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The week that was in Thailand news: In defense of Bangkok - leave my lovely home alone!


rooster59

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The week that was in Thailand news: In defense of Bangkok - leave my lovely home alone!

 
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The rickety old train was on its final few kilometers of the journey between Surat Thani and Bangkok. I was 20 years old and the year was 1982.
 
I was no stranger to big cities. I was born in London and my mother was a cockney as she could hear Bow Bells when the wind was blowing in the right direction. On my travels in the previous four or five months I had seen Kabul, Delhi, Bombay, Hyderabad, Madras and Singapore. Now here I was in the capital of Thailand without a guidebook and of course without the internet. 
 
I stepped off the train as I was accosted from right and left by coolies and tuk-tuk drivers wanting to carry my ancient black shoulder bag (I have never owned such a thing as a back-pack). Experienced by now to turn down all offers in such places I emerged from Hualampong station's semi-circular edifice into the blazing hot late morning sun.
 
I squinted and looked around me. Then smiled. It was love at first sight. Nearly forty years on I have been through most of the Thai trials and tribulations  except imprisonment, though two marriages made up for that. 
 
There is still that frisson of excitement whenever I return to Krung Thep from a foreign trip. Sure, it is not so strong as four decades ago but there is still that feeling of potential for good and bad, of unpredictability in the air. It is always great to be home and as the English say - that is where the heart is.
 
Those first few days in Bangkok in 1982 are all a blur now. I wrote no diary entry as there was too much going on. I stayed first in a classic old Chinese hotel called Sri Hualampong by the side of the station. The noise from the trains and the street outside was nothing compared to the ice factory next door. That was ice as in frozen water, not what Brit bar owners get jailed for these days. 
 
I made a trip to Patpong but I couldn't tell you where exactly. It must have been to drink Mekhong Thai whisky on the  cheap as my 200 baht per day city budget (twice as much as on my previous stop in Koh Samui) had to last or I'd not see out the planned six months in Asia before the World Cup began in Spain. 
 
I ended up moving to Sukhumvit Road and after the obligatory daytime temple visits and street food my English mate, a fellow journalist,and I would find places to drink. One such establishment was the strangest I had ever encountered - most people entered through the toilets and once in the downstairs dungeon one was accosted by several hundred ladies of the night. It was the original site of the legendary Thermae Coffee Shop.
 
Years later when I swapped tourism for residence in the City of Angels a good friend of mine married the daughter of a policeman who had a share in the Thermae. He'd already contributed handsomely to his father-in-laws stock. I, myself, was obliged to visit a nearby British doctor who asked me where I had picked up the affliction that was ailing me. When I explained it was the Thermae just yards from his surgery Dr Dixon - who friends later nicknamed Dr Dick - exclaimed:
 
"Ah, yes. A lot of my customers come from there". 
 
I traveled round Thailand in 1983 too but always gravitated back to Bangkok, especially to the area around the Malaysia Hotel in Soi Ngam Duplee. The city was like a magnet to me and I knew on these trips that this would be a lifelong love affair. Now it's 2019 and I must have been to over seventy of the 77 provinces in the Kingdom. But no place has a hold on me like Bangkok.
 
Like most people who are in love we take it to heart when the subject of our affection is criticized. Over the years I have noticed that most people who don't live here say you'd have to be mad to reside in such a place. Some that do even say it. They disparage everything about the capital from its traffic to its hectic lifestyle; its confusion is too much to ever comprehend, they bleat. Give me the sea, give me the mountains, give me the laid back folk of Isaan - blah, blah, blah.
 
This week I was clearing up at home and came across newspapers from the last dozen years or so that I'd stashed away on top of a wardrobe. The headlines screamed: "Bangkok in shambles" and "Bangkok burning" (from the barricading of the city center in 2010), "Bangkok tense after Coup D'etat" (2006), "Race begins to defend capital" (as the floods approached from the north gurgling through the city drains in 2011). 
 
Yes, Bangkokians have borne the brunt of some difficult times but we have always recovered and today if the figures are to be believed we are perhaps the most visited city on Earth. Could it be because the "Venice of the East" is still one of the most interesting and varied places on the planet? (Oh, no, everyone's in transit say the pitiful detractors!).
 
