December 7-13, 2004
A disturbing bit of inactivity here at THOCBDC has forced it pull up some 'out-takes'. (*)
(*) These will only be of interest to Reader K. from the American state of Arizona. You can click here and here to see why he is interested in specific Bangkok properties.
A Christmas tree! Here in Bangkok at River Garden.
And, Gransten House in 1970 ... where we used to live in England.
The photographers for The Nation (Bangkok) and the International Herald Tribune must have clicked their shutters open at the exact split second...despite being on opposite sides of the action.
Yesterday was election day.
On Wednesday the people went to the polls in Watcharee's home town of Sena (a 'burb of Ayuthaya) to select a 'head-man'. He is sort of a town leader with a vague job description. The official pay is not big ... maybe 3000 baht (@$120) a month ... so there must be some other less announced perks that go with the position. This is not a totally unsupported conjecture on my part; for there is a certain amount of risk that the 'head-man' assumes ... every once in a while one of them is shot dead.
Anyway, one of Watcharee's uncles threw his hat into the ring. Actually, his hat was already in the ring as he ran for and got the job four years ago. Being an incumbent he, of course, had an advantage (just ask Bush).
Candidate #2 and his "Vote for Me" Card
His opponent, a lady (*), mounted a fierce campaign which divided little Sena (about 500 people) along blood lines. Essentially, two extended families make up the bulk of the population. (**) From what I could gather it was the white hats against the black hats; the good guys versus the bad guys. Of course I only learned of this convenient divide from members of Watcharee's family; the good guys.
Voting Tent and Voters
The candidates did not have to worry about issues. There were none. From what I was able to piece together the outcome of the race hinged exclusively on threats. Whether the voter would have fallen into an American Red profile or could be scrunched into a Blue box did not come into play here in Sena. There were pro-lifers, pro-choicers, SUVers and tree huggers in each camp. Karl Rove would have thrown up his hands in this election.
Police were on guard throughout the polling day: 8am to 3pm. An ambulance was parked next to the ballot box.
Voters were given the choice of voting for #1 (the lady) or #2 (Watcharee's uncle). No names were on the ballot, so voters were left on their own to remember what number went with what face.
There was no machine voting. There was no machine counting. Just a check mark next to a number; and, at the end of the day each ballot was fished out of the box ... one by one ... held up for all to see and the winning 'number' was read aloud. On a chalk board just a few feet away the running totals were kept fresh via groups of five; four upright strokes with the fifth one cutting through the waist.
THOCBDC was able to call a winner very early on in the afternoon. As one of Watcharee's cousins conducted a 100% exit poll that showed #2 with 169 (58%) of the votes and #1 with 122 (42%) of the votes THOCBDC did not have to go very far out on a limb.
Exit Pollster and His Tabulations
The final certified vote was: out of 291 votes (***) 169 went to #2 and 122 went to #1.
Watcharee's uncle and family were pleased. He accepted his victory without waiting for a congratulatory telephone call from #1.
Winner with Wife and Daughter
(*) So 'head-man' should read 'head-person'.
(**) Watcharee has 17 uncles and aunts living there; the number of cousins are "... oh, a lot ...", she said.
(***) There were no absentee ballots, no hanging chads, no invalid ballots and there was no recount.
A murder most foul ... next door.
Yikes, I have never seen Bangkok so free of traffic!
PPS: From this morning's The Nation (Bangkok) ... this relates to yesterday's tale of a murder next door:
Boyfriend confesses to murdering WB official
Published on December 11, 2004
The boyfriend of a World Bank official who was found dead in her hotel room earlier this week has confessed that he murdered the woman because of relationship problems, police said yesterday.
Cesar Kabatik, 33, a Filipino singer who works at night venues and hotels in Pattaya, has been charged with murder.
The body of Laura Walker, 35, was found Wednesday in the bathroom of the five-star hotel room she was staying at in Bangkok. Her wrist had been slashed.
