Category Archives: Stories from the past

Road to Pai: Pong Dueat geyser

There are dozens of hot springs around Chiang Mai, some are well-known and extensively developed like Sankamphaeng, others are only just more than small pools of water in the forest.

Pong Dueat is on route 1095, one of the attractions we visited when we went to Pai with my friend in September: we were both intrigued by the signs saying “geyser” in English. I had never seen a proper natural one before. (In Samkamphaeng, it is pumped into the air artificially.) It would have been quite impossible by public transport for sure – though the road threw some surprises at us.

My big city friend wanted to turn back when we bumped into this spectacle, he was even considering reversing a few kilometres back to the main road. But eventually, we squeezed by the cattle, which refused to move even when the rear view mirror was scraping a bum. For a moment I thought it would poop on the windshield.

The “adventurous” rural road, paved but a little rough (ok for a city car), is about 6 kms. Then you pay (and bargain) the entry fee to Huay Nam Dang national park, and leave the car in the parking lot.

The geysers are about ten minutes walk on slippery elevated wooden platforms, we needed to be very careful to stay on our feet. The land below the platforms looked almost impassable, a bog, thick water-logged jungle. We did not really consider taking off on the clearly marked nine-kilometre nature trail as we had left our machetes at home. Soon we arrived at the hot springs.

Under high pressure, the water reaches a temperature of over 150 degrees under ground, and pushes up to the surface at boiling point. The fountains are said to reach about 2 metres when there is more water. The sound of the boiling water gushing forth is eerie in the otherwise quiet jungle. There are several springs in a small area. Obviously, they are fenced off as you can end up with nasty burn marks if you go too near, but, surprisingly, there was no guard around. Not many visitors, either. Unlike other hot springs I have visited, you cannot buy eggs and boil them in a side stream. It is a powerful site to hang around and consider the amazing forces of nature – never mind the food.

The hot water is channeled into a little stream (no concrete), and you can catch up with it about ten more minutes downstream (walking on more wooden platforms, like in the photo above). There are bungalows, private and public pools, a restaurant and a small massage parlour here, over a steep hill, in a landscaped area (lots of slippery steps!). According to a sign, you are supposed to pay extra for swimming in the lukewarm pools, but there was nobody around to collect the fees. As usual, Thai visitors were taking a dip all dressed up and we did not stick out. There is a paved route all the way back to the parking lot from here.

Pong Dueat is definitely not a world class attraction, but it is a beautiful, little-visited, quiet rest stop on the way to Pai. The hot springs must be a real attraction during the cold months, when mornings are positively chilly in the mountains. Also highly recommended if you want more scenery than concrete to go with your hot spring experience.

The hot springs are six kilometres off route 1095 to Pai, 56 kms from Pai, 42 kms from Mae Malai and 80 kms from Chiang Mai city itself (it is in Chiang Mai province). Entrance fees are 100/50 baht for foreigners, 50 baht for cars.

I marked this location on the Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand map, which was updated last week with lots of attractions and photos in Mae Hong Son province.

In A General’s Opinion (1968)

(The following extract is taken from the above book)

One of my fave hobbies when I get into Bangkok is to search around for golden-oldie books which are hard to come buy on the shelves of DK or Asia books. A few months back, I came across this one published in America 39 years ago. A sordid first-hand account into Bangkok’s raunchy night-life. The book was supposedly written by a reporter called Andrew Harris but according to a very reliable source, it is a pseudonym for another well-known Asian based author.

Anyway, at the end of the book is an ‘actual’ dialogue. It is between a Farang reporter and Gen Prapas about the current Farang/girls/bars/massage scene. If you don’t know, Gen Prapas goes down in modern Thai history as one of the ‘strongest’ soldiers that has ever led the country. A close colleague of former dictator FM Thanom, he was at the time of this book the Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister. What he says in this interview gives an idea to the mentality of the folk back then in regards to Farangs and Thai women and ‘hooligansim’ etc etc… Have a read and enjoy…..

Reporter: It has often be said that the number of bars and massage parlours contribute to juvenile delinquency. What do you think, sir?
Gen. Prapas: That’s not true. We need more of this kind of service.
Reporter: As matters are, already you see one of these places everywhere you turn.
Gen. Prapas: That’s an exaggeration.
Reporter: We have also heard that it’s detrimental to the economy and making everyone a spendthrift.
Gen Prapas: That’s not right. These places are good for the country economically. Bars nightclubs and massage parlours are for Farangs who can afford such services. You can avoid being a spendthrift by avoiding such places, like I do.
Reporter: I don’t go because they are so expensive.
Gen Prapas: Bluff it, just tell them that you are broke.

