People setting themselves on fire

October 24, 2014 by

Hugh Paxtons Blog was prompted to write this post by two Japanese men. Yesterday while I was fooling around with trivia; the rabbit cage couldn’t stop the rabbit escaping, people who owed me money weren’t in a position to pay it back, my sweet peas had dwindled, my daughter was bored…

While this Hugh Paxton activity was ongoing, one Japanese was making a plan.

He was going to set fire to himself then jump off a tall building in Bangkok.

We fixed the rabbit cage. He jumped off a building on fire.

I call that inconsiderate. He could have landed on somebody.

He didn’t.

This sort of activity brought to mind the fiery death of the father of my wife’s sister. He was a mild mannered sort of fellow and wanted to be my friend. He was a communist. I hate communists. But I liked this one. He’d lost interest and belief. If I had had time I might have even saved him.

He opted for watching sunrise from a cliff top in northern Japan. He drank sake. He set himself on fire. Then his friend chopped his head off with a samurai sword. Off he toppled. Into the sea.

And that was the end of that.

I was surprised to hear the news. And when I told my people in England they didn’t really believe it possible.

They thought Hugh is telling stories.

They were right.

True stories.

Setting fire to yourself? What an appalling option! In Tibet quite regular. Doesn’t change a damn thing!

Hugh Paxton’s Blog Advice: Don’t set fire to yourself.

Cheers from Bangkok!


Thai Days: Oh Gawd! A dismembered Japanese!

October 23, 2014 by

Hugh Paxton’s Blog woke early and there it was. 5 police up to their chests or waists in a canal with a bag containing part of an elderly Japanese man ( Yoshinori Shimato, 79) who had been chopped into pieces and discarded in a canal.

Thailand has just been rated the third most favoured expat destination in Asia and the seventh globally(Switzerland came number one, quite why I know not). The survey was conducted by 2014 Expat Explorer. They have posted all their stats on the web.

Thailand is still a big draw for tourists. Why not? It’s cheap, friendly, great food…I’ve said all this before and I stick by my words. But it is, just from time to time, a trifle lethal. This Japanese chap came a cropper courtesy of his wife. She dunnit.

The Koh Tao murders of two young Brits remains unresolved and is a bit of a quagmire. The two men arrested have claimed they didn’t dunnit and were kicked about by the Thai police to force a confession. DNA has gone missing. Some people think they were too small to have overwhelmed a large white guy. My wife observed that, if they had weapons, size wouldn’t matter.

Who knows. I don’t. The police think they do. Human Rights people are getting involved. The British police. Koh Tao is a hideous national embarrassment.

This Japanese murder and hacking up is likely to further tarnish Thailand’s reputation as The Land of Smiles but it was just a domestic dispute that got out of hand.

That’s all. Don’t let this sort of thing put you off visiting. Cheers from Bangkok! Hugh


A poem about my mother

October 22, 2014 by

Nothing they’ve said

Will bring back the dead

But she’s inside my mind

She’s still loving and kind

My mother.

Thai Days: School burners busted

October 21, 2014 by

Hugh Paxton’s Blog found the school burning by Islamic insurgents in Thailand’s deep south foul. The arsonists have been caught. They are about to reap the whirl wind. And if they are found dead before trial then they will be lucky little terrorists. If nobody kills them it’s a very long time, a very long time, in jail. One of the children wasn’t complaining. She was missing her school. Her kit. Her books. Her friends. Her sense of stability. Her safety.

The Islamic militants have torn that away from her.

They’ve smashed her school. She’s small. Her world isn’t something she can trust.

Several people tried to kill me when I was small and it has shaped my perceptions of Islamic militants. I hate them.

The six suspects are in custody. The schools will be restored.

The Islamists? Whether they are beaten to death tonight (while you read this) or are bloody lucky and make it to court, their lives are over. Why burn schools you fools!


TheGirl: New post Six Fresh Alternatives to Boring First Dates

October 20, 2014 by

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is delighted to see TheGirl is still running strong. Great ideas here from her for dates! Apart from the foreign movie idea. It might work for some, maybe for many, but as soon as I see something that hasn’t been made with people speaking English I suffer from narcolepsy and start snoring and dropping popcorn.

It annoys the hell out of my wife.

If I see a Bollywood movie sleep is impossible. Immediate flight is the only option. Before the singing and dancing starts.

