Category Archives: Bangkok Blogs

Yet Another…. New Year’s Vacation

(The backpacker capital of Southeast Asia – Khao Sarn Road)

Well, it was that time of the year again to say good-riddance to my work-desk, dusty computer, English students, wife (ok…only temporarily like..), and iron out a few groovy shirts, pack me backpack, gel me hair and head for The City of Noodle Soups & Nose-jobs, the one and only Bangkok. Planning meanwhile a new years hols that was gonna be one beer-filled time out on the razz.

A short one it was destined to be however, as the wife (Ms Su) had already written up my itinerary in black and bold which clearly stated that I was due on a Bangkok bus to her hometown of Nakhorn Sawan on New Years Day before lunchtime. There was no intentionally forgetting the appointment this year round. Poor-old me I only had two nights, it was already the 30th.

Jumping off the Suphanburi – Bangkok passenger van along Ratchadamri Road near Khao Sarn, I headed for the comfort of a sweet cost-saving room along Samsen Road not too far away. I don’t know about you but if I travel alone, I always prefer guesthouses; and that’s not cause I’m just a Cheap Charlie Scotman, I just enjoy getting the chance to meet new faces. Checking in at 300baht a night with the sun almost setting, it was sure time to sit outside order a beer, squash a couple of cockroaches and tell some Indian vendor that I didn’t fancy buying any nuts from him.

Not too long did I have to wait before my buddie Mr Ed from Pathumthani finally arrived, and that was an excellent excuse to order a couple more bevies ..for the road (to Khao Sarn that is..) and experience for ourselves the sights and sounds of this backpacker haven – renowned for its fisherman pants, hair-beads (and dodgy hair-dos), kebabs, hairy armpits and cocktail buckets. And not forgetting of course, that not such extinct species the ‘scheming tuk-tuk driver’ who loves nothing more than explaining to all the hapless backpacking travelers, something along the lines of “Hey you mister, where you go? I smell you no shower many days. Come on I take you, good soapie bath, good ladies, good massage, good service. I make special for you, you pay two ladies and get one free”.
Should you reject his offer, he’ll advise instead either a 10 baht trip to the Big Buddha Temple (with a tailor shop visit included) or a 250 baht ride to the Jatujak Weekend Market.

For the night of New Years Eve, Khao Sarn was totally packed out and not just with foreigners – in fact, I would say that at least 75% of the crowds hanging around the streets, walking up and down were in fact trendy young Bangkokians. Fortunately, we did go to Khao Sarn for the Countdown and not the Santika Pub along Ekhamai Road were over 50 folk perished that very night in a horrific fire which made world headlines (total is now up to 64). Luckily, I very seldom hit that area of the capital anyway, as I detest paying stupid prices for a small bottle of beer.

It’s like the Tsunami disaster, most of the awfully unfortunate foreign victims who met their end that morning were 1) well-off enough to stay down on the beach 2) family-friendly folk who were up early in the morning for a stroll. As for most of the tourists who survived – well, they were saving money by renting some cheap gaff well away from the beach half-way up a mountain and/or were not up early for a morning stroll along the beach as they had been out on the pish the night previous.

It was an all right New Year’s out, but I was more knackered than actually intoxicated by the time it was for me hit the bed sheets, at the very average hour of something like 3.

Up around mid-day, I found my buddie Ed downstairs sipping his coffee before I had a couple of cups meself. Looking at the watch and realizing that I was already a few hours late for the bus station, I said my cheerios to Ed and jumped in a taxi for the bus terminal and the trip to Nakhorn Sawan. Fortunately, my taxi-driver this time around was a quiet type and not one of those (been extremely common lately) who (as soon as they find out you understand Thai) ramble on non-stop for the entirety of the trip about either how friggin bad the PAD are or what friggin monstrosity Thaskin is.

A few hours late in Nakhorn Sawan, I was quickly picked up by the brother-in-law. Arriving at the wife’s home, it was as it is every year, the huge garden was decorated out, there was a fab home-made buffet and not forgetting the mandatory karaoke (even with a small stage!). Before I even had the chance to sample one of mom’s KFC-like fried chicken legs (often mis-spelled as ‘fried children legs’ in the odd upcountry restaurant) I was being egged on to sing a couple of Thai folk songs I knew by heart. Even though the sound system was as dodgy as my enthusiasm to sing, the family were happy enough with the performance – in fact, I think they were more impressed with my actual return to Nakhorn Sawan after a one year absence. So, after me flimsy karaoke renditions it was time to get back to the table, delve into some very edible snacks and of course swig a couple of bottles of Thailand’s fave drink, Chang Beer.

