Saturday, September 30, 2006

Boom Goes The Irony

In Washington DC (and just about every place else in America), it is 100% legal to meet a handsome 16-year-old Congressional page and get jiggy with him, whether you yourself are male or female, as long as you too are over the age of 16.

However, if you write a naughty e-mail to that same 16-year-old Congressional page, you could... according to the "Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006"... go to jail.

This is a lovely bill which was thoughtfully co-sponsored by the congressman who will be going to jail for writing naugy e-mails to a 16-year-old Congressional page.

Hoist on his own petard, ain't he?

I swear: My sense of moral equilibrium and karmic adequation smokes this like it's crack.

That Was A Worrying First

Immediately after finishing shopping last night, I went to an ATM on beach road to take out 20,000 baht. (It's the ATM that is part of the currency exchange that is on the parking garage entrance of Royal Garden Plaza.)

I punched in my information, and asked for my money. The machine made the shush-shush-shush sound of counting money, and then said, "Transaction Cancelled. Please Contact Your Financial Institution."

Sometimes, if I use my bank card for a purchase (like I just did for groceries), and then go immediately to an ATM, it sets off an alarm somewhere at Chase Manhattan, and they "reign me in", as it were. So, I tried again, this time asking for only 10,000 baht, which the ATM promptly gave me... however, in 500-baht notes.

Much to my chagrin, on the receipt the ATM printed out, I noted that my bank balance was now 30,000 baht lower than it should have been instead of 10,000 baht.

However, by the time I got home and logged into to see if what I thought had happened had really happened, the Thai bank had already taken out... and then put back... the never-delivered 20,000 baht. All was back to normal.

So, for the first time ever, I've experiened an ATM making a mistake and eating my money. (Apparently the 1000-baht note delivery system of this ATM got fouled up while counting out my 20,000.) Fortunately modern technology seems to have a backup plan in place for such a thing. Good to know it works.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Somebody told me once that I should never go grocery shopping while hungry. Therefore, Pui and I had dinner at Bob's before heading off to Foodland.

Whoever it was that told me that sure knew what they were talking about! My total bill came to only $200!


Actually, that's not too bad: That's basically a month's worth of laundry stuff, plus all the various sauces, toppings, and snacks that sustain me for a month. (Plus a bottle of Absolut Citron to wash it all down.) I won't need to revisit Foodland for another 4 weeks.

It is always the $3 and $4 import items that do it: Cranberry juice, pesto sauce, canned pears, Vlassic pickles, macaroni and cheese. Just can't live without 'em.

What I Really Want

Unfortunately, these aren't being sold in Thailand, so I'll have to have somebody buy it for me in America and then ship it over to Thailand. Fortunately, there are no duties on motorcycles shipped into Thailand (knock on wood), so it will only be the cost of shipping to get it into the country (yah right).

Friday Cat Blogging

The Neigbor Comes For A Visit

Another Possibility

With the visa requirements changing, so that every 90 days I'll have to shell out cash to fly to Penang or Vientenne to get a new visa, another possibility has become available:

The Thailand Elite Card.

For a $25,000 one-time fee, you get what essentially amounts to a life-time visa, never having to do a visa run again. (The luxury airport lounge and limo services, free flight upgrades, medical care, and club memberships, are certainly nice too. I was also told that it allows one to purchase up to 2 rai of land (a little shy of an acre), but I can't find that mentioned on the website.)

Just a thought.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

One Week

Today marks the 1-week anniversary of my last cigarette. I'm surprised that I can actually feel a difference... that I feel healthier, though I still have a little bit of a cough. It has been suprisingly easy actually, most probably because I took the stop-smoking pills for about 2 weeks first, which cut my smoking down to about 5 cigarettes a day, before I stopped smoking completely.

What's especially impressive is that for 4 days in the past week, I was out to TQ2 drinking and hanging around some (but not that many) smokers, and barely had a craving.

Now I've got to lose the beer belly... 75 pounds.

My ultimate goal is to swim 100 yards in under 1 minute. When I can do that, I'll be back to the level of health that I was in high school.

My father went through all of this, going from flab to fab during his 40s. He was running marathons after 5 years of dedication to being healthy. Unfortunately, I can't run very well because of a miniscule knee defect. The best I was ever able to do was jog about a mile. (Although at the current time, if I could even jog 100 yards, I'd be thrilled.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

T is for Toga

TQ2 hosted its first annual toga party tonight, and it was by all accounts a robust success. (Apparently, however, as compared to the toga party heyday of 25 years ago, the trend for swhapping people with the flat sides of plastic swords has become de rigeur. Oh well. Gladiators will be gladiators, I suppose.)

The dancers were absolutely adorable in their little toga outfits... although the "no-underwear-under-the-toga" rule wasn't adhered to very well, which I can sadly confirm after I personally performed several spot checks. Still though, there were some girls who understood the spirit of the toga party, so my spot checks weren't a complete waste of my time.

