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10 July 2011 ~ 17 Comments

Bars Closed For Buddhist Holiday

\I discovered that the majority of the bars and nightclubs in Bangkok at least are most likely to be closed on Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16.

This is due to two important Buddhist holidays, namely Asarnha Bucha Day and Buddhist Lent Day. These are among the biggest Buddhist holidays on the Thai calendar and therefore, they are treated with high reverence.

buddhist monks

It is a shame that this month, the government elections have coincided with two Buddhist holidays, because some bars will lose four nights revenue. It’s even more of a shame if you’ve come to Thailand to experience some of the legendary nightlife!

The majority of bars were ordered to close last year and it is thought that this year will be no exception to the rule. So, I thought I should inform you, so you and your friends will be aware of this Buddhist holiday. In particular, these bar closures (usually) apply rigorously to Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui. The only exception tends to be the Silom area in Bangkok (notably Patpong), which is controlled by Bangrak’s finest. The boys in brown down there are often more lenient than their counterparts in other districts of the Big Mango. Unfortunately, we cannot do anything about the bar closures on Buddhist holidays and government elections. The Thailand nightlife industry just has to learn to absorb it.

My advice is to go out, enjoy yourselves during the week, and consider making Thursday, July 14 your custom-made ‘Friday’ night. I will personally be enjoying the long weekend and may use it as an excuse to head south for some sun, surf and sand. Koh Chang and Koh Samet are both fairly close to Bangkok, cheap weekend excurisions and easy to get to.

08 July 2011 ~ 2 Comments

Eating Thai Style in Bangkok

Those of you that live in Bangkok or have visited know that getting something to eat here can be a wildly different experience from going out to eat in the U.S. Certainly there are scores of very nice restaurants serving almost any type of cuisine you want. There are also the nice air conditioned sit down Thai restaurants, where you can get anything from pad thai to southern curries or northern specialties like larb which is a dish of chopped meats and spices.

If you’re willing to be more adventurous though and chance some additional assaults on your senses (and occasionally on your digestion) then you should do as Golf and I do and get your food from the Thai street-side restaurants. The food here is simple, cheap and usually quite delicious. The downside is that you eat sitting on a small plastic stool next to the road in the oppressive Thailand heat. Overall though it’s well worth it.

On this night we decided to do just that because we wanted something quick and cheap. There’s almost no part of Bangkok where you can’t simply walk out the street and within a few minutes find a vendor of some sort with a street-side gastronomic wonder. This is a true assault on your senses as you’ll have the heat and humidity, the loud noise of the traffic (some of the worst in the world), the chatter of those at nearby tables and passing by, the smells of the food from the vendor and other vendors nearby and finally the unfamiliar and often unbelievably spicy taste of the food you order.

While rice is a staple in Thailand, noodles are also very popular and there are loads of places serving many different varieties of noodles. You can get thin noodles and thick noodles, noodles made from rice flour or wheat, noodles in broth or dry, served with chicken, pork or beef. Some stands specialize in just one type, but others will make your noodles to order in whatever way you like. Here’s what you might expect:

You order at the “window” and the cart owner gets to work preparing the noodles, vegetables, spices and meat. Everything is freshly prepared while you wait and while I can hear you saying “Wait what about the meat just hanging in the window” I can assure you that it too is fresh and gets replaced quite frequently at any good noodle stall. Here you can see the nice lady who owns this restaurant preparing the pork (moo in Thai) to go into our noodles.

While they are preparing the dish you can have a seat and they will bring water and a very short time later your steaming bowl of noodles. Condiments such as sugar, fish sauce and chili’s are on each table and you can dress up the noodles to your own taste with these.

I know some foreigners would never consider eating at these streetside restaurants because they think that they are unsanitary, but truly they are not. You can see exactly what’s going on in the ‘kitchen’ so you know if the place is clean or not (can you say the same of most restaurants?). And if you choose a restaurant which has a lot of Thai customers your chances of safety and also a delicious meal are greatly enhanced. And if you choose wisely (no fried foods), they are low in fat and calories too. I know because I’ve lost about 10kg since we’ve arrived in Thailand. Granted some of that is from all the walking I’m doing, but part of it is due to the increase in fruits and vegetables in my diet coupled with a decrease in meats. Speaking of fruits, here’s what you can have for dessert and it will only set you back 10 baht ($0.33).