So why, oh why do so many people keep having a pop at Bangkok? In the last few weeks it has been building to fever pitch with all this smog talk. If you ask me it's a damn sight cleaner than during the height of the construction boom in the 1990's before the crash of 1997 temporarily ended all that. My bike rides across the city in those days left my face black with grime and soot - not a problem these days. 
 
Call me an irresponsible parent if you like but when my five year old emerged from kindergarten with a face mask on this week that had been given to her by her teacher, I just smiled. We wouldn't want Khun Kru to lose face, would we. But as soon as we were round the corner it went in the trash and we went swimming gulping in the air in the bright sunshine. We're not wusses - we ARE Bangkok!
 
I'm not in denial. I'm just fed up with everyone complaining. It's not just the foreigners - the Thais, like sheep, are jumping on the bandwagon as it seems the right thing to do. Everyone is burbling on about particles of 2.5 microns in diameter, whatever that means. 
 
Despite the fact that a huge train project and several tunnels and bridges are being built in a one kilometer radius from my 12th floor duplex, the air blows cool and there is not the slightest sound except a barely perceivable murmur of an engine from afar or perhaps the rumble of a plane in the distance gaining altitude after take-off from Don Muang. Pity the poor tourists for having to leave this heaven on earth.
 
Yes, my city is all about peace and quiet. And development projects that promise an even better Bangkok tomorrow. 
 
Unlike Dan About Thailand I have never felt the need to debate where I should live in the kingdom. It was obvious from the start. In the last few weeks I've been on road trips to Hua Hin, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen clocking up about 3,000 kilometers. I don't intend to bash but while Hua Hin was pleasant enough  the driving there would not be acceptable in Krung Thep. And there were a lot of dogs around, not something we in Ratchayothin have to tolerate. I promised my daughter Chiang Mai would be cool but it wasn't. On a Sunday afternoon it took three hours to get from Khon Kaen to Korat. Nah - give me Bangkok any day where we expect that sort of thing - and plan for it accordingly!
 
This week on Thaivisa the leading local media Thai Rath joined in the bashing. They mocked the city for its slogan written in Thai in many prominent places (Krung Thep thee long tua) that suggests it is the city with everything. Yes, AND ghastly smog they whined. 
 
They commented on the admittedly absurd efforts in Klong Toei to fire water at the alien particles - a practice that merely made motorcyclists wet and caused street side flooding! Yes, we are a bit nutty in Bangkok, perhaps it is a requirement of living here. 
 
If Bangkokians were smugly reminding themselves that we keep the country afloat they were not making it obvious. Stating the bleeding obvious was the general PM. With Bangkok's pollution on his mind he came out with: "People should adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle and learn to live by nature".
 
Yes thanks for that Big Too, though it's not quite enough to garner my vote, even if I had one. You see, on balance I have grown tired of you. Yes, you came in when my beloved city was being taken over by thugs and I welcomed you albeit on sufferance. But you've been here a tad too long and, let's face it, said some pretty nonsensical things.
 
One could almost say that you have made up for the lack of barking in my area of town....
 
At least the election was finally announced this week, a decision that will lead to half a million ugly billboards in the capital to hide the holes in the pavements and the few bits of the city that are not being rebuilt. March 24th is the latest hope. As the Year of the Pig approaches we are all hoping that swine might fly and democracy will be returned to the people along with all that happiness that Prayut promised to deliver. 
 
Call me cynical but Thailand doesn't really DO democracy. Bangkok has a monument to the ideal but its history is mired in controversy and many have died brutal deaths within a stone's throw of it for merely applauding the words of speakers talking through megaphones. Some believe violence will follow the vote and the city will once again be plunged into chaos. 
 
News that the actual result would not be announced until after the coronation added further fuel to the uncertainty. It's all smoke and mirrors of course and designed so that those who are making up or manipulating the rules stand to benefit the most. Thailand to a T. 
 
Rooster is resigned to going nowhere whatever transpires. This seemed in stark contrast to the attitude of many people who call themselves expats. The results of a  Thaivisa poll on Facebook showed that three quarters of people think the country will be worse in five years. The story became a click-a-thon on the forum within minutes.
 
