Archive for the ‘Thai Days’ Category

Thai DayZZZ: Sleeping driver.

July 6, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has to hand it to my beloved wife. Bags packed for river boat trip to Heart of Borneo (it’s in Sarawak – big jungly area), leech-proof socks, wet tropics gear, the works, and the taxi to the airport for the Bangkok/Singapore/Kuching flight is driven by a narcoleptic fellow who dings four cars then falls asleep twice. My wife snaps a shot of, as Jeeves would describe, “tired eyelids falling on tired eyes” and then spends the rest of the taxi driver’s journey to the airport watching him closely and prodding him to maintain a state of wakefulness.

The bloke was tired, old, possibly trying to sustain himself and his dignity and endless hungry family hands grabbing at his wallet. He might have had the help of crystal M. Or, perhaps driving the cab for a relative who didn’t turn up. My wife didn’t report him. He could barely park.

Let the cops sort the poor fellow out. Better still, if he could make it out of traffic, pull his cab into a little dirt road with farmers playing cards and kids with bare feet falling off boats and family squabbling…they’ll see him right. A lot of places like that in Bangkok.

My philosophy is this: My wife’s alive, my daughter’s happy, the taxi driver wasn’t at his best but after being prodded repeatedly by my wife he might have learned the error of his ways , if he’s beyond help the cops will already have him in a horrid detention cell (the intl airport is the LAST place to be if you have illegal substances in your bloodstream, rectum, handbag or if you are a nasty little Islamist terrorist with sexual problems and a need to go to heaven by killing sunbathers or lashing small kids for licking lollipops and listening to music).

It’s worked out well for us. I feel sorry for the taxi driver but at the same time it is not a thing he should be doing. If you take a taxi, don’t just check that he is turning on the meter, give him a once-over, politely, and if he’s snoring, take the next cab. I’m seriously blessed that I am not a taxi driver driven to such extremes.

Cheers!

Hugh in Bangkok

Thai Days: Festival of India in Thailand from 19 – 31 March 2014

March 12, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog plans to skip the yoga. But the India Food Festival! You will catch me there! This effort looks like great fun! Wish it well and if you are in town check it out!

From: Indian Cultural Centre Bangkok [mailto:dokbua.iccbkk@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 6:40 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Festival of India in Thailand from 19 – 31 March 2014

Embassy of India, Bangkok presents "Festival of India in Thailand" from 19 – 31 March 2014.

You are cordially invited to join various activities being held in different places in Bangkok as per the detail in the poster below:

Entry to all events free of cost except Food Festival at Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel.

Thai Days: Violence EEK! I’m so afraid!

February 4, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog was impressed by the audacity of the anti-government activists who didn’t just wave weapons and shoot them into the air like an over-excited sexually frustrated Islamic with more beard than brains, these Thai chaps were out to shoot straight. Straight into the media headlights. I think the guy who wrapped his head in a balaclava and fired his assault rifle from a bag was thinking straight. Whether he shot anybody remains to be decided. I don’t think he hit any Red Shirts. The other guy, beautifully photographed by everybody present, did a nose dive and got going with a hand gun. In the middle of an empty street.

Yes, I’ll get excited, exchanges of gunfire in Bangkok! Alert the embassies! Warn all foreign visitors to cancel their holidays!

Or not.

These two gunmen were making a point. There was another gun or two perhaps but really, as violence goes this isn’t going Syria!

Bangkok may be a bit revolutionary but they are having picnic protests on the streets with pork roasts and dancing and the air is better than I can remember because people aren’t driving their cars and are hiding at home and then emerging and walking and getting to know each other. The streets are clear of cars, but busy with people! I’m not sure how long the protests will last but I think they will fizzle and die out. Personally I’ll be sorry to see them go. Gunfire was an incident. No more than that. Most of the protesters held a “No Vote” picnic party with free food for all. Shoppers could pass freely through. And were given free food.

Bangkok is safer than LA. London. Geneva. Not as safe as Kiev or anywhere in Syria. But really chaps! Thailand is still the place to be if you are on vacation planning mode! Lovely country! Even the political violence involves having street picnics! And free food.