06 July 2011 ~ 10 Comments

Bangkok Assault

There’s no doubt that Bangkok is an all out assault on your senses, especially if you are a first time visitor. Even Thai’s can be overwhelmed by Bangkok when arriving for the first time. Sure you may know what to expect from reading and seeing pictures of the Thai capital city, but I guarantee that the actual experience will have your senses reeling.

Now I’m not unexperienced when it comes to Bangkok, having visited over a dozen times in the past years, however each time I arrive I am still somewhat taken aback by the sensory overload. This last arrival was no different. It starts almost immediately when I stepped out of Suvarabhumi airport to get a taxi. 6 o’clock in the evening and the heat was full blast. It’s almost like stepping into a sauna with the combination of extreme heat and extreme humidity. Coming from a northern climate I almost immediately began to sweat from every single pore of my body.

Normally I would hop right into an air conditioned taxi for a comfortable ride into the city. Of course this was not a normal arrival since Golf, Alivia and I were returning to Thailand for good. In addition to our numerous bags of luggage, we were also being met by numerous friends at the airport. First we had to locate said friends however!

If you’ve ever made the trip from the U.S. to Thailand you’ll know it’s one of the longest flights possible. For us it was a 21 hour trip (3 hour layover in Hong Kong), which is enough by itself to make one exhausted and jet lagged. Of course we also had a 1 year old traveling with us, so we were triply exhausted after the grueling trip. Trust me when I tell you that it IS NOT a good idea to coop up a small child in an airplane for more than an hour or two.

Off we went with all our bags to the end of the terminal where we were met by several of Golf’s friends. Greetings and then gossip commenced immediately and I was informed that we had about half a dozen more people to wait for. Meanwhile my shirt was soaked with sweat and all I wanted was a cool drink and some air con. After about an hours time all the friends had arrived and the logistics of transporting the baggage had been settled and we were on our way to our first temporary stop, a hotel called the Hope Land Executive Residence located at Sukhumvit Soi 46/1. This would be our temporary home for the next week as Golf searched for employment and we also searched for a permanent place to live.

If you are looking for a place to stay around this area of Sukhumvit I think you could do much worse than the Hope Land. The staff was very friendly (they enjoyed playing with Alivia) and helpful, the rooms were large and clean and the food was as you would expect. They have no restaurant, but they do serve a breakfast buffet, which was filling if a bit bland and devoid of creativity. And the price (booked through Agoda) was under 1500THB/night.

Checking in was quick and soon we were in our room, which although large, was not meant to accommodate 10+ people. Thankfully the friends soon said their goodbyes and left us to unpack and sort everything out while getting Alivia used to her new temporary home.

Up to this point the sensory assault was minor, primarily related to the heat and humidity and the long unheard sound of Thai being spoken all around. That was soon to change though as we were now hungry and it was time to head out to the street to find a place to eat.

Drop back in tomorrow when I will share with you some of the wonders of Thai cuisine!

P.S. Yes we are very happy to be back in Thailand

12 June 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Bollywood Features Thai Tuk Tuks in Road Rage

A new Bollywood movie includes scenes shot in Thailand.

Bangkok and Pattaya witnessed movie mogul Salmon Khan careering around in a classic Thai tuk tuk, hyping the film, ‘Ready’, which comes out on 3rd June. Shot in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Mumbai, ‘Ready’ boasts lavish sets, breathtaking locations and a visual extravaganza. It’s billed as a fun- filled film for the entire family. The story revolves around a couple who fall in love amidst a twisted plot of greedy uncles who want to gulp down a crazy family’s inheritance. Sounds familiar.

If the clip I saw on the box today is anything to go by, it could be fun, with tuk tuks doing battle on a Thai freeway, causing mayhem and carnage. Hmm! Sounds interesting – after a few beers.

05 June 2011 ~ 5 Comments

A Thai woman’s shock with western Reality TV

OK so I am having a little fun with the title of this post but it is also true.
I have been in Australia again for the last month and apart from all of my usual things that I do here I have been watching more TV. It is funny because I don’t normally watch much TV especially when I’m in Australia but I have been strangely enjoying watching all the Reality TV shows. Yes I know you may be thinking why on earth should a Thai woman be watching some of these shows but let me tell you it is actually very helpful for me to learn more about western culture. I do believe you can tell a lot about a country and it’s culture by watching it’s local TV

But I must confess this Thai woman was a little in shock!!!

