Monday, April 27, 2009

The khlong by Kiatphontip

I have a new post over at mymuaythai about going to a gym called Kaitphontip. You can read it here.

Monday, April 20, 2009


"It shur is hot," the old man sitting next to me said. I didn't agree with him and sat in silence. The heat of spring time in Oakland didn't match the balmy warmth of Bangkok. "I've been waiting here for a long time, a long time," he commented. He nodded after his statement as if he was pressing time forward. I continued my quiet state. A electronic sign hung on the ceiling above us announcing the ticket numbers. A mechanical voice devoid of emotion announced the numbers as they were called out. It was difficult to hear the voice over the din of Oakland's Social Services office.

A crowd of people hung about the door, waiting in line for a chance to get their forms. After receiving their forms they would take a sit and wait for their number to be called. Most of the clients were African American, old men, young women with children, and an occasional young man loitered around waiting for their turn with a worker.

The office located inconveniently by the Greyhound bus station in downtown Oakland is inaccessible by bart, and has no food or accouterments surrounding it. Its a tall, plain building, designed better than the bus station but still an eye sore. The office holds its hours from 9am to 12pm. At noon the office shuts down for an hour in order for the workers to have lunch. The office reopens at 1pm to service clients until 4pm. I arrived at 10:30 and waited in the initial line for fifteen minutes and then for an hour with my number. My number wasn't called before the lunch break.

"Guess I'll have to go home," the old man next to me said. "This is going to be a long time." I looked at him. He was about sixty years old with a bum eye. He was dressed rather shabbily but didn't smell. No doubt he'd been abandoned by his family or they were unable to take care of him. I imagined that he lived alone somewhere, or if not then in squalid conditions. A woman behind us spoke to her neighbor. "I can't come back. I have to pick up my baby at one o'clock. I hope my number is called," she said. I heard a baby cry in the distance, punctuating her worries.

I rode my bike home. It took me twenty minutes. I thought about how long a bus ride would take, probably 40 minutes and the cost, about $3. Hardly worth the time, money and effort. I came home and made a sandwich while a plumber fixed our kitchen sink. The sink has been leaking lately and so the landlord had the faucet replaced. The last few days have been a drag without running water in the kitchen. Its made doing dishes difficult.

The ride back to Oakland was smooth if warm. Sweat ran down the back of my neck and my face was red when I entered the building. The office was air conditioned but not powerfully. In Bangkok upon entering a mall, restaurant, or the bts, one is gushed with cool air. The air immediately drops your body temperature down and is a relaxing coolness. I sat down next to the old man again and thought about how all the people in the office negated the effects of the air conditioning.

"Won't be long now, just five more people," he said. To the other side of me a young woman sat with a south east asian man. She was talking to him about how she'd previously been in the office for 5 hours waiting for her services to be completed. Hearing her complaints I became even more sullenly silent. My number was called and I went to counter number 2.

"How can I help you today," the worker, an early thirties african american woman, said.

"I'm applying for food stamps," I replied.

"Can I see your paperwork?"

I handed her my paperwork and she set about punching away at the computer for fifteen minutes. Occasionally she'd have her coworker come over to answer some queries. Evidently she was new at the job.

"You can take a seat over by counter 12. They'll call you up," she said ending our dealings. I went over and sat back down. Ten minutes later I was called to the new counter.

"Can you please fill this out," the worker said pushing a paper at me. The paper asked how much money I'd made over the past few months. I filled out a handful of zeroes and gave it back to her.

"You've made no income? You have no savings?"

"I was working in a restaurant but got laid off during the slow season. Hopefully I'll start working again soon but until then I'm completely broke," I said, justifying my presence. There is no doubt in mind of my class status. I'm $30,000 in debt in school loans, another couple thousand in credit cards and unable, even when employed to pay the debt back. Added to the credit crisis I'm in is a more painful and current lack of capital. I had to borrow money from my friends and family in order to make it back from Thailand. Besides, I figured, the state owes me a living. I smiled widely at the worker as Crass lyrics ran through my mind.

"You are eligible for emergency food stamps. You'll want to go to room 114 and wait for a worker to call you."

I moved down the hallway and sat in a room that was composed of primarily young african american men. I sat down and played solitaire on my ipod as the minutes passed. Eventually a latina woman called my name and I followed her to her cubicle.

