She calls to tell me that she’s on the way.

BUT…she and her friend decide to stop at Starbucks.  Right at the end of the Soi (street).

I’m not getting a full appreciation of what is going on at this point.  Kinda freaked out.  Why did they stop down there to get a coffee if we are supposed to have dinner.  I guess they were tired and needed a caffeine jump start.

She texts me and asks me if I’m coming or going to wait at Gulliver’s.  I walk down to Starbucks.  I walk in to Starbucks and immediately recognize both of them.  Two diminutive, yet stunning, Thai girls sitting right at the door. Unny–the girl I came to meet and Khanitta, her friend.  I’ve seen Khanitta’s pictures on the website ThailandFriends.com.  So I know who she is.  I had erroneously assumed that she was married or otherwise involved with another fellow.

Now, I’m not scared of women.  But I get a bit nervous at times.  This is such a time.  I have to entertain two gorgeous Thai ladies now.  How to do so?  Luckily, it turns out to be easy.  They were incredibly easy going.  They didn’t have to be coaxed into talking or joking around.  They weren’t difficult.  Maybe, we just had good chemistry.  Part of it is that I’m so relaxed in Thailand that I’m easy as well.

After finishing their coffees, we walk up to Gulliver’s.  We are seated.  We eat.  We chat.  We get along pretty well.  By now, it’s getting on 8 PM.  Khanitta suggests that we walk down the street to Soi 4.  I’m a bit shocked by this as Soi 4 is part of the “dark side” of Thailand.  It’s bar girl [prostitute] central.

We make the trek down Sukhumvit Road to Soi 4 and go to a bar called Big Mango.  It’s a little dive in a back alley off of Soi 4.  It’s a decent joint with a bit of personality.  A smallish room with a square bar in the middle and a pool table in the back near the restrooms.   We walk in and Khanitta introduces me to two of her friends–Tony and Stevie.  Two Scottish fellows.  Mid-40s or so.  Stevie is a nice, laid back fellow.  Tony seems a bit mad to me.  He seems to be attempting to shock everyone with how crass he can be.  I’m not the most tactful fellow on the planet.  Tony makes me seem quite the diplomat by comparison.

Khanitta, Stevie and I play a bit of pool   I get my ASS handed to me by both Khanitta and Stevie.  Too nervous to play pool at this point.  (Give me a couple drinks and I’d play better.  lol)   Unny sits at a table behind us watching.  I don’t know what to think about her at this point.  The usual.  Is she interested?  What to talk about to keep in interesting?  How to act?  What’s next.  Should I just give it up and call it a friendly night out with a couple of gorgeous ladies and count myself blessed.  I can always meet someone later at Q Bar or one of the countless clubs and after hours bars in Bangkok.  Never had a problem with meeting women in Bangkok.

But I like her.  So I try to be patient.

Tony at one point tells me loudly.  “Just remember lad.  When you’re back home, we’re fucking them.”  I look at him and think to myself.  “Yeah, right.  There’s not many women that you’re fucking that you haven’t paid.”  I chuckle to myself and walk over and miss my shot on the pool table.  Stevie, aside from being a generally good guy, is a pretty good pool player.  So he takes me out easily.

We spend an hour or so there and then we head out.

It’s time to hit the Q Bar.

At the Q Bar, we lounge in the corner room on a couple of couches that I’ve reserved for the festivities that I’m hoping will be my Birthday.  The waiter brings over the two bottles of Jack Daniels that I’ve ordered for the occasion.  Khanitta and I pour ourselves a drink with a liberal amount of Jack.  Unny sips on a Coke.  She doesn’t seem to be too much into drinking.  She only weighs about 90 pounds.  I understand a reluctance to drink for her part.  Can’t take too much to get her fairly well lit.  Khanitta drinks like a pro, though.  lol

Eventually folks from TF start showing up.  Emma (EmoKitty) and Oh  (I’m Back).  Stevie makes it over.  And a few others.  It’s a pretty good time.  And I’m pretty lit.  I can’t remember the names of anyone to whom I was introduced that night.  But all nice folks and we all got pretty hammered.