Thai Girlfriend Advisor was in shock

What I am finding with western TV and especially the reality programs is these shows are just so open, direct and sometimes even confronting. Western culture is not afraid to say anything exactly how it is. It is very interesting to see the difference between our cultures and whilst I certainly do not like to make any judgment on either it is hard not to make comparisons.For example in western culture and specifically English culture it  seems acceptable to say almost anything about the royal family even if it is negative, but in Thailand we are just not allowed to say things like this and we must be very careful. I think this is one of many examples that show how restricted Thai culture and social behavior can be.

So you can imagine my fascination when I  watch some of the shows in the West that reveal absolutely everything.

For example take the UK show Trinny and Susannah. I really do like the way these two women help normal women off the street find pride in themselves with the way they look just by making simple choices in how they dress to suit their body shape. Rather than hide their bodies Trinny and Susannah get them to make the most of their shape and be  proud to show it. But what shocked me when I first watched this program was the way they just strip these women down to almost nothing in the middle of a clothes shop and being viewed by millions of people. Not only that but later they show the woman and her husband naked behind a screen talking about what they like about each others bodies. My God!

Trinny and Susannah shock Thai Woman

But then what really shocked me was one of their programs when they took 300 normal people on top of a hill somewhere in England and got them all to take their clothes off, completely naked with nothing left to the imagination. Lol! I could not believe what I was watching to be honest. Please don’t get me wrong it is not that I am embarrassed about things like this and I think what they are doing is brilliant but it just would not happen in Thailand. For a start you would not get anyone brave enough to be naked on TV and Thai TV would not allow it to be shown either.

PhotobucketAnother program I enjoy to watch is Wife Swap USA and UK. Hahaha it is not what it sounds like and is nothing sexual but 2 wives go and live with each others family for 2 weeks. Usually these families will have completely different values on how to raise children and live their lives and this causes a lot of conflict  when they try to change the rules on each other. For me I find it so interesting to see the different way in which Western culture not only raise their children but live a normal life. In some ways so different from my own Thai and Chinese culture. The people in these shows also sometimes get very angry and even have fights which is amazing to watch really.

PhotobucketOne more show that I really love is 16 and pregnant, a show that deals with teenage pregnancy and I find this so fascinating with how the parents of these teenagers deal with them. How they talk to them about the responsibility they must face now due to the pregnancy, getting a job and trying to set up home together at such an early age. In comparison to Thailand I do know that in the more country areas girls as young as 16 do often get pregnant  and in many cases the parents will help out a lot, often completely taking responsibility for the children. This program is just so touching sometimes and it has made me realize how fast children grow up in the West and how much they are exposed to very quickly.

So there are a few other programs I have been watching but now I have to be careful because my husband says I will turn into a Reality TV addict…lol. But I do honor and applaud the West for being so brave and open and it is addictive and compelling television to watch especially when like me you have not really had opportunity to see peoples lives in that way.

Well done !

Until next time please be safe and well

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23 May 2011 ~ 14 Comments

How Not to Handle Girls in Thailand’s Bars

No.7. How Not to Handle Girls in Thailand’s Bars

This time I’m sharing with you a tale about a guy who invited me to tell his story. He’s happy to have me write it up because he prefers to lurk in the background. We’ll call him Hank.

The aircraft touched down bumpily at the old Don Muang airport in Bangkok. Unable to contain his excitement, Hank leaped up to retrieve his hand baggage from the overhead locker. He’d planned this first trip to The Land of Smiles a long time ago, and was determined to have the time of his life – after all, his mates who’d been many times had offered him sound advice.

Fighting his way to the line of taxis, he accepted a deal from a shifty character who promised careful, expert and swift conveyance to Pattaya – at a price that sounded reasonable.

The ancient car juddered along the freeway, dodging in and out of lanes at breakneck speed. Hank unbuttoned his shirt to mop up perspiration caused by the malfunctioning air conditioner, and sheer fright on discovering he’d hired a road rage specialist. Arriving in The Extreme City four hours later, after suffering a burst tire – or   tyre, depending on your native spelling – a boiling radiator and a couple of police checks, the surly driver dropped Hank outside the small but friendly hotel recommended by his pals. Handing over a few thousand baht notes, insisting the man keep the change, he marched into his residence, anticipating a warm greeting.