Most folks showed up in their own togas, which was funny. If you are in America and you see a bunch of people walking around in bedsheets, they are either on their way to a toga party or a klan meeting, but either way, you pretty much understand. Thai people, of course, have no clue. A group of farangs parading down Walking Street in togas? Those are white monks (which is a very odd thing indeed) as far as Thai people are concerned.

Working Like Crazy

I mentioned it before... that I've really jacked up my work level lately.

I'm actually kind of wondering what is going to happen when my production levels (pay level) comes to the attention of "somebody" at my company. If I were to keep this level of work up for the long term (which I plan on doing), I would probably be one of the highest paid people in a company of 5,000-plus employees. I'm probably making more than many of the senior executives whom I work for.

I'm wondering if somebody is going to come along and tell me not to work so much. Considering that my company is paying overtime plus a 20% overnight surcharge on my work, it is a possibility.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Rotund Rotarian Rotissarian

Bob of Bob's BBQ was inducted into Rotary last night. (He managed to catch the greased pig in just under a minute, and ate 28 goldfish. He then sacrificed a goat and did the interpretive "Rotary Rules" dance to the satisfaction of all the senior members. He was then welcomed by all as a new member.)

Anyway, Rotary is really big in Pattaya, with 4 clubs in total: Rotary-Pattaya, Rotary-Thaksin, Rotary-Jomtien, Rotary-Marina.

p.s. Bob (and just about everybody on earth) did not know the origin of the word "barbeque". You all are hereby informed.

A Quick Million (Baht) Or So

herbrich.comI normally wouldn't join up for this sort of thing, because I don't believe in crying "foul" when a person is well-aware of the rules going into the game. Therefore, I would never sue a tobacco company for any damages that cigarettes did to my health.

This however, is different. I smoked Marlboro Lights for exactly 20 years specifically because they were marketed to me as a product that (while still dangerous) contained less of all the things that a normal cigarette had (tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, and taste) and therefore were less damaging to my health (albeit, less enjoyable) than "regular strength" cigarettes.

Now: It turns out that Marlboro Lights did absolutely nothing to cut health risks, even though I was led to believe otherwise. If this is proven in court, then I am entitled to a partial refund which is calculated (by law) as the difference between the actual price of the cigarettes I have purchased throughout my life, and what a reasonable person would have paid for the "Light" (i.e. inferior) product, if that person had known the truth about the product. (The pdf file of the case cites a 77% discount, and I calculated this as 20 years x 365 days x $5 of cigarettes per day x 77%, which equals just over $25,000.)

So, I'm joining this class action suit for damages because I was misled by Phillip Morris into smoking Marlboro Lights by their offering of benefits that did not exist. If I smoked regular Marlboros, I wouldn't be a member of the class.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Vinnie Blogging

My sister will be sending more Vinnie photos soon, I'm sure.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Out Again

It was out to Bob's BBQ for dinner (a salad, actually). After that, it was a quick stop at Margueritavilla where Mike, Riza, Justin, and Rat were hanging out.

Then it was off to TQ2 where I hung out with the gang and bought a couple of rounds in redemption of last Thursday's hand-outs.

Finally, it was out for a lonely beer on Soi 8... just to visit some old stomping grounds. (No, after 14 months, she's long gone... Duh.) Then home for a semi-early bedtime.


I finally tracked down the source of my cough... the one I thought was a "World Trade Center cough."

It turns out it was a side-effect of the Wellbutrin stop-smoking pills that I was taking. Believe it or not, the symptoms were the same as what is described as a WTC cough.

And what a cough it was: I would cough so hard that I would literally go into hypoxic seizures. (It was actually a cool experience, in a tripped-out, starving-the-brain-of-oxygen kind of way.) I'm lucky I didn't crack a rib actually.

Well, the tradeoff was dozens of funky, head-spinning, hand-twitching experiences in exchange for a slow agonozing death from lung cancer. Hell: I couldn't pay my high school head $5 and get that kind of rush.


My main source of news is, mainly because it is just so nifty to type. So, I'm asking based on their website alone... but...

Thaksin and the Thai coup has (still) made the top headline on the site. Therefore the question begs to be asked:

Is this coup stuff really that interesting to all of you who don't live in Thailand? I mean, it's barely interesting for us here incountry.

Just curious.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ho Hum

It's a quiet weekend at home. For the first time in months, I don't have anything specific planned for Sunday. (Well: I plan to work, actually.)

Work has been going quite well this past week. For the first time in a while, I'm enjoying my job — as opposed to just doing it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Out To Party

Thursday, and as per usual, Pui and I were out to TQ2 where all of my friends proceeded to by me drinks because I was a broke-ass mofo from shelling out major sheckels for Pui's new motorsai.

Kudos to all: I owe you a round.