Some serious social issues reared their ugly heads this week though ugly head was hardly apparent on Monday as a teacher took shears to a teen's beautiful long hair. Apparently the "nak rian" had been repeatedly told to get it cut and rules are rules. Unfortunately the student and her family accepted this old fashioned edict. Had they enjoyed a more questioning education they might have challenged the right of the school and the teacher to perform such barbarity. And discovered there was a case for assault. 
 
For that is what this was. And assault on a child at that. 
 
Also very ugly were the marks on a four year old's legs that were caused by a seven year old neighbor setting light to him with gasoline, a jolly jape I'm sure we all did as kids.
 
The forum blamed everyone; the mother for leaving her child with a grandparent; gran for leaving the child and going to work; the family of the seven year old for forking out the ridiculous sum of 200 baht compensation; the police for doing what they do best....nothing.
 
But most of all, without a scrap of evidence that any husband or father was responsible, the forum curmudgeons blamed all Thai men. I have said it before and I'll say it again - I am sick of this unrestrained and racist bashing of Thai men. It comes from the very people who complain that Thai men only hunt in packs when the odds are in their favor. Are not the baying hounds of Thaivisa's foreign "manhood" guilty of just such a bullying, pack mentality? 
 
I have been blessed to have met so many good, honest, dedicated, intelligent and considerate Thai men. Both in Bangkok and in the countryside, I might add. I can't help but think that this bashing of Thai males comes from those who have teamed up with Thai women who have been either divorced or let down in relationships. Their opinion is one sided and clouded by their situation. And the Thaivisa pack with their "fragile Thai male ego" nonsense are influenced by the seedy male characters - and of course there are some - who hang around bars and pubs and who prey on the people who frequent them. 
 
The attack on the boy was ghastly and many were at fault. At least the mother - who has now taken the boy back into her care - had the good offices of the Paveena Hongsakul Foundation to help. Many such organisations and NGOs do great work in Thailand and I commend them. Many children nationwide are left in the unsuitable care of grandparents and it is this aspect of Thailand that needs to be urgently addressed rather than singling out one section of society for blame.
 
Lastly in the ugly stakes was the neighbor in Phrae who had had enough of a man's dog that had repeatedly bitten her. She vented her spleen on the mutt by tying it up and extracting four teeth. The dog's owner and his neighbor will face the relevant charges. I expect a vet to come forward to offer cosmetic dentistry in exchange for free advertising.
 
As ever humorous stories abounded though some folks ended up as the butt of jokes. A case in point was the Russian in Samui who was hoping for a double whammy after taking what he thought were two ladies of the night to his room.
 
They turned out to be gents of the night - a fact brought home to the hapless tourist after police studied the hotel CCTV and saw two men in stilettos making off with his 150,000 baht stash. He had been drugged with whisky and watermelon, of all things. 
 
Rather in the manner of Dad's Army's Captain Mainwaring - "Don't tell them your name, Pike!" - I have no intention of revealing Sergei Igolov's identity. 
 
That would be a triple whammy. 
 
Honesty award for the week went to the latest whiter than white cabby who trumped his compatriots - and wound up the forum no end - by returning a 170K diamond encrusted Rolex to a grateful Songkhla businesswoman who gave him a 5,000 baht reward. 
 
No surprise that this upstanding male member of society was residing in Bangkok, I noted smugly in the smog. 
 
Up in Chiang Mai a 55 year old woman was charged with bringing the Hang Dong police into disrepute after she referred to officers at a checkpoint as "prate". Since a visit many years ago to the wacky temple of Wat Phai Rong Wua in Suphanburi I have been fascinated by the creatures associated with Thai Hell. In fact I'm a bit of a prat when it comes to prate.
 
Prate are the tall "hungry ghosts" with their tongues hanging out. Temples like Wat Phai Rong Wua feature many other devilish depictions that serve to warn locals not to misbehave in this life lest the next be worse (expats please note). The copper pot being stirred for the wicked is another and I always gulp around Mrs Rooster when confronted by the rabid dogs forcing the adulterous to endlessly climb the red cotton tree, known to Thais as "Ton Ngiw". 
 
The teacher in me came out as I translated the story. I wanted to show how the feeling of defamation was strong. But also that the police reaction would be deemed absurd by most Thais. I adore the Thai language and, despite being a translator, am constantly amused, perplexed and flummoxed by both its vagueness and its intricacy. 
 