The gloomy interior reeked of stale tobacco smoke, even staler beer, and overpowering perfume wafted from a dozen or so girls lounging about. A Thai man behind the bar – there wasn’t a reception area – instructed one girl to assist with Hank’s bags while he checked in. Following the rather well built lass up the dingy, narrow concrete stairway, he wondered if he’d arrived at the right place. Stepping inside the room, he knew he’d made a bad mistake. Tipping the makeshift porter a thousand baht, he dumped his belongings on the uncomfortable, suspicious looking bed, trying to convince himself it wasn’t really that bad, and may seem more inviting after a beer or two. As the shower delivered no water, he bravely returned to the bar to report the problem, and sampled his first Thai beer. His spirits rose when several attractive girls befriended him, all seemingly thirsty when they suggested, “Little drink for me?” A number of little drinks later, the boss enquired if he’d like to pay now, or have the bill added to his room account. Agreeing to bill it, Hank found himself drawn towards a particularly beautiful young lady who insisted on clipping his fingernails in-between supping little glassfuls of a very heady concoction. Time sped by as his new friendship became more meaningful, with the caring lady enquiring if he happened to be hungry.

Delighted to accompany her to a plush, expensive restaurant, they indulged in all manner of good food before returning to the – er – establishment. Hank ordered two very special drinks in order to consolidate his intimate friendship with the best girl he’d ever met. Unfortunately, the girl’s other farang boyfriend had arrived, and greeted her warmly while Hank sipped his drink alone.

Postscript: Hank decided to rethink his plan of attack before revisiting Thailand. He’s still working on it.

19 May 2011 ~ 6 Comments

Monavie in Thailand

Point taken. Shame on me.

10 May 2011 ~ 4 Comments

The Thai Village That Never Sleeps

No.6. The Thai Village That Never Sleeps

Only important if you support noise abatement.

Don’t get me wrong, I love living in my Isaan village – most of the time. It’s just that hardly an hour goes by without disturbance, distraction or disaster. Come join in and experience this typical day.

The all-night wedding party across the road is in full swing, and the bass boost on the speaker system purrs out an enchanting lullaby in earsplitting distortion. Even wrapping the pillow around my head fails to sooth. Ah, time for karaoke now; does the young girl think she’s a superstar? Please give it a rest. I must have dropped off for a few minutes because now a man who thinks he’s funny insists on bellowing some witticisms into the microphone. Now it’s time to dance – a war dance judging by the hooting and hollering. Perhaps diving under the bedcover will bring relief.

It’s not daylight yet, but the public address speaker, mounted on a pole a few meters along the road, crackles to life with the village Head Man presenting his personal choice of a chirpy traditional song that’s bound to precede his important announcement. Yes, it’s about how many baht, or how many kilos of rice locals have donated to the temple. Does he need to read out the names of everyone in the village? Oh-oh! He’s now switched on number two and number three speakers located in other areas of the community. I had no idea so many people live here. That’s set the dogs off, yapping and howling like demented wolves. How can my missus sleep through this? Wait a minute – she’s not here. That must be her bashing sticky rice and pulverizing chilies in the kitchen. It seems the disturbance has roused the party revelers over the road.

Now they’re competing by finding out just how much volume the music system can cope with. Even the flapping cock perched outside my window is unable to make his voice heard above the din. Hmm – the neighbor must be having trouble getting his tuk-tuk to run properly. He’ll blow a gasket if he keeps revving it up like that.

I’m suffering with a headache, nervous twitch and indigestion now I’ve mopped up my breakfast. Fresh air should help – a gentle stroll along the lane, and a brisk jog round the peaceful temple grounds. Ouch! Those huge gongs and drums are taking a pounding. Here comes the first in the usual line of trucks announcing a variety of onboard goods for sale via roof-mounted megaphones. Ah! I’ll stop this one – he’s offering painkillers. Oh dear, the young man on the motorbike really shouldn’t be riding with only one hand on the handlebars. Why can’t the phone call wait? Oops! Too late – he has smacked into the back of our brand new refuse collection truck. He’s okay; a headlong catapult into the garbage container broke the fall. Might as well chuck his bike inside too.