I spend most of my time sitting with Unny.  Trying to talk to her.  Trying to get to know her.  Just looking at her because she is so breathtakingly beautiful.  I get up and mingle with others as well.  We make toasts and generally act as people do when imbibing heavily.  Khanitta has her camera with her and takes tons of pics.  Khanitta is a really wild and fun gal.  I was happy that Unny brought her along.  She’s the life of any party.

Emma brought me a little Strawberry dessert thingie.  It seems like someone sang the “Happy Birthday” song to me.

I went outside a couple of times to talk to family.  I think I got Terry, Ginger, Jonathan and Momma on the phone that night.

It was  a great birthday.

But the best part of it was meeting Unny.

She was pretty quiet and shy.  I was starting to doubt that she was interested in me until I went outside and one of the girls asked me if I wanted to go have some real fun or if I was going to stay with my “shadow.”

When I realized who she was talking about, it was all I could do to suppress the smile.  I really wanted to get to know Unny.  If this gal was noticing this then I probably stand a good chance of getting a second date with her.

So I declined the invitation and hung tight with Unny.

At some point, we all part ways.  Q Bar closes at 2 AM.  So I’m sure that it was 2 AM.  Unny, Khanitta and I rolled down Soi 11 to the Ambassador Hotel’s Spice Club.  It’s an after hours bar.  Stays open late…until 6 AM on some nights.

Unny was still being a bit of a wallflower.  I got a bit too drunk and start telling her that  she is “the most beautiful girl” and some other nonsense that probably bored the piss out of her.  At one point, I realize that I’m probably making an ass out of myself.  So I tell her;  “You probably get this kind of talk all the time.”  And I vaguely remember apologizing to her for boring her to tears and being lame.  haha

Khanitta and I get up on the stage at Spice Club and dance together.  We both try to get Unny to come up with us.  But she’s either too shy or doesn’t really like to dance.  At this point.   For some odd reason that I don’t recall, I decide that it would be a good ieda to pick Unny up [and carry her to the dance floor?].  This royally angers her.  Little gal.  Cute as hell.  Probably has had a problem with this before.  Doesn’t appreciate the loss of control or being manhandled by an idiot.  She’s pissed.  She stomps off.

I’m standing there in shock.  Thinking to myself.  “Dave!  You DUMBASS!!!  You just royally fucked it all up there…retard!”

So I just kind of stand there.  Figure I’ll wait for a minute and then head back to the room.

As I start to get up to walk out of Spice to head back to the room, Khanitta walks back in and tells me to come on.  I’m a bit surprised.

Unny had told her to come get me.

My luck has held through.  Unny still isn’t completely turned off by my buffoonery.  haha

So I walk out and sheepishly join up.  I apologize.

Then I notice that I’m drunk AND hungry.

I suggest that we go eat on Sukhumvit Road.  One of the street vendors that sells “Isaan food.”

We walk on down to the Suk.  Grab a couple of chairs and eat fried rice and whatever else is on the menu.  Sit there and chat for a bit.

After eating, we head home.

Next day, I text Unny and ask her to meet me again after she gets off work.  To my amazement, she agrees.

We spend all that night talking.  Just talking.  It’s one of the nicest nights I’ve spent in Bangkok.  Talking about anything with the most beautiful girl in the world.  I can’t take my eyes off of her.

All the while, I’m thinking to myself.  “This girl reminds me of someone.”

After a bit, I remember theEgyptian ladies on the papyrus that I had purchased in Cairo.  Unny has the same eyes.  Almost the same nose.   I decide at that moment that I will send it to her as thanks for making my time in Bangkok so enjoyable.

About ten days later, I’m at the Camp Stone APO with the papyrus in hand.  It takes a month to get there.

When Unny receives it, she texts me excitedly to tell me that she loves it.  As well as the little post card inscription that I’d sent with it.  I’ll let that be between us, though.

What you see in the pictures is the result of this little story.

And with the blessings of the Gods, there will be many more stories to relate about Unny and Dave.

Insha’allah…

Kanchanaburi

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On an early morning not too long ago, a few ladies and gents got together and made the world better for a school in a sleepy little place called Kanchanaburi near Bangkok, Thailand.

Funds were collected.  Supplies and Equipment purchased.  Then the task of planning and executing the movement from Bangkok to a sleepy village called Kanchanaburi and a little school on an Island.

