Last night Watcharee & I and P'Pom & Golf took Paul's very good friend, Julie, out for dinner to Baan Chamnong Restaurant (a place where no farangs ever go). Julie is in Bangkok this week for a convention and work shop; and since she will have most of her evenings free we have made plans to show her some of the 'other' side of Bangkok. But, getting back to the restaurant, though one or two courses were a little too spicy for Julie she enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere very much.
But the best spice was yet to come.
After dessert Watcharee drove us down to Patpong 1 ... where Golf, myself and Julie separated from the other two ... (who went off shopping) ... and at that point the three of us headed straight to King's Castle III. And who do you think we met there? Yes ... Amma. The same Amma from the old days: the same Amma who is a charter member of the Patpong Corkscrew Club. OK, this Polaroid picture is not the best ... but it'll have to do. Do you recognize her?
I guess that we were damn lucky not to have taken Julie to "The Cave" the other night; the cops raided the place. Things were 'spicy' enough at Kings III.
PS: Tomorrow THOCBDC will take its readers to Thailand's Corrections Museum, AKA the Prison Museum. Believe me, it is worth the visit.
An Introduction to the Corrections Museum in Bangkok
In his autobiography, The Damage Done (1998), convicted heroin trafficker Warren Fellows recounts some of his hellish experiences there, like being locked in a "darkroom" for 23 hours and 55 minutes a day. The cell was so cramped there was not even enough room to lay down, and some of the prisoners, left there for months at a time, ate flattened cockroaches in order to survive. If that wasn’t enough, the sadism of the guards goes far, far beyond anything in Midnight Express. In one particularly nauseating episode, Fellows (who was imprisoned there in the late 70’s) writes how a guard forced a bunch of the prisoners to stand in a septic tank, chin-deep in excrement for many hours, because they’d been playing a dice game in their cell.
To check out Maha Chai’s legacy of barbarity, the harshest penal tortures from Siam of yesteryear, as well as the old machine gun used to execute prisoners at Bang Kwan Prison in Bangkok, head over to the Corrections Museum in the southeast corner of the park, which is just down the street from the Golden Mount, on the opposite side of the street.
Sommai, a pleasant young Thai man, will be happy to show you around and explain some of the exhibits. On the ground floor, there’s a big rattan ball with long, sharp nails on the inside. A prisoner, curled up in a ball, was placed inside it and then an elephant would kick it around. This form of punishment was outlawed a century ago by King Rama V.
Also on display are knives and syringes made by the prisoners. But upstairs is the real coup de grace: a wax-dummy depiction of two machete-wielding executioners dressed up in red outfits, ready to lop the head off a condemned man who sits on the ground blindfolded, clutching three lotus blossoms, a yellow candle, and incense. The hands of the condemned man are tied together with the sacred white thread monks use to bless people and ward off evil.
THOCBDC adds, in its own words:
Yes, Sommai is still the 'house' guide. He is a former prison guard whose excellent knowledge of English and the workings of the Thai prison system made our visit educational as well as interesting.
The Museum is only open by appointment. From Monday through Saturday you can ring up the place and book a tour for the following day. It is one of the least visited 'spots' in Bangkok ... only because none of the tour books have found it. THOCBDC discovered it only because it (me, I) was looking for something else on the map and the words "Prison Museum" caught my fancy.
Julie is a hit with the Mambo 'girls'.
Folks, here is the bulk of the Mambo:
In the February 23rd issue of NEWSWEEK Thauria Hamur was interviewed by one of the magazine's international journalists, Joanna Chen. Ms. Hamur had been captured in May 2002, by the Israeli authorities before she had a chance to blow herself up in a pizza restaurant in south Jerusalem. One of the questions/answers in the formal interview was:
Chen - "Men are promised that'll become martyrs in paradise. As a woman, what were you promised?"
Hamur - "According to the Qur'an, God promised the martyrs a reward of 70 virgins, and those who die a martyr's death will be kept alive and sustained by God. Women martyrs are promised that they will become the purest and most beautiful form of angel at the highest level possible in heaven."
While Ms. Chen then wandered off into questions about how Ms. Hamur handled the moral issues of shredding fellow pizza lovers as well as herself, readers of THOCBDC wanted to linger a bit longer on the afterlife.
