Bangkok for a Month, Part IV

Home at the Oriental Hotel

Between Bangkok Part III and Bangkok Part V

March 20-25

Monday, March 20, 2000

Let's be useful for a change!

HOW TO RAM A CAR

Ramming a car to move it out of your way is not easy or safe, but there are some methods that work better than others and some that will minimize the damage to your vehicle. Keep in mind that the best way to hit a car blocking your path is to clip the very rear of it, about a foot from the rear bumper. The rear is the lightest part of a car, and it will move relatively easily. Hitting it in the rear can also disable the car - with the rear wheel crushed, you have time to get away without being pursued.

  1. Disable your air bag, if you can. It will deploy on impact and will obstruct your view after it deploys.
  2. Wear a seat belt.Ramming a Car
  3. Accelerate to at least twenty-five miles per hour. Do not go too fast - keeping the car at a slow speed will allow you to maintain control without slowing down. Then, just before impact, increase your speed to greater than thirty miles per hour to deliver a disabling crunch to the rear wheel of the obstacle car.
  4. Ram the front passenger side of your car into the obstacle car at its rear wheel, at a ninety-degree angle (the cars should be perpendicular).
  5. If you are unable to hit a car in the rear, go for the front corner. Avoid hitting the car squarely on the side; this will not move it out of your way.
  6. The car should spin out of your way - hit the gas, and keep moving.

This tip on living in today's world comes from a book by Joshua Piven and David Brogenicht. Of course, thanks go to Ms. Tilman-Smith for giving me a copy of their book, THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK.

Cuthbert
DIED 687

A shepherd who became a bishop, and one of those whom birds and animals understood. Once, as a result of excesses of penance, he fainted on the sea-shore, and a pair of otters came and massaged him with their tongues and saved his life. Once when he was hungry, an eagle caught a large fish, half of which he let the eagle eat. He preached to the birds to keep them out of his barley.

IN OUR PAGES: 100 AND 50 YEARS AGO
[from The International Herald Tribune]
1900: China Trouble

WASHINGTON - From the State Department a denial has been issued of the sensational publications stating that American troops are to be sent to China in anticipation of troubles there instigated by the Empress Dowager's hostility to foreigners. The stories are absurd, and have only found credence in the columns of yellow journals. The only foundation for them is the fact that Admiral Watson, commanding the Asiatic Squadron, has been ordered to rend some light-draught vessels up the Taku River.

1950: Asia Espionage

LONDON - The Moscow radio accused the United States and Britain of spying on Communist China through a combined headquarters established with the Chinese Nationalists in Hong Kong. The report asserted that the Hong Kong espionage center is under direct control of General MacArthur's Tokyo headquarters "and maintains close contacts with illegal Kuomintang organizations and Catholic missionaries and their organizations in China."

Smile!

As Annie and Jean passed the day indoors shopping and shopping and shopping ... well, you guessed it ... she didn't even take her camera with her.

But, I happened upon a dentist during one of my strolls ... one right up there with my lawyer when it comes to no nonsense marketing. Not like the types we have at home who think it is unprofessional to hang teeth from their shingles. This Bangkok fellow is a rather more colorful one. He isn't afraid to flaunt his "before" and "after" work in the store window.

Good night!


Tuesday, March 21, 2000

NEWNES says:

We were divorced again. While Annie and Jean tooled off to see Mr. A. Song (tailor) about a proper jacket for Mike, I holed myself up in the hotel business office. These are my friends ... I spend hours on their computers ... I have infected their screens with my wallpaper ... they ask so little in return.

This is something that I missed in the paper version of the Bangkok Post. Here is how it read in the online version of today's paper:

"Beef, pork, frogs, or horse meat may be too ordinary today as many food connoisseurs opt for smaller-sized morsels: insects. They are high in protein and yet contain less fat."

"However not all insects of course are good for dining, warns the Department of Medical Sciences. Colourful insects are the ones eaters should be more careful of because they are more likely to be poisonous than the paler ones. Also, you should avoid insects that are known to be disease carriers, for example, cockroaches."

"Eating raw insects is not recommended. Always cook them well. Body parts such as wings and leg hairs should also be taken off because they can cause itches and allergies."

"The most important thing insect eaters should bear in mind is that insects are often killed with pesticides. So avoid insects suspected to have been terminated with chemicals."

"People with allergy problems are not advised to eat any kind of insects."

"Thai people, especially those living in rural areas, have eaten insects for generations. Currently, there are more than 50 species of insects known to be edible."

"Those interested in knowing more about edible insects can enquire at the Department of Medical Sciences on 951-0000 ext 9243."

Dear reader, if you plan to call the Department of Medical Sciences from the USA your dialing order is 011 66 2 951 0000.


