Thursday, May 31, 2007

Daily Report: Kicked Back And Relaxed

Was a bit sick on Monday with a cold. Monday night through to Tuesday morning was a bitch for certain. All this week work in my regular accounts has run out by noontime, and the afternoon hours have been lax.

Bought the fourth book in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan... yet another 1,000 pages of SciFi/Fantasy empty calories. (I did finish reading "The Quiet American" in between though, if that's any literary consolation.)

Today was Buddha's birthday, otherwise known as "Vesak" or in Thai, "Khao Phansa" — the most holy day in Buddhism. No alcohol is sold in the Kingdom today, and all the bars are closed. Therefore, Stan had Mark and myself over for dinner and drinks tonight. (We also watched "Mythbusters" on The Discovery Channel.)

Republican Pols Surprised At Immigration Anger

For 6 years now, America's politicians and news/opinion organizations have been telling Americans that the U.S. borders are not secure; that dangerous terrorists of all kinds lurk just over the horizon... giving you their personal promise that nuclear Armageddon will crash down upon suburb shopping malls everywhere should America choose not to be properly frightened by their warnings. With that oft-repeated threat echoing in the wind, Washington managed to whip up a xenophobia the likes of which America hasn't seen since the Irish potato famine.

Quickly taking advantage of the national mood, conservatives everywhere started linking "terrorism" and "secure borders" with "illegal immigrants". (If Julio from Ciudad Juarez can make it to Dallas, then why can't Hassam from Iran?) Suddenly, border fences were being built (to stop the terrorists, naturally), and armed vigilante groups were patrolling parts of the border where the government was stretched too thin. The Republican rallying cry (sensing a "red meat" issue) quickly went from "secure our borders" to "no amnesty for illegals" as conservative talk show hosts brought out examples of illegal immigrant malfeasance, illegal immigrants draining social welfare resources, illegal immigrant criminals crowding our jails, and even illegal immigrants waving Mexican flags at protest marches.

Now, after all that work the conservatives did of getting "True Americans" hot and bothered about illegal immigrants, the Republicans (stuck at the "yeah, but whatcha gonna do about it?" point of the debate) come up with a plan of "amnesty for illegals" (more or less), and are just so surprised at the anti-immigrant sentiment their immigration plan is facing. Oopsies. Well, you made this bed, guys, have fun lying in it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Live Blogging High Court Verdicts

3:37 P.M. The high court clears the Democratic party of breaking election law because the election law ceased to exist when the coup leaders threw out the constitution. Can't charge people with laws that have been thrown out, now can you?

4:13 P.M. Now the high court is saying that the suit against the Democratic Party is actually still valid because "the alleged crime had already been committed." Oh. That makes sense.

Two other rulings against the Democrats are that the suit was filed properly, and that some procedural point that the Democrats complained about was moot. God, this is dull. I'm switching over to CSPAN-5 for some action.

4:27 P.M. Finally! Some real excitement! Two guys are standing in front of the courthouse holding a "mock-up constitution-carrying tray".
Waranchai says this tray carries the Constitution of BE2550. He says he wants the Constitution and the election, not the dissolution of political parties.
Two protestors at this early stage! The tension is so thick, you could cut it with a knife. Bangkok hangs on a precipice, ladies and gentlemen.

4:55 P.M. Prime Minister gives an interview and says that the situation remains normal, and reports that provincial governors report all is calm in the country. Guess those 13,000 troops really weren't necessary after all, eh? Well, sometimes you plan for a million angry protestors and only get a couple of guys with a "constitution tray". It happens.

5:26 P.M. The court rules that the Democrat Party is not guilty of inventing the phrase "Thaksin Regime" when advising people not to vote in the April 22 elections... because you know... inventing phrases is... well... somebody else said it before they did, so that's all there is to that. Good news, eh?

5:37 P.M. The head of the Democrat party is found not guilty of strong-arming small political parties into boycotting the April elections.