The reporter next asks the general about half Thai/Farang kids.

Reporter: Have you heard that there are fair-haired children who have been on sale in Nakhorn Ratchasima – Korat (locality of a large US air-base) at about two hundred to three hundred baht?
Gen Prapas: Never heard such a thing. If anybody bought one, bring it here (Ministry of Interior) so we can bring legal action. There should be no problem with these children, whatever the colour of their hair.
Reporter: Why?
Gen Prapas: Because they are by-products

The reporter next asks the intelligent general about Farangs marrying Thai girls!

Reporter; Do you think marriages between Thai girls and Farang should be registered in embassies?
Gen Prapas: There is no need to register in the embassy. It is far easier to go to the district office and register by paying a fee. But this is a minor matter. I have not heard of many cases. Many of the couples find an easier way out, or so I have been told by an American friend. They go to hotels or motels and when the Farang is asleep the girls swipes him clean, pants and all.

The reporter next asks the ever-wise general about highly suspect claims of rape.

Reporter: Acts of rape seem to be on the increase in hotels, especially at the Vieng Nuea Hotel. Why is that hotel still open?
Gen Prapas: Don’t blame the hotels, because it is their way of earning a living. It is my thought that if a girl goes with a man to a hotel then she ought to know what will happen to her.
Reporter: Did you not used to go there yourself?
Gen Prapas: Never, it is not necessary for me to go there.
Reporter: What have you instructed about handling hooliganism?
Gen Prapas: I have instructed the police that if there are cases of rape reported, they should not always charge the suspected person as a hooligan. Thorough investigation should be made of the suspect – of his behaviour, of his occupation, of his living conditions and whether he was previously charged with criminal acts. Cases of hooliganism have caused much trouble for decent men who only want to seek happiness and their own pleasure.

‘The Sad Story of Khru Juling’

Seldom does a day go by when we don’t read a story of an atrocity in the deep south. There are many tearful stories which have evolved, but perhaps the one which stands out most, is ‘The Story of Khru Juling’.

Khru (teacher) Juling 24, was born in the northern province of Chiang Rai. Even though her family was very poor, with the financial assistance of family and friends who were amazed by her art talent – she graduated with honours. Working as a teacher, Khru Juling could simply have stayed put in her home province and found a simple cozy school job. Selflessly however, she applied for the position of art teacher in the deep southern war-torn province of Narithiwat.

Feeling heartfelt pity on the Muslim children who grew up without a teacher to teach them, she put her life at risk to help the little ones whom she loved so much. Even though there were daily shootings and bomb-blasts, for one whole year Khru Juling, against the desires of those who cared for her, persisted on teaching at her school . For Khru Juling, a beautiful young teacher from the north, who published a book of her sketches for one of the Princess’ childrens charities – just who would ever think of doing her any harm?

On a regretful Friday – May 19, of this year, local women villagers, angry at the detention of Muslim Militants on a completely different charge, surrounded her school and ordered all the teachers of Buddhist religion to come out. Even though the school children screamed at the top of their voices to let go of their beloved teachers, the local women simply took them away.

What happened next in the presence of others is almost humanely unthinkable. Held hostage for three hours – Khru Juling singled out most, was bashed so badly by local villagers that she remains until this day….. in a coma, with severe brain injuries.

What is most sickening of all, is that after the police forced their way in to arrest the culprits – the local female villagers threatened to attack them (the police) with knives, rocks and bricks. The hundred or so women involved in the abduction and beatings of the teachers showed absolutely no remorse for what they had done.

HM The Queen, also very upset by this tragedy, has asked that she is updated daily on the conditions of Khru Juling who is still in intensive care at The Prince of Songkhla Hospital in Hat Yai.

Pitiful Khru Juling hangs on for life amidst the hope of every Thai person. Let us all wish that we never again have to hear of such a despicable tragedy.

More…Short Stories From Thailand

A quiz show from Thai television

After thinking up me last blog on bizarre, yet true stories from the ‘Land of Noodle Soup and Nose-jobs’ I was leftover with a wad more just asking to be written about. So, not needing them to fall out of mind and never be written about I’m taking the opportunity once again, to gives yous all, a brief read about some of the shadier stories from the past.