Funny From Work

From a dictation I was transcribing:
Her lungs are clear to auscultation. Heart is regular rhythm without heaves, rubs, or murmurs. Breasts are unremarkable... unless you are her husband, and then they are very remarkable.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More For My Memoirs

Actually, it's going to be kind of a giggle that I get to tell my grandchildren how I got to be there for a coup d'etat. I'll get them all wide-eyed with stories of revolution and celebration and uncertainty and turmoil.

I won't bother to tell them that it really was — aside from the news itself — just another ho-hum day in Thailand. Hell: I wouldn't even have known about it if I hadn't bothered to ask why Pot was home from school this morning. (Well, did make it a headline story mid-afternoon local time, and it is possible I would have found out about it then... but, well... you get the idea.)


I'm expecting the Baht-per-dollar rate to be going up over the next couple of days. Hopefully it will stay there, as that means more money in my pocket. Over the last 3 years, it has slipped from 42 per dollar to 37... which bascially has meant a 10% cut in salary for me, since I get paid in dollars.

I sincerely doubt that because of the coup the Baht will rocket up to something like 50 per dollar like it did during the Asian economic crash of 1997. The coup leaders didn't "break anything" when they rushed in and took power. They aren't proposing any changes in commercial or social laws. There is no reason at this time to expect the coup to have any effects outside of the federal elected government. Investors and foreign economic interests may be nervous about the coup, but it is plain to see that they have been given no reason to panic...


What remains to be seen is whether these army generals are truly just ordering all the current players off the field because of poor sportsmanship, and are going to invite the players back out "as soon as possible" to try again, or if they plan on keeping the ball for themselves and are going to make up a completely new game. It's highly unlikely, but possible.

Well, the next week or so should give us all the answers we need.

Oh: Other interesting news is that the head of the coup is Muslim. Gasp! I'm going to have to buy a burka for Pui!

You Say You Want A Revolution? Well... You Know.

Thailand's military finally threw out Prime Minister Thaksin (and the rest of the government) last night at around 9:00 while he was off in New York. Bangkok is under martial law, I've heard. Farangs on the PattayaSecrets board are, as expected, running around doing their chicken little routine "The property prices are falling! The property prices are falling!"

The schools and banks and government offices are closed today, and so far the king hasn't had anything to say.

There is a tank parked at the end of my street, and troops are banging on doors looking for traitors to the cause. We are huddled here in the dark with only the light of a storm lantern for warmth and hope. Gunfire crackles in the distance and occasionally a mortar round makes a hollow boom. Large crowds of druken tourists are being rounded up by angry-yet-triumphant members of the revolutionary forces to be taken to as-yet-undetermined places for interrogation. The local Thai population is taking a wait-and-see approach, mostly hiding, but occasionally coming out to wave to the passing troop trucks, with their rifles bristling erect against the wind like miniature sequoias.

No mom, of course that's not real.

Anyway, this was pretty much a done deal the moment the elections were tossed out a few months back. Besides, it's been 15 years since a revolution, and all my "Revolution Rocks" party favors and "I'm Cuckoo for Cool Coups" T-shirts were in dire need of an airing out.

I like this picture from Reuters:
See? If this were one of those big, scary revolutions, the soldiers wouldn't have put a traffic cone next to the tank to keep the passing vehicles safe. Ergo: Nothing to worry about.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fun With Google Earth

My previous house.

Latitude = 12°54'37.21"N
Longitude = 100°52'23.52"E

Delusions of Greatness

One thing that every expatriate here seems to be guilty of (and this is especially true, reading comments related to the new visa rules) is severely overestimating the value of the farang residents of Pattaya to the local (and national) economy. I myself am guilty at times as well.

We love to say, "If the Thai government does X, then expatriates will do Y, and then Z economic disaster will happen."

If you exclude professional expatriates — those who are working for multinationals or governments, and very large business owners ($1 million-plus in capital, say) — and include only retirees, small business owners, and other minimally or marginally employed long-term residents, then we are an economic force to be considered, but we could hardly wreck the Thai (or Pattayan) economy if we acted in unison.

In total numbers here in Pattaya, we represent less than 10% of everything: We are less than 10% of the farang arrivals in Pattaya in any given year. We operate less than 10% of the businesses. We create less than 10% of Pattaya's gross domestic product. Nationwide, the number is far less than 1%.

Even up in Isaan, which we believe we economically sustain on our own shoulders via monthly remittances through our girlfriends, the economy feels barely a ripple from our help in comparison to all other economic undertakings in the region.

