Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today it Rained

We had just gotten back from our long morning run. Burning, one of the trainers, has had us go on a longer morning run the last two days. He extended the usual route by a half mile or more. That makes the route about 8 miles now. It takes about an hour. I was taking off my shoes when I heard Mai say "Its pretty dark. I bet its going to rain."

"No, it will get light out in a half hour," I replied.

Then the rain started, it wasn't a sprinkle, a drizzle, or a scattering of dew drops... it was a torrential downpour. I was a little scared by the heaviness of the rain and its continuity. In the states the rain will pour for fifteen minutes then will lighten up to a drizzle. Occassionally there was lightning which shut off the lights in the gym for a few minutes. It rained the entire time I was at the gym, which was about two hours. The air became humid and the smell of wetness permeated everything. Tarps were put down to keep the ring dry and sheets were dropped to keep the water away. We had to grab our shoes as the rain water was flowing onto them from the gym ceiling.

After training I sat and trained to weight out the rain to no avail. While waiting I did get to see the second episode of "The Contender." I decided that I had nothing to lose and ran to the BTS. By the time I got to the train station I was soaking wet. The rain has let up a little bit and the sun is coming out now but there are huge lakes of water.

The Bangkok was originally a marsh, its reason for becoming the capital city were defensive. Ayuutha the old capital of Siam had a similarlandscape. The rainy season isn't here yet, and this time was the first time its rained while I've been here. The drainage systems out here don't seem that good, although with the amount of rain that comes down I doubt any system could handle it.

Time to get an umbrella.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thai News

Kidnappers were cops

By Wassayos Ngamkham

Eight elite border patrol police and four civilians were arrested in Bangkok on Friday on charges of kidnapping a businesswoman and her two sons and extorting an 8.7 million baht ransom.

Metropolitan police chief Assawin Kwanmuang said police nabbed the eight officers, led by Nat Chonnithiwanit, 28, who was responsible for anti-narcotics operations in Chumphon, and four civilians involved in the kidnap of Piangjit Pueng-on in Bangkok.

Five more border patrol police officers involved in the kidnap are still at large, said Pol Lt-Gen Assawin.

Police began their investigation after Mrs Piangjit, a garment factory owner, filed a complaint with Bang Phlad district police on Tuesday, shortly after her release.

A highly-placed source said Pol Capt Nat and his team rented a four-storey building, Aree Residence, which has eight VIP rooms, on Soi Aree off Phahon Yothin road on Jan 17.

They had Sirintip Modsakul, a member of the team who had worked for Mrs Piangjit, invite her to a party on Sunday at the rented building where the group used crystal metham-phetamine, also known as ice.

Mrs Piangjit had just received 20 million baht in child support from her divorced husband.

The source said during the party the suspects showed up and pretended to arrest Mrs Piangjit. They then took her to her condominium in Bang Phlad district and took her 10- and 15-year-old sons as hostages in exchange for 8.7 million baht.

Mrs Piangjit and her sons were locked up in Aree Residence before the officers forced her to withdraw the money from her bank accounts.

After receiving the money, the team freed the woman and her children before Mrs Piangjit lodged a complaint with Bang Phlad police.

On Thursday police surrounded the Aree Residence and told the officers to surrender. A number of weapons were also seized.

Pol Lt-Gen Assawin said the gang had brutally assaulted the victims. He suspected Mrs Piangjit was not the first to fall prey to the extortion gang.

The arrested officers face five charges, including armed robbery, forced intrusion, threatening others with weapons, detaining others and abducting minors.

Pol Capt Nat denied all the charges and refused to answer questions, merely saying he was pursuing a drug case in which he previously seized some 1,700 methamphetamine pills in two separate operations in Chumphon.

All the suspects were taken for questioning at Bang Phlad district police station yesterday and were to be sent to court today.

Police chief Seripisuth Temiyavej ordered the officers' commander to sack them.

The five wanted officers are Pol Lt Col Theerasak Klamtago, Pol Sgt-Maj Anuchit Prom-ubon, Pol Sgt-Maj Anusit Netsuwan, Pol Sgt-Maj Wirote Sikao and Pol Sen Sgt-Maj Prasan Sontawee.

Sukhumvit's beggars

Bangkok Post Editorial

I was really amazed to see the gang of beggars doing business openly in the
heart of Sukhumvit, on the pedestrian bridges and footpaths near Soi 12.
Surprisingly, local police regularly patrol the pedestrian bridge in front
of Soi 12.