That narrow little rope/plank bridge looks a little treacherous.  lol

The kids all look happy.

These generous folks put on a little show for the kids.  Played them a couple of animated movies.  Kung Fu Panda and another.  Served up a meal or two.  Handed out school supplies, uniforms and a few other essentials.

Spent the night in tents out on the school grounds.

And then quietly made their way home…

Leaving behind a hundred or so smiling young faces.

Here are pics of the event:

Helping others is good for the soul.

Wat Pho and around the way…in Krung Thep–the City of Angels

On my last day in Bangkok, I had some free time.  The lovely lady with whom I had happily spent most of my time in Bangkok could not see me due to family obligations and then work.  So…I had to entertain myself.  I arose early and took the BTS to the Chao Phraya river.   Walked to the pier and boarded the river bus to cruise up to Wat (Temple) Pho.  I’ve visited this temple on numerous occasions.  Usually alone, sometimes accompanied by friends like Becca.  It’s one of my favorite places in the City of Angels.

The grand and golden reclining Buddha of Wat Pho.  Magnificent.  A site to behold.  I’ve posted about it before.

These are the pics of my morning.

Probably come back and write more later…

Cambodia and Thailand: Will it be War?

Is this the Thai government attempt to divert the countries attention away from the PAD protests and madness?  What is going on in the Land of Smiles?  It seems to be going insane.  Between the PAD, the Muslims in the South and the Cambodian border, Thailand has become the land of division, protest and madness.

War threat If you have your ideas about this news, share it with others, here!

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered fresh troops to the border with an ultimatum to Thailand: Pull military forces back today or the border will become a “life and death battle zone”.

Hun Sen told reporters in Phnom Penh that he had warned Thailand’s visiting Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat that without a quick pullout, Thai soldiers could face being fired upon by Cambodian troops in “large-scale armed conflict”.

“If they cannot withdraw tonight, they must withdraw tomorrow,” said Hun Sen.

“We have tried to be patient, but I told the Thai foreign minister today that the area is a life-and-death battle zone.”

His comments came after talks with Mr Sompong in Phnom Penh.

Mr Sompong also met with his counterpart Hor Namhong in a bid to resolve the dispute over the area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

The Cambodian foreign minister said yesterday’s talks failed to end in agreement because his Thai opposite number “could not sign anything”.

Hun Sen and Hor Namhong both told reporters that Cambodia could choose to take the border dispute before an international court if it was not resolved soon.

The comments made by the Cambodian prime minister and foreign minister surprised Mr Sompong and Thai officials, who were adamant that the meetings had not been a failure.

Mr Sompong said the tone during the meetings between the two countries had been different as the Cambodian leaders agreed that both sides had to be patient in resolving the border spat.

He said no Thai troop withdrawals would be made from the 4.6 sq km overlapping area between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket and Preah Vihear province of Cambodia until the dispute over ownership is cleared through negotiations in the Joint Boundary Commission that was set up to demarcate the land border.

Thailand reiterated its ownership over the area, Mr Sompong said in Bangkok and rushed to report the talks to Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.

Suranaree Task Force commander Maj-Gen Kanok Netrakavaesana will hold talks with his Cambodian counterpart tomorrow on the border issues and the Thai and Cambodian defence ministers will meet next Tuesday , according to Mr Sompong.

Cambodian Deputy Defence Minister Gen Neang Phat said more Cambodian troops were heading to the area after up to 500 Thai soldiers had tried to cross the border near an ancient Hindu temple that is claimed by both countries.

“We are building up our troops at the border in response to Thailand, but I cannot reveal the number,” he told reporters.

Maj-Gen Srey Deok, who oversees the Cambodian military in the disputed area, said: “Thai troops have already entered the area. They are confronting our troops.”

But Maj-Gen Kanok denied that more troops had been sent to the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple.

Thailand and Cambodia have 10 soldiers each at the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda near the Preah Vihear temple and 45 around the compound on joint patrol, according to the agreement between the two countries to ease border tension.

The two countries also have back-up troops near the border.

The number of soldiers there remained unchanged, Maj-Gen Kanok said.