Time your protest visit right you could have slivers of suckling pig, off the spit, or banana leaf curry, or crappy noodles with dodgy looking fish balls. Guess what I got?

Yeah, always the way!

Cheers!

Hugh in Bangkok (Don’t be afraid! About anybody. Or anything. Apart from the fish-balls).

Cheers from Bangkok

Hugh

Thai Days: Guilty of murder? And Innocent.

December 13, 2013

 

Hugh Paxton’s Blog watched with a degree of amazement as former Thai PM, Abhisit, was arrested for murder. There was also a warrant out for the former deputy PM but he explained that he couldn’t come forward to be arrested because he was busy overthrowing the government. He certainly is. And if he feels like it he could probably summon 100,000 people to storm the Supreme Court. They’ve stormed every Ministry in the city and the central police station is still mopping up broken glass and wondering what happened to all its computers and surveillance technology.

Abhisit came quietly and his only army was composed of lawyers.

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such a peculiar murder charge. Prof Plum caught red-handed with a meat cleaver in the library? With a dead Col Mustard? Yes, that’s a fairly clear case. But Abhisit?

The Red Shirts, fueled and funded by ousted PM Thaksin had occupied central Bangkok and erected orc-like barriers of barbed wire and bamboo. Hideous, primitive barricades designed to frighten and repel invasion. A vast, increasingly smelly mob, roiled about and made excursions that were designed to kill and assert their strength. I watched smoke rising when the Reds got a little too ambitious and tried to burn down the CentralWorld department store, I saw the Reds kicking a young soldier (with orders not to fire) and if any violent crowd (each member paid 300 baht a day to participate) occupied a city and waged war, a PM would, should, try and calm things down. Abhisit did that. He tried to calm things down and the calmer he got the more violence there was.

Eventually, and too late in my opinion, he asked the army to break the bamboo barriers and there was a skirmish. The army shot some Reds.

In the turmoil some innocent people got shot as well.

Abhisit, by finally giving up diplomacy and allowing the military in, is now charged with murder.

Arrest Abhisit? You could agree. But my suggestion is that if you want to push this issue and make sure everybody involved is prosecuted you should arrest the army, all the Red Shirts involved, and the inept police. That would keep the courts busy for several generations. And Thailand would need to build a lot of new prisons.

Abhisit annoys BBC journos because he speaks coherently, with an English accent, is not a stumbling Third World dictator, and is more clever than them.

He’s going to defend himself in court. I really wish him the best of luck. A decent man doing the decent thing while being accused of terrible things .

The court in the mean time should watch its arse.

The ex-deputy PM has told it to kiss his. And he’s got legions of people, legions, who are currently throwing the government out and all their puppets. Courts included. No matter how Supreme. Must be scary to see 100,000 people on the street by your your front door and then watching them staying there. Day after day. It’s been two weeks now.

Cheers from Hugh!

Bangkok

PS:Innocent!  I almost forgot him (everyone else will) Innocent is a Nigerian using a fake entry visa to Thailand. 300 fake Thai entry visa stamps were pinched from the Thai Embassy in KL  (that’s in Malaysia) in August. Innocent was arrested along with his seedy Thai accomplice and strange to say they both tested positive while enduring humiliating drug tests. They were also found in possession of – take a wild guess! – yes, you are right! Drugs! Immigration is not amused. The cops will ensure he has a horrible time and then Innocent is going to be found guilty. Nigerians should really commit crime in their own country. They’re too visible here.

 

 

 

Thai Days: All Quiet on the Bangkok Front!

November 6, 2013

Political unrest continues to block traffic and most people are used to traffic jams so nobody really cares. I don’t feel revolution is in the air, no coups.

All that is happening is protests. Lots of them. But they’re intellectual sort of protests.

The Red Shirts, when they occupied central Bangkok, were enraged brain washed peasants with a daily salary to protest, paid by Thaksin, a dictator abroad. He promised them everything.