The Thais have no quibbles about having a right laugh at the foreigners’ expense in regards to speaking the Thai language. But, a bout of revenge needn’t be sought after, after it was revealed to the media just last week that our Thai buddies are pretty defunct at learning English (as if you hadn’t already realized, with no disrespect of course). On an average score of English tests out of nine ASEAN countries, our Thai counterparts came in eighth just one above the Cambodians. Of course, the local news stations and reporters had a whole host of excuses along the lines of ‘We are all flabbergasted at the stupidness of the scoring methods used’ and pledged that ‘Thailand ought to have at least got in the top five’. Now, what planet are they living on?

Anyway, back to a few weird but wonderful stories. Now, Thais just love their game shows and one extremely popluar one has to be ‘The Millionaire Game Show’ that is broadcast every evening from Monday to Friday. Personally, I used to like the show but it has turned into a bit of a farce to say the least. The first couple of questions asked to the contestants are something ridiculously easy like ‘How many days are there in a week?’ 5,6,7 or 8. But then, just when you think the contestant is gonna score a decent amount of cash the next question is along the lines of ‘What is the name of the King of Bhutan’s eldest brother?’

Well, most of the folks on this show look pretty brainy but I’ve seen them flunk on the easiest of questions, darned easy. Then, a couple of years ago, we had one contestant who looked as if she had came straight out of a durian plantation. Well, the old undernourished dearie didn’t even need to think about any of the questions as she answered them all like a piece of doddle and unbelievably hit the jackpot of a million baht. Well, the quizmaster looked more surprised than her who was completely straightfaced throughout the whole ordeal and sure enough, she hit national headlines. In fact, the producers just didn’t believe that this country bumpkin could have seriously ‘fluked’ all the answers and ordered an enquiry. In came to light that there was a computer hitch-up and the correct answer (a,b,c or d) flashed on her screen for every question asked. When the woman was asked by the reporters whether it was true, she replied ‘Well, yes”. She hadn’t yet been paid her jackpot prize but the police were called in anyway and she was actually arrested for supposedly trying to ‘scam the show’. The nation’s folks were up in arms at the hard justice dealt and after the media had latched on to her sad story, she was soon released with no charges brought. What a fiasco!

This was not the first time the show has been in the news. One former cursed contestant was seriously arrested along with a couple of corrupt counterparts once, as it was found out, after he had won the jackpot, that his fraudulent friends in the audience were all hooked up to these signalling devices. Therefore, when the contestant didn’t know an answer, his friends would send the answer to this little vibrating device hooked to his leg.

At lot of our buddies in the country are re-knowned for their ‘cheating abilities’ and that doesn’t mean leaving out ‘scam yer family too’! As I’ve said a hundred times before, the upcountry Thais just luv the national lottery and over the years the newspapers have been full of nauseatingly true stories of fake winners.

Just a couple of months ago, a ‘supposed’ winner was running around her village, somewhere in the middle of the jungle showing off so-called official documentation from the national lottery office stating ‘We are delighted to notify you that you can come and collect yer huge winnings next Wednesday at our HQ on Rachadamnoern Avenue’. Her whole village was up in arms celebrating as that meant lots of free parties hosted by her. Of course, she wasn’t able to collect the money for a week or so, so she ran around borrowing stacks of cash to hold a series of buffet parties and even buy herself a new motorbike and a few baht of gold in the meantime. Time went by, and the district chief on becoming rather suspicious on why she hadn’t collected her winnings yet, called up the national lottery office for verification. ‘Absolutely no winner from that village’ came the reply down the telephone and it came to light that this supposed winner had completely made the whole thing up and scammed not just her neighbours of money, but her mum, dad, brothers, sisters and even her poor old grannie of 94.

Perhaps, she’s still thinking up some more devious plans now, from behind bars.

Then, there was the story I remember of one certain husband-to-be. Wanting to marry the ‘love of his life’ it was decided by the girl’s parents that a dowry of 70,000 baht was to be paid. Sure, the guy had no problems with finding that amount of cash and the wedding day was set. Then, on the actual day of the wedding the groom had gone missing! ‘What has happened to him?’ all the guests and bride wondered. He was found later in the morning with his arms tied behind his back, sporting a couple of nasty black eyes. The poor bridegroom had been mugged of the entire dowry money of 70,000 baht! ‘What a darned pity!’ the family thought. The parents on feeling sorry for the couple married her off regardless of dowry or not.