5:42 P.M. The court of Jil's opinion has ruled that the last 3 hours of talking was a complete waste of my time... except for making Homer graphics... that was fun. The Democrat party seems to be fully cleared of any accusations against it. (In case you're wondering, this means that we are only halfway through the verdict, since the next political party, the Thai Rak Thai party, now has to have it's verdicts delivered.) Hopefully somebody will be guilty of something before the end of the day.

6:01 P.M. Supporters of the Democrat party outside the courthouse are cheering because now they know that they have no reason to get the snot beaten out of them by 13,000 bored troops with nothing to do. Don't know what happened to the "Constitution Tray" guys. They sounded fun.

6:25 P.M. That's it. If I had known it was going to be this boring, I never would have tried live-blogging this p.o.s. My life is more valuable than this and I've got better things to do... such as eating dinner. Sorry folks... but you're on your own from this point out.

The party of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, called Thai Rak Thai, has been disbanded and all of its 111 top executives are banned from politics for five years for "wrongdoings that have negative impacts on democracy system of the country", primarily stemming from the party's efforts to influence smaller political parties in regards to the April 2006 elections. None of this was unexpected. No demonstrations, protests, marches, or anything of the sort. The end.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thailand Ready For Unrest As Court Ruling Comes

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont
says the Thai government won't
tolerate any unrest if/when Thailand
bans certain political parties today.
Bangkok is braced for protests when a court decides whether to disband certain political parties for election irregularities. The political parties themselves have called for there to be no protests, and a quiet admonition from His Majesty, the King of Thailand, seems to have calmed the waters even further. The King stated that no matter what the court's decision, it would be bad for Thailand.

Still though, the Thai government... any Thai government... is never one to brook dissent, so 13,000 troops and police are on call if there should be any commotion.

Shooting On Third Road

I use the number of news reports I read as my only source, but violent and gang-related crime in Pattaya City seems to have gone down substantially compared to a year ago. There used to be about one gang-related shooting per week, and now that is down to one a month, I would guess. Reports of crimes of all sorts seem to be lower compared to last year. Reports of violent crimes involving foreigners also seem to be very low. Apparently the Pattaya police initiatives are having some effect.

Still though, if it is after midnight, stay away from Pattaya Third Road... especially between Pattaya South and Pattaya Central roads. If violent crime or gun-related violence occurs in Pattaya, that is the most likely place, and most likely time for it to happen.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Daily Report #1791

Since today is Memorial Day in America, there was not enough work for me to bother doing. Therefore, I put in today, Monday, and yesterday as vacation days so that I will at least get paid for them.

I have 110 hours of vacation pay stored up, and once I reach 120, it stops accruing altogether. Therefore, it was just as well to use the vacation time... or lose it.

Instead, I watched the movie "The Last King Of Scotland" (most excellent), and "28 Weeks After" (so-so), napped, read my book, and just lazed about.

Be Careful Around ATMs In Pattaya

On my way to dinner last night, I stopped by an ATM. I noticed a Thai guy standing about 7 or 8 feet away from the ATM, and as I always do when seeing somebody standing close to an ATM I'm about to use, I give them a good hard look so that they know that I've noticed them.

After receiving my cash, putting it in my wallet, and getting my card back, I turned around to see the Thai guy standing about 4 or 5 feet away from me. I watched him as I walked back to my motorcycle, and he kind of hovered around the ATM machine for a minute, looking confused, and then started to walk back to his motorcycle, which was parked close to mine. I sat on my bike and stared at him the entire time. He knew I was watching him, and I waited for him to drive off.

Anyway, when you go to ATMs in Pattaya, watch your back, be aware of who is around you. Avoid using ATMs when nobody else is around. Avoid using ATMs late at night. If you have somebody with you, have them stand behind you to keep a watchful eye. I have a suspicion that this type of crime... snatching money from foreigners standing at ATMs... is going to skyrocket in the near future. It is, unfortunately, a profitable and comparably easy way to steal money.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Daily Report: Sunday Once-A-Week Fun

I slept in a little bit this morning, but got to work at a reasonable time. I had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, then took a nap. There was no work left in my regular accounts, and I felt lazy, so I took the afternoon off.