Anyone, any day, can find disabled, elderly beggars sitting either alone or
with babies the whole day till evening on the footpath and the pedestrian
bridge. The gang members who collect money from these beggars sit or roam
openly on the premises of Leader's Price - the middle-aged, oversized lady
is a known face! We often see her coming out of 7-Eleven or Leader's Price
after buying things with the money collected from these beggars.

The shocking view is the same: beggars are changing babies every day, from
just newborn to six-month-old infants.

We have a municipality officer stationed at the intersection of Sukhumvit
Square at Soi 12. Have they not noticed? Where do the babies come from?
Where do the beggars come from? And we locals are scared of dark influences.
We are now extremely concerned about our kids being stolen by these gangs.
Is anyone out there concerned?

Some stupid shit falang

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Daorungchujaren Battle

Rajadamnern Stadium is located in northwest bangkok, part of the old city. The drive from Ingram took us about a half hour. We all packed into a large van to go watch, support, or corner Daosaming fight Yodthanu from Wor. Wacharis gym. The bout was set at 54.75 kilo or 120 lbs.

The stadium is set up like an amphitheater. The ring is in the center with the exit to the left. The ring is surrounded by fold out chairs where ringsiders sit for 2,000 baht. A tier of stadium style seats are a little higher, then there are a bunch of benches and a fenced area for the gamblers. The stadium is about the size of a small baseball stadium or high school auditorium.

The bout was the fourth of the evening and we arrived as the first bout was getting underway. After some initial conversation we went to the back room where Daosaming's hands were wrapped by Burning. Unlike in america where the hand wrapping is regulated and judiciously watched by an official no one paid the slightest attention to Doasaming and Burning. Burning put a thick layer of tape on Daosaming's hands and created a strong ridge around his knuckles. A layer of cotton was put on and then another layer of tape.

I watched a few of the fights as Doasaming got ready. The first fight ended with an elbow knock out which was quite exciting. The other two fights were pretty unremarkable. All of the fighters looked young, maybe 19 or 20, and weighed a little over 100 lbs.

Yodthanu was slightly taller than Daosaming and a little skinnier. The two did their wai khrus then the bout began. The first round started off slowly, the two opponents testing each other. Daosaming chopped repeatedly at Yodthanu's lead leg scoring some major blows. The second round had Yodthanu becoming more defensive teeping at Daosaming. The ingram coaches screamed to Daosaming to left kick. He kicked several times at Yodthanu's body landing most of his blows cleanly. The third round had them engage in knee sparring. Yodthanu attempted to elbow Daosaming in the forehead to no avail. Every engagement that was made Daosaming won. The fourth round had more kicking, and the last round was an easy walk to victory for Daosaming. The Ingram corner was ecstastic as Daosaming won.

We watched a few more bouts including the main bout between Anuwat Kaewsamrit fight against Petusawin Zeetranferry. Anuwat had excellent and heavy hands that almost knocked his opponent out in the first two rounds. The last three rounds were close but Anuwat gained
the victory.

At the end of the night we went back towards Ingram. We all had dinner at a small restaraunt near the gym and engaged in karaoke. It was pretty hilarious hearing the fighters, and trainers sing. I didn't get home until 2am and slept through my alarm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Recently the US president called for a 145 billion dollar program to save the US economy from a recession. Stocks in asia took a sharp dive yesterday as fears mounted that the program wouldn't be enough to save the US from an economic downturn.

A leader for the house has been selected here in Thailand, he is still being investigated for electoral fraud, specifically for vote buying.

Today Issei and I practiced our wai khru. At first I had some fears about doing the wai khru. Silly concerns about cultural appropriation. Now I'm glad that I practiced and know how to do it as I don't seem like such a fucking tard.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Excerpt from The Nation

Matchima Thipataya triumph in Buri Ram

By elections in Buri Ram's Constituency 1 were a landslide for the Matchima Thipataya Party, while the People Power Party Swept two seats in Chaiyaphum's Consituency 2.

The Buri Ram rerun saw Matchima Thipataya's three candidates all win seats after three People Power Party candidates were issued red cards for electoral fraud in the December 23 poll.

The results in Buri Ram confirmed speculation that the PPP would lose out to Matchima Thipataya candidates. The Buri Ram Constituency 1 turnout was 50 per cent, lower than the December poll, a province election official said.