Her questions were simple, "Are you living in Berkeley? You have no money? How much are your bills a month? Do you live with other people? etc."

I answered factually and to the point hoping that in a few hours time I would escape this Kafkaesque nightmare and get some food. She had me sit back down in another hallway. She told me that I would get food stamps in three days, on Thursday morning if all went accordingly. I nodded and waited in the hallway for my finger prints to be taken.

"Yo, you should hear this guy," a young man said.

I overhead a man's voice in the main lobby. He was complaining loudly about the length of the lines and his already have waited a considerable amount. He came into the hallway in which we were seated. The security officer followed him in.

"Are you Harvey, Harvey Dent," the white security officer asked him. His potbelly hung over his skinny white legs giving him an odd top heavy look. I was surprised that his legs didn't collapse underneath him.

"Why yes sir I am," Harvey replied politely shuffling his odds and ends. "I've been waiting here all day, I came back at one o'clock and been waiting. I need to know the status of my GA (General Assistance). I just want my money."

"Well, Harvey it looks like you have a warrant out for your arrest. The warrant is for $734. Will you come with us," the security officer commanded.

Harvey dutifully followed the officer. "I jus' got outta jail," he said as he walked behind them.

The young man next to me laughed and then looked at his cell phone. "I don't like this phone. I think I'm gonna sell it for crackhead price, like $30." He played with his phone more and I stared at the cubicle walls before me. A woman called my name and I was finger printed on an electronic machine. The new office had a window. Outside I saw Harvey walking down the street.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


My brother's wheelchair sits in the middle of his, my, our bedroom. The bedroom has metamorphosed in the past few months, and few days. The original sublet, while I was gone to Thailand, was unable to fulfill the sublet term and so my twin brother, homeless at the time, came to reside in my place. The wheelchair is comfortable and amusing to spin around in the small room. The room has become more cluttered with the combination of his stuff and my boxes. There is a haphazard composition to the room that attests to James' organization habits. These habits have no doubt been induced by long periods of travel, never settling into a place. Lacking the sense of permanence everything is semi-packed, ready to be thrown into the nearest vehicle to escape to the nearest rock, or opportunity.

The walls are undecorated save a few copies of old stencils I've done, and a black and white picture. The picture, which I obtained while working at the Delmar Theatre in Santa Cruz, is of two women. The two women are elegantly dressed, perhaps for a Victorian ball, a debutante ball, or a high society dinner. Their dresses ruffle with satin. The first woman wears a gray dress that in real life might be an emerald green. The first woman's head leans back, her blonde curled hair in the grip of the woman behind her. Her mouth is agape in frustration and pain. The second woman, whose face is much darker, resembling a young Elizabeth Taylor, grips the blonde's arm and hair. Her mouth is clinched tight yet she bares her teeth in a moment of sadism. The dark haired woman wears a dress of lighter color, perhaps without the black and white to neutralize the hue it would be creme. I obtained the book while making photocopies of fliers for the Del Mar. I went into the back office and saw a book about sadism in film. Flipping through the book the picture caught my eye and I copied it. Four years later it would appear on my wall in Berkeley, contrasting with the starkness of the walls, making a comment on the clutter of the room.

The house itself resembles in some ways, the interior of my room. The previous sublet and one of the current sublets, along with a visiting friend, have a variety of boxes, suitcases, and odds and ends in various enclaves. The enclaves have the feel of being only partially organized. They have been shifted around as the temporary tenants have felt the need to pull some odd item from one of the boxes. The boxes are unevenly arranged denoting a lack of planning and of permanence.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Red and Yellow

I've continued to follow the reports about he political conflicts between the Reds and the Yellows. Recently there was an assisination attempt on a high level Yellow Shirt. I've looked more at the BBC and their coverage of the conflict. Its quite balanced unlike the pro-yellow "Nation" and the more moderate "Bangkok Post."

Here are some good links.

Who are the red shirts? Why do the yellows like that color so much?

Winners, losers and increasing tension...