That night and some of the next day I got the exact kind of questioning I knew was coming “Steve what are you and Su going to do with your plot of land?” or/and “When are you gonna build a house on the land?” What it is, is that mom divided up all her land earlier this year and dished it all out to her children. Pretty jammy like, the wife (in a kind of lucky land draw) picked the best and biggest piece of them all. However, all the pieces of land are like jigsaw pieces, so if we did eventually move to her hometown, I’d be so close to home that singing karaoke would probably turn into a nightly village feature. This year, we’ll give some more thought to building a house there, but for me I’m happy enough where I am at the amount.

It wasn’t back to Bangkok yet, and that next day and night we spent at the fantastic Khlong Lan National Park in Kamphaeng Phet province; a province I had never been to before. Going there is worth a blog on its own, so experiences for that day and night can wait for the next blog.

Upcountry this New Years kinda brought back fond memories of the same time 4 years ago. It was the fun of that New Years that gave me the idea to write my first ever blog for (see A New year Upcountry). Never did I know then that 4 years later I would be making a full-time living out of writing.

Ok, I know it’s a little late, but Happy New Year!

BTW, visit every Monday where I am reposting some of my older blogs from 4 years ago with new ideas and photos. Richard is posting some of his as well as some new blogs about life and culture in Thailand.

A Guide to Beating the Scammers!

Every since started up, the site has been flooded with reports (3 today!) and a lot of them, since they’ve stirred folk’s anger have been popular with commenteers. More so in fact than After receiving so much feed back, we have decided to do something about it and started investigating some of the reports. The first of which last week led to a waitress getting fired from her job on Khao Sarn Rd, she’s moved to another restaurant doing the road, but we’ll be on her shins soon. Using a couple of contacts, we had also decided that for more serious scams, to get the cops in on the action. All reports, of course, have to be verified as true as possible before we’re gonna get involved. The waitress above had, according to colleagues, a history of cheating.

So, just for a bitta practical fun and worthy advice, I’ve decided to write up on some ‘beating the scammers’ hints and also some on ‘scambaiting’ techniques. If you haven’t the faintest to what scambaiting is, it is in fact when you turn the tides and the scammer ends up the victim, serving them right or as they say in Thai ‘Som nam nah’.

There are loadsa variations to how these scams work, but I’ll write the script for the more popular ones

Scambaiting the Scammer 10 Baht Tuk-Tuk driver, Cheating Indian Tailor and Over-Priced ‘Supposed’ Government Jewelry Store.

Now, this is really easy and it can be quite a bitta fun. After your tuk-tuk driver has explained that the Grand Palace is closed due to repair or some other bull story and advises you to visit The Big Buddha or Lucky Buddha Temple for the likes of 10 baht, just say ‘Sounds Great!’ So, after seeing a couple of mediocre temples, your scamming your thieving scruffy tuk-tuk driver will lie to you about getting fuel coupons if you pop into a tailors shop for 10 minutes (he gets commission whether you buy or not but you have to look a bit interested or the tailor will think the tuk-tuk driver is trying to scam him!!). After walking in the shop, the pot-bellied tailored will ask if you would like a coffee, advised him that you would prefer a beer and make it quick. If you’re lucky you’ll get one. Next, when he gives you a set of greasy catalogues to look at, seem interested but explain that you are living on a budget of 250baht a day and anyway you don’t need a suit as you a student back home. Then, just for cheek of it, ask for another beer.

After you get booted out the door, the tuk-tuk driver will be well pished-off that he didn’t get any commission. Next up, he will be saying that to get his ‘fuel coupons’, you will have to pop into a phony ‘government’ jewelry store. On arrival you will be approached by a nice polite womn who will offer you a drink, sure you can get a free beer and perhaps two here. In the meantime, flirt with the girl for fun and keep the tuk-tuk geezer waiting for half an hour while you are having a laugh. Next, while walking around with the sales woman, pretend you’re more interesting in taking her to a discotheque or even a hotel room for a quick bonk than you are of buying gems.

After you leave the shop, your tuk-tuk driver is gonna be completely pished-off! No commission again for bringing in a couple of sex-tourist drunkards. Tell him to get lost and hail over a taxi otherwise you will call the police.