I discussed the matter with Mrs Rooster who listened patiently to my enthusiasm before expressing that she was tired today and would not be making me dinner tonight. She said I was to prepare my own - something she referred to in 'newspeak Thai' as a "buffet" arrangement. 
 
Finally "The Most Hated German" in Thailand reared up above the parapet again. Two years ago Benjamin Holst with the big leg annoyed the Thais by scrounging in Bangkok then blowing his donations on beer and prostitutes in Pattaya. Now he was taking his wife from The Gambia to Hamburg and asking for donations for impoverished African kids online. Some seemed to have got wise to his schemes as he had only got one Euro so far!
 
One poster called the story "persecutory". Him and others need to lighten up. News is not just about informing people of events but increasingly in the modern world it serves as entertainment. Herr Holst had contacted Thaivisa himself and he loves the limelight - I should know after following him for years on Facebook. 
 
His story should be seen in the same light as others on Thaivisa over the last three years. The endless saga of balding US millionaire Harold and his porn star Thai wife Nat and the reality TV couple Annie and David to name but two. 
 
Alongside these has been the almost soap opera antics of slapstick tourism minister Kobkarn and her pronouncements about Durian Kit-Kat, the hand gestures and media hogging of former chief of the met police Sanit Mahathavorn and the yearlong epic of Lady Kai and the downtrodden that finally ended with her incarceration for Lese Majeste. 
 
Thaivisa is here to inform but is unashamedly also here to entertain featuring both Thai and foreign pantomime characters in the news. Besides, you can always decide not to click on a story. 
 
That's why we put Big Joke in the headlines. 
 
Rooster. 
 
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-- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2019-01-26
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42 minutes ago, GarryP said:

Enjoyable read. Helps bring back memories. Does the Blue Fox ring any bells?

You mean the one on the corner of soi Ngam Duplee just down from the Malaysia hotel ?

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6 minutes ago, Denim said:

You mean the one on the corner of soi Ngam Duplee just down from the Malaysia hotel ?

Exactly. You must be one of the oldies too. 

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1 hour ago, GarryP said:

Exactly. You must be one of the oldies too. 

I knew Mr Blue Fox quite well.  Used to sell him English porno mags from the UK if I made a home trip.

 

Had a box apartment in Pitak Court so not far to walk. Just down from the Blue Fox was a mexican restaurant but I forget its name. Used to eat there quite a lot. The tiny Coffee shop in the Privacy hotel was quite good too. In those days if a room had one of those combo box air con units then it was well equiped. Fridges in a cheapo hotel were unheard of. Khao San road had hardly begun back then so Ngam Duplee was the travelers choice. A bit up market from places like the Thai Song Greet and Pepsi hotels.

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Oh dear, Rooster. Bangkok is 1 metre above sea level, except for the overpasses. Remember the 2011 floods? That's just the overture to climate change. Enjoy Bangkok while it's still above water.

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Mr R, I respect your long association with the city, and I do agree that it is cleaner than it was in the 90's (on a side note, I was living in Indonesia in the 90's and my Indo friends saw buses that didn't spew huge black clouds of soot on Western TV and assumed that it was a special effect).

 

That said, and sadly, I just see the life being sucked out of the city now. Bangkok to me is street life, energy, madness and mania, a sense of excitement, vitality, a wonder as to what exactly is around the corner, and so on. Now, it seems a lot more sterile. And, sadly, the worst possible thing; it is getting dull.

 

My last trip there wasn't too much fun, and I suspect that I'll be appreciating/recalling my past visits more while visiting less.

 

Such is life...

 

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Well said as always Rooster.

I've been in Bangkok on and off for 13 years now, and although I have respect for my friends who choose to live out their lives in the villages of Isaan (I have a house there we sometimes visit), Bangkok is the only City for me, and I get the same comments about living in the Big Smoke.

I also have similar feelings about coup those few years ago, and remember being intimidated by some 'paid rabble' at the Suthep camp along Sukhumvit. However sometimes get the same feeling when intimidated by the occasional keyboard warrior on Thaivisa....... Good that you speak out. 