Maybe a few of these will brighten things up.

04 May 2011 ~ 91 Comments

Why do Western men still want a Thai woman even though they are bad?

Sawasdee everyone and I hope you are all very well

I haven’t written a post here for a while “Did you miss me“? lol. I was having a bit of a break to be honest with many things in life to do. But I thought I really want to write a new post and say hello to everyone at Thailand Musings.Thaivisa.com

So what I want to share is an interesting conversation I had recently  with a friend from Australia, he is a friend of my husband actually and what he talked to me about made me want to ask all of you Farang readers here a question.

The question is, even though many Western men have had a bad experience with Thai women what is it that still makes them want a Thai woman as a wife or girlfriend.

Now I do know some of you don’t think that way and wouldn’t want another relationship with a Thai and some have had a bad experience but still happy with a Thai woman and that’s what made me curious to ask.

What was interesting with what my friend told me was that he had experience in relationships with Thai woman that had left a bad taste in his mouth. He had not really been scammed for any money but he had been cheated and lied to when they had other boyfriends, usually from different countries. He told me how a girl he had met would not return phone calls and would make very strange excuses for not being able to answer the phone when he would ring her, like she had lost her phone, or it was broken or she was in the shower all the time, yet when you see many Thai women they have their cell phone glued to their ear every minute.

I have heard of this many times also…this is how they behave and is normally a good sign that something is wrong and they are not sincere and usually means they are with another man.

My friend made a good comment that why could they not just love one man and be happy with him. One day they will grow old and probably be alone. But I suppose that does not really enter their mind when they are young and think they have everything they need because they make easy money. I must confess that it does make me wonder too.

So when he told me that one day he hopes to find a good honest Thai woman it just hit me that why would he still want a Thai woman then, what is it about Thai women that make him forget about his bad experiences like that? If Thai women make him worry so much about whether he can trust her or not why bother to look for a Thai woman again. Wouldn’t it just be easier to find a woman in his own country?

What he told me was he loves Thailand, he loves the food, the culture and Thai people and would want to live in Thailand when he retires, he is early 50’s by the way. So this really made me think because I hear this quite a lot about Farang who even though they have a bad experience they still want to find the right Thai woman and live in Thailand.

So that is why I would very much like to hear what you think here because I know there are so many of you with different backgrounds and opinions and experiences.

So the question again is, even though many Western men have had a bad experience with Thai women what is it that still makes them want a Thai woman as a wife or girlfriend?

I look forward to all of your interesting comments in the meantime stay safe and be happy for Easter.

Sawasdee

20 April 2011 ~ 2 Comments

The Conclusion of An Adventure in Thailand

This is part 6 (final) of the story An Adventure in Thailand.

To sum it all up

I returned and met up with this lady, no not a young girl, this lady was in her late 30s and had two children. Now at this point in my life I have given up everything, my family, home and pretty much everything I/we owned including our £160,000 home, however I was as skeptical about Thai ladies as the next Westerner.

Yes I had heard they only want your money or just want a good time on the Westerners money, so it was a little strange that I had met this lady who did not seem to want much from me. Yes the occasional meal, some clothes when we went out shopping and of course gold, but she did not like drinking or even going out to bars or clubs even though she was working in one. We would eat out whenever I came back to Thailand, but nothing would ever cost a lot and she would never ask for anything expensive. This was not the norm of what I had heard from other Westerners or read about in books about Thailand.

Well since those fateful first trips to Thailand we have bought land, built a home, have had two cars and several bikes. Okay so as we all know the land is in the wife or the girlfriends name, but this is where it can all go wrong, or not!! Coming from England I too was focused on money, material aspects of life and that what I bought was mine, just to name a few things. All those years ago I was lucky to have a girlfriend/wife (Thai) who would teach me right from wrong when it came to the Thai culture and the ways of Thai life and living. We have had many problems, but they have been on both sides and due to the cultural differences as well as the game they call Hi-Lo that is played in the northeast (Isaan) and probably other parts of the country. I have probably spent in the region of £60/70,000 in the few years I have been living in Thailand and a big part of that was given to help my Thai wife’s family. I still love life in Thailand, we have a beautiful home, I have a gorgeous Thai wife (same lady) and of course when things don’t go well for us, for whatever reason I get stressed, but I think about where I am, who I am with, how she now loves me unreservedly and I know however many things or people test us and sometimes to the limits I am living in paradise with my Thai angel.