In the evening it was out with Pui, Pot, and Maid Go to Viantiane Restaurant (off Pattaya South road), which is probably Pattaya's largest restaurant. We only ate the nam-nuong, which I love. Nam-nuong is make-it-yourself wraps, kind of like a Mexican fajita plate: There are little pork sausages, a bit of rice noodle, lettuce, and peanut sauce wrapped in a rubbery flat tortilla-sized rice noodle.

After that Pui, Go, and Pot went grocery shopping while I went off to Lennies (hung out with Bob and Chris for 4 beers), TQ2 (hung out with Alf and Raylene, plus Kung, Poo, Ahm, and Gae for 4 vodka tonics), and then Champion (hung out with Stan, Mark, and Jew for 4 vodka tonics), before calling it a night at 10:30.

Why Do They Hate Us? Here's Why

Pat Buchanan makes a great point:
"Why do they hate us?" So stunned Americans asked, after 9/11, when we learned that across the Arab world, many were saying, "The Americans had it coming."

For a textbook example of why we are hated, consider Gaza and the West Bank. There, a brutal Israeli/U.S.-led cutoff in aid has been imposed on the Palestinians for voting the wrong way in a free election. ...

In March, the World Bank predicted the aid cutoff would lead to a 30 percent fall in average personal incomes among the Palestinians. The bank now considers that prediction "too rosy" and expects "the worst year in the West Bank and Gaza's recent dismal economic history." ...

Query: who, besides al-Qaeda and recruiters of suicide bombers, can conceivably benefit from persecuting the Palestinian people like this? Does President Bush or Condi Rice think the Palestinians will respect an America that did this to their children, after we urged this election, called for Hamas to participate, and preached our devotion to democracy? ...

Terrorism has been described as waging war on innocents to break their political leaders. Is that not a fair description of what we are doing to the Palestinians? No wonder they hate us.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Daily Report: Day At The Beach

I slept in this morning until 9:00, and then woke up and worked on the blog for a while.

In the afternoon, Pui, Pot, Maid Go, Mike, Riza and I went to the best beach in Pattaya (I won't tell you where it is, but you might be able to figure it out from the photos) for the afternoon. I had my usual fare of steamed crab, steamed peanuts, and ice cream, washed down with Coke. The Gulf of Thailand was very warm today... not quite refreshing, but still nice to swim around in.

After the beach, it was back home for a quiet evening. Pui had some friends over for drinks, and I turned in early.

Angry Elephant Bashes Pickup

Just one of those "only in Thailand" stories now: A guy driving along a back road at night, and while making a U-turn, a pissed-off elephant comes out and T-bones his pickup truck. Where I grew up in New York, hitting a deer was the standard "death by wildlife" for vehicles. Thailand's "death by elephant" is certainly much more exciting, you have to admit.

Police To GoGo Bars: No More Nudity

The police department in Pattaya has gathered all GoGo bar managers and owners together and told them that nudity shall never be allowed in GoGo bars in Pattaya again. Those bars caught "showing" will face a 60-day closure. Of course, unlike the previous 49 times the police have had this meeting and reinforced this law, this time they really mean it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Daily Report: Fashion Show

Mem all made up.

Old, chubby, young, lesbian,
or gay, everybody had fun.

Pui cracked up when it
was her turn to strut
her stuff on the catwalk.
Today, I was up and out of bed at 6:00 a.m. with a lord-of-the-apes type yell, sat right down and got straight to work. By noontime, I had done a full day's work.

Pui and Mem have been taking a makeup course at one of the local colleges, and today was graduation, which meant getting all dressed up and having a little fashion show. I decided to go and watch.

Thai people put a lot of emphasis on finishing things, crossing landmarks of time, and making a pagaent out of even the not-so-important events. Therefore, after everybody was made up, there was an hour of nervous-but-proud school girls, housewives, and even a drag queen walking up and down the center aisle (with a little turn and twirl halfway down), and then awards and bouquets were handed out, the local news station shot some footage, the president of the college stopped by to offer congratulations and make a speech, and all of the students were feeling quite proud of themselves.