Maj-Gen Kanok slammed Cambodia for distorting information and taking advantage of the political crisis in Thailand to launch an offensive move for its own political benefit.

The Suranaree chief, his patience wearing thin, called for a quick solution to the border spat and a clear direction to be provided by the government as it could become an armed conflict if it was left unsettled.

“I want the government to solve this problem and make it clear what to do. If it is left this way, nobody knows what is going to happen,” he said.

Tensions between Thailand and Cambodia first flared in July after the Preah Vihear temple was awarded World Heritage status by the World Heritage Committee.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple belongs to Cambodia, but the surrounding land remains in dispute.

Tensions escalated into a military confrontation in which up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops faced off for six weeks.

The two countries have swapped accusations of violating each other’s territory in the dispute.

(with Agency reports)

Prassat Preah Vihear

Suvarnabhumi Airport Opening Video (2005)

My gateway to Southeast Asia.

It’s the nicest, most organized Airport that I’ve experienced.  Easy in and easy out.

I don’t feel like I’m entering or leaving a Nazi concentration camp as when entering or exiting America.  There is organization and a flow to this airport that does not exist in any of the Muslim countries of the Middle East and Central Asia.  And unlike entering and exiting the Middle East there aren’t thousands with their hands out for tips and bribes.  It’s much less hectic than the European airports through which I’ve flown.

As soon as I touch down at Suvarnabhumi, a smile creeps onto my face and a lightness enters my step.  I’m happy.  I’m home.  I feel more at home in Bangkok than almost anywhere on this planet.

I am entering the land of smiles.  And the land of smiles is the gateway to the East.  The true east.  Not the dirty and violent Islamic Middle East.  This is the enchanted land of myth, silk, smiles and exotic Asian mysteries.  Angkor, Luang Prabang, Sukhothai, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Xi’an, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Mekong, Lhasa and Katmandu, the Taj Mahal and the Ganges.  Ancient histories.  A region shrouded in myst and legend.  The home of the the great conqueror Genghis Khan and the religion and philosophical enlightenment of the Buddha.

It’s also home to the most beautiful beaches and women in the world.

Every time I land at Suvarnabhumi International, these thoughts run through my head.  My next adventure awaits me.  I’ll swim the Mekong and climb the Great Wall.  Explore ancient temples or dance all night at RCA.

I love this place.  Thailand uber alles.

A view of Bangkok

Over the past few years, I’ve had several conversations with folks back in the States about Thailand. I’ve found that there is a common misconception that Thailand is a backward Third World country. People seem to have this idea in their head that Thailand and it’s capital city, Bangkok, is nothing more than a small backwater with a few hundred prostitutes, a couple of Buddhist Temples and not much more. I get this glazed look from folks when I tell them that Bangkok is a modern city that is larger than most US cities.

Reality. Thailand is a modern country. Bangkok is an ultra-modern city.

Bangkok or Krung Thep as it is called in Thai is the 22nd largest city on the planet. It is home to an estimated 15 to 20 Million Thais and foreign guests. It’s historical and cultural attractions make it one of the most popular destinations in all of Asia. It is the major Asian Business, travel and tourism hub.

That’s just the beginning. A trip to Bangkok is a visit to one of the most visually stimulating cities on the planet. It’s BTS Sky Train system makes the city easily accessible. The Chao Phraya river adds to both the beauty and accessibility of the city. One can travel the Chao Phraya river and see some of the most incredible and beautiful sites in all of Asia. Wat Arun, the Canals, the early morning floating marke, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew as well as numerous other Wats (Temples), Cathedrals, Mosques. Magnificent Statues. Crocodile and Monkey farms. Most of the major hotel chains of the World find their home right along the Chao Phraya. The Hilton. The Sheraton. The Shangri La. Sofitel. In addition, there are innumerable wonderful B&Bs, Guesthouses and Boutique Hotels all along the river and throughout the city from Silom to Sukhumwit to Sathon and Petchaburi.

The city has a magnficent night life with numerous restarurants, bars, discotheques. There is something for every taste in Bangkok. Shopping at Siam, Silom, Pratunam. There are numerous cinemas which play both Thai and Hollywood films. There is a huge Chinatown. Little Arabia is along Thanon Sukhumwit at Soi 3.