For the Red Shirts it was an opportunity to fling themselves about, taunt the system, mock all those glamour ads in the big department stores and feel, for the first time, power. After realizing power involved lying on concrete and not having toilet facilities and looking a bit silly they succumbed to paranoia and ended up erecting spiked bamboo enclaves in the heart of Bangkok. It was rather a pitiful spectacle. A Red hedgehog. Smelling like people smell if they enclave for many days without soap and a scrubbing brush.

The thing about the Red Shirts is how much some people loathed them, and still do.

I visited a Red Shirt camp, met a few of the Shirts, found them fundamentally unattractive and bought a Red Shirt for my daughter.

Souvenir.

I thought she might be thrilled! Interested?

She was repelled.

The Red Shirt was something to dispose of. ASAP.

I don’t know what happened to it. Annabel didn’t give it to anybody.

The Thais around here are Royalists and a red shirt is like a wagging a rag to a bull. I guess that money spent on the red shirt was money ill-spent. Like buying a Swastika T-shirt for a German buddy.

My opinion? The Reds are a diminished force. Dramatic in their prime, but now not a street movement. The Yellow Shirts? It is their opportunity to protest. But turn out is, at best, ineffectual in terms of numbers. A bunch of pink shirts have headed a demo urging peace and calm. Says it all, really.

If anybody starts throwing bombs or shooting then we’ll see the blue fuse start to smolder but everybody at the moment is wary of that fuse. There are people in Thailand with a capacity and enthusiasm for political violence. We’ve seen what happens when that happens!

Summary?

All Quiet on the Bangkok Front. Most Thais want to eat and go shopping.

THAI DAYS: If You Go Down to the Woods Today (Part two)…. It’s War!

September 27, 2013

Take Hugh Paxtons Blog’s word for it – Thailand’s tropical forests are beautiful. Dawn brings the liquid whoop of gibbons in the forest canopy hundreds of feet above the mist that pools around the gnarled dipterocarp roots– if a tall, cool glass of water could sing it would sound like a gibbon –, the heavy whoosh, whoosh of a giant hornbill’s wings, the startled cough of barking deer smelling dhole hunting dogs, the distant grumble of elephants, tens of thousands of bats leaving crag caves at twilight, after the first rains tens of millions of fireflies drifting and blinking through the velvet dark like tiny constellations…yes, beautiful.

But they can be hard work; a lot of steep, slippery muddy, slopes, snagging vines, streams to forge, leeches galore (and I do mean galore, and those suckers have no respect for leech proof socks), wild boar ticks, sudden torrential downpours, and ridge after ridge of limestone karst formations that stick out above the forest giant canopy like the back plates of long dead stegosaurs.

There are trails made by man or animals (forest pig, elephant, gaur, the giant Asian bison etc,) and I never leave them, unless I have a guide, for the simple reason that I’d get lost and would never be seen again. Despite deforestation and human incursion and population growth Thailand’s forests are still vast. The western forest complex, comprising 17 protected areas including Huai Kha Khaeng, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for example, covers 18,727 sq kms.

Beautiful, yes, tough going, yes…and currently a war zone.

On one side are the poachers drawn by rosewood (highly valued outside Thailand – but not in country where it is considered a sacred tree), tigers, elephants, bushmeat, animals valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or the international exotic pet trade , but most of all money.

Some poachers are simply poor, or greedy, opportunistic locals who use the forests for a free meal. But others are mixed up with a slew of illegal activities – drug manufacture and smuggling (particularly methamphetamines or heroin), people trafficking, and of course the killing or trapping of wild animals and birds, the rarer the better. Their backers and customers are powerful criminal syndicates operating out of Lao, Cambodia but principally Vietnam (an increasingly significant final destination for wildlife products due to a burgeoning, not to mention ostentatious, ignorant and affluent, nouveau riche class), and our old voraciously amoral friend, China.

On the other side are the staff and rangers of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP).

When it comes to weapons the good guys are woefully outgunned. Most of them are equipped with either shotguns or Heckler and Koch firearms that are over 30 years old. The poachers have AK-47 assault rifles and automatic carbines. State of the art stuff ideally suited to jungle warfare.

What puzzles me is their willingness to use these weapons so freely.