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14 hours ago, Lacessit said:

Oh dear, Rooster. Bangkok is 1 metre above sea level, except for the overpasses. Remember the 2011 floods? That's just the overture to climate change. Enjoy Bangkok while it's still above water.

How many years have they been saying that about Venice??

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17 hours ago, GarryP said:

Enjoyable read. Helps bring back memories. Does the Blue Fox ring any bells?

Thank you Garry.

 

I met a whole "dynsasty" of my early friends there, many of whom I know to this day. A part of me died when it changed to a store - did I see it as a 7/11 on my last visit a good few years back?

 

I met a Chinese/Thai called Wong there who later opened what we called Wong's Place a little down Sri Bumphen. Tragically, he died young many years ago.

 

I stayed in Sri Bumphen apartments for about six months and Freddy's for about a year before moving to Thong Lor. Those days are etched on my memory.

 

I opened my first bank account at the SCB on Rama IV opposite the end of Soi Ngam Duplee. That was where I heard about something called an ATM....

 

The area was of course a haunt of Charles Sobraj though fortunately my time came after that scoundrel.

 

Rooster

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9 minutes ago, Andyfez said:

Well said as always Rooster.

I've been in Bangkok on and off for 13 years now, and although I have respect for my friends who choose to live out their lives in the villages of Isaan (I have a house there we sometimes visit), Bangkok is the only City for me, and I get the same comments about living in the Big Smoke.

I also have similar feelings about coup those few years ago, and remember being intimidated by some 'paid rabble' at the Suthep camp along Sukhumvit. However sometimes get the same feeling when intimidated by the occasional keyboard warrior on Thaivisa....... Good that you speak out. 

I listened to Suthep....thought he was as barking as the rest. I walked out and thought people were looking at me strangely.

 

Later I was intimidated as I tried to ride my motorbike through a "controlled" area. I almost got into a slanging match with the thug trying to stop me from proceeding on a public road. These were two of the only times that I felt uncomfortable in my beloved city. 

 

Another was when I stupidly pushed a girl in Patpong who was pestering me. On that occasion only an ability to run fast saved me from hospital..."I'll clue ya"...

 

Rooster

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6 hours ago, davehowden said:

Sri Hualampong, stayed there recently, a good example of a place that time has passed by, room like the opening scenes of "The Beach".

I took a train to Udon a couple of years ago for the North Eastern Scrabble championships there. I had an hour to kill at Hualampong so I went to see if the hotel was still there. Not only was it there, it seemed exactly the same as I remembered it with the classic staircase. 

 

Then I met a man who was there working in 1982. How brilliant it was - in the Thai I could now speak - to shoot the breeze about the days of Bangkok in our youth. 

 

Like all people I think of how Bangkok might have been before my time - many on Thaivisa will have great stories of the 70s and even before I suspect. I'd love to hear some of these. 

 

You'll appreciate this column in about my era. But its main point is actually just the last seven days!

 

But I love the history of Bangkok and can never get enough of it.

 

Rooster

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15 hours ago, Lacessit said:

Oh dear, Rooster. Bangkok is 1 metre above sea level, except for the overpasses. Remember the 2011 floods? That's just the overture to climate change. Enjoy Bangkok while it's still above water.

Ha! yes, that is something I could have referred to in this week's edition. Though I don't think that the 2011 floods were really relevant to the low lying nature of the city. Look back to the 40s, 50s and 60s and you'll see the Thais in their version of gondolas every rainy season. 

 

Apropos, getting about by water: One of the things I would absolutely love to see is ALL the klongs cleared and turned into places where people can walk, eat out and travel. I wish a governor with reall clout and backing could come along to make this a priority. The transformation of a main klong like Saen saep that runs along Petchaburi Road (at least in terms of pleasant travel and walking potential) is stunning.

 

If this kind of thing was city-wide it would be a brilliant thing for Bangkokians and a fine thing for tourism. Also if the doom and gloom of the city sinking proves to be true it could jump start the future of the city as a true and delightful Venice of the East!

 

Rooster

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32 minutes ago, geisha said:

I love Bangkok too. I go there whenever I can, though I will avoid the pollution at the moment.