So, I always remind myself to chuckle (instead of joining in the sky-is-falling fracas) when — in response to tightening visa rules for expatriates — the chorus of "Pattaya is doomed! Home prices will plummet! Bars will close!" is raised. Trust me: If every expatriate on recurring 30-day visas was chucked out of Thailand tomorrow, Walking Street's bottom line would barely wiggle. (The all-you-can-eat 99-baht farang food restaurants though would certainly be in a pickle.)
Small print: Me a'-figurin'

Let's say that the average farang resident in Pattaya spends 30,000 baht per month, and there are 20,000 farang residents in Pattaya. That would be 600 million baht per month, or $15 million. The average tourist in tourist in Thailand spends 3,500 baht per day, and on average, 400,000 tourists per month visit pattaya. If tourists stay for an average of 3 days, that is 4.2 billion baht per month, or $105 million. That means that long-term residents represent about 14% of all expenditures. A little above 10%, but still not enough to collapse Pattaya's nightlife economy... especially when you take into account that the farang residents spend almost no money on "nightlife" or hotels compared to the tourists.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Boat Trip

Today, Steve invited us out on his boat for a trip to the islands and some fishing. We met at Mermaids Dive Shop (Steve's other business venture, along with TQ2), piled into 2 large vans and several cars, drove an hour down the coast, and loaded onto the middle size of Steve's 3 boats, and headed out to sea.

Along for the ride were, Steve from England, and my friend Stan,

Ray, and Steve from Australia,Fred, and his girlfriend,Steve from America, and his kids,
and about a dozen other people.We sailed out to an island, and Steve and I spent about an hour on the beach with the kids. After that, we sailed out a distance, and did some fishing, and drank copious amounts of beer.At the beach, there were millions of tiny jelly fish floating about, but they didn't sting. It was difficult for me to get used to swimming in water filled with clear... but palpable... little blobs. However, once we went out to the fishing area, some really giant (and deadly) jellyfish started floating by. (I tried to stick my hand in this photo to help with perspective, but it really doesn't work. The jellyfish in the photo is about 2½ feet by 2½ feet.) They were really gorgeous to look at too, with an appearance that would remind you of a giant brown cauliflower. Still though, getting stung by one of these would ruin your afternoon.As per usual, the Thai girls spent a lot of time sleeping, eating and avoiding sunlight. There was tons and tons of food to eat, and even more beer and soda. The weather was really gorgeous, and the waves kept the boat rocking gently. The kids all had a blast fishing, and then playing with the fish. The beach was great too, with coral, sea anemonae... and not a single person trying to sell you sunglasses.

Tit For Tat

Recently, a bunch of left-wing bloggers were invited to a luncheon with Bill Clinton, culminating with this photo op. The right-wing, including one Dr. Helen was quick to lob spitballs about convicted Monicaphile, President Clinton standing too close to the breasts... or, conversely, lobbing spitballs at the breasts for trying to be too close to Clinton.

Photo of Dr. Helen:

As Atrios would say, "heh indeedy."

Who says that politics always has to be serious business? We get to point at boobies and giggle just as often as everyone else.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

New Ride

Pui's new present.

Actually, it's about 24 months late in coming — buying a motorcycle. I've been renting a motorcycle for something like 3 years, which is stupid.

This was the "show bike" from the motorcycle dealership down the road. It's a Yamaha with an automatic transmission. (Basically a golf cart with 2 wheels.)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

Yes... kitty likes to climb up here and watch the world.

The kittens are at their maximum bounciness now, cavorting and play-fighting and attacking anything that rustles, swings, rolls, or otherwise reacts to a tentative swat from a little paw.

I finally had mamma kitty taken to the vet to be spayed. It was only 500 baht, and she was delivered back home by the vet himself within a few hours of having dropped her off. (She spent the rest of the evening walking around in a drug-induced stupor, quite upset.)

Pot has not, to the best of my knowledge, even touched one of the kittens yet. I'm not that strict, but I guess he is playing it safe.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Does anybody remember why you can't take your coffee on an airplane anymore? Bottled water? Anybody?

That's right! Some terrorists had a plot to get on an airplane and do some magic mixture of Gatorade and Vidal Sassoon in order to create something that supposedly would explode.

Remember those guys? (Yes... I know: That was so last month... but try to remember.)

Not a single one of them has been charged with attempting — or even planning — to attack airplanes. (The best the British authorities could do was one firearm possession charge, and some "attending weapons training" charges, whatever that means.)

Some plot, eh?

Well, at least the terrorists won't be able to use toothpaste when they brush their teeth at 30,000 feet. We've nipped that in the bud. We're safe now.

Good Question

(Stolen from Andy.)
They can search each laptop for possible terrorist-type writing and confiscate cell phones, white powder, shoelaces, car keys, pencils, anything sharp or cylindrical or made of glass, and interrogate people randomly, putting them naked into cold rooms with ugly music played at top volume. It's all fine with me. I'm a liberal and we love ridiculous government programs that intrude on personal freedom. But where are the conservatives who used to object to this sort of thing? — Garrison Keillor

New Drink

1 shot of Malibu coconut rum
1 shot of Amaretto
1 shot of Coke

Served shaken, over ice. Garnish with a cherry.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Oh Shit

It looks like this time Thailand Immigration is serious: No more visa runs.

That's me.

Well, it's bad, but it isn't escape-proof.