That makes my first date last three to four seconds. A Thai movie only sustains my interest if I am on a long distance bus and have no opportunity for escape. But if your idea for a first date is a flight to Thailand followed by twelve hours, two breakdowns, a crash, a police drug bust AND a movie involving stomach sucking ghosts hopping about wrapped in cling film then your first date is likely to be your last.

But heck, first dates for me are a thing of the past. I’ve been married for 23 years. I used to have first dates and they were generally catastrophic if I thought too much about them.

TheGirl is right on the button. Sitting in a cinema or fumbling with menus with a snooty waiter is not the way to go. Beer oh yes indeed!! Stargazing (not an option in Beijing – they can’t even see their marathon due to smog, one reporter described as so thick you could taste it – find a desert, I strongly suggest the Namibian version, I have never seen so many stars and they seemed so close), museums! I simply love museums!

If you are having a first date, or a second or any sort TheGirl’s ideas are sound.

Volunteering for wildlife conservation is my favourite suggestion but a wild ride on a motorbike works, too! Then beer!

Her thinking is refreshing. That’s what a date should be!


PS This Blog promised to send TheGirl a Jim Thompson silk scarf. This wasn’t a first date thing at all. I’m married. It was a sort of thank you gesture for her posts and an encouragement to continue. The shop when I turned up had been demolished. Most of the building had been demolished. A bit Twilight Zone. My daughter and I spent about an hour trying to find an exit. They’d gone. Even the entrance we’d entered! How could so much vanish so quickly. I believe that most of those shops have just reappeared. I’m off now to see if this true. TheGirl! Rest assured you will have some silk before this year is over and earlier if possible. Unless Annabel and I disappear in the Emporium and are never seen again. Might happen. This is Bangkok!

Over to TheGirl! And dating suggestions!

From: TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan! []
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2014 7:18 AM
Subject: [New post] Six Fresh Alternatives to Boring First Dates

TheGirl posted: "You’re not alone, 102 million people were unmarried in 2011, according to the United States Census. This group also made up 44.1 percent of all U.S. residents who were ages 18 and older. Further, the dating industry revenue topples $2 billion a year with "

New post on TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan!


Six Fresh Alternatives to Boring First Dates

by TheGirl

You’re not alone, 102 million people were unmarried in 2011, according to the United States Census. This group also made up 44.1 percent of all U.S. residents who were ages 18 and older. Further, the dating industry revenue topples $2 billion a year with an annual growth rate of 4.8 percent. Regardless of if you’re married, single or currently dating, everyone can benefit from some fresh ideas it comes to finding the perfect date. Here’s a list of fun ideas to put the romance back in your relationship or impress someone on your first date.

bride and groom, black woman white man holdinghands, the reporter and the gir,S.C Rhyne, black and white photo

Find a Brewery Tour

Get out of your usual rut of dinner and a movie and do something truly unique. A brewery tour can take you behind the scenes of your favorite brew and gives the opportunity to sample. Most breweries will also give a few beers for free or at a discounted price so you can keep the fun going. If you’re not sure what to talk about after the tour, brainstorm your own beer ideas until your date turns into a fun adventure on setting up your own brewery with a ridiculous name. I’ll sample a Date Draft whenever you’ve got the first batch ready for sale.

beer, beer tasting, brewery tour

Go on a Motorcycle Ride

Go on a motorcycle ride through the country, city or the open highway. There’s no destination better than wherever the road takes you. But to really get into the biker spirit, shop for motorcycle jackets and accessories together to ride on your adventure out. Then come up with your own biker names and take on the persona of a young couple out for trouble—or maybe just to clean up trouble.

Volunteer Together

Refuel your relationship’s chemistry with a volunteer date. Working together for a common cause from packing up supplies for a food pantry to taking care of animals can help form bonds in your relationship. Pick an activity lasting from a few hours to an entire day and talk about how volunteering impacts your life. You might get a fresh perspective on your date you wouldn’t have seen before.

Go Stargazing

Cuddle up under the stars for a romantic date night. If you’re in a private space like your backyard, bring along a bottle of wine and snacks for an evening picnic. Don’t forget to look at museums for stargazing events.

constellations, stars, auriga, reporter and the girl, star gazing

Be a Tourist

It’s easy to forget all the fun events and attractions in your own hometown or nearby city. Plan out a fun day of amusement parks, museums, festivals or the zoo for a staycation date. Look at your attractions’ calendar of events. Your zoo might host a jazz night, or the museum might offer a cocktail evening with a guest speaker. You’ll impress your date by your ingenuity and desire to find the very best in your own community.