Then of course, food was served. There is always food served.

By then, it was late afternoon, so we went home, picked Pot up from school, got a quick shower in, and then it was over to Stan's house for cocktails before going out to dinner at A La Turka restaurant. Then, home to bed.

A La Turka Restaurant Review

This evening, it was out to A La Turka Restaurant, which claims to be Thailand's only Turkish restaurant. (I'll take their word for it.)

One award that the restaurant does win, however, is being the most difficult restaurant in all of Pattaya to find, so listen closely: Drive along second road. Just before you get to the Alcazar Show on your right (between Soi 6 and Soi 5), you will see on your left, across the street, the sign for Pattaya Dragon Restaurant. If you turn down into that plaza-type place right under the sign, and follow it back, back, back, you'll come to a large plaza with a nightclub on your right, and a Korean restaurant on your left. Now look back over your left shoulder, and you'll see the restaurant back in the corner. (For a time-sensitive instruction, it is back behind that big shell of a building under construction with the grand stairway in front.)

However, the owner of A La Turka is no dummy: It is also the easiest restaurant in Pattaya to find. Just call Door-2-Door in Pattaya and they will send you a menu, or you can see it here online, and have the food delivered right to your house.

The restaurant is a nice enough place, but nothing too spectacular. The manager is from a young fellow from Yugoslavia, and Stan and I both agree that he is as good a manager as a restaurant could hope to have, giving helpful suggestions, and making sure your meal is enjoyable.

We had red lentil soup with pita bread (120 and 45 baht, respectively) which was a very mild soup and quite nice. The stuffed vine leaves (175 baht) were very tasty, if a tad bit oily... which I didn't mind. The cabbage rolls (155 baht) were perfect though. There was also a beef soup which Stan liked a lot, but I thought was too bland... but nothing a touch of salt wouldn't cure. We also had "Sultan's Cigar Boreks" (160 baht), which is ground beef wrapped in deep-fried dough.

We also had "Harem's Secret Mix Mezze Plate", which was 5 different appetizers on a single plate, for 285 baht. I can't remember the names of the appetizers, but there were panfried vegetables covered in a piquante yougurt sauce, a couple of meat dishes, and some additional cabbage rolls, and an eggplant puree (which I really liked) and marinated onions.

For the main course, there was chicken kebab (265 baht). I'm not a fan of grilled meat without sauce or other accoutrements, so that didn't go over well with me, but it certainly was done properly, and everyone else enjoyed it. There was also Turkish meatballs (255 baht) which were nice, but as a dish, not very exciting, although the marinated onions were nice. (Again: No sauces or things to go with it, so a personal preference.) We also had yougurt kebab (325 baht), which was beef on pita bread covered with yougurt sauce. That was very nice indeed. We had glazed pumpkin for dessert which unfortnately wasn't very good.

Overall, it was a good meal. With wine, drinks, tip, and dessert, the bill was 3,000 baht for 4 people. That was a little bit expensive in my opinion for the amount of food that we got, but the food was in total very good (just skip dessert) and the staff and management are very capable.

Friday Cat Blogging

I don't know what she was thinking either.

Pattaya Immigration Checking Entire Buildings

Pattaya Immigration officials are going door to door now asking to see passports and visas in the hopes of nabbing those foreigners who are in the country illegally. Obviously the large, inexpensive condo buildings in Pattaya (Central Condo, Niran Grand Condo, View Talay) are topping the list.

Expect a visit soon, and always keep your original passport with you whenever you go out. Failure to show your passport will get you arrested.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Daily Report #1790

Morning work went well. However, in the afternoon, all my regular accounts ran out of work, and I was left with work that was nothing but annoying. Therefore, I read my book, and took a swim with Pot.

In the evening (morning time back in America), when my regular accounts started filling up again, I sat back down and did some more work.