First, the rule is that you can only have a total of 3 non-visa tourist entry stamps (me) in your passport in a row, and then you can't get another one for 90 days. So, that means that I just have to get a Thai visa in my passport. This kind of visa is a 60-day visa that can be extended at any immigration center (such as the one in Pattaya) for 30 days for a total of 90 days. The only drawback is that in order to get this type of visa, I would have to go to Penang in Malasia, Phnom Phenh in Cambodia, or Vientienne in Laos (where I love to go) to visit a Thai Consulate and get a new visa every 90 days (as opposed to a visa run every 30 days). Generally pretty simple, if not as cheap as a quick zip out to the Cambodian border.

Second, Mike is going to look into getting me a work permit, since he is eventually going to need me to work for his company. That way, I'll be able to stay for a year at a time without any hassle. That ball should start rolling tomorrow.

Third, if all else fails, there is always Sihonoukville, which is the Cambodian version of Pattaya, a day's drive down the coast. Cambodians love rich Westerners living in their country, and will happily put a 1-year visa in your passport for $200. (Or... at least last I checked, they would.) Laos is another option, but I don't know any details yet about staying there long-term. However, Pui and Pot certainly love the place.

So, really, not to worry: I just have to jump through some more hoops in order to ensure my stay here in paradise, but nothing at this point indicates a departure for less-greener — but more welcoming — pastures.

Oh: And I've lost track of the number of times this subject has burnt up the internet and scared the bejesus out of the local expatriate population. The only difference this time is... well... the immigration people do seem a bit more serious about it.

Gray Day, Happy Anyway

It's a gray, drizzling day here. Nothing on my planner except work, sandwiched in between waking up and going to bed. I'm even having macaroni and cheese for lunch, just to accentuate the dullness of this day.

And now I remind myself that even being in Thailand on a day like today is still something special for somebody who grew up in Nowheresville, New York.

Actually, in the evening, the skies cleared a bit, and the malingering clouds made for a very pretty sunset. Pui and I took a walk in the park. (Well, I sort of waddled, and Pui did her perky little pony-tail jostling jog... which between us averages out to a walk, I suppose.) I still had egg-drop soup for dinner to keep the blandness theme going.

No complaints here.

Pot is crying, Pui is yelling. Must be shower time. Thus ends another day in paradise.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pot and Showers

Shower time for Pot is almost always the jumping off point for tantrums, spankings, and generalized hollaring on all sides. I can't blame him of course. Mother-orchestrated showers interrupt TV shows, play time, and even naps.

But even I am subject to shower-on-demand. "Euy! Jil min mahk!" I get that a lot from Pui. When she says that, that means it is shower time. But, I've got the plan: I cry and throw a tantrum too.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Today was once again Jester's motorcycle club annual Jester's Cares For Kids Fair. I took Pui and Pot and we had a great time.

Bob had set up a stand for his restaurant, and was doing a brisk business, being located right next door to the Jester's Beer Tent.

Steve was there with his boys, Kevin and Bobby, and Alan had his son, Jason along. Pot spent most of his time playing with them, and all 4 had a great time. There was an inflatable castle and a large slide that they all enjoyed. Pot also enjoyed the kiddie train and the little airplane ride.

Lots of the folks from TQ2 were there, including Ray, and we all sat around and drank margaritas, ate tacos and burgers and ribs, and watched the kids have fun.

Then, Pot surprised everyone by wanting to climb the rock tower... an "adult" ride. At first, the ride people wouldn't let him go up because he was too short. However, after the crowd died down a bit, we went back again to ask a second time and this time they let him go. They strapped him into a harness, gave him a helmet, and up he went. He was by far the smallest kid of the day to work his way up the thing, and Steve and Ray and I stayed at the bottom and cheered him on the whole way up.

(The fact that he looked down a couple of times with an "oh-shit" look, but kept on plugging away impressed all the adults.)

Anyway, there were hundreds, if not thousands of people there, and millions of baht were raised for local children's charities. Bob sold tons of burgers and margaritas, and everybody went home full and happy.

The Future Of Pattaya

I've commented a lot on the direction I think Pattaya is going, most of it referring to a downhill trend. I think I'm going to revise that.

I think now it is more likely that Pattaya will just continue to improve and upgrade... just not as quickly as I would like.

In the future, run-down shop houses that generate a few hundred baht per square meter per month will be replaced with more upscale and profitable retail spaces slowly but surely. Soviet-grade apartment buildings providing housing to thousands of Thai people will be refurbished with sit down toilets and hot water heaters and air conditioners, and will then cater to a few hundred much-more-profitable British pensioners. Vast plots of low-end, dime-a-dozen cement shacks currently posing as bungalows will be snatched up and replaced with Thai McMansions sitting squarely upon property that used to accommodate 3 or 4 of the miniature abodes. Vast empty lots hosting the poorest of the poor in tin-roof and cardboard shacks will become resort hotels or luxury rentals.

To put it simply, when land is selling for a million dollars an acre in central Pattaya, you don't waste it by putting up $150 a month apartments. To put it simply, if you have an acre of land in central Pattaya that currently has $150 a month apartments sitting on it, it will not be long before simple economics comes to bear.