P.R. from Brisbane, Australia asked: "About these 70 virgins ... ah ... what happens when, or after, you have used one of them? Is her virginity lost or does she revert to the Maker's Default Setting: Virginity?"
L.T. from Maidenhead, England wondered: "Though 70 is a pretty acceptable number if you are measuring ... say the time between early teens and the point when most men would just as soon settle down to a good read on the toilet ... but, it's not a big number when all of eternity stretches out in front of you. In fact that 70 is an infinitesimally small number. After the martyr has run through the first batch of 70 does he get a fresh supply? Or, does God just push the man's 'Reset' button ... after which the martyr gets his 'program' restarted from scratch without any memory of his prior trots?"
R.K. from Frankfurt, Germany wrote: "Assuming that there are lots of martyrs in heaven ... then there must be at least 70 times that number of virgins. Suppose martyr 'A' fancies a virgin belonging to martyr 'B' (and vice versa) can they swap?"
N.Z. from Niagara Falls, USA questioned: "Where does God get these virgins? Are they ripely plucked from the prettiest grown here on Earth or are they...rather like the audioanimatrons from the Disney works...made specifically for that one heavenly job?"
M.B. from Amsterdam, Holland mused: "I would suspect that these virgins might get pretty tired being laid by the same guy for eternity. What's God's position on allowing the girls to have a little fun among themselves?"
R.L. from Tokyo, Japan shifted gears with: "What exactly do you, as a woman, get out of the deal? Guys get 70 virgins while you wind up with being 'the purest and most beautiful form of angel at the highest level possible' ... Does this mean that you get to do it with God?
P.T. from Shanghai, China meowed: "Obviously if you had successfully blown yourself to bits God wouldn't want to put you back together again just like you were. From your picture in NEWSWEEK I'm guessing that the Big Man tipped off the Israelis as to what you were up to."
S.T. from Singapore wondered: "Following on P.T.'s speculation ... and getting back to the male martyrs ... what exactly does God do with the blown apart pieces? If the guy was a little short in the anatomy or if he had an erectile dysfunction does God refit him?"
S.W. from Avignon, France asked: "What if he prefers sheep? Or goats? Camels?"
X.F. from Fort Lauderdale, USA raised a technical/translation point: "Some have suggested that a correct reading of the Qur'an means that God only rewards martyrs with white raisins ... not virgins. Are you sure that you, being a woman, will wind up as an angel and not just an anvil ... like in your real life?"
THOCBDC's chat room discourages disparaging and facetious remarks.
PS: THOCBDC has looked at scholarly reports that do indicate that albino raisins are God's gift to those blown asunder by their own hand.
PPS: P.F. from Seattle, USA sagely observes: "A woman who died and found herself facing 70 male virgins might be in hell, not heaven!"
We (myself & Watcharee and P'Pom & Golf) had dinner at the Japanese restaurant in Bangkok's Conrad Hotel. The sashimi was as delicious as it looks. This panorama is of the outside of the third floor restaurant; taken from the third floor on the far side of the lobby atrium.
SHIFTING GEARS ...
Reader M.M. from Kuwait City writes, in regard to yesterday's chat room discussion about how God, the martyrs and the virgins would handle the weird logistics of the whole post big-bang farce; you know, that ambiguous promise in the Koran about giving three score and ten fair maidens to every Muslim who turns himself into a human bomb either while riding on a #14 Jerusalem bus or while standing in line at a Haifa fast food joint.
"The suicide bombings actually prove that most 'Moslem' men secretly do not believe in Islam. Since there are so relatively few suicide bombers this must mean that most 'Moslem' are taking their chances here on earth ... despite the fact that their life here is pretty shitty ... what with always having to shovel sand out of the house, listening to gray haired shrieks from the minarets five times a day and never being able to sit down with a cold bottle of beer and a ham sandwich and watch a porno movie; not to mention the prospect of being married to someone dressed as a beekeeper in mourning. Hey, if these quys really believed that God was going to reward them with 70 virgins for undergoing just one near instantaneous blinding flash into nothingness there would be millions of 'bangs' all over the Middle East."
BACK ON TRACK ...
PS: This panorama of the Bangkok Sky Train is for Tilman Smith. Only she and Annie will get it.
Next: Part IV