The general lowdown...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Red Shirts, Songkran, and how politics miss every day life

The train stopped at the Bang Seu Station, a handful of kilometers north of Bangkok and about twenty or thirty kilometers from Hualompong the main railway station. I sat on my seat daydreaming, listening to music on my ipod and staring out the window. I was returning from a day long sight seeing trip in the old capital of Thailand, Ayuttyah. Three young men boarded the train. One of them shut the bathroom door located next to our seats.

“Dom mai dee (Smells no good),” I said.
“Chai, (yes) You come from where,” he asked.
“Brated America, Muang San Francisco (Country America, City San Francisco), I replied.
I looked at the three young men. They were about my age, shy a couple years and were prepared for some festivities. The Thai New Year had begun, a weeklong celebration known as Songkran. Held in the hottest part of the year Songkran is a celebration of water (no matter how dirty) and fun. While originally a time to pay respect to elders, family and tradition the holiday of Songkran is now more of a period of play. Gone are the days of pouring small bits of lustral water as an act of cleansing and renewal. There are still some traditional aspects to the holiday. Most Thais go home and oft a house cleaning is engaged in during the days off of work. The shift away from tradition means that the holiday is more fun loving .The more playful (majority of people) douse each other with water from squirt guns, hoses, and dump powder on each other at the end of Thailand’s hot season.

The three men were prepared to go to Pattaya to celebrate in Songkran there, they informed me. We sat on the train for a few minutes until the overhead speaker came on. The speaker announced that the train would be going nowhere. I didn’t gather this until all the passengers disembarked. I was one of the last riders out of the railed vehicle. I stood about with the young men attempting to decide what exactly to do. Eventually I was able to gather that the train had stopped due to the protests by the red shirts.

The political situation in Thailand is confusing. It’s as difficult to understand as seeing a single drop of water in a stream. I have a general idea of where the drop of water is going but don’t understand why it moves to and fro, from bank to bank, or what pushes it along.
The major political figure backing the red shirts, an anti-government group, is Thaksin Shinawatra, a name to be noted in recent Thai history. Thaksin bought his way into power establishing his Thai Rak Thai (Thai love Thai) party based on his fortune from telecommunications (from the Shinawatra corporation). Thaksin came into office with a landslide victory in 2001. He engaged in populist programs such as a universal health care program, which would provide service for a mere 30 baht (less than $1). Thaksin gained a large rural (Isaan) following through his political actions and the support remains present even after his coup.

In 2006 while Thaksin was visiting NYC, the military staged a coup, usurping the Prime Minister from his seat and establishing a military rule that would last until elections were held in December of 2007. Thaksin would be banished from his homeland until February of 2008. The insurgents proclaimed that Thaksin’s administration had been riddled with corruption and tax evasion.

After the reelections, in which the People’s Power Party (PPP) won a majority of the seats in the government, an anti-government group rose up to protest. The yellow shirts of early 2008 blockaded the major airports of Thailand shutting down travel and trade. They caused billions of dollars in economic damage due to their disagreements with the current government. They charged that the PPP was a puppet party for the exiled Thaksin and demanded new elections. A new coalition government was composed of the Democrat party and a new Prime Minister put into office, replacing Thaksin’s replacement.

The red shirts are Thaksin supporters. They want to see him come back into the country and back into power. They had blockaded several major highways and been involved in small scale rioting within the capital of Thailand. The red shirts had even attacked the Prime Minister’s car (while he was in the vehicle) causing the Prime Minister to declare the protesters to be violent and unlawful.

I hailed a cab with my other stranded peers and rode down the expressway to Ekkamai where they took a bus to Pattaya and I walked home. As I walked down the street I felt somewhat confused. The state of the nation was in turmoil, a state of emergency had been called by the Prime Minister in which the Red shirts were demonstrating, but here in Ekkamai life was going on as usual. Perhaps nothing was going to change, after all every day life was going on as is, I thought to myself.