Very soon after, a little grade 2 boy from the local primary school informed his teacher of some very peculiar antics that he had witnessed the week before. ‘I saw the very funny thing near me house, had one silly man punch himself in the face for no reason and his friend come to tie him up just for the fun of it’. Word got around and our unscrupulous husband friend here was soon down the local cop station admitting that he had intrepidly made the whole scenario up. He just hadn’t enough dowry cash to marry his darling. Luckily for the wife, they hadn’t registered the marriage yet and he was kicked out of her village never to be seen again.

Then, I remember the shockingly enviable story of the man last year who got married to two women at the same time. Believe it or not, the story went like this (lots of pics all over the newspapers as proof!). This stud of a handsome guy had got engaged to his girlfriend of a few years but just before they were about to be married he had also fallen in love with this other darling of his. Anyway, our extremely brave fellow here cofessed to his fiancee his love for this other girl. Well, his fiancee who must have been in right darned love with him, replied ‘Nevermind, just marry us both!’ Incredibly, the two girls along with their families accepted this and they were both married off to him at the same time. I wonder how the sleeping arrangements went. I can certainly, NOT imagine that happening in my hometown! Of course, by law you are only allowed to certify marriage with one spouse, so I wonder which one his beauties he chose.

Well, we all know that our nation’s ladies just love sticking on a bitta make-up, dressing up like Barbie and flirting their eyes and so the country has a whole selection of beauty contests for them to take part in. We have the annual Miss Songran, Miss Loy Kratong, Miss Motorshow, Miss Anti-wrinkle Cream, Miss Elephant Jumbo and Miss Smelly Preserved Fish…just for starters. Well, just last year one of these ‘big’ winners won as usual, a stack-a-cash, a free vacation and a motorbike and went on for the next couple of days to give interviews to a flurry of TV stations and magazines. That was until, a couple of angry women called up the newspapers to verify that this so-called winner, had been in fact, married.

These ‘grassers’ from her hometown were in fact relatives of her former husband who had since married some other woman. ‘She’ll have to be disqualified’ it was decided by the judges, only for the winner to burst into tears and to confess to the nation that ‘Yes, i used to be married (when i was 16!) but we never registered the marriage’. That means of course, by law, she never was officially married. The judges had realized by this time, that there wasn’t much they could do. But they disqualified her anyway. It was decided (along with The Ministry of Culture!) that to be entitled to be called a certain…. ‘Miss’ in Thailand, meant you had to be ‘a pure woman’ and so our winner was disqualified for ‘having been with a man before’. As for all the other 80 or so contestants, they were all judged to be sweet and innocent.

Stories….From Thailand

Life has certainly become a lot more hectic recently. I’ve had a whole legion of enthusiastic new students knocking on me door asking to learn English. Then on top of that, I’m busy helping me fiancee with our wedding arrangements for October. But, I started this ‘bloggo section’ of mine, so I just gotta keep the train moving. After a sordid series on our nation’s beloved ‘People in Power’ I thought I’d pit-me-wits at knocking up a new series on pretty funny but true stories that have left the nation’s ‘news crazy’ folks creased up in laughter.

There are many advantages about speaking and reading the country’s language. You can read where the darned Bangkok buses are actually going, enjoy a decent meal, and definitely one of the best advantages is being able to watch the Thai news and read the daily Thai language newspapers. So for this week, I thought I’d share with yous all, a few absolutely wacko stories.

Us foreign tourists can be a pretty gullible lot for ‘getting cheated’ and my fave ‘scam some cash outta the Farang schemes’ has to be one fiasco that goes on in Pattaya. Every now and then, a Thai boxing festival is set up for the Farang tourists to go and witness for themselves a group of ‘supposedly’ grade A Thai boxers fighting for glory. Now, gambling is actually illegal in Thailand but, there are a few exceptions. There is the ever popular government lottery of course but besides only this you are allowed to gamble at the major boxing stadiums to the likes of ‘Lumphini’ and also at the country’s ‘Horse Racing’ tracks. Of course you aren’t allowed to gamble at the so-called Pattaya Boxing Festivals, but who gives a darned, This Is Thailand.