She was found lying on top of a naked Kabatik, who also had a slight cut on his wrist. Police also found a mark on her neck suggesting strangulation.
While under investigation, Kabatik became agitated and made an attempt to injure himself.
Police requested that the Criminal Court of Southern Bangkok detain him as they feared they might have difficulty keeping watch over the unstable suspect, said Maj-General Chatchawal Suksomjit, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
Chatchawal said police did not suspect robbery was a motive in the murder and that the case itself was straightforward.
Only Kabatik was in the hotel room with Walker, he said, and both of them knew one another and had checked into the hotel together.
I am not sure why, but people accused of crimes in Thailand seem to confess quite readily. Does it have something to do with the Buddhist culture or are the police more convincing when they tell the persons in custody that they will feel better by coming 'clean'?
From my experience in America very few people who are charged with serious crimes say "I did it!" as soon as the finger is pointed in their direction. And, I expect that there are not too many Brits who when first brought, cap in hand, before the Old Bailey mutter "It's a fair cop!".
But, here in Bangkok the newspapers are full of quickly solved crimes (*). And, this is usually accompanied by a photograph of the defendant looking all contrite and sorry; in many cases he or she is even shown reenacting the crime for the benefit of the press ... or, at least sitting all glum-like staring at a table piled high with illegal drug evidence.
There are some other theories to explain why the locals are more quick to raise their hands:
(*) There are some notorious exceptions: remember the Thai doctor who, a few years ago, was charged with killing his wife, cutting her up into bite-sized bits and flushing her down the toilet piece by piece? Yes, it took place in the same building where the Patpong Corkscrew Club had its inaugural meeting; though there is no reason to believe that we were using the same rooms where the flesh flushings took place.
Watcharee's friend, Rung, is just starting to learn English. Rung's daughter, seen sleeping on her lap, already is semi-fluent in English.
Bangkok's premier condominium project will start construction in a few days. It will take three years to build so we won't be able to move in until December, 2007 (*). It is part of the already-in-place Athenee Plaza Hotel. It will be called The Athenee Residence. It is located on Soi Ruam Rudi, just off Sukhumvit ... near the Ploenchit Skytrain station. It is located in a nice part of town ... but a bit far from the river.
(*) Assuming we decide to buy.
PS: Reader Wendell Farquarst from the American state of Wyoming writes:
"Damn, man, liven up the show a bit!"
This afternoon we drove over to the Athenee Residence to inspect the models. I am very impressed with this building: it has location, location and location.
Though it is not on the river it is in the heart of Bangkok and it offers easy car access to Wireless Road, Soi Ruam Rudi and Ploenchit Road (just before Ploenchit Road bends into Sukhumvit Road). And, the Ploenchit Skytrain station is but a few paces away. The condominium that we like (4+1 bedrooms) comes with three dedicated garage spaces.
OK, we are not within walking distance of The Oriental or The Peninsula ... but, just as close is The Plaza Athenee Hotel, Raffles Hotel, The Grant Hyatt Erawan Hotel and The InterContinental Hotel.
Shopping? The Emporium, Gaysorn Plaza, Central World Plaza and the Siam complex (*) are just minutes away. The Nana Entertainment zone is disturbingly close.
The cool bits include: (1) a 24 hour web cam in the condominium which lets us watch our place from any Internet Cafe in the world, (2) fingerprint operated door locks, (3) Pentagon designed vehicle barriers at the entrances and exits ... [OK, we are right next to the Vietnam Embassy and two doors away from the American one].
The expected stuff: (1) 25 meter pool, (2) saunas, (3) fitness center, (4) BBQ area, (5) library and (6) the usual other bits.
(*) Hey, all those in-progress construction photos that I have been posting over the past year (starting last December, and continuing through September and into November ... twice) are part of this.
PS: Why we have not heard from Don in a while:
Don Bull drove his little white car to lunch ... during the meal things started to get bad with his machine (slippage?) ... it escalated to the point where others became involved, disastrously.
Next: Part VI