13 April 2011 ~ 19 Comments

Thailand Driving License: The REAL Road Rules finally available!

by Stu Lloyd www.thailandjingjing.blogspot.com

It is hoped that this definitive list will be soon be adopted as the official driving code of Thailand, in the absence of any other such known publication, so that all drivers on the road will act in strict accordance with it.

# 1. The Mercedes Benz always has right of way.

#2. The more wheels you have, the more right of way you have. (Except when Rule #1 applies.)

#3. Anything with two wheels or less does not count as a vehicle and should be disregarded completely. Even if it’s a 1800 cc Harley Davidson the size of the average Thai house.

#4. If you need to turn off, then turn off. If that means a right-angled swerve across three lanes on two wheels so you don’t miss your turn, please go ahead. We’ll just fit in with your plan. No need to indicate your intention.

#5. If in the process of executing that turn, you cause three motorcyclists and a tuk tuk to end up in the ditch, add 5 points.

#6. Indicators should only be used in the following fashion. If someone is behind you and wanting to overtake, put on your right indicator. This means either a/ it is clear and safe to overtake now or b/ don’t overtake now a bus is coming over the blind rise at a speed approaching 130km/h. It will soon become apparent which meaning was intended.

#7. Do have as many Buddhist amulets on the dashboard as possible. If you’re involved in a fatal accident, never mind — there’s always another life, and another …

#8. Traffic jams can be frustrating, so, as soon as you get any open space at all, get your vehicle to its highest possible top speed. As a guideline the rpm counter should be kept in the red zone in event of any open road.

#9. When joining a busy main road from a small side soi, proceed directly into the intersection without stopping – or even pausing – for other traffic. This selfishly indulgent act of stopping and checking will only cause confusion for those behind you, with the possible result of them rear-ending you.

#10. When on a motorcycle, do not wear a helmet, and ride as fast as the bike will possibly go while using cars, buses, elephants, and chickens as slalom course markers. Irrespective of traffic conditions, possible dangers lurking around the corner, and pedestrians foolishly crossing the road at a marked pedestrian crossing, maintain this speed (once again, the red zone on your rpm gauge is a reliable indicator). After all, in the event of some other idiot doing the wrong thing, you want to be killed outright, not maimed.

#11. On the subject of pedestrian crossings, these are known to farangs as ‘zebra crossings’. There are no zebras in Thailand. Ignore. Proceed as usual.

#12. Do not wear a seat-belt. This will delay you when you stop at 7-11 to buy more beer for the drive, resulting in late arrival for the party. This is not acceptable to your thirsty friends.

#13. In the event you become completely, utterly, motherlessly drunk when drinking with your friends do not — repeat: DO NOT! — leave your vehicle there and attempt to walk home. In your drunken state you might be tempted to actually use a pedestrian crossing on foot, without observing the golden rule of crossing any road in Thailand: look Right, look Left, look Up then look Down before you cross. The buggers will get you from anywhere!

#14. Red lights. This is merely an optical illusion – all traffic lights in Thailand consist of three different shades of green. What you think is red is actually just dark green. Proceed as usual.

Stu Lloyd is a Chiang Mai based travel writer, author of the best-selling HARDSHIP POSTING series. He blogs at THAILAND JING JING. See www.thailandjingjing.blogspot.com

10 April 2011 ~ 2 Comments

Once Upon A Time In Thailand… An Adult Fairy Story

No. 5.  Once upon a time in Thailand… An adult fairy story.

Rated absolutely of no importance whatsoever.