The next day was the first day of Songkran. The official festivities were called off but revelers still took part in the celebration. As I walked down the empty streets of Bangkok I was occasionally treated to Isaan country music set to a techno beat. Small children played in garbage cans full of water dumping water on pedestrians. The pockets of people engaging in Songkran were spread out and the city seemed eerily quiet. While many people had gone home for Songkran for the holidays I assume that many stayed at home due to the state of emergency.
My housemates and I, eager to see “history in the making,” went up to the Victory Monument. The monument is an ode to Thailand’s participation in a brief Indo china war with the French. The monument was a site of contention between the red shirts and the army that morning. Many bus terminals used the area to transport the workers of the capital about town, by blocking the area with taxis and buses the red shirts had shut down some of the commerce of the city. Major news channels and sources reported that the red shirts had been throwing petrol bombs at the army. When we got there we were treated to the usual spectacular scene.
We walked on the street and walked towards a cloud of billowing smoke. The noxious black smoke arose from a series of tires on fire. The tires had been lit long before our arrival and burned in the empty street. Photojournalists took pictures of the small flames and of the rows of soldiers that idled nearby. The red shirts had long dispersed by the time that we got to the Monument in early afternoon. They had decided to draw back towards the government houses in south west Bangkok (the monument is located in the northwest). The soldiers looked bored as they touted their guns, eventually they sat down and had lunch.

Their desire for food called our stomachs to attention and we took a cab down to Khao Saan. While Khao Saan raod proper was closed down, again due official declarations, the side streets were alive with activity. People, both falang and Thai, dumped small buckets of water on each other. They aimed and fired with military precision on each other with high powered water guns. The merrymakers smeared chalk on each other’s faces laughing playfully at the muddy appearance of the crowd. It was a war of all against all with the victory going to the ones who had the most fun.

As the night wore on we decided to go home. Little had changed in the political situation. It was rumored that the red shirts would march onto the Democracy Monument. We decided to go to a dance pub near the Monument despite the pervasive talk of protest. We danced to old rock n' roll, including "Fruity Tooty."

The political engagements of the last few days have caused inconveniences, and some damage but have still revolved for the most part on the political stage, a stage separate from everyday life. Buses for the most part still run, taxis will still take you around, people still have to work and people still go out to clubs and go dancing. Some angry residents of Bangkok have begun to retiliate against the red shirts. Several attempts by the red shirts to incinerate vehicles have been stopped.

In a few days my bet is that things will go back to the banality.

Class divide?

Deep Divisions?

Back to the Banalities already?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Red shirts

AP press

BANGKOK – Thai soldiers sprayed automatic weapons fire into the air and threw tear gas to clear protesters blocking roads in the capital in the pre-dawn darkness Monday. Demonstrators responded by hurling at least one gasoline bomb and 70 people were reported injured, most by tear gas.

Police said anti-government protesters were stationed at at least half a dozen points in Bangkok, including the prime minister's office. Demonstrators used commandeered public buses to block several key intersections and they set tires on fire.

Monday's clash marked a major escalation in the ongoing protests that have roiled this southeast Asian nation. The skirmish came a day after the country's ousted prime minister called for a revolution.

While the government has declared a state of emergency, protesters controlled many streets in the capital Bangkok. They had earlier commandeered public buses and forced military vehicles to halt, in one case climbing on top of two armored personnel carriers, waving flags and shouting "Democracy."

A mob of the red-shirted protesters smashed cars carrying Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his aides on Sunday. The secretary-general of Abhisit's office, Niphon Promphan, was dragged from the car and beaten, suffering head injuries and broken ribs.

The red-shirted demonstrators are supporters of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who want new elections, saying Abhisit's four-month-old government took power illegitimately. They also accuse the country's elite — the military, judiciary and other unelected officials — of undermining democracy by interfering in politics.

Parliament appointed Abhisit in December after a court ordered the removal of the previous pro-Thaksin government citing fraud in the 2007 elections. Thaksin supporters took to the streets in protest, and their numbers grew to 100,000 in Bangkok last week.

Monday's clash began between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., as troops in full combat gear advanced to disperse the protesters, who were occupying a major junction, according to witnesses.

The soldiers fired hundreds of rounds from their M-16 automatic rifles, with Associated Press reporters saying most appeared to have been aimed over the heads of the protesters. The reporters saw protesters throw at least one gasoline bomb which exploded behind the army line and tear gas floated across the eerie dawn scene.

At the nearby Century Park Hotel, foreign tourists were seen rushing into taxis and heading for Bangkok's international airport.

Dr. Chatri Charoenchivakul of the Erawan Emergency Coordination Center said at least 70 people were injured, most of them from tear gas, while two soldiers and two civilians suffered from gunshot wounds.

