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Welcome to Hell

I have recently finished reading “Welcome to Hell – One man’s fight inside the Bangkok Hilton” by Colin Martin. What a shocking book! It’s the story of an Irishman who invested money in a bogus company in Thailand, lost almost half a million USD, and later on killed (in self defense) the crook’s bodyguard. He was sent to Bangkok Hilton, one of the most dangerous prisons on Earth.

When I turned the last page of the book I felt overwhelmed by the injustice that was done to this man. He served eight years in two Thai prisons, one from Chonburi and the other from Bangkok, where he was witness to things no man should ever see: beatings, humiliations, rapes, and the degradation of human beings. He was tortured by the police, beaten by the guards and other prisoners, and was refused medical treatment by the doctors. He lived in unimaginable conditions, and had to pay for all his toiletries, food, and all other items of personal use. He had to bribe guards and prison captains to be allowed to play in the prison football team or to practice muay thai.

He was convicted to more than 13 years in prison after a trail that can only be described as a joke. The prosecutor’s main witness died during the trial, but his statement was accepted by the judge. The body of the man Martin had allegedly murdered was never found. The knife he allegedly used to kill the victim was never presented to the judge, just a photocopy of a rusted knife. He was refused his right to appear in front of the judge in a suit, and was obliged to wear prisoner’s clothes and chains around his legs. His lawyers constantly asked for huge commissions and money to bribe the judges! His Thai wife stole the money his family sent for bail, and when he was finally free, she literally sold their son to him.

His sentenced was reduced after the Supreme Court of Justice from Thailand admitted that the prosecutor had questionable evidence, but still the Supreme Court THOUGHT that he had killed a man, although they COULDN’T PROVE anything! But Martin was strong. He fought and fought until, after 8 years of incarceration in Thailand, in January 2005, he was set free and, with the help of his friends, retuned to England to start anew.

It is a book that marked me profoundly.

Safety first?

Bangkok is famous for the lack of safety measures, especially in constructions!

The two guys in the picture were hooking up an antenna on top of a five-story building. They had no harness nor hadn’t taken any other safety precaution that might have saved their lives in case one of them slipped and fell. Luckily, it didn’t happen!

What could it be?

Is it what I think it is?

The picture was taken last month in Lumpini Park! Or, was it at Lumpini Open Zoo? I really can’t remember!


Dogs everywhere

There are so many stray dogs in Thailand! I have been living and working in this country for 5 years now, but even I am sometimes shocked by the hoards of stray dog that roam the streets of Bangkok (and, as a matter of fact, any other province that I’ve been to).

The reasons why the Thais accept these dogs on the streets are varied, but I tend to believe that it is due to their King’s love for Thong Daeng, a street dog adopted by His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej (the world’s longest-reigning monarch). The Buddhist religion has a word to say into this matter, too. Being a religion of peace, Buddhism forbids the killing of any living thing, thus, by extension, stray dogs can’t be euthanatized, only sterilized. How many dogs are being sterilized in Bangkok every year, I don’t know! But I bet not too many!

Always in a hurry!

Always in a hurry!

Bangkok is known as a South East Asian metropolis where people are always on a rush. In order to keep everybody moving (and not stuck in traffic as it often happens!), the administration of the Capital tries to provide us with all sorts of means of transportation. While I was living in Tonburi, I often used the boat to cross Chao Phraya River after getting off the BTS at Saphan Taksin. The guy in charge with securing the boat near the pier was quite a stunt man!!!