Some Buri Ram voters expressed their fustration with politics by writing "Boring" on their ballot papers

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Models and Falang

I got up at 6:10am feeling a bit better from the cold that's kept me from the gym the last few days. I ate a bowl of cereal. The soy milk here is fresh so it tastes real beany. To make it a little more palatable a coconut milk was added. Originally my morning breakfast consisted solely of coconut milk until Wong told me how much saturated fat my body was taking in. The water wasn't running for some reason, not that it mattered, and ten minutes later I was on my way to Tesco Lotus.

Every morning a visa run service takes off from Tesco Lotus bringing foreigners to the Cambodian border for a 30 day renewal. The trip takes most of the day and 2,000 baht, about 60 dollars. When I got there at 6:30 there was already a decent amount of filipinos hanging out on the sidewalk waiting for the german who manages the business to show. The German, Claudio showed up half an hour later with four, 10 passenger, mini vans. The mini vans have air conditioning (which can make the ride quite chilly) and a tv/dvd player. The ride to the border takes about 3 hours and we stopped once en route. The driver, a lao looking guy bought us bottled water. I slept through the majority of the morning trip through eastern thailand to the Cambodian border but woke up when the movie Deja Vu came on. Deja Vu stars Denzel Washington as a Federal Tobacco Fire Arms agent in New Orleans attempting to stop a deranged "patriotic" terriorist from blowing up a ferry full of navy sailors. It really warmed the heart.

The border that I went to is in the middle of nowhere. We arrived at noon and handed the thailand exit people our papers. Our passports were stamped and then walked across the border where agents of our company waited to take our passports and paperwork. They took our papers and spent an hour or so processing them. In the mean time we went to lunch. Lunch was held in a small casino. The casino offers blackjack, slot machines, and some sort of gambling game that I don't understand. The casino has a small buffet. Lacking any vegan fodder I asked the chef (like last time) to make some fried vegetables for me. I ate lunch with an english guy who originally came out here on vacation. He had extended his vacation by two months and was staying with his thai girlfriend. It was a pleasant enough conversation. The rest of my time was rather pondering my options when I go home.

The return trip had us finish Deja Vu and watching Master and Commander, a historical fiction starring Russel Crowe (not worth watching). We stopped by a gas station. The young man who sat in front of me kept getting his photo taken. The women at the gas station giggled a lot. He laughed and told me about how he had recently become a model out here in thailand. He'd been working here for five months and has done two magazines, a fashion show, and three commercials. He has a bit of trouble going much further as he can't speak thai. He was rather average looking, pale, dark haired, tall, and half thai half german. Evidently young women everywhere are starting to recongize him.

My visa is extended to Febuary 18th. My return flight is for the 29th. I can either make a trip to Laos and get a new tourist visa or pay a 500 baht fine for every day I overstay in thailand. The visa laws here in thailand prevent me from going to Cambodia for another thirty day extension.

Yesterday the majority of my day was spent in the backpacker's ghetto of khao san road. An ex coworker of mine came into town and I let her stay at my place. She needed a mobile phone sim card which we acquired at the large, centrally located, MBK mall. Then we met her friend of a friend in the khao san area. Her sort of friend, Matt Noble, trains occassionally at Sor Vorapin muay thai gym. The gym is located at the end of the ghetto and costs 500 baht for one session. You can buy packages of up to 30 sessions for 4500 baht. It works out to be about $15 an hour. For the location the gym was okay. I was surprised by the trainers attention level and the low participant to trainer ratio. I didn't participate as I was still feeling a bit sick. Noble told me later that he constantly was bribing the trainerby buying them beer and food in order to get extra technical advice.

The Khao San area is pretty repulsive and a place that should be seen once then avoided like conversations about feelings with therapists. The road is about 5 blocks long and attached to it are a swarm of guest houses, pubs, restaraunts, internet cafes, and travel agencies. Tons of foreigners walk the streets, many of the men bare chested (which is extremely offensive in this modestly dressed society). The falang are busy getting their hair braided, buying cheap henna tattoos, or soaking up suds while ogling other each other. While a good place for white people to meet other white people the khao san area has the cultural sensitivity of a KKK Grand Dragon leader robed up at a Black Panther Party meeting.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thai News

Despite elections being held over a month ago the Thai government has yet to form. The delay in formation stems from charges of electoral fraud and the inability to form a coalition government. The electoral commision is charging many of the PPP (People's Power Party, many of whom are former Thai Rak Thai members) with electoral fraud. The election was the first attempt to form a republic government after the military coup in September of 2006. The coup overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra, the billionaire politician, and his Thai Rak Thai party.