Army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the protesters also used tear gas as well as "weapons" to open fire on the soldiers.

In another incident, the official Thai News Agency said three grenades, believed to be fired from an M-79 grenade launcher, landed inside the compound of the Constitutional Court. One exploded, causing minor damage, and the other two failed to explode, the report said.

Monday marked the beginning of the Thai New Year, normally the country's most joyous holiday. The Bangkok municipal government canceled all its festivities, but despite the rioting many Thais and foreign tourists began engaging in the ritualistic water throwing and general partying.

But in sharp contrast to the usual revelry, protesters set fires Monday morning that were still burning 1-1/2 hours later and retreated into side streets near the Din Daeng intersection, where there is an on-ramp to the main expressway leading north from the capital.

The clash appeared to be an isolated one, taking place several miles away from the main encampment of thousands of protesters outside the prime minister's offices.

Ousted prime minister Thaksin, regarded by most of the protesters as their leader, called for a revolution and said he might return from exile to lead it.

Thaksin fled the country last year, before a court convicted him in absentia of violating a conflict of interest law.

"Now that they have tanks on the streets, it is time for the people to come out in revolution. And when it is necessary, I will come back to the country," he said in a telephoned message to followers outside Abhisit's office.

The message was broadcast over a video link projected on giant screens and relayed on supporters' Internet sites. It was unclear from where Thaksin's call was made, but the former leader has been spending much of his time in Dubai.

Political tensions have simmered since Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in 2006 for alleged corruption and abuse of power. He remains popular in the impoverished countryside for his populist policies.

His opponents — many in urban areas — took to the streets last year to help bring down two pro-Thaksin governments, seizing Bangkok's two airports in November for about a week.

The emergency decree bans gatherings of more than five people, forbids news reports that threaten public order and allows the government to call up military troops to quell unrest.

Sansern, the army spokesman, said soldiers and police were being moved to more than 50 key points in the city, including bus and railway stations.

He said the military presence was not a sign of an imminent coup — a common feature of Thai political history.

Protests were also reported in several provinces of northern and northeastern Thailand. The protests could prompt the military to intervene — a high possibility in a country that has experienced 18 military coups since the 1930s.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Sino Thai

Mike recently passed on a copy of "The Intimate Economies of Bangkok," by Ara Wilson to me. The academic book focuses on the "moral" economy of Thailand, that is the informal economy of exchange that happens between peers, and kins. She highlights working girls, the Central shopping plaza, Toms and dees in the MBK area etc. I think "moral economy" is a pretty poor term for her definition of non market exchange. She makes use of the term "gift economy" which is a bit more suitable although still not quite on the mark as the "gift economy" is oft tied up with regular capitalist economies.

I've read two sections of the novel. The first and more spectacular was about sex workers. She doesn't bring to light anything new for me. She explains that many sex workers come from Thailand's poorest region, Isaan. They are convinced to do sex work due to the ability to earn good wages thus fulfilling the girls desire to support their family at home (a cultural demand). Usually a girl will bring another girl into the job site rather than the bar hiring from an ad. Thus the girls create an informal peer network. Most of the bar girls come from the same villages, or regions in Isaan and encourage each other to work at specific bars. Wilson notes some of the rites that the girls go through, attempting to make merit and some of the tribulations (shame andpublic scorn for their occupation). I found that the chapter lacked backbone and insight instead was a cursory look at the spectacularized world of sex work here in thailand. I think its worth noting that most frequenters of sex workers are not westerners, but that relationship between the westerner and thai sex worker is the most highlighted.

The first section of the book which I read second describes the rise of the Central mall. The Central business corporation is part of a father-son business. The father was a chinese immigrant who worked in a rice store then moved into a house from which he sold his wares. The father was prosperous having over 20 children and three wives. The son then went on to develop department stores in Bangkok. The most noteworthy parts are about the fixing of prices and thus the shift from street side haggling and the shift from integrated business homes to a seperate locales for both.

"Fixing the prices of goods radically changes the interactions between sellers and buyers and requires less market 'intelligence' from each. The shopper need not be familiar with current prices and reputations or be skilled at negotions... This shift reduced the skill required of the female consumer, or 'housewife' and changed the aesthetics and experience of shopping. It also changed the work of selling, because the salesperson need not continually calculate profit margins (p.55)."