Pattaya Then And Now

Seeing that old picture of Pattaya a couple of weeks ago made me want to do a side-by-side comparison of 1968 and 2007, so the other day I rode up to the top of Pratumnak Hill to take an updated photo of Pattaya. Unfortunately, the view from where Mr. SCL901 took his photo 40 years ago is blocked by trees now... so I got as close as I could to the original place... about 300 meters away... and took my updated photo.

Pattaya 1968:Pattaya 2007:(Click on photos for extra-large versions.)


"The average national price of a gallon of gas hit an all-time record high of $3.15 this week. Meaning that wherever you're going this summer, it might be cheaper to mail your car."

Amy Poehler

Misleading People With Poll Statistics

Apparently there is a poll of American Muslims creating quite a stir in the U.S. today. Muslims were asked whether attacks on civilians could ever be justified. Although 78% said it could never be justified, 8% of Muslims in America felt that attacks intentionally aimed at civilians could sometimes be justified, while another 5% said that they could rarely be justified (and 9% didn't know or refused to answer).

This of course is causing a huge brouhaha on the cable news shows about the "fifth column", and the "breeding ground" for terrorists among American Muslims.

Now, at this point in time, before getting all hysterical, wouldn't it make sense to find out what the general American population feels about attacks intentionally aimed at civilians?

Glad you asked. (pdf)

Granted, the fact that only 40% of Muslims (pdf) in America believe that Arabs carried out the attacks of 9/11 is hardly encouraging, and definitely shows a vastly different mindset than the average American... but fair is fair: When it comes to attacking civilians, the American population in general is at least just as bloodthirsty as the Muslim minority within it.

Oh... and the statistic that 47% of American Muslims think of themselves as "Muslim First, American Second" that also has everybody up in arms? How does that compare to the percentage of Americans who think of themselves as "Christian First, American Second"? 42%. In comparison, 47% for a population that is 65% foreign born, and on the whole, much more devout than the American population in general, that's not worth getting worked up over either.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Daily Report: Out For A While

A fine day of work. Maid Go made chicken curry for lunch. After that, I read for a while and then had a nap.

In the evening, it was out to TQ1, Pattaya's oldest gogo bar (founded in 1978) to meet up with Ray. He's heading back to Connecticut tomorrow to do some more work before coming back to Pattaya in the summer. I also met up with Geordan while there, and checked out the girls... quite nice.

Screw Them Before You Bust Them

Not only do the tourist police arrest prostitutes in Pattaya, it looks like they get to partake as well.
The foreign undercover officers made arrangements with the four Uzbek women for sexual services at the Pattaya Inn Hotel, Soi B.J., Walking Street, South Pattaya, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi, Rooms 203, 206 and 207. When the love making sessions were concluded, the prostitutes asked for 2,000 baht each. The undercover representatives gave a total of 8,000 baht to the women, and the police placed them under arrest.
[emphasis added]
Hmm... next thing is that the cops will get to inject the heroin first before they arrest the drug dealers.

Wednesday Pot Blogging

Pot hanging out with his grandfather, eating sweets.


"President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair held their last joint press conference. President Bush says he's gonna miss listening to Tony Blair, because when he closes his eyes, Blair sounds just like C3PO."

Conan O'Brien

Karma Kills Two Criminals

The Thai version of justice (that which seemingly comes from above) was visited upon two Thai guys in Pattaya yesterday.

In the first instance, a lady who was laying injured in a car accident was robbed by a man who then proceeded to get creamed by a car while running away.

In the second instance, a man who is thought to have been stealing electrical wires (live electrical wires, naturally) got crisped for his efforts.

So: A man who robbed a car crash victim becomes a car crash victim, and a man stealing charged electrical equipment becomes charged electrical equipment? Definitely some serious karmic blowback going on.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Daily Report: On The Outside Looking In

Today was a good day overall: I got in a good morning of work, then went out and did some chores, and then came back and did a fair afternoon/evening of work.

Boots (the drug store/chemist) has stopped carrying my favorite soap. That definitely was the second biggest news of the day.

