Daily Archives: December 28, 2005

My Own Top Three Thai Blogs

A beautiful sunset on the holiday island of Koh Samet

Living upcountry in Thailand, X’mas was just another day and I didn’t indulge in any merry festivities, which anyway, were not…..happening around town. In fact, I think the closest I got to a feel of X’mas was being served by a couple of naughty looking Beer Singha Promotion girls dressed-up in some short kinky Santa Clause outfit at the Beer Garden just down the road.

The Thais may not exactly celebrate X’mas that much, but New Year (1st Jan) is another splendid time of the year for the locals to throw a wild party. Great country this is, Thailand! Just import lots of other national holidays and celebrate them too! Halloween? Valentines? X’mas? Chinese New Year? Bring them all in, wonderful excuse to have a mad party, get drunk and gamble on cards every month! And you wonder why I don’t go back to England!

The response so far to my own top ten has been pretty decent and I’m delighted that some of the readers have taken time and wandered back to look at some of me older stuff. So here it is, my own final… top three blogs of the year:

3) Thai Ladyboys

And I am not joking! You be may wondering how I had the darned nerve to stick this in the top three – well that’s pretty easy to answer. A lotta unique viewers get through to thai-blogs every day through search engines and definitely Google. If you thought that key-words for finding ‘stevesuphan’s blogs’ were in the form of ‘Teaching in Thailand’, ‘Getting Married in Thailand’ or ‘Saucy Thai singers’ then I am afraid to inform you – NO! You would be amazed to the amount of readers we get coming here everyday looking for info on ‘Thai Ladyboys’.

Search phrases along the lines of ‘Ladyboy’ probably outrank even those other two hits of mine along the lines of ‘Dos and Don’t’s/ Thailand’ and ‘Thai girls’. On top of this, a myriad of readers latched on to this blog of mine and sent it whizzing around to other blogsites. It was the first ‘actual proper’ blog of mine that really punched readership power. Love it or hate it, it tells a variety of witty stories about the one and only…..Thai Ladyboy. Even a couple of serious points were mentioned too, to even things up. I think the blog offers good insight for newbie foreigners interested in Thai Ladyboys. It is a fun blog and not to be taken seriously!

2) Down and out……in Cambodia

This blog told of the horrifying ghastly saga of an extremely hunfortunate Hungarian going by the name of….Mr Tammas. From just needing to pop over the Cambodian border to renew his Thai visa, the poor fellow very soon had his passport, credit cards and cash stolen by a heartless razor-sharp thief. Money and passportless, Mr Tammas is soon stuck behind bars in a Khmer cell with a thousand cockroaches and smelly inmates for company. Finally arriving in Phnom Penh, he was bitterly aghast at the lack of diplomatic relations with the former east-bloc country and left to clean the floors and make ghoulash at one of the capital’s lousiest guesthouses.

Now, how the heck did this shortish blog managed to reach number two in a list of 50+ blogs? The answer? – word of mouth. Just a few weeks after that blog I went and joined up with a few of the ex-pat community here in Suphanburi only to here the likes of “Hey man, that was one gruesome story about that Hungarian guy, our Dutch friend had to go to Poipet for his visa run yesterday and was petrified!”. Geez, the sunfortunate saga of Mr Tammas had spread! Another Farang from Angthong had given all his Farang buddies in that province the awful lowdown on the fate of Mr Tammas! And if that wasn’t enough, I was at my favourite bar/restaurant ‘DDM2’, a Korean gaff located near the National Gallery one day and bumped into an English backpacker who had read a couple of my blogs. The backpacker asked “Do you know whatever happened to that hunfortunate Hungarian who had his passport nicked in Cambodia?” He went on to tell me that he had spread the story like wildfire at the beach resort he was staying at in Koh Phang-ngan! How many others spread the story story of the hapless Hungarian….i just do not know

Of course, Mr Tammas – never existed, I completely made the story up.

Having lived in Cambodia, I heard a variety of different stories about – being banged up in a Khmer cell, lack of diplomatic relationship, passports stolen and corrupt officials. And too right, there was a down-and-out Bahtless Farang working as a cleaner, tout and cook at this guesthouse I was staying at for a while! Stevesuphan’s nastiest wind-up of the year and fortunately….the only one!

1) Dos and don’ts of dating…. a ‘proper’ Thai girl

Without a doubt my top blog of the year. It didn’t just lead me to blogging for thai-blogs in the first place but it set a precendent for future Dos and Don’ts/Thailand blogs. Even though the blog never did make the main page here at thai-blogs, it caught the attention of various other bloggers who thought the blog was decent enough for them to post themselves. Permission sought or not. Due to referers, the blog still brings in unique visitors til this day. At the forums here, it also ended up as one of the most popular threads of the year.