Watch a Foreign Movie

Head to an international food store and stock up on cultured foods to match your foreign film of choice. Cook a meal together with your date and then cuddle up together for the main event. Opt for a flick without subtitles and try to guess what’s happening and improvise the dialogue. You’ll have a great time laughing at each other’s guesses and will still have time to chat without getting too distracted by the film.

movie date, popcorn, movie

TheGirl | October 19, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Tags: Dating, dating advice, first date | Categories: Musings and Life | URL:

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Anilbalan Ghost Cities Blog: New post The October Country

October 20, 2014 by

Hugh Paxton’s Blog again applauds Anilbalan for his timely post. October is upon us, Halloween looms. And Ray Bradbury did Halloween better than many. I had no idea he’d died. Perhaps he’ll come floating past my window like a wisp of cackling mist. Probably not!

But this Hugh Paxton Blog will be getting into the spirit of the event and will be vserving up a rather strange supernatural episode that has the virtue of being just over the shrine pond and two minutes walk away from my house.

I heard the stories last night. I’d heard some before, but the new lot had a disturbing validity. They were told by people present at the time of the child murders and suicide of the murdering father or mother.

What impressed me was the way the stories came from different directions and conspired to make a rather coherent picture. I don’t wish to be boring, but I don’t believe in ghosts. I do, however, love a good ghost story. Thai Village has a very good ghost story to tell and I will tell it.

Everybody else here (even lawyers, air hostesses and piano teachers!) do believe in ghosts. They say they’ve seen or heard them. And the “ghost house” is a property most difficult to rent. There’s singing. Apparently. And would-be tenants flip their wits and run away.

I’ll do the story tomorrow.

Cheers from a ghost free house in Bangkok! Over to Anilbalan and The October Country!

From: Ghost Cities []
Sent: Sunday, October 19, 2014 8:01 AM
Subject: [New post] The October Country

anilbalan posted: "With Halloween almost upon us, I thought that a post on the late Ray Bradbury – that October Dreamer extraordinaire – was timely. After all, the season of thrills and chills never had a greater fan, or finer exponent of the Halloween-themed short story, t"

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New post on Ghost Cities


The October Country

by anilbalan

With Halloween almost upon us, I thought that a post on the late Ray Bradbury – that October Dreamer extraordinaire – was timely. After all, the season of thrills and chills never had a greater fan, or finer exponent of the Halloween-themed short story, than the great man. Bradbury only passed away fairly recently (he lived from 1920-2012) but he left behind him a vast, influential body of work ranging from science fiction to horror novels, short stories, plays and TV scripts. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated 20th-century American writers, inspiring the likes of Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell and Robert Bloch to follow in his footsteps. Bradbury is credited with writing 27 novels and over 600 short stories – more than eight million copies of his works, published in over 36 languages, have been sold around the world. His honours include Emmy and Nebula awards, as well as the National Medal of Arts. However, leaving all these achievements aside, his work is particularly celebrated at this time of year – and he appears on this website mainly because of – his enduring love of the Halloween season. If you’re looking for something to put you in the mood this year, you could do much worse than seek out Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes or the stories of The October Country, which are nothing less than a series of passionate love-letters written about Halloween and all of its associated thrills and dread.

Read more of this post

anilbalan | October 19, 2014 at 2:00 am | Tags: October Country, Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes | Categories: Book, Horror, Supernatural fiction, Writer | URL:

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Thai Days: Monitor, pirates, this and that

October 19, 2014 by

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has an underserved reputation for rescuing wild animals. People have brought me injured creatures and they have in some cases made it back but when it comes to birds I have very little to be proud of. The young ones hang on for some time then die despite my best efforts.

Chang brought me a hawk that had decided to slam into the eight or nine floor window of Bangkok Hospital, break its leg, stun itself and tumble. The hawk ended up here in a kangaroo rat cage.

Read on!

From: Hugh Paxton []
Sent: Sunday, October 19, 2014 11:16 PM

Our hawk flew – at high speed – straight out of our kangaroo rat cage and straight into the car. Some hawks don’t seem to learn!

The kangaroo rat was pleased to see it go. There’d been quite a lot of pecking action. We searched today to see if it had broken its other leg but the bird had flown which was a blessing. If it hadn’t, its pecking would not have availed it. There was a peck-proof predator on the prowl.

I shall explain!

This morning I heard Buggly the beagle making its alarm calls. These differ from the foul hound’s customary irritating and brainless yaps and barks.