One of the principle problems facing effective wildlife crime enforcement is the judicial system. Wildlife offences are still perceived by the law as a “victim-less crime” and sentences are lenient, going on ludicrously non-deterrent .

If successfully prosecuted at all, the criminals can confidently expect to be back in their hunting grounds mere weeks or, at most, a couple of years later. And if you have the backing of a multi-million dollar crime syndicate on your side, a $US500 fine is risible.

But shoot they do. Hence the DNP’s declaration of war.

Since 2009, 47 forest rangers have been killed on duty and 48 others injured.

On Sept 12th came the final straw. Hmong hilltribe tiger hunters, part of a well known gang operating in the Huai Kha Khaeng World Heritage Site , shot and killed two rangers and wounded two more. One hilltribesman was killed in the firefight, two were captured, and two fled. They are believed to be hiding in the Bangkok area. If they have been injured, and I hope they were, it will make apprehending them easier – even in Bangkok, bullet trauma raises eyebrows in medical facilities.

But two more deaths, two more injuries – the DNP decided enough was enough. Negotiations were begun with the army to buy or borrow state of the art weaponry for rangers. All protected area managers were ordered to assemble every scrap of information they had on poaching gangs, proven, suspected, rumoured, anecdotal. This exercise to be conducted in close co-operation with local police. All weapons were ordered to be checked for readiness and/or obsolescence.

And this morning, pre-dawn, over 1,000 armed forest rangers deployed throughout the western forest complex on the largest patrol/man hunt ever conducted by the DNP. They are out there as I write.

Time for the poaching gangs and syndicates to reap the whirlwind.

In Part One of this Two Part Post I described meeting Thai park rangers and observing their anti-poaching training. Things have escalated.

It started with a contact between

Thai Days: Royal Thai Police seize live Elephants in clampdown on illegal trade

August 21, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog got this latest from Richard. More elephant mischief.

Subject: Royal Thai Police seize live Elephants in clampdown on illegal trade

The Royal Thai Police today seized 14 unregistered and illegally registered elephants from camps in three provinces in the south of Thailand as part of sweeping investigations into live elephant smuggling and the abuse of elephant identity certification and registration systems.

Please find attached below a media release from TRAFFIC & and attached a photo of two live elephants seized yesterday in Ko Chang, Trad province, at the beggining of this operation. If the photo is used, please credit © Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division, Royal Thai Police.

Best regards
Richard

Thai Days: A Bangkok bus trip!

June 29, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog noted with no particular surprise another political ballsup. The Thai Minister of Transport has recently been urging officials to use public transport and report on any problems. H then decided to set an example by using public transport himself. He hopped on a bus destined for Don Mueang airport. Nearly two hours later the bus was still embroiled in a monumental traffic jam and had covered just a quarter of the distance.

“The trip was a flop,” Chadchat told the media. “I didn’t get to where I wanted to go.”  Him and 100,000 other people using public transport.

He did actually make it to the airport eventually. He bailed out of the bus at Victory Monument and summoned his chauffeur driven car. Hit the expressway. Caught his flight.

As PR stunts go this one has to be rated less than a victory.  

But maybe an education.

“I share the feelings of other bus passengers”, said Chadchat.  

Thai Days: Ordeal by Hard Drive and Shrimp!

June 25, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has a few issues with a removeable hard drive. It has taken thousands of my photos for safe keeping and doesn’t want to give them back.

I took the horrid traitor  to Fortune Plaza and can thouroughly recommend the vast complex of shops and exits you can’t find  if you want to buy telescopes, cameras, computers, security stuff, drones, almost everything…just don’t take them your hard drive.  I visited 20 shops, met twenty staff (times four – everybody wanted to help) but after three hours I tired of the last rueful shrug as failure again reared its familiar head.

 

Beer and lunch I decided! The Fortune Plaza has many floors. Like most Bangkok commercial retail buildings the food is generally either below ground or at the top of the building. I went down.

 

I knew things would go wrong as soon as I took a seat.  It was the girls with menus. Three. Looking at me closely. The menu was bilingual and came with great photos! But while I watched the menu I also watched the girls. Then a Thai guy smoothly slid in and now we were five!