The response to this blog from folks around the world and especially Thai readers was postively and completely unexpected. Received a host of comments and even e-mails from Thai girls and some Farang guys thanking me for the advice and my appreciation of ‘proper’ Thai girls. Ironically, the only negative feedback I got was from a couple of Farang guys who informed me to the likes of…“I don’t need your advice on how to date a Thai girl, if she doesn’t like me for who I am then she can bugger off!” In fact a lot of the support for this blog from Thai girls read exactly like……this kind of attitude.

‘Dos and don’ts of dating a Farang Guy’ is also one of my most read blogs, and is a witty but slightly serious insight into how us Farang men are seen through the eyes of a Thai girl. Not just Farang-bashing, I served up a bit of revenge in ‘Dos and don’ts for Thais going to Farangland’

Sees yous all soon after the hols….



It is more than two years since I set foot for the first time in the “Jurassic village” of Ban Naudom,.

It actually seems yesterday to me when, as the first man that who walked the moon, I put my number 43 shoes on these very much rural roads of Thailand.

Of this very first moment I will never forget when a lady, who now I know being PaToo, started shouting “falang falang” once she saw me wandering with a drowsy face on these dusty roads.
Then my slow introduction to picturesque characters on which I sooner or later will have to devote one of these writings, visceral, natural, raw but undoubtedly genuine people.

One of the people who mostly struck me was not, however, one of these characters but a boy that sat on an old and rusty wheelchair.

The first time I saw him he was “parked” in Mrs. Peang’s garden. I was completely astonished when I saw that nearly one quarter of his head was missing, his cranial cap was totally deformed.
In my 15 years as social worker I have seen every kind of handicap but never I have seen something like this.

The boy wasn’t speaking, wasn’t moving, was not able to eat alone, actually he was like a small baby even though he could have been about 20 years old. He was dressed in orange clothes same as those worn by the monks, and this fact made me rather curious.

Then I discovered that Kon, this the young man`s name , is one of the four children of Porntip, who is one of my wife’s many sisters.
I consider Porntip a very beautiful woman, her face burnt by the sun, smoothed by the
wind, ruined by the daily work in the paddy fields and with an permanent smile which, however, is not enough to conceal a sense of sadness that can be noticed in her eyes.
If Issarn should have a face it shall be Porntip’s, the image of strength and brittleness of this woman that never stops working for the ones she loves.

Pornitp, four children, a grand son, an absent husband mostly devoted to drinking and women, always struggling with money and from dawn to dusk curved on the rice fields for almost her whole existence but a dream; that Kon could become a Monk

Kon, in fact, was her jewel, a rarity to these latitudes, he was not drinking, not gambling, he was a very quiet boy who decided to become a Buddhist monk for his whole life, not just for 3 month as is a tradition here.
In fact young men they live in the Temple for 3 months “for making merit” then when they go back to “normal” life, they recover the time lost in drinking and other kind of “Sanook”.

No, Kon, would have become Monk for all of his life, it was his deep choice. He did begin the school that would have helped him to fulfil his dream, he was a successful student giving much joy and satisfaction to his mother.
But fate decided otherwise. Four years ago, while he was returning to his temple with other 10 young aspirants young monks, the pick-up truck in which they were travelling fell off the road to avoid a drunken motorbike driver.
Kon hit his head and was severely injured, another young monk died while others 5 young men were seriously injured as well.

Kon was paralyzed for about a year lying in a hospital bed and artificially fed until he was brought back home. Everything had been erased from his brain, he completely lost his memory and he could not speak anymore.
Many injections kept him alive, kept him tied to the slender thread of his existence but were some traditional massages which brought life back his feelingless body.
Massage after massage, life slowly began to pulse again in his body.

When I first saw him two years ago, two years after the accident, I could not help but feel sorry for him and his family. With my western “rationality” I did think that he would have been better off dead, his poor family was not having enough money for his cares, “What can they do?” I thought.
At that time I wasn`t yet knowing that money is not the only mean of care.

In these two years I had a reality check, I humbly acknowledged how wrong I was.
I did observe and admired the sufferings of Porntip, the way she cared and attended his son, sometimes I also have brought them to Surin’s hospital (at about a hour from the village) where they would learn new therapy exercises.
I have seen Keaw, his small little sister, helping him and I have literally seen his nearly lifeless body blossoming again into a young man who now can walk (with the help of a walker), eat alone and even speak a bit.