Alarm in this case was justly deserved. There was a HUGE monitor lizard inspecting our front garden with special focus on Buggly and the kangaroo rat. The cat, which after its recent skirmish with the pit viper, fancies itself as the valiant protector of Number 57, Thai Village, rushed to Buggly’s aid and I thought “You are one seriously stupid cat! It’s nearly eight feet long! Well, perhaps six feet! But this is not going to be a contest.”

It was a dilemma! What I wanted was a photo. And the cat to show a scrap of common sense. And the monitor to stay on our property. I also wanted my beloved daughter, Annabel, to see it.

I played this one wrong.

I should have let the monitor kill the cat and the pestilential dog and while that was going on should have got my camera and roused Annabel from her stupor. Instead I started yelling “Annabel! Monitor! Treats you come here! In! Leave off! Stand down!”

The monitor gave me a hard stare and then decided it had eaten enough of my goldfish and didn’t need a cat, rat or cowardly dog for dessert and a yelling Hugh. It ignored my “I’m not yelling at you! You stupid lizard! I’m yelling at my cat! Don’t go! I’ve got a rabbit, it’s fat and juicy!” It cleared off, destination shrine pond island.

Hope all’s well with you dear readers! And I’m sorry I can’t supply you with a photo of our monitor. But I’ve still got some goldfish left. And a cat. And a rat. And a dog. And a rabbit. He’ll be back!

Everything fairly fine here. My esteemed wife Midori off to Jakarta at 5 AM tomorrow. The new president is being inaugurated so the roads to her hotel are closed for military parades and one of her conferences has being cancelled for security reasons. She’ll find a way around this nationally important inconvenience.

I’m organizing Halloween festivities for what remains of Thai Village then it’s HK for four nights with Quentin (who has just recovered his ship captured by pirates off Viet Nam – his ships are always being captured by pirates or sinking or crashing into New Orleans which makes life for a ship insurance man interesting but not bland), Glenda and their daughter. I want Annabel to see the Peak, Star ferry, the harbor, the boats, the ships (particularly if they are being attacked by pirates, and if Quentin and the West of England company are involved is quite probable!) markets (and we’ll probably end up sitting in a revolving tea cup in Disneyland). Midi’s with us for just one night in Hongkers then its Mongolia for her and camel hair socks. I believe the temperatures will be brisk and very un-Bangkok!


Hugh, Bangkok

Thai Days: Birds of Paradise and lettuce FW: It’s Here! Full Birds-of-Paradise Website Launches Today

October 18, 2014 by

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is thankful to Johan for sharing these birds of paradise with us all. He did this while enduring a vegetarian meal in Bangkok. Johan is from South Africa. It is a fine and aspiring nation and grows lots of vegetables. But what a full blooded South African wants on his plate or on his braai is not a lettuce leaf but a kudu steak or the best slice of beef fillet grilled to perfection and about two inches thick. And a yard long.

I relish his anguish! A couple of weeks ago our paths crossed. My wife was dragging me away to a vegetarian restaurant, Johan asked me where I was going and I said I am going to a healthy vegetarian restaurant and I asked Johan where he was going and what his plans were. “To cook meat!” There was an evil glint in his eye and I told him diplomatically that he was an utter bastard!

Karmic backlash! Johan gets to meet the lettuce!

My wife hauls him into a vegetarian restaurant and he can’t refuse. It’s a business lunch. While he is sniffing the odours of crisping pork from the street stalls, the sizzle of beef, the subtle wafts of double cooked duck with really nice crunchy skins and sauces, or, that old favourite, steamed chicken with many options when it comes to condiments, I’m here safe in my nest. Having a big fat English bacon sandwich.

Johan while staring at his lettuce decided to avoid conversation with the monsters who had engineered this appalling meal and came up with birds of paradise.

Hugh Paxton’s Blog suggests you slice a lettuce, add a cucumber, sit back and relax. Or nip out and grab a burger. Then sit back and relax.

It is quite a show! They really are not called Birds of Paradise for nothing. Although sometimes I think they look a bit more silly than Lady Gaga.


To: Hugh Paxton
Subject: FW: It’s Here! Full Birds-of-Paradise Website Launches Today

Here the website re Birds of Paradise I was referring to while eating vegetables. Johan

Get up close to some of the most beautiful animals on earth
Dear Yasmin,

Red Bird-of-Paradise by Tim Laman

Red Bird-of-Paradise by Tim Laman

Our Birds-of-Paradise Project website is launching today. As co-creator of the project, I’d like to invite you to take a special first look. Because you signed up for project notifications, we’re sending you the link before the site becomes widely available to the public.