Scambaiting/Beating the Scamming Scummer Airport Taxi Drivers

When walking out of arrivals and some scammer tout comes up to you and offers you an over-priced taxi into town – no meter of course, just say ‘Sounds Great!’ On the way downtown, ask your idiot taxi driver to stop off at a couple of 7-11s (spend 10 minutes each time looking around, wasting his time) and then at a garage for the toilet. All this time, the scammer will be getting pished-off and perhaps put the fair up, if so just reply ‘Sounds Great, no worries Mr Isarn!’. On arrival at the hotel, jump screaming out of the taxi shouting ‘Scammer, refused to turn the meter on!’ The driver is in trouble here, he has nothing over you. If the hotel security guard calls the police in, he could get a heavy fine even arrested. Afraid of this, he will ask how much you wanna pay. Agree to 200 Baht, that will do – if you are in a stinking mood, just refuse to pay altogether. Unfortunately for him, he’s gotta give the tout at the airport who found you a 100 Baht commission.

Beating the Private Jewelry Stores

There are variations to this worst-of-the-worst scam, but I’ll stick to one of the more popular. You have just got out of The Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Erawan Shrine and you are approached by a well-dressed man (may be a woman even). After acting all kind and perhaps taking you for a drink, he then explains to you that he is in the jewelry business and knows where you can buy amazing bargain gems (often to sell for a profit to his brother’s shop in the likes of London). And these scammers are selling big – you invest 50,000 and sell them on to their make-believe partner shop abroad for 70,000!. You end up buying crap quality gems that would cost the fraction of the cost back home. If you are dumb enough to buy/invest in them, go to the tourist cops straight away with your receipt, there’s a chance you’ll get your money back. Sorry, but like one guy who posted on BangkokScams, there is no way you’re gonna get a refund if you find out back home. The Thai Embassy can do nowt on your behalf. If the tourist cops are slow or uninterested go to the Tourist Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Head Office on Phetchaburi Road and explain the scam to them. The TAT loathes these jewelry scammers and they’ll be on the phone to the tourist cops telling them to get their backsides into gear. For a complete list of these scamming scheming swindling shops see

Beating the Scamming Restaurants (this advice was given to Bangkokscams by the police)

If your scamming smelly tuk-tuk driver advises a delicious seafood restaurant, just say ‘Sounds Great!’ You will be given a menu with no prices on it. Order loadsa food and enjoy. In the meantime spot where the Thai language menus are kept. When you have finished eating, you will be given a bill for an extortionate amount of money. Refuse to pay before you see a menu with the prices on (perhaps see if the Thai language menu has prices on it). In the event the boss threatens to call in the police, say you don’t care and tell them you know the law. The law states that all menus in Thailand must have the prices written in them (owner has theoretically broken the law). If there is no price in them, that means the food doesn’t cost anything! The owner has nothing over you, if the cops come, explain that your Police Colonel friend had explained the law to you while he was holidaying in England a couple of months ago. The cops will believe your connection as otherwise they wouldn’t believe you know about such law. Finally, the cops will probably ask you to pay the equivalent (may be cheaper even) of the usual price elsewhere.

Go-go Bar Scam

You are walking along Patpong Road and some pathetic looking tout invites you to an a go-go bar upstairs performing ping-pong, darts and horny snake shows. You are told a beer is a 100 baht, but when you get the bill it is for 1,500 (tout downstairs forgot to tell you there was a huge cover charge). The scammers in there are violently dangerous, don’t get into a fight (a Japanese guy was murdered a few years ago in one of those bars). Tell them politely that you need a receipt to get your money back from the company (entertainment expenses). Act dumb and play it nice, like it’s not your money they are ripping off. Outside, go straight to the tourist cops, there is a good chance you will get your money back.

Anyway, if you do want to see such a sinful show (or any a go-go bar that is) only go into one that is managed by King’s Group Co. Ltd. All there bars have a huge plaque outside saying so. King’s Group upstairs a go-gos are the only non-scams on Patpong. Their downstairs a go-go are also by far and away the best.

Card Game Scam

You are at Chatuchak Weekend Market and approached by a middle aged women (perhaps man). After befriending you she invites you to play cards (she knows how to cheat). At first you win loads but after that you lose it all. Sorry buddy, the cops can do nothing – gambling is illegal and you’ll end up getting fined a 1,000 baht. Anyway, serves you right for trying cheat in the first place.