Wednesday, March 22, 2000

I'm sorry that I am a little bit late in posting the last part of yesterday's journal. But, as you can see, it is not something that carried a product expiration date. Anyway, I was dragging my feet because I was waiting for the latest delivery of Annie's Best. As it, too, didn't arrive on time it'll probably not roll itself on stage until sometime later this afternoon. In the meantime let me get the daily swipe at the "saints" out of the way.

Wescott recognizes two women for today:

Catherine of Sweden
DIED 1381

A married, but immaculate, princess and abbess who prided herself upon weeping four hours a day.

Lea
FOURTH CENTURY

A noble widow who belonged to the first community of nuns. She gave away all her money, ate badly, wore a miserable dress, neglected to comb her hair, and generally spoiled her delicate body in a course of ardent penitence, though (according to St. Jerome) without excess.

Are any of you familiar with the "Zoot Suit Riots of 1944"? I'd never heard of them until I fell across a reference to them while checking on what the Tribune thought was newsworthy 100, 75 and 50 years ago. Apparently, the Chandler family, which owned the Los Angeles Times at the time, was hurling rocks at the "zoot suiters" when things got way out of control. I think the whole thing had an anti-Chicano flavor.

Anyway:

IN OUR PAGES: 100 YEARS AGO
[from The International Herald Tribune]:
1900: No Royal Yacht

LONDON - There is a great probability that the new Royal Yacht, upon whose construction more than 500,000 pounds sterling has been expended, will never be used for the purpose originally intended. Her performances have been such that it is safe to say the Queen has no desire to travel in her, and other members of the Royal family share Her Majesty's objections to the vessel, which has displayed an inclination to roll most viciously. The prevalent opinion is that she will ultimately be renamed the Enchantress.

These four photos rightfully belong with yesterday. BangkokI can't make too much of a deal out of it ... I suppose that I am lucky to get these. Annie, understandably, is taking her serious pictures with her Canons ... my toys are just that ... digital playthings that don't use real film and don't rely on real chemicals and don't come out on real paper.

This morning Annie's breakfast was brand smokes and generic gum. I think she skipped lunch.

Aside from having a breakfast with two of the essential food groups, Annie found a mechanical fortuneteller who (which?) told her about her future in fortune #2:

"Just like a dying tree in a dry land, suddenly refreshed and soaked with rain, reviving back to life. Strengthening and brightening up required. In order to achieve common targets, compromise and discussions recommended. Patient recovering. Lost persons will be found. Mismatch is likely. A good luck coming your way."

Oh, that girl came through! Here are five shots she took this afternoon when she was over at the Royal Palace ... and at the Reclining Buddha ... and at the Emerald Buddha. Not that her photographs necessarily have anything to do with where she went.


Thursday, March 23, 2000

NEWNES, ever searching for the obscure:

Here is a very good article about prostitution in Thailand. I have copied it from the INSIGHT GUIDE: BANGKOK. It sums up as tidily as possible the situation in Bangkok. I believe that the author of this article has not missed any bases ... nor has he added anything that is not there.

HER FATE, OR CHOICE?

Thailand has a prostitution problem. It is of neither recent nor imported vintage. Contrary to the impression of many foreigners, prostitution has been illegal for over thirty years. Social scientists and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) estimate that there are between 300,000 and 2 million Thai prostitutes in Thailand and overseas in places like Japan. In Thailand, no truck stop or town with a population of 20,000 would be complete without a few ramshackle brothels.

According to a Thai newspaper editor, except for the area surrounding the Grand Palace, there is not a single neighborhood in Bangkok where sex is not for sale. The venues include brothels, hotels, nightclubs, massage parlors, bars, barber shops, parks, karaoke lounges, tea houses and even golf courses. At the top are private member clubs, advertised in the glossiest magazines. At the bottom are locked brothels, where the women - and young girls - are virtually enslaved. As measured by the compensation and working conditions, the tawdry bars serving foreign men are somewhere in between.

There is no single reason why Thailand has more prostitutes than many poorer countries. The traditional explanation of poverty, however, carries less and less weight. While it is true that the wealthiest have chiefly profited from the economic boom of the last decade, benefits have trickled down to the poorest. At least in Bangkok, there are jobs in domestic service or construction for any person.

With increased prosperity, many Thais assumed prostitution would diminish. Instead, the number of prostitutes and venues are ballooning. Demand is on the rise. With more money in their pockets, Thai men are buying more sex. While most patrons of Thai prostitutes are Thai men, foreigners also contribute to the demand. Besides the infamous sex tours from Japan, Germany and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, there is also a sizable community of Western men, notably in Pattaya and Phuket, who live in Thailand solely because of the cheap sex, child sex or teenage wives.

Agents kidnap young girls or trick them (with offers of factory jobs) from remote provinces. These girls may end up in locked brothels, from which they may eventually be smuggled to other Asian countries.