Of course, there are Patpong, Nana and Soi Cowboy and the infamous sex districts. Patpong was a bit of a surprise for me. I ventured into the place without knowing where I was. Of course, I had heard of Patpong. I expected something completely different. I was with a Thai friend shopping along Silom Road. We walked along the road and through a maze of street vendors selling everything from beer and t-shirts to Thai Silk and tailored suits. We turned down into a larger maze of stalls and shops and, though I didn’t know it, we entered Patpong. We’re walking through the stalls and there are little blonde haired Aussie and British and Swedish children all about. I’m looking at a stall with t-shirts when I hear techno music. I turn towards the music and not more than 8 feet behind me is an open door through which one can plainly see half naked girls shaking her little Thai booties to the music. Surrounding the whole Nightmarket are Go Go Bars and all manner of Red Light shows. It was quite surreal to see all of these little Western Children and their Mothers shopping in the midst of what amounts to a sexual Disney land. I started laughing and my Thai friend looks at me and asks what it is that I find so funny. I just point to a huge Go Go sign and then to a blonde lady carrying her baby. She shrugs her shoulders as if to say; “And?” It was quite the contrast. And no one seemed to mind or pay it any attention.

Thailand is a land of contrast. None more striking than Bangkok. Pornography and prostitution is illegal in Thailand. Drugs are illegal in Thailand. Even so, there is a thriving sex industry in Bangkok that centers on these three areas–Na Na, Soi Cowboy and Patpong. You see old pot bellied men walking around these districts with sexy, slinky little Thai girls who are a 3rd their age. It’s quite a site.

Sex is not the only attraction to Bangkok.

For those who are more culturally minded, there are numerous cultural sites. Beautiful Temples and Palaces. Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace being the most famous. The famous backpacker district known as Khaosan Road. Full of global travelers. You will meet folks from every corner of the world. Folks of all ages. I’ve met women in the 60s amongst the Khaosarn trekkers. Africans, Israelis, Euros, Arabs, Brazilians, Argentinians, Aussies and Americans. Singles, friends in twos, threes and larger groups, couples, families. Any combination imaginable. If you find yourself at Khaosarn someday, make sure to stop by Gullivers. You can’t miss it. Over the entrance hangs a Tuk Tuk.

Tuk Tuks are the three wheeled open air taxis that are ubiquitous in Bangkok. Be careful to arrange your price before getting into one of these for a ride you won’t soon forget. It’s a must have experience when visiting Bangkok.

Bangkok is a phenomenal experience. If you aren’t careful, you’ll find yourself enchanted or even addicted to the city. I know I fell for it’s charms. I love Bangkok. Might even make it my home someday.

The pictures below are the view from my hotel room in the Landmark Hotel. Landmark Hotel is downtown on Thanon Sukhumwit. It’s a great hotel. Not too pricey. Central to Bangkok. Easy access to the BTS. Close to numerous popular clubs and bars.

The official name of Bangkok:

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit

It’s listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest city name in the world. The short name is Krung Thep which translates to “City of Angels.”

The Bar Girls 10 Commandments

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1. At the end of the week, specifically Friday and Saturday, many locally employed walking ATM machines will come to your bar, choose carefully! Some have money, but others do not! If he is wearing a suit and tie, check that the tie is not a Pratunam special and check that he isn’t wearing trainers. If he is, forget him because he is most likely an English teacher, and they will only give you peanuts, if they give you anything at all.

2. No matter how fat and ugly he is, no matter how bad he may smell, no matter how drunk he is, make sure you always tell him he is handsome. Sit close to him and run your hands over his body, arousing him. As soon as he has paid the bar fine, you can stand clear of him. Even if he knows that you despise him, he’ll still pay you. The hard part is getting him to pay the bar fine, and as soon as he has done that, the rest is easy.