(For men only) Beating the Scamming Scheming Ladies of the Night who Claim they are ‘Proper’ Thai Ladies (this advice was given to Bangkokscams by the police)

You are in Khao Sarn Road or Ratchadaphisek and some girl comes to chat you up. She claims she is a hair-dresser or office worker etc…. (This makes her even worse than a bar-girl as she’s not admitting she’s working the game) If she asks you to a hotel and you fancy her, state which hotel you want to go to. Ensure beforehand that the hotel requires you to check in with ID. Inform the scammer that you didn’t bring your passport and tell her to check-in with her ID Card. That means she has invited ‘you’ to her room and she is entitled to no financial compensation (that’s what they call it in Thailand to get around the law and prostitution). She can do absolutely nothing.

The Great Tuk-Tuk Scam!

After, having talked about the idea for ages and ages, myself and the Webmaster Mr Richard finally got round to seeing for ourselves first-hand just how the cheapo Bangkok Tuk-Tuk scam works.

Up early, adorning the most touristy-looking set of clothing, cap and sunglasses that I could find in my wardrobe, I went to meet Richard before the scam-baiting and discuss our plans. Both of us, having lived in Thailand for donkeys years had read and heard so much about the supposed 10Baht Tuk-Tuk, that it was certainly time to get scammed deliberately just to see how it was for the average unassuming tourist/backpacker.

Parking the car near Pinklao Bridge, the first destination of the day was….of course….the epicenter of ‘scamming the naïve tourist’ – The Grand Palace. Alas though, after having walked just 50 meters from the car carrying a Lonely Planet map, pretending we were lost and didn’t speak a word of Thai, we were approached by a young burly looking guy, politely offering advice on sightseeing. And, before we could hardly mutter a word, he was suggesting a tour of the Big Buddha temple, the Lucky Buddha temple and fortunately, by complete chance – a government fashion shop was holding a grand Thai New Year sale which…..wasn’t to be missed! Just as he was explaining that a Tuk-Tuk ride would cost an unbelievably cheap 10Baht, we were once again granted heavenly luck when a cheerful-looking Tuk-Tuk driver appeared from absolutely nowhere. Such incredible co-incidence!

Getting out a pen and paper (every darned scammer asked us for a piece of paper to write on!) he wrote down the itinerary:
11am – Go see Big Buddha
12 o’clock – Get the good luck; visit Lucky Buddha
1pm – Take photo Marble Temple (Richard and I turned this one down)
1:30pm – Shopping at groovy Government fashion shop

Now, what the heck was this Big Buddha and Lucky Buddha?! Once whisked away, we soon realized that our Tuk-Tuk hardly spoke a word of English besides “Very good shopping fashion shop, special price for you” and “You want massage sexy girl?” Arriving at the first spot, we realized that The Big Buddha was in fact Intaram Temple in the Dusit area. Walking around, Richard took the cheap opportunity to snap loadsa pics and we noticed dozens of other tourists who had also arrived in a scammy Tuk-Tuk. Giving him his dues though, the Tuk-Tuk was cheerful friendly guy.

On asking why the fare was so cheap, all the Tuk-Tuk drivers reply “If you go to look Fashion Shop 5 minutes I get free petrol coupons”. This is absolute nonsense! As they do in fact get 200baht commission, regardless to whether you buy or not. To add more to this complete lies, our Tuk-Tuk guy even showed us a corny counterfeit coupon – with Esso printed on it! Laughable.

So, our next stop was The Lucky Buddha Temple (aka: Sitiram Temple, near Ratchadamnoern Road) which Richard was quite chuffed about as he had always wanted to visit. Just as he was taking some pictures, a shabby-looking guy came up to us and said “You no take photo”. Now, this guy was pretty rude and when we protested he pointed to a sign in Thai language about ‘Buddhism’, and lying through his grimy teeth explained “This photo, say in Thai – can not take photo”. Next, he really flipped-out when Richard turned around and took a quick snap of the sign. Who the guy actually was we had no idea, but he was definitely a scammer of some kind. To add more to his lies he said “Foriegner can not photo because not Buddhist” and to top it off reckoned “You listen me, I am security guard”. Now this guy was speaking so much ‘bull’ that you could almost smell it on his breath!