I am glad that you love it. For me the city is actually improving. I perhaps have changed from someone who enjoyed chaos and unpredictability all those years ago to someone who doesn't mind seeing a bit more order now. But I am very mindful to be careful what I wish for. If the city became organised like Singapore I think my love affair might begin to sour! Perhaps something like bits of Hong Kong without forgetting this is Thailand might be the order of the day and the next few decades.

 

Rooster

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15 hours ago, Denim said:

I knew Mr Blue Fox quite well.  Used to sell him English porno mags from the UK if I made a home trip.

 

Had a box apartment in Pitak Court so not far to walk. Just down from the Blue Fox was a mexican restaurant but I forget its name. Used to eat there quite a lot. The tiny Coffee shop in the Privacy hotel was quite good too. In those days if a room had one of those combo box air con units then it was well equiped. Fridges in a cheapo hotel were unheard of. Khao San road had hardly begun back then so Ngam Duplee was the travelers choice. A bit up market from places like the Thai Song Greet and Pepsi hotels.

My favorite meal at that time was a kind of schnitzel thing at a Chinese place we called "Jack's" after the owner. It was 35 baht if I remember correctly so would be only a weekly treat! My Thai girlfriend at the time though it was hilarious at the time that we called the old boy Jack, that was a term of endearment. I discovered later that she thought we were saying "Jeck" a rude word for people of Chinese descent. 

 

Rooster

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7 hours ago, Samui Bodoh said:

Mr R, I respect your long association with the city, and I do agree that it is cleaner than it was in the 90's (on a side note, I was living in Indonesia in the 90's and my Indo friends saw buses that didn't spew huge black clouds of soot on Western TV and assumed that it was a special effect).

 

That said, and sadly, I just see the life being sucked out of the city now. Bangkok to me is street life, energy, madness and mania, a sense of excitement, vitality, a wonder as to what exactly is around the corner, and so on. Now, it seems a lot more sterile. And, sadly, the worst possible thing; it is getting dull.

 

My last trip there wasn't too much fun, and I suspect that I'll be appreciating/recalling my past visits more while visiting less.

 

Such is life...

 

I understand and appreciate what you're saying.

 

I think in many ways it helps to live here. The developments in terms of convenience and these days travel infrastructure are helping the city move to a new era and for residents (and people like me with children) this helps. For those who remember the 80s it will never be like that again. Just as those that remember the 50s will lament the passing of that era, I suspect. I recently read an essay of a visiting journalist in the 50s....wow! I missed out!

 

Thanks for reading the column and taking time to comment.

 

Rooster

 

 

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39 minutes ago, Andyfez said:

Well said as always Rooster.

I've been in Bangkok on and off for 13 years now, and although I have respect for my friends who choose to live out their lives in the villages of Isaan (I have a house there we sometimes visit), Bangkok is the only City for me, and I get the same comments about living in the Big Smoke.

I also have similar feelings about coup those few years ago, and remember being intimidated by some 'paid rabble' at the Suthep camp along Sukhumvit. However sometimes get the same feeling when intimidated by the occasional keyboard warrior on Thaivisa....... Good that you speak out. 

Re houses. I bought my first wife a house in Bang Sai of Pathum Thani and still visit to this day when she let's me! It is just 70 kms from Silom and I did live there for a couple of years. It was lovely and I could easily belt down the Bang Pa-in expressway into town in my cars. It helped with what at the time was a double life!

 

Later my brother in law from my second marriage built me and Mrs Rooster a house in her home village of Loei. We go there quite often but it is Mrs Rooster who stays with the kids...I usually head back south to the sanctity of Ratchayothin after a few days!

 

Rooster

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I, myself, was obliged to visit a nearby British doctor who asked me where I had picked up the affliction that was ailing me. When I explained it was the Thermae just yards from his surgery Dr Dixon - who friends later nicknamed Dr Dick - exclaimed:
 
"Ah, yes. A lot of my customers come from there". 
 
Just about everybody paid a visit to Doctor Dickson in his little upstairs surgery at one time or another, myself included. He had a standard joke to put his miscreant patients at ease and lighten the atmosphere.
 
After examining your wedding tackle he would solemnly pronounce it was no big deal and he had just the thing that would only take a couple of minutes and was 100% effective. He would then go over to his desk and get out a large pair of gardening shears !  Laugh, I nearly cried as I realized he was kidding.
 