The PPP gained a landslide victory at the polls acquiring 187 seats out of 450. The democrat Party gained roughly 130 seats. A handful of PPP government electorates are being given red and yellow cards for vote buying and other unlawful activity. The Electoral Commission threatened to charge the PPP deputy leader with electoral fraud which would dissolve the party. More elections will be held on the 17th and 20th of this month. In the mean time the PPP is attempting to form a coalition government with the smaller parties. Yet no announcement has been made that a coalition has been reached.

Thaksin remains at large in England. His wife recently came back to thailand to face charges. While in office Thaksin took a harsh hand on the partying in thailand imposing curfews through out the cities and demanding severe sentences on drug offenses. Many Human Rights critics at the time said that Thaksin was involved in extrajudicial killings of innocent civilians. The civilians were claimed to be drug dealers by police.

In other news the mourning period for the late princess has been extended to 100 days.

An amusement park ride recently fell apart while children were on board. About twenty children were hurt, one of whom suffered spinal damage. The owner is attempting to sell the park.

Things here are okay. I've got a little cold so I've taken a day or two off from the gym. Tonight Wong and I are going to see Cloverfield.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Akida Meahzaki

Yesterday was Akida's last day at the gym. He'd been losing steam for a while, after his fight got cancelled and he continually got hurt. He came from northern Japan for three or four weeks to live and train at Ingram. He was animated and funny but also prone to complaining or doing things half heartedly. I liked having him there as he was a good sparring partner. We were both the same size and weight. He did some things a little better than me and I did a few things better than him. Yesterday we took a group picture of most of the fighters and trainers. I looked at the picture afterwards on Akida's digital camera and my skin looked painfully pale in comparison to everyone else. On one of the first days that we went running down Soi 71 a couple small pedigree poodle dogs chased after Akida. He screamed like a little baby and ran down the side of the street. Everyday afterwards if he saw the dogs (which would always bark at us) he'd screech out and run faster down the sidewalk.

On a semi related note I've seen an old man get hit by a car on Soi 71, and a dead cat (which was really sad). They're redoing the sidewalk on the soi that we take south back to the gym. Its literally a construction zone. I'm afraid of running in the street and I get worried about running on the sidewalk.

My trainer is leaving in 6 days to go to Japan for a year. Its too bad as he's pretty good. He's short so I don't have to kick really high and he is really good at doing boxing pad work. He's being replaced by a Lao/Burmese looking trainer named Burning. Burning is an inch or two taller than me but 30 lbs more of muscle. I had to spar with him yesterday. It was really intimidating. He toyed around with me and kicked at my head a couple of times, luckily my guard was up so it hit my hand when I didn't block. Burning seems a bit green to me doing pad work. He's stiff and doesn't talk that much about what he wants from the fighter (or at least from me).

Wong was sick the other day, and I saw Khun Gift last night. She was sick the other day as well. Now I have a small cold. I took the day off the gym to try to get better. I feel bad about not going, but I worry about getting more sick from stressing out my body.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The continuing Appeal of Nationalism

At eight o'clock in the morning and six o'clock in the evening the Thai national anthem begins its tune on the nearest speakers. The Thais will stand around in semi silence out of respect. Its a similar affect as when Americans stand for the pledge of allegiance, but the thai national anthem is much more common (as are Thai national flags and the royal flag) Before the beginning of every movie at the cinema the anthem is played. The patriotic tune is juxtaposed with pictures of the king in people's work areas, homes, and public places.
Every monday, which was the date that the King was born, many Thai wear their yellow shirts to show their allegiance to the king. Some Thais were the shirts on other days as well.
Recently the King's elder sister, Galyani Vadhani died. The papers have been filled with eulogies to the princess. The opening page for the bangkok post has a brief message dedicated to her. The news every night follows the 100 day mourning period. Hundreds of thousands of people are flocking to the Royal Palace in Old Bangkok to pay their respects to the late princess.
I don't understand the appeal of royalism, or the reverent nationalism that many Thai seem to have. The country is small, the size of California, and perhaps that helps to create a sense of solidarity?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


My alarm rang at 6:10 this morning. I scratched my ass and rolled off my bed. After my teeth were brushed, my backpack stuffed with shorts, a towel, and spare underwear, my feet took me to the On Nut BTS stop. The BTS stop is about five blocks from my house. Looking out my patio window I was eye level with the train. My pass still had a few hundred baht on it so I swiped it and got on board the train. The On Nut stop is the last terminal on the line, until the expansion to the western airport is finished at least. The train was pretty crowded this morning. The BTS goes east on the sukumvit where many of the universities, schools, and foreign invested companies are. I got off two stops later at Ekkami and walk past Wat That Thorn, a school/temple and Sukumvit Hospital.