Next destination was the wonderful government fashion shop. Of course, it was nothing of the sort, but instead a huge Indian run tailors. Richard pretended that he needed the toilet but instead went for a quick look around the back. As for me, I was lynched immediately but a couple of English-speaking Thai-Indians. On asking them whether the shop-gaff was government-run, he also lied “Oh yes, the government is giving the foreigner very special prices today”. Sat down, I was offered a coffee and handed a set of brochures full of corny pictures of models with their head and legs edited in wearing a Cashmere Suit – tacky Photo-Shop style.

Here, myself and Richard, kinda got our stories mixed-up! The Indian guy asked “Good Sir, I am wanting to know where you are going after Thailand” to which I replied “Mmmmm….. Singapore”.
“And where are you staying in Bangkok?” “Mmmmm….The Riverside Hotel”.
Next, I tried to say to the guy that I wasn’t interested but my friend in the toilet certainly was. Richard, when he finally got back immediately stated that he wasn’t interested! And to blow our undercover even more quickly, replied to the above same questions
“After Thailand, we’re going to Japan” and “Yes, we’re staying on Khao Sarn Road”. Nevermind, we soon headed for the door and back to our ever-smiling Tuk-Tuk.

As scammers always are, his faced soon dropped when we told him that we wanted to get back to The Grand Palace. He was insistent though, that we check out a Jewelry Store (again, friggin government owned!). Great, I had always wanted to be taken to a scammy Gem Shop. I was a little disappointed though, as this gaff did not look like one of those infamous gem scam stores which are always closing down (and opening up again) for ripping of tourists. In the car-park were tens of Tuk-Tuks, and we noticed a couple of foreigners arguing with their driver looking obviously cheesed-off like “I told you that I wanted to go to The Grand Palace”.

We were welcomed at the entranced by a couple of pretty promo girls who offered us a drink. Incredibly I saw a few foreigners in there drinking beer! So, the next time you fancy a tour of three temples and a free beer thrown-in, you know what to do! They gave us a guided tour of their small factory (which was quite interesting) before being taken into the main shopping hall. I had a good look at their rings, they were nice-like, but the prices weren’t that much different to what you find in Europe, I thought the place was real expensive for Thailand. Our guide was quite polite though and wasn’t that pushy. After telling her that we weren’t interested in buying she took as next door to a spacious gift shop full of overpriced souvenirs. After a quick browse, we fled the scene and the taxi driver agreed this time to take us directly to The Grand Palace.

Don’t forget your map if you want to be scammed!

Strolling around The Grand Palace we were approached by swarms of scammy Tuk-Tuk drivers and their cronies offering trips to a couple of other temples and more darned government fashion shops and jewelry stores. Of course, even though we were just 100 meters from the entrance, they all claimed something along the lines of
“You go Grand Palace? Can not! Now, have a Buddhist ceremony, tourists can not go in, only Thai people. But open again 3 o’clock, I send you back here after you go with me”.
Again, all the scammers offered silly fares ranging between 5-40baht. I would guess however, that if you said “How about a trip for free” that they would agree.

These scammers claiming that the Emerald Buddha Temple and The Grand Palace are closed, when they are not, are in theory seriously breaking the law. These Tuk-Tuk scams have been going on for years and the government has never enforced any kind of severe crackdown. I advise that they do something right now, otherwise The Kingdom will continually lose floods of potential tourists.

And finally, all the foreigners suck-up to the scammers about receiving petrol coupons for taking them to such stores. That is complete quack-wack – help to spread the truth! They get cash!

Come back to tomorrow for Richard’s own report and more of his exclusive pictures of the scams that we experienced “on the side” on this same day. Richard said that he has never been scammed so many times in his entire life.

Edited: Check out Richard’s scam report Tourist Scams in Bangkok.

The 10 Commandments of Thai Love

The wonderfully caring Ministry of Culture has just launched ’10 Commandments of Love’ in an attempt to prevent teenagers getting too carried away on Valentine’s Day and getting up to hanky-panky in short-time hotels.

As mentioned in my last blog, according to the golden-oldies in charge there, all proper Thai girls are virgins before the day of their marriage. And any girl who dares get herself involved with any disgusting behaviour beforehand is labeled ‘Un-Thai’ and declared a threat to both national security and Thai Culture. Unfortunately however, the ministry’s granny and grandad officials have failed to read any surveys which have uncovered that the average age for the first bout of pre-marital practice in Bangkok is a tender 16 and a half.