Had friends who used Sri Bumphen apartments ( too dark and dingy with no views ) and another who was resident at Freddys. He was seduced by the hot little room maid who worked there at the time.
 
Same friend got picked up in the Sri Hualampong hotel by a couple of married Thai swingers who wanted to try a threesome with a big nose.
The husband did not take part in this but just moved around the bed where my friend was at work pretending to take pictures because it turned his wife on.
 
Sadly, nothing like that happened to me.
 
Used to enjoy going to the weekend market when it was still at Sanam Luang and then walking down to Chinatown past the ' tea shops 'before getting on a number 4 home to enjoy a 'gak ' of mekong in my box.
 
Also remember that in those days if you stayed here for longer than 90 days you had to get a tax clearance certificate up at the revenue department near Khao Sahn. You would have to hang around there until approached by a sponsor who for a small fee would sign your form to say you had not been working and had made no money.
 
As for visa runs....only one option. The overnight train to Penang which made that place a whole lot busier than it is now.
 
It really was the Land of smiles then. Paradise indeed.
 
 
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19 hours ago, GarryP said:

Enjoyable read. Helps bring back memories. Does the Blue Fox ring any bells?

Indeed, served me time in the Blue Fox, Wongs, and the old Thermae...... the Malaysia Hotel was an experience back then as well........ Happy days ....

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2 hours ago, Jane Dough said:

Thank you Garry.

 

I met a whole "dynsasty" of my early friends there, many of whom I know to this day. A part of me died when it changed to a store - did I see it as a 7/11 on my last visit a good few years back?

 

I met a Chinese/Thai called Wong there who later opened what we called Wong's Place a little down Sri Bumphen. Tragically, he died young many years ago.

 

I stayed in Sri Bumphen apartments for about six months and Freddy's for about a year before moving to Thong Lor. Those days are etched on my memory.

 

I opened my first bank account at the SCB on Rama IV opposite the end of Soi Ngam Duplee. That was where I heard about something called an ATM....

 

The area was of course a haunt of Charles Sobraj though fortunately my time came after that scoundrel.

 

Rooster

Fond memories, knew Wong well, Freddys, Blue Fox, a time before ATMs, phones and deoderant......Had some great nights in Kennys and better mornings in the Malaysia...... and if you needed cash you spent all day in the Bangkok bank trying to cash a travellers cheque...... International phone calls in the little box in the Malaysia....... Different times eh ??

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It is a better place to live than visit.  I loved the city until the coup, and the army's perverted Singaporean vision started to take hold.  It was a place full of joy and hope even when there was sadness.    Never complained about Bangkok.  Doubt I ever will.  The memories are too good.

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1 hour ago, Denim said:
I, myself, was obliged to visit a nearby British doctor who asked me where I had picked up the affliction that was ailing me. When I explained it was the Thermae just yards from his surgery Dr Dixon - who friends later nicknamed Dr Dick - exclaimed:
 
"Ah, yes. A lot of my customers come from there". 
 
Just about everybody paid a visit to Doctor Dickson in his little upstairs surgery at one time or another, myself included. He had a standard joke to put his miscreant patients at ease and lighten the atmosphere.
 
After examining your wedding tackle he would solemnly pronounce it was no big deal and he had just the thing that would only take a couple of minutes and was 100% effective. He would then go over to his desk and get out a large pair of gardening shears !  Laugh, I nearly cried as I realized he was kidding.
 
Had friends who used Sri Bumphen apartments ( too dark and dingy with no views ) and another who was resident at Freddys. He was seduced by the hot little room maid who worked there at the time.
 
Same friend got picked up in the Sri Hualampong hotel by a couple of married Thai swingers who wanted to try a threesome with a big nose.
The husband did not take part in this but just moved around the bed where my friend was at work pretending to take pictures because it turned his wife on.
 
Sadly, nothing like that happened to me.
 
Used to enjoy going to the weekend market when it was still at Sanam Luang and then walking down to Chinatown past the ' tea shops 'before getting on a number 4 home to enjoy a 'gak ' of mekong in my box.
 
Also remember that in those days if you stayed here for longer than 90 days you had to get a tax clearance certificate up at the revenue department near Khao Sahn. You would have to hang around there until approached by a sponsor who for a small fee would sign your form to say you had not been working and had made no money.
 