3. Start collecting email addresses from all of your customers, once you have a good collection of addresses, a visit to your local Internet cafe is in order. Send everyone an email. Simply change the name on each email and send it off to all the guys. If you can remember something specific about them, mention that in the email too. These walking ATMs all have a soft heart, so you need to tell them a story to get them to send you some of their riches. Start with a sick buffalo and if he doesn’t reply, next tell him that your mother is ill. As a last resort, if he still doesn’t send any money, tell him you are pregnant and the baby is his! 4. Practice crying on cue. It is essential that you can produce tears immediately. This will have the effect of helping the walking ATM machine to see things your way! 5. When you get a customer for an extended period of time, make sure he takes you shopping, with Rarn Tong (gold shop) being the best place to visit. Make sure he buys you gold and if he doesn’t, see rule 4! As soon as he has left Thailand, take the gold back to the shop and sell it straight back to them, thus increasing your pay out. 6. When locally based farangs are inside the bars, do not speak in Thai with your friends in the bar but rather use Lao, Khmer or any other dialects that you may know. It’s bad enough that some of them can speak and even read Thai, but Lao and Khmer should be kept as sacrosanct. Under no circumstances should the farang be taught our regional dialects. 7. Always see him off at the airport. Thai currency cannot be used in his country, so it is highly likely that he will give you all of his leftover Baht as he leaves and says goodbye. While accompanying him to the airport, prevent him buying going-away gifts for his family and friends in his homeland, this will leave more money for you. 8. See Asian customers. They understand that we like to gamble, and they understand that we have lots of unemployed brothers and sisters who need to eat. Therefore, they pay a lot better than the farangs. 9. Remember, when you go with a farang, you must always ask for taxi money and give him the excuse that taxi drivers cannot give change on big notes. Don’t let him see the small change in your wallet. If taxi money isn’t forthcoming, see rule 4. 10. If you are no longer making money in Bangkok, move down to Phuket where you will be able to start making money again. Give Phuket a few years, then move on to Pattaya. Even if you are approaching 50, it is no problem as the walking ATM machines in Pattaya seem to be so blind, they will not notice.

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I found this on the net. It’s pretty funny. And before anyone gets offended. It’s a quasi joke. There is truth to it but it’s not all there is to Thailand and not all there is to the Bar girls. Like anything else, people are people. Trying to make a living. This is just one way that women make a living in Thailand. They come from the poor areas in the North. Usually Isaan. Some just want to make enough to get ahead. Some save to start a business. Some, I’m certain, are cheap little cheats who want to use suckers to support a lazy lifestyle.

Not all girls in Thailand are prostitutes. Not all are looking for a buck. Not all are looking for love either. Lots of women in Asia who are just like the girls in your hometown. I’ve met nice girls in Thailand from all levels of the socio-economic ladder. I’ve had great experiences there. Of course, I’ve been given the “I love you” line several times by little ‘tweeners looking to get a line on a dumb farang. Just don’t be a sucker and fall for it. I’ve met educated women who have great jobs who refuse to let you pay for anything. Working women (business) who just want a drink and a casual relationship. I’ve met girls who are looking for a nice farang to fall in love with because they are sick of Thai men. I’ve met girls who just want sex and a man to hold them for the night.

There are clubs in Thailand that are just like any club in the States or Europe. You can meet women who are just out with friends. Some out looking for the love of their life. Hell, I’ve even met “off duty” bar girls who are looking to hang with a normal guy. Be normal and she’s your girl. One thing you gotta watch out for are the lady boys. Some of them will fool you. They’ve got all the right surgeries to look the part. And they DO look the part. Half lit in the dark, you can’t always tell. lol

The club scene in Thailand is great. The music is much better than in the States. Well, it’s better than Kentucky. They’ve got world class DJs. Locals and Internationals spinning the tables and lots of gimmicks to get people into the clubs. Not that you need an excuse to go to a club in Thailand. All those beautiful Thai women should be reason enough.

You can meet and experience almost anything you want in Thailand. Bar Girls, Good Girls, ‘tweeners, Society gals, business women out on the prowl. It’s all in how you approach it. Don’t be a sucker. Don’t be a heartless ass either. Enjoy yourself, but realize that they are just as human as are you with all the emotions, challenges and complications AND good that goes along with being human. Keep your perspective. Be human. Live and let live. Love freely. Love well.

Bottom line: Don’t be a douche!

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This movie was taken by a patron of the Safari A GO GO. These clubs don’t allow people to video. Hence the quality of the vid and the angle. But it gives you an idea of the more sedate places in Patpong on Silom Road.