The new airport, the possible high-speed railway, the probable casino, the new highway bypass, in addition to a more mobile and smaller world, means quite simply that more people will be coming to Pattaya.

... more people who aren't Thai, that is.

I imagine that in 20 to 30 years, there is going to be very few housing opportunities for Thai people anywhere close to the area that generally constitutes Pattaya/Naklua/Jomtien currently... and then some. In 20 or 30 years (not considering inflation), the cheapest studio apartments in Pattaya will be 20,000 baht per month ($500), which is fine for a Western retirement budget, but is far away from what a migrant Thai worker (or six) can afford.

So, the Pattaya of 25 years from now will have a lower population density than it does today, but will accomplish this by expatriate gentrification, uprooting thousands upon thousands of Thai people. The Pattaya of the future will be overwhelmingly populated by Westerners.

More properties and places that cater to Western expectations of quality and upkeep will open, while Thai-targeted stalls and markets will move out to the burbs, where it will be easier to find cheap space and customers. Additionally, a large number of those new Western-oriented properties and places will be built with some sort of "tropical Thailand" in mind, turning up the volume on Pattaya's beach resort vibe. The days of tossing together a guesthouse on Soi Lenkee for $25,000 will be long gone soon... only serious money need apply. As the competition for the Western dollar goes up with the number of Western-oriented businesses, so will the quality of construction, presentation, atmosphere, service, and style.

As for Walking Street and Pattaya's 1200 beer bars? Well, you can expect the dives and the holes to get snatched up by eager millionaires who will turn those places into glittering palaces of sex and sleaze... but you can be certain that the gogo bars are not going to dissappear. Pattaya will manage — thanks to the propensity of Thai people to tear anything down that is older then 10 years (and isn't a temple) — to rebuild itself into a top-class beach resort, and still manage to keep the raunch and ruckus front and center.

But, there ain't a damn thing anybody can do to make Soi Diana (and dozens of other 1-lane thoroughfares) 10 feet wider. Oh well... can't have everything.

Run To The Border

No planned vacation out of Thailand this month, so it was off to Cambodia for my every-30-day visa renewal process.

The visa run van left from Soi Buakow at 6:30 a.m., so I was there promptly at 6:25... only to find the van had already left. I called the van and gave them a piece of my mind about their idea of what qualifies as "on time", and they politely turned around and came back and picked me up... arriving right at 6:30 as luck would have it.

None of the other 5 visa runners in the van had a problem coming back to get me either (even though I apologized greatly), realizing that 6:30 is, after all, not a mutable quantity... Unless you're Thai, that is: Upon coming back, the lady leading the visa run showed me her watch, reading "6:32" and said, "See? We left the first time right at 6:30!"

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Jamiroquai Revisited

Half of you won't get the reference of the title of this post until you watch the video. The other half won't even get it afterwards. Therefore, the greatest video ever made (not 24th greatest, as one network would like you to think) is also included below.

But this top clip is proof positive that some of the most entertaining ideas for music videos are easily the simplest. (Much like Jamiroquai below.) Still though, Andy is right: The use of cardigans and the punk rock tune adds oh-so-much.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thai Language Lesson

"Work" and "party" are the same word in Thai: งาน or ngaan

Late Night Out

Thursday nights are always Bob's all-you-can-eat free buffet at TQ2. It's basically a certainty that from 7:00 to 10:00, every Thursday, you can find me there.

However, tonight, midnight rolled around, and I was still quite firmly ass-planted, having an interesting convo with my lady friend, Amina. Even with the late hour, and the subsequent need to be awake in the morning, going home was not even remotely interesting.

Therefore, I took what ammounts to about a once-a-year opportunity, and went and picked up Oad (Lolo was invited as well, but actually had a 2:00 a.m. audition to go to) and brought her back to TQ2 with me for drinks and chit-chat. After that, it was off for a game of snooker at our favorite pool hall, before calling it an evening at 2:30 a.m.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Most of my spare time lately has been spent studying.

I've really picked up on my Thai language studies lately, adding over 100 new words (trying to add, that is) to my vocabulary. Steve from TQ2 is my role model in so many ways, and his exceptional fluency in Thai is something I'm pretty envious of.

Right now, I can say about... oh... 75% of the things that come to mind based on my vocabulary, but my word choice, pronunciation, and grammar is very limited (incorrect), and only after listening to me for a little while (getting used to what is obviously a bad accent, and my "odd" manner of speaking) can a Thai person grasp what I'm saying.

Additionally, my word recall is verrrrry slow, so my ability to blurt out sentences lickety-split (and more importantly, my ability to comprehend sentences spoken to me) is quite lacking. Granted, this is something that only comes with time and familiarity, so I'm not fretting about it.