NOTE: For the benefit of international readers who may not use English as their first language, you’ll find the name of this story’s hero, Shooda Knownbetter, translates to ‘should have known better’. To continue…

Once upon a time in faraway Thailand, there was a big giant called Shooda Knownbetter; a strange name for such a clever person who boasted about having plenty of money. One lovely sunny day he gazed from the window in his budget hotel – well, after wiping away grime that he kept forgetting to mention to the management. Glancing down, he sighed contentedly, running an eye – only one, the other happened to be glass – over the merry scene unfolding in the busy city. Motorbike contraptions, handcarts and people squatting in the road vended all sorts of tasty morsels with strange names and even stranger aromas. What appealed to Shooda more than the food, were scores of lovely young Thai maidens, colorfully dressed in eye-catching outfits of every description; short skirts, low tops and high-heeled shoes. Feeling compelled to be part of the action, he quickly showered under the gurgling specially colored water, despaired when it ceased to splash, toweled himself dry, shaved, cleaned his few remaining teeth and carefully spread the thinning hair over the bald patch. Glancing in the mirror, he knew he looked his best. The king-size, brightly decorated shirt flowed tastefully over his beer gut. Slipping into baggy shorts and floppy sandals, he ventured forth.

A trifle hungry, he headed to a bar offering ‘buy one, drink two’. Half a dozen bottles later, he remembered he hadn’t eaten for ages. The succulent burger and French fries appeased his craving and he embarked on social chitchat with a group of youngsters swarming all over him.

“Hello handsome man. Where you from?” one cheeky – but honest – lass enquired politely.

Feeling pleased his magnetic appeal worked so quickly, he replied, “Over there, see?”

Scowling in the direction of the tumbledown dwelling place, she gasped, “There? Why you stay there?”

Swelling with pride, Shooda replied, “I can afford it, yer know.”

Now something he must have let slip lead to Mamasan ringing a very noisy bell. It made an awful din. With whoops of delight, a stampede broke out, with dozens of girls lining up assorted drinks on the bar. Shooda Knownbetter reckoned he’d cracked it; drinks on the house as well. He even had an invitation to try his hand at Connect 4 – an exciting little game involving dropping green and red buttons into a plastic frame in blocks of four vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines. Quite how he lost every game baffled him.

“What your name, handsome man?” one member of the staff asked, prodding his beer gut affectionately.

“Oh, they call me Shooda – Shooda Knownbetter.”

“Ooh! Velly nice name, I like too much.”

“Oh, you’re just saying that,” he murmured dismissively, collecting yet another bottle from the stack in front of him.

As time blissfully sped by, Shooda wallowed in his rapidly increasing popularity. More and more lovely girls showed their appreciation of his generosity, charm and wit. Mamasan very kindly kept shoving little bits of paper in a pot beside him – no doubt personal thank you notes about her appreciation of having such a delightful customer. After all, she’d wasted no time in providing free drinks all round, announcing her delight to do so by even ringing the bell again.

Good times sometimes seem to fade away. Shooda Knownbetter, feeling the happy bubble had burst, managed somehow – loyally gripped by two girls from the bar – to stagger to the nearest ATM machine. The wonderful piece of equipment threw some money at him, to the great amusement and lack of understanding of his gleeful companions. After agreeing to empty his wallet back at the bar, he decided not to outstay his welcome, so went off in search of more entertainment.

Just popping out to amuse the Thai men in my local village bar. They may not understand, though.

06 April 2011 ~ 12 Comments

Miss Universe 2010 – Ximena Visits Thailand

The video by itself is pretty funny especially in the beginning where Ximena states “I don’t have a visa” and shrugs her shoulders as if to say “so what…I’m Miss Universe”. What an arrogant attitude to take when coming as a visitor to another country. As amusing as the video is though the comments are much better and it seems to me as if MANY Thai people have very little love for Miss Universe 2010. Take a look and see what you think.

29 March 2011 ~ 5 Comments

Discovering Trust in Thailand

This is part 5 of the story An Adventure in Thailand.

I should tell you the story of the westerner from England who met his girlfriend in Pattaya as this is a relevant story. I am telling you this because jealousy can creep into a relationship if you do not have the right sort of heart.

He was a retired man with a healthy bank balance (or that is what he was telling his girlfriend) who I was introduced to when we went to have a Sunday lunch in the town of Nongbua Lamphu. We were introduced to him and his girlfriend as he was from England, as am I. Well my wife and I had drinks with him and his girlfriend, we also had several meals in different restaurants, had drinks at our home and also drinks at her home near Nongbua. We talked about building work because at the time I worked in Thailand for a building company. I tried to help him with his Thai as he spoke little and understood even less. I gave him DVD’s of movies and music and he confided in me his thoughts on his girlfriend seeing someone else when he was out playing golf or just being away from her home.