It is hard for poor families to resist the blandishments. Particularly at April "harvest time", when 12- and 13-year-old girls finish the customary six years of schooling, agents flock to villages, where they offer parents hundreds of dollars or dazzling electric appliances in exchange for pretty daughters. A girl typically has to work off a debt that is twice her sale price, although she may have to start over if she is resold before reaching her goal.

The commoners' religious beliefs - an amalgam of superstition and debased Buddhism - does little to discourage prostitution. Genuine Buddhism, of course, in no way sanctions prostitution. According to its most basic tenet, all human discontent stems from insatiable desires. To achieve inner peace and break the cycle of rebirth, we must learn to control our wants.

When asked why she became a prostitute or remains a prostitute, a young woman will usually talk about luck or fate. Yet true Buddhists believe in neither, and don't subscribe to predestination.

Feminist NGOs don't focus their primary efforts on extracting girls and women from prostitution. They have found that regardless of how women were originally lured into prostitution, few are strongly motivated to get out. The work is easy, the money is good, the family pressure overwhelming. It is their "fate".

Instead, the advocates concentrate on prevention. They try to teach marketable skills and encourage girls to remain in school. After they initiated scholarships to help keep vulnerable girls in school beyond the sixth grade, the government began a small program. Still, only a few thousand girls are reached this way every year.

Prostitution is probably the principal reason why the AIDS epidemic is so extensive in Thailand. Random blood testing indicates that just under 1 million men, women and children are now infected with Aids.

A. Song (tailor) is building a jacket for Mike. No, Mike is not straying into new territory; it's the same old blue blazer type of thing that he always wears. But, rather than being yanked from a rack and wrapped without a proper fitting, this one is being cut and sewn from raw ingredients. Though A. Song (tailor) took the measurements, the actual work is being done by hunchbacked children who work under poor lighting in one of Mr. Song's Bangkok lofts. However, A. Song (tailor) will inspect the thing for missed stitches.

IN OUR PAGES: 100, 75 AND 50 YEARS AGO
[from The International Herald Tribune]:
1900: Orator's Brain

PARIS - At a recent meeting of the Academie de Medecine, Doctor Laborde gave the result of his minute examination of the brain of Vacher, the man who was known as the French "Jack the Ripper." The principal feature of Dr. Laborde's report was the fact that Vacher's brain, though diseased, was that of a born orator, the seat of speech being developed to a remarkable degree. He thought that under other conditions Vacher might have made a great orator and a great citizen.

1925: Dump Soldier

VILNA - Polish soldiers, searching an old Russian supply dump near here, discovered a man who had lived for nine years in a subterranean passage. The man was identified from papers in his pocket as a former Russian soldier who was buried alive in the passage when it was abandoned by the Russians in 1916. He was deaf, dumb and blind and resembled more a savage than a man. He had subsisted on the abundant supplies left behind by the Russians. The man died in a hospital three days after he was found.

1950: Fashion Police

LOS ANGELES - It's all right for women to wear slacks and short haircuts on the city streets even if the police don't like it. The appeal court reversed a recent municipal court decision which fined Mrs. N. Guynn and Ida Granato $75 each for masquerading. They wore slacks and short haircuts. Superior court appellate judges said: "It would certainly be a shining example of absurdity if hundreds of women wearing slacks on the streets had to obtain a formal permit from the board of police commissioners to dress that way.

Speaking of slacks or slack, Annie is not making sparks today. In fact she is stopped in her tracks and is taking some time out to Smell the flowerssmell the flowers for a change. I don't know how active she is going to be with her camera today. Her morning was slow due to a very late night down at Patpong. And, this afternoon she will be over at the Oriental Spa having a rub down. Jean is out shopping for heavy, fragile and pointy souvenirs. Mike is still worrying A. Song (tailor) about his sleeve lengths. Me? I'm just here.

What does your ascending colon have in common with your arch? Your bladder with an instep? Your anus and spleen with various digits on your feet? How about your genital glands with that part of the sole that hurts like hell when you step on a sharp toy? The descending colon with ... well, you get the point.

Yes! Foot massage! That's what they all have in common. And tossed into that paragraph is only a short list of the unreachable body parts that are directly wired to your feet. Loads more lurk in even more out of the way messy spots. Giving your colon a therapeutic rub without actually hacking through the body fat is easy if you can find a proxy point on the outside. That's where the feet come in. Practically everything in your body has a string attached to it. But, like an insanely built marionette, all the cords run to the feet.

And all of these tucked away organs of yours are played upon by a near-child ... a waif of a girl who gets a 100 baht note for her hours' effort. She rubs, pokes, prods, pats, strokes and otherwise abuses your feet ... so that all those vile ailments that haunt your internals are driven out, like evil spirits from a damned house.

Yes! It works! That is if you pay a visit to one of Bangkok's reflexology parlors. While there, make sure they polish your ileocecal valve.