I've also been reading The History of Laos, which is — so far — pretty much the history of Thailand. It's definitely something you have to have a real interest in if you want to stay awake for any length of time. However, there is no denying that knowing who Khun Borom, King Mengrai, and King Ramkamhaeng are is as important in Thailand as knowing who Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln are in America.

That reminds me... I have to finish reading the legend of Phra Aphai Mani, one of Thailand's most famous stories.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wag The Dog

Apparently there is going to be a 2-part documentary which takes a bit of a different track on the events leading up to 9/11 that is going to be aired on ABC this coming Sunday and Monday.

Basically, from all the liberal bloggers raising hell about it, the documentary seems to say "here is why 9/11 happened: The previous administration (i.e. Bill Clinton... and Monica Lewinsky) missed all the opportunities to nip this Al-Quaida thing in the bud when they had the chance."

Conservative bloggers, of course, are whooping and hollaring in some sort of vindication for the bombs that never fell, the attacks that were never launched, and the killings that never came about.

Of course, what where those same people saying back in 1998 when all of this killing would have been so helpful? What happened every time Clinton did actually drop a bomb to try to stop terrorism?

"Wag the dog! Wag the dog!"

Rainy Wednesday

It's a boring workday here at the Wrinkle residence, Thailand.

Yesterday, the air conditioner repair fellows came to fix the air conditioner in the master bedroom, as every morning, after about 8 hours of operation, the air conditioner mounted high up on the wall would release a cascade of water onto the floor. I am usually asleep when it does this, and my maid always comes in at about 6:00 a.m. and quietly cleans the bedroom and bathroom before I wake up, and always mops up the water before I ever even notice... so it went on for what may have been several weeks before I even figured out what was going on.

So the air conditioner guys came and fixed whatever the problem was. Unfortunately, according to the air conditioning repair rule book, if you fix one problem, you have to leave another one in its place. Therefore, when I turned on the AC last night before going to bed, it made a terrible racket... like a sewing machine.

So, the guys came back and fixed that problem today. Of course, true to form, now the moveable louver on the front of the AC is stuck in one position. Since this is a problem I can actually live with, and the next problem (once this one is solved) may not be, I have decided not to call for another fix-a-problem / make-a-problem visit from the AC repair crew.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Monday Off

I got a 1,400 baht phone bill. For somebody who doesn't have a phone connected to the wall, I sure to get expensive phone bills. I somehow managed a repeat of the pinhead maneuver of connecting a dial-up internet connection via Bangkok. Sheesh.

So after going to the phone company and finding out that bit of wonderful news, it was off to CarreFour where I bought a home theater system. Not the TV... just the DVD player and speakers. Curing Pot of his cartoon addiction by giving him reasonable entertainment alternatives is my reason for this purchase, and that's that. Now, I think he desparately needs a 48-inch flat panel television. I'll have to get that for him sometime soon. Poor little guy. Well... Anything I can do to help.

Pui found they were selling 9-baht (25-cent) underwear at CarreFour, and bought 15 pair. Now she is downstairs with all the neighborhood ladies showing off her purchase.

I don't know why... but I always forget to pay the rent at this new house. I suppose it is mostly because my landlord, Martin, never stops by to say "where's the rent?" Instead, he waits until I am ridiculously late in paying, and then stops by and drops off a receipt (for the rent I have not yet paid) as what probably qualifies as the most polite reminder of unpaid debt in the history of the world.

Thailand has stopped selling Schweppe's Soda Manao (a lemon-lime, Fresca-type soda), which was a favorite of mine. So now I'm working my way through the 100-or-so beverages in the cooler at 7-11 trying to find something else to drink.

So today is Labor Day in America... paid holiday. Might as well take it since there is no work for me to do at my company. All the regular accounts are empty. Well, maybe I'll work in the not-so-familiar accounts today and save the 8-hours of vacation time I would have otherwise used, and save them up for future trips. As it is, I have a weekend in Viet Nam coming up in October, a weekend in Chiang Mai in November, a weekend in Ko Chang in December, and a full week in Cambodia just after New Year. There also is probably going to be a weekend up with Pui's family sometime in the next 2 months as well.

Free Sunday

Everyone was out to the beach on Sunday. We took a boat out to Ko Larn and ate steamed crab and bobbed about in the warm water. Further description would be superfluous and abusive to those not lucky enough to live here.I had a fun experience upon arriving back from the island: Rick likes to talk about how he first lived in Pattaya back in 1970, when it was just a fishing village. "I used to have a big place just off of Walking Street... I had a pool in the living room with a waterfall... just a short walk to the beach."

As we were pulling back into port, Rick once again pointed out this mystical place, saying, "It was just behind that building with the jet ski sign. The place is still there, but is all decrepit and condemned."

Well, I still wanted to see it.

So we drove back, through, and behind, and found ourselves in this abandoned site where dozens of migrant families were now living. Rick barely recognized the place from the outside, but once we walked inside... well... ...if ever there was a swimming pool, with a waterfall... in a living room... this would be the place.