The biggest news of the day is that Thailand is blocking blogs now, obviously in an attempt to stifle political dissent, although it would seem to me that when you get to the point of blocking all blogs, you might as well block the entire internet, China-style.

Anyway, about 95% of my hits come from outside of Thailand, and (for now) I can both post and view my blog (through the template preview), so I'm not worrying about the future of my blog at the moment. (Although what this says about the future of the freedom of the internet in Thailand does have me concerned.)

Tuesday Thai Tutorial #6

Daily Verb"To be able"ได้daì

 "To do"ทำthahm

 "To come"มาmaa

 "To play"เล่นlèhn

Daily Noun"Work"งานngaan


 "Business"ธุระthoô râ

Daily Adjective"Much, many"มากmaàk

 "A little"นิดหน่อยnît hnaăwy



 "Feel cold"หนาวhnaáó

Daily Other Word"Is not"ไม่ใช่maì chaì

 "True"จริง jing


Question Word"Why?"ทำไมthahm mai

Daily Tinglish"Office"ออฟฟิศaăwf fît


The letters for today are , which is a "high PH", as in a P that lets a little more air through the lips than a regular P. The next letter is , which is the letter "Y".

The vowel for today is one that you have seen a lot of: , which is AI. It is written before the consonant that it follows.

The tone marker for today is seen in the word ได้. It's that mark on top. It looks quite a bit like the -ั "A" that we learned about last week to the untrained eye, but it's not. When you see this tone, it is usually making a high tone into a falling tone. (Kind of like the ' from lesson #1.)

The verbs for this week are very important and very common in the daily language: ได้, daì (to be able) is used in just about every instance where you would use it in English, including "may", or "can" as well. "daì maí" means "May I?" and "maì daì" means "No you can't" or "I cannot."

The verb ทำ, thahm (to do/make) is also used in conversation. People ask you "thahm ă rai" which means "What are you doing?" You can answer "thahm aa haán" (I make food) or "thahm ngaan" (I'm working).

The verb มา, maa (to come) is heard a lot in conjunction with "neè" to make "maa neè", or "to come here", as well as the word "jaăk" to make "maa jaăk" or "to come from".

Another word that is very popular is เล่น, lèhn (to play). Thai people use this word a lot more than normal: They put it after any other word, it means to do it in an enjoyable not-too-serious fashion. So you could say, "thahm ngaan lèhn" would mean to work... but not too seriously. When you say "phuùt lèhn" (to talk, to play) it means to tell a joke, or to kid somebody.

The noun เที่ยว, thiaàò (vacation) is another word you hear a lot. Basically any time you go out for fun, you "þai thiaàò" (go on vacation). If you aren't "þai thiaàò", your only other option is "þai thoô râ" (go on business).

Another common word in Thai is มาก, maàk (much, many). It is the official superlative of the language, as in "phuùt maàk" (you talk too much), or "thahm ngaan maàk" (I'm working a lot). If you are talking about a real lot... just say "maàk maàk". Yup: Say it twice, and it means twice as much. The opposite of maàk is นิดหน่อย, nît hnaăwy (a little).

The two words ร้อน, raâwn (hot) and เย็น, yen (cold) are obvious, but be careful to use the word หนาว, hnaáó (to feel cold) when saying how you personally feel... otherwise you are describing your own body temperature, not how you feel.

The word จริง , jing (true) is used just as you would expect. However, if you say the word twice ("jing jing") it doesn't mean doubly true... it means "Really!" As in, "jing jing, maì phuùt lèhn" (Really. I'm not joking.)

Another important word to know is ไม่ใช่, maì chaì (is not). This is the negative of þen (to be). You don't say "maì þen"... you say "maì chaì".

The question word for the day is ทำไม, thahm mai (why?). You put this at the end of a sentence to ask for an explanation. "thahm thahm mai" means "Why do you do this?"

The tinglish words for the day are ออฟฟิศ, aăwf fît (office), and บาร์, baa[r] (bar).