Here below is the lovely list!

In brackets, however, is what the average male Bangkokian teenager is gonna think!

1. Love with patience, so as not to become a premature parent.

(“Geez, the last thing I wanna do is get her pregnant, as for the patience bit, I always try to make it last 10 minutes”)

2. Truly love only one person.

(“One! They must be completely of their trosh! We having a saying in Thailand which goes ‘One is never enough”)

3. Love with mercy, trying not to hurt the one you love.

(“Too right, I have compassion, I never tell a lover about my other girlfriends!”)

4. Carefully love to avoid taking risks that might lead to contracting sexual diseases.

(“Good one. I always make love carefully, slowly does it and the condom won’t break”)

5. Love with honour, waiting until the proper time to have sex.

(“Yeah…I certainly pay honour to my parents wishes and sticking to the proper time. I wait for my parents to go to bed before going for a quickie in dad’s shed”)

6. Love in accordance with custom.

(Not sure about the customs bit, but I definitely prefer my dolls dressed up in a few different ‘costumes’)

7. Love reasonably, not taking sexual advantage of your lover.

(“I’m always darned reasonable. One on one is enough, I’ve never asked for her younger sister to join in the action too – though I wouldn’t mind”)

8. Love permanently, without defaming the one you love.

(“Permanently! I got me eyes permanently fixed on those lusty technical college girls down the road”)

9. Love honestly, believing in your partner.

(“I always tell me darlings to believe that I love them, otherwise they play ‘hard to get’”)

10. Love with understanding, forgiveness and without anger.

(“I’m understanding and try not to get angry, but if she’s 10 minutes late to our date, I give her a kick up the bum”)

Visit Steve’s main page at Steve’s Weblog

The Bliss of Bangkok

An Oxygen Bar inBangkok where you can get a daily dose of clean air

After a quick series of shorty blogs posted this week, I thought I’d do the righteous thing and gives yous all, another one of those darned lengthy postings of mine. Looking through me notebook, it was pretty tricky having to decide on what to bore you with this week, and settled in the end to go back to one of me fave subjects of and that is the ‘Bafflement of Bangkok’.

Not long back, I mentioned the Thai ladies’ craze for walking around freezing cold department stores just to show off their lovely little babies to all the onlookers. Well, for all the childless ladies lacking such companionship they can always take a cute little mutt of a dog instead. We all know that women from all over the world can spend two hours in front of a mirror doing their make-up but here in Bangkok they spend another darned hour doing their pet-dog’s hair, tale and fur and not forgetting to stick in a big fancy bow on top of it’s head. All in order, the next stop is the nearest Mall where they can spend the complete afternoon walking around showing off their fluffy friend.

Well, the Bangkokians these days have gone for more than just a fascination for little dinky dogs. The Weekend Market is a haven for pet lovers wanting the likes of an enormous Madagaskar Cockroach or a Guatamalan Death-Witch Spider. As you could well have imagined the local authorities in charge have enjoyed arresting quite a few of these so-called pet-animal dealers and one was charged just last month for supposedly dealing in pet-tigers! Well, one of those would certainly deter any burglers!

There are plenty of energetic yearly events held in the country, we have the juicy ‘Miss Jumbo’ competition, the ‘As much as you can scoff durian’ festival’ and then we have just hundreds of big shows put on in the capital by the government aimed at supposedly helping the poor. Most of the nation’s male population however, wait in excitement, while dribbling at the mouth for none other than the ‘Motorshow!’ It’s that time of the year when all the men leave their loved-ones at home (of course their wives’ think their off to dinner with some important customer from Osaka) and go to ‘check the quality’ of the Motorshow Promo Girls. It doesn’t matter whether the guy has little more than 10 baht in his pocket he can stroll around for hours talking to all the Promo girls about the cars on offer while admiring their shockingly revealing attire! Without of course having to buy them a drink.

Now, these Promo Girlies are popping up everywhere and if you would like to check for yourself whether they are ISO 14001 passable, you need only visit any old fancy shopping Mall on your weekend off. These Promo Girlies can be found just inside the entrance wearing a three-inch long skirt, knee-length boots with an eight-inch heel and standing at the height of 6 foot 2 passing out lots of brochures on ‘Dry Deo Deodorant’ or ‘Flashy fingernail clips’. Once I had one of the darlings, who on promoting AIDS prevention, stick a contraceptive into my hand and when on returning home I was on the receiving end of a right shouting at by my girlfriend then, to the likes of ‘You scoundrel, why are you carrying one of them around, I knew I could never trust you!!’. Now that’s pretty bad luck.