“I’ll try the fried shrimp in shrimp sauce with added shrimp. No fish livers. And no ‘swamp weeds’.

I have often taken the role of a cinema screen. White guys, foreigners, me – the whole caboodle. Anybody new in town attracts interest.

My shrimp arrived and there was interest. I was still a five star attraction.

First spoon and I thought “Arrgh! This cannot be! It’s hotter than hell at high noon!! ”

I ate it.

Ate the lot. They watched! They watched! There were really good bits! The shrimps were superb! But it was a mine field. Any second you could find a huge chunk of garlic in your gob. Or something red and ready for hell!

I’d rate this excursion as less than five star.

Cheers from Bangkok!

 

Hugh!

 

 

Thai Days: The race (Bangkok Traffic)

June 25, 2013

T: This looks interesting, Bob!

B: Certainly does, Trev!

T: Honda, Bob, nosing into the starting lane. First contender!

B: Nice looking Honda. Swift lines. Only a few dents in the rear. Engine sounds healthy, Trev. This one could put on a bit of a trot.

T: Bit bulky Bob. Might work against it in the tight lanes. Ah, another runner, Bob! Green taxi, yellow stripes! He’s positioned himself well! Right in front of the Honda.

B: Oh dear! Don’t like the look of this new  lot; wonky, overloaded, must have thirteen passengers. Looks like illegal immigrants. I’m thinking Lao.

T: Cambodians, Bob. Look at em! Stands out a mile!

B: Lao!

T: Bob, it’s started! The race is on! What a battle! The Honda has moved an inch at least. At least an inch! In the first minute! The taxi is trailing. The driver’s asleep. The Cambodians are blocked by a bus. Bad luck there.

B: Certainly is. No, hang on Trev, look! The driver has opted for the pavement. He’s leaving the road! He’s going for it! Yes! What a performance! He’s ignoring the terrified pedestrians and is making serious progress! What a performer!

T: Won’t last, Bob. There’s street food stalls ahead. He’ll have to rejoin the road or they’ll boil him in Tom Yan Goon. How’s the Honda doing?

B: Trev, it’s inspiring to watch! Only ten minutes into this race and the Honda has advanced by no less than ten inches! That’s an inch a minute!

T: My immigrants are out of the race.

B: Souped?

T: Fraid so. You shouldn’t mess with Bangkok street vendors, Bob. Oh no!

B: Oh no what, Trev?

T: They are force feeding him those grey slimy catfish balls!

B: Goes with the game, Trev. He shouldn’t have tried for the pavement. Bad call. Oh, hey! We’ve got some action here! The Honda has moved forwards…we are TALKING SIX INCHES! And IT”S NECK AND NECK! THE TAXI DRIVER HAS WOKEN UP AND THIS JUST LOOKS CLOSE! YES THE TAXI HAS SWERVED DANGEROUSLY INTO THE NEXT LANE AND IS MAKING ITS MOVE!

FOUR HOURS LATER:

B: Trev, are you still covering this thing?

T: I’m taking a break, Bob. Lunch at The Robin Hood.  Pie and peas. Not a bad pint. You still on the job?

B: I’m at the Kit Kat Klub with Miaow. Got a few scratches but overall, Trev, I’m satisfied.

T: Where’s the finishing line?

B: Trev, mate, they’re probably still near the starting line.

T: Guess we should get back to work.

B: How you plan to get there, Trev?

T: Scooter taxi. The same way you got to the Hood. Life threatening and the guys look like gangsters but if you climb on the back and don’t fall off they weave their motorbikes through the traffic jams like magicians. Just don’t fall off.

….

B: And this is an amazing climax to a race that has held the attention of less than millions! The Honda is at least – AT LEAST! half a kilomter away from its destination! The taxi is out of the race. It caught fire in a shocking way that we missed because we weren’t there. Eyewitnesses say they didn’t see anything because they don’t want any contact with the police.

T: Can’t fault their reasoning there, Bob.

Bob and Trev – It’s been emotional. Over and out.

.


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