It was funky: Like finding a legendary lost city (on a very small scale, granted), or some other archeological discovery. The fact that it was once so opulent (literally "the most expensive place in Pattaya at the time," claims Rick) and is now a place for Khmer migrant workers to dry their clothes, makes it all the more fun. Yet, ta-daa: There it is. Walk in and take a look. Way cool.

After that, it was off to TQ2 for boss Steve's birthday party. It was packed to the rafters with all of my friends. There was some crazy farang girl walking around wearing these dorky angel wings, getting in everybody's way. Somebody needs to slap her.Bob served the food as per usual, and everyone got covered with glow-in-the-dark paint. Stan won a bottle of vodka (as per usual), and the heavy-metal soundtrack got everyone dancing.

It was, all in all, a great goddumm day.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Out Shopping

After blocking all of the cartoon channels on the TV set to cure Pot of his addiction (though to be honest, I did leave The Disney Channel, since that has only occasional cartoons), I realized that the poor kid needed something to do with his time besides lying on the floor and jerking spasmodically muttering "Fah-lin-stones... Fah-lin-stones" over froth-speckled lips.

So, I took Pot shopping for toys, of course. I realized that he has a crappy stash of brightly-colored plastic things to play with.

Fortunately, as any adult in Pattaya will tell you, toys here in Thailand are dirt cheap. I spent $10 and basically loaded 3 shopping bags full of stuff. There was a big ol' truck, a ball, a sword and shield, a bunch of coloring books, an Ultraman outfit (no, I don't know who that is either), and plastic tennis raquets and balls. Pot's girlfriend Sara (Rick's daughter), is back in town, so he specifically picked out that last toy as a "two-can-play" option.

I also bought Pot a new swimming vest (for $40... sheesh) since his old one had pretty much had it. Hopefully the higher price means that Pot will get more than 40 or 50 hours of swim time out of it.

Thai Language Lesson

One of the worst things you can call a Thai girl is "golden flower."

Yes indeedy, my favorite web site is It even has all the swear words. (Type in "vulgar" in the lookup box to get a hearty sample.)

I'm Back

Just thought you should know. I'm back.

Something isn't a hobby unless you can walk away from it whenever you damn-well please. (Although Bob and my mother constantly mentioning my (non-updating) blog every time they talked to me did hasten my return. They represent about half of my regular readers.)

Well, there hasn't been much news lately anyway. Bob had a little stroke and was in the hospital for a couple of days, but he knows that already. I found a new stretch of beach here in Pattaya that is my world's favorite. (Went with Justin, Rat, Pui, and Pot.)

Yes: Notice, we are under trees. Not a drop of sunlight hitting us. The water is only a few yards away. Also, unlike Bang Saray, there is no road here... only beach-front mansions.

The Pattaya Secrets web-board opened up their new bar/hotel, becoming one of the few businesses on earth that was a website before it was a real place. (I expected a standard little hole-in-the-wall operation with some cement tables outside, plastic stools inside, and perhaps a TV playing football matches, a minature snooker table and a rattan magazine stack filled with outdated copies of "Pattaya Today". Instead, what I found was a zillion-baht bar done up as nice as any in Pattaya, with fancy lights, comfy bar stools, flat-screen panel televisions, and all the other trimmings. (Better photos, I'm certain, can be found on their website.)I finally banned cartoons from my house, because Pot is an addict. Yes, of course, I was a bit of a cartoon addict when I was a kid too, but back in my day, we didn't have 24-hour cartoon channels to turn us into zombies at any time of the day... I only had perhaps 2 or 3 hours of afternoon cartoons per day after school, plus 5 or 6 maximum on Saturday mornings. All Pot does is watch old Hanna Barbara re-runs for hours on end. Hell: He doesn't even have the sound turned up... just watches the pictures. (Yes... the cartoons are in Thai.) In fact, I wouldn't even say he watches the cartoons as much as he "basks" in them, absorbs them like vitamin E from a sunbeam.

So I programmed the television to skip the 3 (yes, 3) 24-hour cartoon channels. Now, Pot is literally going through withdrawal symptoms.

Pot also made friends with the look-krueng kids who live in the big house across the street. That was until Pot's mother, Pui, heard how rude they were, when they leveled a stream of swear words and insults at their own mother while Pui was standing right there. Now Pot can't visit with them. Well, they're Dutch. It's probably some hyper-liberal European parenting technique. Heheh.

We finally found a school for Pot as well: The Buripha School about 3 miles away. I originally wanted Pot to go to The Regents School, but $10,000 per year for kindergarten is a little much. Maybe when he is older and I'm paying money for real differences in education I'll send him there. As it is, the way that I look at it, I would be shelling out about $250 per nursery rhyme.

Well, that's a quick update.

Oh... one final thing: Justin also has his own website, Two Stone Traveller. He has photos of our trip to Laos on it, and (although you will have to search your way through about 100 photos) one single photo of yours truly. No: No hints.