As for visa runs....only one option. The overnight train to Penang which made that place a whole lot busier than it is now.
 
It really was the Land of smiles then. Paradise indeed.
 
 

Yes fantastic tales - I have many of the same. In my Case Dr Dick had secreted the "shears" under some cushions by a side treatment area.

 

Once he did a smear test on a slide but clumsily dropped it on the floor. His cheeky comment above his rimmed specs was priceless: "Not to worry, jam side up". 

 

I did the tax clearance at Banglamphu many times. I never employed an agent as I recall but this made matters a tad tricky at times. Once the lady just said I was lying about what I was doing in Thailand (I was of course) and she walked off. A standoff resulted in which I just sat at the desk waiting. Eventually she came back and in a kind of "have it your own way" stamped the clearance, I wai-ed and off I went!

 

Great to hear your stories.

 

Rooster

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55 minutes ago, SupermarineS6B said:

Fond memories, knew Wong well, Freddys, Blue Fox, a time before ATMs, phones and deoderant......Had some great nights in Kennys and better mornings in the Malaysia...... and if you needed cash you spent all day in the Bangkok bank trying to cash a travellers cheque...... International phone calls in the little box in the Malaysia....... Different times eh ??

I think the only time I ever called home was from the GPO on Charoen Krung. Funny to think it cost about 300 baht if I remember correctly. Just one call would have been enough for a dozen happy hour Klosters at Patpong. No wonder I hardly ever called....

 

Rooster

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I have been coming to Thailand since the mid 90s, and the elevated roadways do help people get around faster. I think the smog has always been around as I have never sunburned in all my years of being in Bangkok. This trip however, I spent a week in BKK, then escaped and went to the ocean, first in Jomtien Beach, and now in Hua Hin. I stopped at BKK and my relatives who live there were all coughing from the pollution, but sounded like they all had a case of bronchitis. I feel sorry for them and wished they could afford to get out of that city more often into cleaner air. I let them know that and we all had a chuckle. I still enjoy being at the oceanside even though I never swim in it. Do not like jelly fish, and the assorted trash I have found in the waters when I do wade in up to my waist. Good to wear aqua socks incase of coconut husks and broken glass. I do still like coming to Thailand though as I stay in 500 baht per night guest houses, and enjoy eating cheap but delicious meals everywhere. When I see people who stay in resorts snd hotels for over 1500 baht per night, I hope they use the hotel pools each evening, or why spend all that extra money each night. Bangkok has been very good to me as well, as I still find the cheapest prices on most goods, exist in that big city. I bought a suitcase from a small corner store Nana 4 and Sukimvit, and it is still being used. This year I bought one in Pattaya, and it broke in 2 blocks from the bus station in Hua Hin when I was walking to my guest house. I regret not getting it from the same store in Bangkok. Anyway, good read Rooster, glad you still have a mostly positive attitude of both Thailand, and Bangkok.

Geezer

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Excellent. I have lived in Thailand since the early 80s, dividing time between our Bangkok and Rayong homes. Your article brings back many happy memories of Bangkok in earlier times. It remains my favourite city of all those I have lived in around the world, including my home town, London, which is dull and lacks any sense of excitement by comparison.

 

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22 hours ago, rooster59 said:

I squinted and looked around me. Then smiled. It was love at first sight. Nearly forty years

Enjoyed the read.... I’m positive there are a lot to see and enjoy in the city. Only thing I don’t like (Any place in the world) traffic...

 

i lived just south of Los Angeles (City of Angels) “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula”

 

When I got out of the army I got a job as a delivery driver for Plating company. I mapped my runs daily to avoid traffic. This 

was the days of beepers.

 

Stopped called in .. You need to pick up the owner at John Wayne airport and bring to office then back on your run. Told the VP I will

pick him up and he can go on run with me then back...You can’t do 

that...blah blah

 

Knew who he was but never really talked to him. Picked him up and told him I’m going to finish my run then back to office (most important to me avoid the traffic). End of the run he loved got to

see and talk to many people ... he told me thanks he enjoyed it!

Then said you know you could’ve got fired..... yea I know but I hate

traffic

 

funny thing I drove for them 1-1/2 years on expired license. Hadn’t got it renewed when just out of army.....

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