Anyway one day my wife and I returned from her mums house (only a walk from ours) to find a black car parked across our drive. This westerner had come to ask us some questions, well actually his girlfriend had brought him, her mum and a friend to clear up his strange thoughts……intriguing to say the least. He asked me if I would be honest with my replies to his questions, “no problem I said” and he then asked me if I was meeting his girlfriend at a resort!!!!!! Well do I laugh or get angry?

Of course he is somewhat crazy I am thinking, but he felt sure I was. He asked if my wife would talk to him in private and she did. He felt sure she did not know I was seeing his girlfriend, but as she said “Paul (me) and I are together everyday”, as we were. Now I can understand jealousy to a degree, but I had done only good for this man from the time we had met, so this was a strange thing to behold. It turned out his girlfriend had said I looked like a fun guy, whether or not anything else was said I do not know, but from that he had got it into his mind that I was seeing her.

Now as this all unfolded we had drinks and I said it was no problem for him to ask these questions. So all long evening and a few laughs later they were all gone. It did not occur to me that this would not be the end of the situation, but it was not. It went on for sometime more, but what I hope this will tell you: that if you don’t have a good heart jealousy will rear its head…you have to trust many things and some things you do not understand and long distant relationships need more trust….trust me I know

Well that is about all I can remember about my journey of discovery. A discovery of who I really am and my adventure I guess…….It turned out I am much more of a different person than I was when I lived in England.

Read the Conclusion of An Adventure in Thailand

24 March 2011 ~ 5 Comments

Thailand Adventure Moves to Issan

This is part 4 of the story An Adventure in Thailand.

As a person who rarely gambled in his home country it was fascinating to see how so many people (mainly women) play a game called Hi-Lo in the northeast, however this fascination led to frustration. Can you imagine a life that revolves around going to someone’s farm in the middle of nowhere, then gambling for eight or nine hours, only to come home broke!! Well I have seen it with my own eyes and it was heart breaking because it was nearly the end of my relationship with Thailand and Nusang.

The northeast is as we know a pretty poor area and when there is no rice or sugar to harvest there is little else to do, other than working in Korea or going to Bangkok to find work in bars, clubs or shirt factories I am guessing. When there is not that you have to find ways to live and support the family or your children. This can lead to so many people borrowing and that is the start of the downward spiral to doing whatever work you can get. Yes bars and clubs are near the bottom of that spiral. That gorgeous woman you want to have relations with, or even marry will not tell you about how much they have borrowed to survive before they met you, but be assured many have borrowed and it does have to eventually be paid somehow.

I have seen this first hand and I have helped enormously (mug I hear you say) which is alien for me having lived in England all my life. I view it like this: I want to live in Thailand, I want to be with my Thai wife, in our home and I do not want people calling asking for money every day and if someone else’s need is greater, then I as a person should dig deep into my heart to do the right thing.

Those times are long past since we had long discussions about how to do things and the fact that everything, including home, land, car and bike are all paid for. Now over the years of going to Thailand and living there I know I have given an enormous amount away, sacrificed staying there for a full holiday to make sure the family can pay for things and this is just something you may come across. If you do and you think this is not for you, then I would suggest you walk away. If it is for you then you will see the rewards 10 fold. As I am typing this to you I have just had a call from Thailand (I am working in England at the moment) saying she has no money because the money I sent did not get a good percent when it arrived at her bank. She gets money every month and this is just one problem you may face, so think hard about what you are doing when you want to live the Thai life.

Think hard about it and consider that weddings and funerals will also be possibly so different than in your country…..I did not consider anything at all when I chose my path to Thailand, so when Nusang’s pa became ill it was up to me to make it as easy for Nusang as I could. This meant that we had to take him to hospital at anytime of the day or night, sleeping under/beside his bed to care for him. To take him home when he became so ill he wanted to die at home. To seeing him die in our car as I was driving him home. To making sure Nusang could do all the right things for her pa’s funeral and the week long celebrations of his death. This goes for weddings also as it will possibly be the westerner who is expected to help as most Thai ladies who have children want to see their children have a good wedding.

Read Part 5 of An Adventure in Thailand