"The family's move away from the shophouse to a compound marked a shift from an old style of combined business and residence to a modern style that spatially separated home and work (p.59)."

"The point was to give shopping space its own unique identity as a place for consumption and nothing else." (william Leach writing of Macy's)

Thailand is made of a multitude of ethnic groups. Bangkok attests to this. Riding the BTS, walking the streets of On Nut, window shopping at Nana plaza, buying pad thai by the royal palace attests to the varying ethnic backgrounds of Thai people. Thailand is composed of a mix of Lao, Burmese, Cambodian, Indian, Malayasian and Chinese people, along with people who were originally in the area now known as Thailand.
This section of the book highlights the Sino-Thai of Thailand. The ethnic group made of Chinese Thai has migrated south from China for generations. Today they are associated with a burgeoning middle and upper middle class (Thaksin the bane of traffic goers in BKK is Sino-Thai) When I read about the growth of Central, I was reminded of "Letters from Thailand" by Botan, and translated by Berkeley's Susan Kepner. The novel is composed of letters from a chinese immigrant to thailand to his mother back home. The letter writer comes to Thailand as a young man and sets up a shop out here. Through his hard work and business savvy his business expands and his family grows. It is a story of masculinity, immigration, conflict of culture, of being chinese, and of being Thai. It is an excellent piece and one of the best pieces of literature available in English in and about Thailand.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Shopping at Tesco Lotus

The sounds of construction rattled in my head. The constant banging, clanging, and crashing of yet another condo project made my brain ache. Bangkok was growing, but its always being growing. Unfettered by rules and regulations the city's expansion seemed limitless. I rolled out of my bed, happy that I didn't have to work, unhappy about my state of sickness. Last nights libations were coming over me, rolling over, crashing into me like a wave.

It was high tide when I went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. I shat for fifteen minutes, the third time since I'd woken up. My ass was red and raw from the alcohol induced diarrhea. I'd long ago learned about the effects of the drink on my bowels. The alcohol reduces my cells abilities to retain water. This leads to an outpouring of fluid in the intestinal lining which is poorly absorbed. My diarrhea usually lasts a couple hours until the alcohol is emitted from my body.

I stared at the wall of my bathroom while the watery shit slipped out of my anus. The nights events were a blur, another cliche. I had started drinking in my apartment after work. I'd been teaching at Wall Street for three months now.

It was an okay gig, teaching English to locals, and paid okay but the hours were erratic. Some days I'd go in at 9 am while others I didn't have to be in until 3. Yesterday I didn't have to go in until 2pm. I had eight lessons of forty minutes each, a decent workload. I got paid per lesson so I tried to average at least six lessons a day. It was more annoying than working at a school because of the erratic schedule and the varying monthly salary.

Once I got home I'd cracked open a beer and watched the sun slowly sink on the horizon. My apartment building had a nice view of the skyline from the roof. I stood on the edge of the roof while the gray, smog ridden sky changed color. The border between the buildings of Bangkok and the heavens shifted slowly. It turned from a dull orange into a grayish purple and then slipped into the darkness of night. The stars were covered by the ozone of smog that hung above the city preventing inhabitants from seeing the heavens. The skyscrapers lit up the streets with their lights as if they were fallen comets, jaggedly sticking up from the earth and still glowing with celestial energy.

I tried not to think too much as the night descended on the city which I now knew as my home. I tried to remember to breathe at regular intervals. I counted my breath and wondered if I could get it somehow to correspond with the speed of the setting sun. When it had become dark my breathing had slowed. I was a little drunk. I went back to my apartment and stared at my computer. It glowed like the building lights but with more of a neon light. It drew me like a fly to its glow, but like a fly I just hung about it, doing little. I checked my email, then checked it again, then I looked at Facebook, I flipped through people's photos, and checked my email again. I opened another beer and shut off my lab top.

I needed to break out of my routines, I needed something different. The desire to break out was the reason I'd come to Thailand in the first place, but three months later I still felt the same unnerving sense of isolation. I opened a copy of the Bangkok Post that was sitting on the table by my bed. The story on the back of the international section was about a woman on trial for murder. The woman had laughed during her arrest period and at the media circus had made jokes about her rabbit vibrator. Others commented on her lack of care with disgust. It reminded me of "The Stranger," by Camus. The main character wasn't on trial for his actions but was on trial for his attitude. I wondered if she would be hung for her blase attitude.