Every time we meet in the small and dusty road of Ban Naudom, we both bring our right
hand to our forehead (imitating the army salute) and reciprocally we say “khapom”,
greeting each other.

When I am in my house working sometimes I can hear a “metallic” noise and I think:
“This is Kon, passing by with his walker.”

He now walks very often in the village’s roads, always dressed with his orange dress the colour
of his dream, he sometimes comes to my house to collect some old newspapers, empty bottles and cans that he then resells.
He never sits, always walking aroud, followed by the smile and the sad eyes of his mother, and sometimes with Kaew.
He has begun, once more, to learn to read and write, from my room window sometimes I can see him in Mrs. Peang’s tiang making reading exercises.

Kon’s history is probably similar to that of many other souls who came to this world
to suffer, symbolic however of the many unanswered questions about the meaning of life.
As usual there will be no proper answer but in learning Kon’s story I have found what is for me the essence of the Buddhism.

We are legitimate to wonder:
“If God exists (and I do believe so) why He allows these things to happen?
Why He allows that some young monks have to face such pain in their lives?
Why a brilliant young man such as Kon and not one of the so many stray young men who are drifting away in these desolate place?
Is this Divine justice? ”

And on the other hand, why monks should be “protected” from God?
Why nothing shall happen to them while it would be o.k. if something will happen to the ugly, bad and dirty ones?
Are we really thinking that there is a God up there that playing in such a way with our lives?
Isn’t this a bit too much childish?

Easy and reassuring to think this way but frankly to me it sounds really absurd.
I don’t believe that God is deciding our destiny, I believe that our fate is in our hands and in our actions.

God may show us the road, may send us some hints that we shall be able to recognize and
listen but the final choice I am certain is always ours.
How many of us went close to despair, close to fall in any kind of abyss at least once in our lifetime?
And then found the strength to rise mysteriously once again?
It happened surely to me and quite recently too.

Destiny? Karma? Once more is the only explanation for me.
Life is made of suffering, we are born in the suffering of birth and we exhale our last breath, mostly, in the physical pain of death.
Are we born to pay for past mistakes? Possible.
The suffering that life brings us has however a sense if we try to understand it, if we try to understand that life is not only and shall not only be a material experience.
If we allow our life to be a material experience only, then for sure we will not be able to understand and face pain and suffering but if we try to raise to another level, to a spiritual aspect then everything may be different.
The pain and the suffering will become part of a wider, vast and global experience.
I see life as a “Mandala” (I know many told the same much longer before me!), whose parts taken one by one have not much sense while in their whole togetherness they take a wonderful and beautiful shape.
As a “Mandala” life is fragile, a light breath of wind is enough to disperse it everywhere and as a “Mandala” it takes great patience and devotion to compose it.
But is surely worth it, and after having watched Kon and Porntip putting together once again the “puzzle” of their lives I really am certain about this!

Their lesson is priceless for me. With patience, acceptance, pain, joy and love and without other means that were not these they have succeeded in recomposing a mosaic that seemed totally wrecked.
A lesson for me and for everybody, to help us understand that in our existence the more precious things are the simple and essential ones and a further confirmation that man is unfortunately getting far away from the true sense the life, surrounded as he is by all useless and superfluous things

Our capitalist society has clearly altered and changed the common perception of life.
This “fast-food”, “fast-everything” society made us believe that life is like a perfect instant and digital photo, with all colours and details in perfect order, everything zoomed and in perfect shades.
An illusion that is making us unprepared when, sooner or later, we will be forced to realise that it is not like this, that life is not perfect, life is impermanent, that life is intrinsically filled with suffering and that things can also go wrong for us and not only to others.

Two years of life in Asia have brought me back to this basic reality.
I now see our existence for what really is: a difficult, complicated and jagged puzzle, mosaic or “Mandala”.
A puzzle to be completed with extreme patience, with no hurry, with love and
acceptance, with the understanding that every single part also the most meaningless or
apparently ugly it is important and vital, that without that small and ugly part our mosaic
would be never complete.
A mosaic to be completed with the understanding that will be enough a meaningless breath of
wind to destroy it and that this will mean nothing else that another beginning will be taking place in this eternal cycle.
Then again with patience, without hurry but with love we will start once again to put all pieces together and to form our “personal” Mandala one more time and who knows for how many times shall we repeat this?

How will be the future of Porntip and Kon?
Nobody knows, I only wish that Kon can continue to complete his personal “Mandala” and I wish that Porntip can keep on smiling and that the vein of sadness in her eyes will, one day, disappear.

Ban Naudom, Thailand, August 1st 2548