Bangkok Beauty

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One of the many reasons that I love Thailand. I was walking to Thanon Khaosarn in Bangkok when I snapped this picture. I couldn’t resist. lol She was probably on her way to do some shopping. Lots to do in the area around Khaosarn Road which is the backpacker hangout. Shops, hotels, bars, restaurants and tons of folks walking around, hanging out, drinking, people watching, shopping, getting tattooed, hair weaves, planning tours to Vietnam, Laos or any of a hundred other destinations in Asia.

I was with a friend so I couldn’t pursue.

The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.
Rudyard Kipling

Wat Pho — The Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Across the river from Wat Arun is Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon). Another of my favorite tourist stops in Bangkok. The Reclining Buddha. Golden. Majestic. At 15 Meters high and 46 Meters long, it is the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand. The Temple is beautiful and peaceful even with the thousands of tourists who visit each week. The temple also houses over 1000 Buddha images on it’s grounds. The most of any temple in Thailand.

The Temple serves as the the official Thai Center for Traditional Medicine and Massage. You can get a massage here for around 200 baht. But be careful. Traditional Thai Massage is a fairly rugged experience. It’s not for the faint of heart and you may come out feeling a little sore. Even so, you’ll feel refreshed. I usually opt for the foot and leg massage at other outlets. Nothing better than a relaxing hour long massage of your feet and legs after 8 hours of tourist treks through the hundreds of incredible sites in Bangkok.

Not too far away is Wat Phra Kaew. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace. If you make it to Bangkok. Don’t miss these magnificent structures. They are incredible.

As you make your way to these three sites, you are likely to be approached by seemingly genuine folks who will attempt to steer you to other destinations. It’s a scam. Usually involving gems or a tailor shop. A nice fellow will approach you and give you advice on different sites to see in Bangkok. Then he’ll ask you where you are headed–even though it’s obvious that you are headed toward Wat Pho or the Emerald Buddha. They’ll tell you that these sites are closed for a holiday or for cleaning or some ceremony. Then they will steer you toward a “random” Tuk Tuk who will take you to another Temple. BUT along the way, you should stop at a Jewelry Store or a Gem Shop or Tailor Shop. It’s a scam. These places will attempt to overcharge you in the hundreds of dollars for Jewelry. The Tailor Shops will attempt to charge two to three times the amount of other Tailor shops. Don’t fall for it. There are hundreds of quality tailor shops around Bangkok that have reasonable prices and the more you purchase, the better the bargain. I was lucky. The first time I visited Bangkok, I met a Thai girl who took me to Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. One of the touts attempted to approach us, she yelled at him and warned me about the scam.

The last time that I visited Bangkok and Wat Pho, I ran across a tout hitting up three Japanese girls. So I stopped and watched for a minute or two. Let the guy run his scam and then stepped up and told the girls what the tout was doing to them. He had actually tried to take them on a trek around the city to make it to a Temple that was a few hundred feet away. I laughed and then pointed the girls in the proper direction. The tout got pretty angry and made as if he was going to get violent. I laughed at him and lunged back and he ran off. It was pretty funny and I felt pretty good after helping those three girls out. One of them was actually cute. lol

When I gave Becca the grand tour of Bangkok, one of the touts got us and pulled the Jedi Mind Trick on us. We almost fell for it. But came to our senses and walked on to the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha.

Chao Phraya

One of the things that I love about Bangkok is the River. The Chao Phraya is vibrant. Exciting. Full of Adventure and Life. And it reminds me of home. My hometown is a river city. So I kind of have an affinity for River Cities around the world. Phnom Penh and it’s 3 rivers. Frankfurt and the Main. Even Washington DC and the Potomac.

One of my favorite Wats or Temples in Bangkok is Wat Arun–the Temple of Dawn. It is one of the most beautiful Wats that I have had the fortune to experience in Asia. Viewing Wat Arun as the sun rises or descends beyond the horizon is an extraordinary vision that delights the eyes. I would recommend Wat Arun as a must see stop for anyone who makes the trip to Thailand.

The full name of the Temple is Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahavihara or วัดอรุณราชวรารามราชวรมหาวิหาร if you feel adventurous.

Wat Arun