Lately the other fighters haven't been getting up as early as my arrival at 6:50 so I climbed over the fence and read until someone comes out. Issei came out a few minutes after I got in and so I went to bathroom to change. We stretched for a while and then began our slow but long morning jog. We ran down the sukumwit to soi 69 1/2 where we went left. We passed by a store that sells refridgerators, dvd players, and tvs. It was closed at 7 in the morning but the blonde haired street bum was in his usual spot across the street. The street takes a right and we follow it then take the next left down a major thorough fare whose name I don't know. Doing the run every day familiarizes me with the area, but distinct locations seem skewed. There are the two flower shops, the seven eleven where we take a left at in the afternoon, the gas station I go to when I have to take a morning shit, the metal working shop, the motor taxi drivers by the chickens, the mosque etc. We go towards the end of the road and by a bridge take a left. We walk a little bit past the morning commuters, school children, and food stall vendors. We go down some side streets and then run back up towards the sukumwit.

The passage south to the sukumwit has been a construction site, literally. The sidewalks are all tore up and bricks, broken pavement, and other implements litter the pathway. My second day of running with the Ingram kids had me fall and skin my knee. At first I thought it was embarassing but in retrospect running through Bangkok requires a good deal of concentration. The construction is usually done by a crew of four or five people each with one sorry looking tool. One guy will be holding a shovel, another a busted pick axe, the third a trowel. Most of the guys are young thai guys who dressed in jeans, converse, and sporting a piercing or two look like american hipsters.

We round back to Sukumwit and walk back to Ingrams from the Ekkami terminal. Everyday Issei, Akida, and the thai guys will wai the buddhist statue at Wat That Thorn. I don't, I'm not buddhist.

Things are a little better. My arm is okay. I'm doing what I want. Its just hard out here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Another Hard Day

My alarm clock went off at 6:10am just as it does every day now. I sat up in bed and looked at my arm. It was still excessively swollen. On sunday night I didn't shut my patio window and a misquito came in to bite my right arm. A few days later my arm puffed up. The area around the bite becoming quite hot. Yesterday with a fair amount of worry I went to a hospital by the gym. I signed in and fifteen minutes later was ushered upstairs to the dermatology section. The doctor looked at it for a bit, and asked me if I had recently gotten a cast off. I replied that I thought it was a skin infection. She agreed then gave me an anti-biotic shot and an oral anti-biotic to take after my morning breakfast. I have another check up this afternoon at 5pm. The whole experience has been really worrisome. I haven't been sure of the cost, the actual infection has caused me some anxiety, and being so far from home adds to my stress.

I decided not to go to the gym today due to my arm. Yesterday when I went it was quite painful, especially when my arm was hit or jostled. I also got another bloody nose yesterday. It was the third I'd gotten in the latest three sessions of boxing. My hubris wasn't that good for me as the day that I praised my boxing ability as being better than Akida's I got my face smashed in by a Korean boxer. He opened up my nose and blood gushed out. On monday the korean boxer's trainer opened up the faucet again. When I can taste blood in the back of my mouth my heart really sinks. When I spit out blood and phlem it seems like I hardly have a muscle that beats blood through my body. Yesterday wasn't as tremendous of an outpouring of blood. I spent two rounds box sparring with the 70 kilo Japanese fighter Issei. Issei is a little over 6 feet and in good shape. In order to survive the four minute rounds I tried to keep a tight guard with my head down. Most of his punches were straight punches to my head. He threw combinations that included an uppercut. The punches would smash my noses painfully upward. Occasionally I was able to work his body a little, but for the most part it was I who was on the recieving end of the damage. AT some point during the boxing session I recieved a black eye. I didn't realize it until this morning when I looked in the mirror. My face felt pretty puffy but I wasn't sure that I had a bruise.

Being out here is both good and extremely difficult. My monetary situation is pretty bleak as Bangkok/thailand is more expensive than I predicted. The training is really good but I feel like I'm putting my body through a meat grinder every day. I feel like I've been pretty unlucky and miss the comfort of home.