Every four years in the ‘City of the 7-11 and Starbucks’ the capital’s folks have the dreaded task of having to elect a Governor to listen to the whims of the Bangkokians and ‘solve all their problems’ (of course easier said than done). As most of the former governors who after winning the election decided instead of having to go to the office every day and walk around the slums of Klong Tery, go instead to play tennis, start a collection of imported wines and enjoy the sites of the yearly Motorshow.

As for one of the last governors, every plan of his flopped or ended up in the garbage can. Glad they did. As for probably the worst environmental cock-ups he accomplished had to be about two years ago at Loy Krathong when he asked all the Thais to use artificial foam Krathongs instead of the traditional ones made from the banana tree. On asked why, he replied that the so-called banana tree Krathong was dirty and caused eye-pollution. “Nevermind” he said “I will order the local Bangkok authorities to collect up all the garbage foam Krathongs in the morning so as they won’t all float out into the ocean”. Sounded great but of course it didn’t work and instead it was reported that tens of thousands of these artificial foam Krathongs floated away down river into the Gulf of Thailand and never seen again. The next year it was a return to the traditional ways.

That year too he invited all the city folks to float their Krathongs from under Rama 8 bridge where a big pompous party was also put on too. Stevesuphan went too and what a farce that was! The lacklustre governor had failed to realise the strong current of the river and so 90% of the Krathongs, when on being floated, did a backward-flip instead and sunk to the bottom. This former governor got so cheesed-off that all his plans failed, quoted to the press in his last year “I won’t bother doing anything this year, it’s a waste of time trying to get anything implemented!” and that’s exactly what he did do and became famous instead for his cooking skills which he enjoyed showing off to a stack of reporters on a weekly basis. Bored of politics, he’s now a TV chat show host.

Talking about the local authorities. One of the most splendid well-thought out plans by the capital’s police over the years to boost their spending powers has been to ‘sucker some cash out of the foreign tourists’. Of course they had to find a legal excuse and so for a darned long time they enjoyed catching and fining millions of tourists who had dropped anything on to the sidewalk, from a 7-11 receipt to a cigarette butt. Of course there were a few big warnings and the ones on Sukhumvit and Silom Road read in English ‘Litter Droppers will be Fined 2,000 baht or $100’. It didn’t take a degree in mathematics to work out (then 25 to the dollar) that you would have to be pretty stupid to pay in dollars!

They were hundreds of complaints when the Rangsit police, who on realising that a lot of the foreigners were getting to know about these fines went instead to catch all the dumb foreigners who had just arrived in the country. So, there they were just outside the airport arrival terminal fining all the foreigners who had just 10 minutes before got off the plane in need of a quick smoke before they got the taxi downtown! Welcome to Thailand!

Bangkok has many an awesome site for the foreign tourist to gaze at in a state of disbelief and two of those have to be the capital’s manholes and electric lines. I can’t imagine just how many drunk tourists have fallen down one when returning to their hotel room, only to be found the following morning 10 foot under by some office workers. It would only make sense to put a warning sign up but then the construction workers would say “It’s your fault, you should have been watching where you were going”. As for the state of some of the electric cables around, many-a foreign tourist has had a right laugh at the cowboy-job of the capital’s supposed technicians who have arranged some of the cables to be hung just 3 inches above your head. Again, if you get electrocuted and drop-down dead, it’s your own fault for not keeping your eyes open!

And finally, to end my series on Bangkok, howabout the great BTS Skytrain. For all of you foreigners interested in meeting English teachers for some info on teaching in Thailand don’t even bother wasting your time contacting the likes of me and Richard, the skytrain is full of them. Its quite simple to spot the difference between a foreign teacher and a foreign businessman, just look at them. The Farang teacher usually wears a pair of trousers that are three inches too short for him, carries all his books in a Tesco-Lotus plastic bag, has a 6 baht biro in his shirt pocket and hasn’t brushed his hair for a week. As for the businessmen, they look respectable.

Then, there’s the bedraggled condition of some of the foreign tourists who look ‘even worse’. You can witness all the Thais step five foot-back when they see this big sweaty Farang who, on getting on the skytrain and reaching up to hold-on, fouls the air with natural body odour oozing from his armpits.