I put the paper down and went to the small refridgerator that came with the apartment. I got out a bottle of 1000 pipers and poured myself three shots. I downed them all within five minutes. Time started to blur, to pick up pace, and I began to feel more alive. When people say they feel alive what they really mean is that they are feeling a series of strong emotions and that's how I felt.

I went outside and took a cab to patpong. The red light district was worn from the years and the girls were worn from their work. A few of them had stretch marks on their small bellies from children. I drank a beer at a bar then moved onto the next bar. The bars began to blur. At some point I took a cab home. I dozed lightly in the cab. I got home and passed out in my clothes.

I decided to rid my hangover with a beer. I opened a Tiger beer and drank half of it in one long gulp. I looked around my apartment and decided to go to the supermarket. I finished my beer and grabbed my keys. I looked at myself in the mirror before I left. I was slightly dishelved but didn't care.

The On Nut Tesco lotus wasn't far from my house. A fifteen minute walk. I walked into the bottom of the shopping center and then took the escalator to the second floor. I wandered the supermarket for a half hour. I didn't know what to buy. Eventually I bought some more beer. I took the beer home and drank it until I passed out from drunkeness

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cut Copy

My roommate Stephen was listening to Cut Copy in his bedroom when I walked in.

"What New Order album is this," I asked.

"Its not New Order, its an australian band called Cut Copy. They basically rip off New Order though," he replied.

"Whatever, its still good."

Pet shop boys have a new album out. I saw their latest video on Channel V. It rocks.

New post

I have another post on mymuay thai again. Its a depiction of a recent bout I went and saw at Lumpinee stadium. you can check it out here.

The bar, the beach, the girl

I read aloud another passage from "The Judgement" by Chart Korbjitti. I shifted my voice to a lower tone as I depicted the main character, Fak, descent into humiliation and his embarrassing inability to change his situation. I laughed when I finished the segment.

"Hungry," she asked me with a yawn. Most of our two day trip on Koh Samet had been spent with her lounging about the bungalow I'd rented. She'd move around on the bed and change channels on the television. She showered eight times and complained that it was hot. At night she wanted to go out but was soon bored by the resort bars and the two "happening" bars on the island. She'd drink one beer then complain about how boring the club was.

I looked at her and smiled. "You're so cute when you yawn." She yawned again and laid back down. She curled herself into the fetal position and began to nap as though she was a contented cat. Her dark (for a thai girl) skin was soft under my hand. She said that she didn't want to go to the beach because it would make her black.

"You're not black," I said.

"I am. I don't want go outside, make me black," she replied. In a rare moment of movement she got up and began to spread white lotion on her body. She looked at herself in the mirror as she coated herself in the creme.

"suay chai mai," she asked.

"Suay," I replied with one of the few Thai phrases that I knew. Most of our exchanges in Thai were the same. She asked me if I thought she was pretty, and I'd tell her she was, because she was. She'd ask me if I thought other girls were pretty and then scold me if I replied that they were. She told me I liked ugly girls. I didn't understand what she was talking about.

While she was asleep I went out to the resort bar. I ordered a mai thai. It was thick and fruity. I sipped it slowly while looking at the waves lap the beach. I felt different being here in Thailand. I wasn't looked down on, and everyone smiled at me. I was just another schleb back home but out here women desired to be with me. My job as an english teacher (which I'd only recently acquired) paid well and my apartment was nice. I'd saved enough money working as a waiter at a chain restaraunt, Outback Steakhouse, to come out here and not work for almost a year. The chain had made it out to Thailand as well. I'd never see the insides of one of those dumps again, I said to myself. I took another drink and let the alcohol from my drink sink in. I felt potent. I had another drink that I quickly downed then went back into the room feeling slightly drunk.

"You go where," she said when I came in.

"I had some drinks at the bar."

"You meet girl? You not love me anymore?"

I laughed at her paranoia. Was there anything that this girl said or did that wasn't attractive. She was so possessive over me sometimes... I liked feeling wanted. I laid down next to her and held her. Later I convinced her to have sex again. She fell asleep afterwards. I watched her sleep.