The site takes you inside the world of the birds-of-paradise to show you how these spectacular birds create their complex displays. Using 35 high-definition videos, plus animations, slideshows, and interactive features, we bring you vivid, up-close examples accompanied by commentary from Tim Laman and me. You’ll be able to see and understand what’s going on at a level of detail that’s unprecedented for any group of animals—it’s almost like going into the forests of New Guinea yourself. You’ll also find sections of the site that explain the hidden facets of evolution and geography that led to the appearance of so many extraordinary species, plus a section that shows what it took for Tim and me, working with local New Guineans, to get the exclusive footage you see on the site.

Here’s some of what the site contains:

  • 35 videos and 2.5 hours of running time
  • A breakdown of the main parts of a male’s display: sounds, color, unique feathers, shape-shifting poses, and dance steps
  • The crucial role of the females in choosing their mates
  • Key concepts of evolution illustrated and explained in simple terms
  • Secrets and techniques of how we captured such detailed footage
  • A gallery of extraordinary sounds
  • Interactive features to walk you through the birds’ diversity, how they get their colors, and why they evolved in New Guinea’s isolated mountains and islands

Visit to get up close with some of the most fantastically evolved animals in the world—and please reply to this email if you have any comments about the site or how it works. These are the birds that have captivated Tim Laman and me for more than eight years now as we’ve worked on the Birds-of-Paradise Project. I hope you enjoy them.

Thank you,

Ed Scholes

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Co-Creator, Birds-of-Paradise Project

P.S. It’s a big site—here are a few of my favorite pages you might want to start with:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

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Thai Days: Sometimes I get lucky!

October 17, 2014 by

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has just been instructed to go back to bed and rest by by beloved daughter. I wondered why. What nefarious schemes was she plotting? What motives? She explained that I’d got up early to make breakfast – right there! 5 30!

And that I should go and rest. I struggled. I had been planning to give her some homework but this wasn’t it.

What was her scheme?

It was tidying the house! My beloved daughter had decided to tidy the house with the help of Khun Mee and was concerned that if Khun Mee saw me in a room she would not wish to disturb me. And would avoid the room.

Not remotely sensible but I decided I didn’t give a damn! The idea of going back to bed was an offer I simply couldn’t refuse! I’m planning to stay there for as long as possible. They can clean every room in the house. Thoroughly. The roof needs a scrubbing! Just stay out of my bedroom! I am simply following orders!And sometimes I get lucky! Today’s my day! Cheers from Bangkok! Hugh



Cheers! Hugh from Bangkok

Thai Days: Woman on fire

October 17, 2014 by

Hugh Paxton’s Blog, like most of the country saw a front page Bangkok Post image of a middle aged woman burning like a bonfire in front of a government office. She had problems with loans and repayments and arrived with her complaints and her anxious nature, armed with a knife and fully furnished with a container of kerosene and a lighter.

The photo is rather appalling. There’s a woman on fire, sheets of flame rising above her head.

This protest has resulted in an angry debate. While this woman was clearly ablaze there were some gormless office workers staring at the event. They have inspired wide spread hatred for their inactivity. But, in their defence, they weren’t expecting this sort of thing. And they probably were frightened or simply lost.

Chang, as usual, had strong opinions. “She’s stupid!”

“And they are stupid! Look at them! Stupid! They should help! They must help!”

Annabel had her own proposal. “Throw her into the canal! I would throw her into a klong!”

Personally I’d go for a fire extinguisher.

The bottom line according to Hugh Paxton is that suddenly being confronted with a woman on fire is a strange, unanticipated event but if a disturbed woman arrives with kerosene and a lighter, I’d suggest taking her lighter away and punching her with severity and rendering her incapable. Then confiscate anything inflammable.

I think the real villains of this ghastly event are the photographers. One team set up a tripod. The photo in the Post clearly shows some sociopath with camera and tripod busy with his coup while the woman candles away.

There is no record that the Bangkok Post photographer helped either.

The Junta Prime Minister has ordered everybody to help this chargrilled and doomed protester. But that’s fascists for you. Basically a mixed bag. Sometimes hard, sometimes kind. Intolerant yet moral.

Loan sharks, charging 20 percent interest a day to those desperate or stupid enough to require or seek their services will be in for a difficult time. The army is after them.

It is a shame that a woman has to set herself on fire to raise the issue.

Strange, cruel and sad world upon occasion.



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