Friday, March 24, 2000

NEWNES:

Piven and Borgenicht tell us HOW TO JUMP FROM A BRIDGE INTO A RIVER. This coping skill is found in the "Leaps of Faith" chapter in THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK:

When attempting a high fall (over twenty feet) into water in an emergency situation, you will not know much about your surroundings, specifically the depth of the water. This makes jumping particularly dangerous.

If jumping from a bridge into a river or other body of water with boat traffic, try to land in the channel - the deepwater area where boats go under the bridge. This area is generally in the center, away from the shoreline.

Feet first, vertical!

Stay away from any area with pylons that are supporting the bridge. Debris can collect in these areas and you can hit it when you enter the water.

Swim to shore immediately after surfacing.

HOW TO JUMP
  1. Jump feet first.
  2. Keep your body completely vertical.
  3. Squeeze your feet together.
  4. Enter the water feet first, and clench your buttocks together. If you do not, water may rush in and cause severe internal damage.
  5. Protect your crotch area by covering it with your hands.
  6. Immediately after you hit the water, spread your arms and legs wide and move them back and forth to generate resistance, which will slow your plunge to the bottom. Always assume the water is not deep enough to keep you from hitting bottom.
BE AWARE
  1. Hitting the water as described above could save your life, although it may break your legs.
  2. If your body is not straight, you can break your back on entry. Keep yourself vertical until you hit the water.
  3. Don't even think about going in headfirst unless you are absolutely sure that the water is at least twenty feet deep. If your legs hit the bottom, they will break. If your head hits, your skull will break.

We were attacked by rain this morning. Great sheets of it that came out of the east. It started about 10 and continued to sweep the city for a couple of hours. Yes, thunder and lightning, too. This was the first real rainstorm that I've seen in Bangkok during the past month. Oh, we had a few mini-showers in the morning when I first got here ... but nothing to really get wet over. Now that spring has arrived in Thailand the big rains are not very far away. April is the start of the beastly-hot season, but the rains of the cooling monsoon don't really start their serious work until June. Though today was a harbinger of things to come. I rather like the monsoon season. I may stay for it. At the rate that I'm standing-still I just might.

Not really ... but, I have extended my stay here for another week. Rather than fly home with Jean on the 31st, I am going to linger here at The Oriental until the 7th of April. The main reason I'm staying put is because my friend, Sandra "Kenni" Holt, is going to give birth to her Varick around April Fool's Day ... and, I don't want to be back in the USA until that is over and done with. You see, Sandra has a very twisted sense of humor. And, what with her hormones and her post-parting depression kicking in on April first ... well, it's best that I stay clear of her calendar.


Saturday, March 25, 2000

Wescott calls it:

THE ANNUNCIATION TO THE VIRGIN MARY OF THE BIRTH OF HER SON
57

I'll leave it. It was such an easy mistake to make. Even though I went to a Jesuit prep school I never paid that much attention to the whens and wheres of the lives of Christ and his mother. And, usually when Wescott centers a saint's name on the page line (always in caps) he also centers the relevant date directly underneath it ... such as "FIFTH CENTURY" or "1526 - 1599". So, when I saw "57" right below the annunciation I naturally assumed that it took place in 57AD. It couldn't have taken place in 57BC. It never occurred to me that I was on page 57 and that the annunciation announcement was on the last line of the page allowed for proper text.

Anyway, there is no date for the annunciation.

NEWNES reminds us that March 25th is also:

From today's BANGKOK POST:

Killer Bull Elephant Shot Dead By Villagers

The bull elephant that killed two people in Phrae this week has died from gunshot wounds inflicted by angry villagers.

Plai Sidor, who trampled two people to death on Sunday in a forest reserve, succumbed to multiple wounds on Thursday.

"After the deaths, villagers shot the elephant several times to scare him away," said Suphap Saensiliphan, a villager from Ban Tha. "Vets had also shot him with four tranquilizer darts." The elephant, who was in musth, had run away from his new owner and was trying to get back to its old home, police said.

When the new owner's son, identified only as Rat, tried to capture the beast it seized him in his trunk and threw him on a nearby wood pile. The second man, identified as Taa Fongkham, attacked the beast with a knife and was trampled to death. Rat survived with bruises. Su Thikham, a villager who was gathering red ants in the forest, was also trampled to death by Plai Sidor as the beast fled.

Plai Sidor's owner asked Phrae police to launch an investigation into who had killed his elephant, which is deemed a draught animal under the outdated Transport Act that classifies pachyderms as working animals.

The Calypso Cabaret at The Asia Hotel here in Bangkok has a transvestite show that is worthy of Disney World. These "girls" make the lady-boys down at Kings look truck-driverish. Pick out your favorite movie star from Annie's time-machine camera. Annie and the Queens are here to widen your options.

Next: Bangkok Part V!

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