Once at this ‘supposed’ festival, which I went along too, there were dozens of massive big-bellied Germans with their stick-insect Thai girlfriends sat on the back of some rented Harley Davidson Bikes and a whole squad of English football hooligans too out to gamble for the night on the supposed ‘hot’ boxers of their choice. A whole pack of Thai guys soon arrived and within no time at all the Farang tourists were betting loadsa cash against these Thais. What a farce! We had one boxer who resembled some six-foot four mean-looking Israeli soldier straight out of the Gaza Strip up against against this chopstick boxer who looked like a Victory Monument beggar. Going into the fourth round, all the Thai guys shouted out to the likes of 1,000 baht on the crappo skinny boxer. The Farang guys thinking these Thai guys were pretty stupid at wagering on such a potential ‘loser’ were soon flashing the cash. Of course, the boxer all the Farangs bet on soon lost his momentum and was remarkably knocked-out soon after after a blinding upper-cut.

You must have been pretty dumb not to realize that every one of the fights were ‘set-up’ as a scam to replenish all the cash from the drunkard Farangs ongoers. If that wasn’t enough, all the Farangs were also charged a 500 baht entrance fee! (I paid the Thai price of 50 baht!)These so-called boxers should have won a trophy for their acting skills! As for the Farang guys they were soon fuming after beginning to realize that had been scammed for thousands!

All the Thais know that many a big Thai Boxing fight has been set up over the years and one classic had to be one that was shown live on Channel 7 a few years back. Here, we had one famous Thai promoter who enjoyed dressing up like that beaver-head American boxing promoter ‘Don King’ and one Sunday afternoon was seen showing off his new superstar to the TV cameras, who he had promised ‘Would knock the living daylights out of anyone!’. Well, hearing this fantastic news the arena’s audience were soon flashing their wallets around the ring, sure they were ‘Gonna make a killing’ on this fight.

What a great start! Thailand’s Don King’s new ‘whipper-snapper’ boxer was running around the ring smacking the other guy to shreds. That was until the third round. Our gallant boxer had suddenly decided to impersonate an intoxicated chicken and run round the ring trying to ‘slap’ the referee in the face instead. His opponent didn’t even need to throw a punch as our Thai ‘Rocky’ superstar just tripped over his own foot, fell down and was out for the count.
It was found out later that the promoter ‘Thailand’s own Don King’ had gambled several hundred thousand on the actual opponent and so the rag his corner had used to sweat the boxer’s brow at the end of the second round had in fact been doused in some sort of ‘Knock out Lotion’ normally used by surgoens. Guess his trainers just over did it a bit.

One of my fave stories has to be the one from last year that made the news headlines. As I’ve written before, our Thai friends just love having a party, playing cards and getting ‘sloshed’. Now, one of the most fun type of parties here in Thailand has to be the ‘Funeral Party’. After paying their condolences to their dead neighbour the party on-goers are soon having a right fun party at the deceased expense. On going home for the night they are all hoping that someone else soon ‘kicks the bucket’ so as to have another ‘fun night out’. So, just last year or so there was a story from the province of Nakhorn Nowhere that went something like this.

A fine funeral party was going on and all the attendants decided to ‘play cards’ and gamble their hard-earned salaries away. That was until the local police arrived to ‘do the bust’. Of course, all of them dashed out the windows and back door only for the police to say ‘Darned, all the scum have fled the scene’ with only the dead corpse of the deceased remaining in his coffin. Not so. After inspecting the crime scene one of the police suddenly heard this repititious ‘hic-up hic-up’. The cop on hearing this, asked his colleagues ‘Did you hic-cup?’ ‘No’ came the reply from every single one of them and so they asked each other ‘Well, who the heck has the hic-ups?’ Of course, none of them did and the police queried ‘Is it possible for a corpse to hic-cup?’. Sure, our finest cops aren’t exctly a very stupid bunch and decided to go and ‘tickle’ the dead body just for the fun of it! The supposed ‘dead body’ with tears in his eyes jumps out of his coffin and coffesses to the likes of ‘OK I’m not the dead body! The dead thing was lying under me!’ Of course, our gambler friend on being rather slow on fleeing the seen had jumped into the coffin on top of the dead body hoping the police wouldn’t realize. Unfortunataly for him he had just one too many whiskey and sodas that evening.

Talking about the police. I can remember a couple of years ago when the police complained to the media about a certain Ladyboy who was under their custody. What was the problem? you may ask. Well, after the Ladyboy’s capture and failure to pay a lowly fine for gambling or something like that the police could do nothing but lock the Ladyboy up for a few days in lieu of being unable to pay the fine. Probably for the fun of it, the comedian guards stuck him/her in the men’s cell. Well, after a few days the police said to the Ladyboy ‘You can go home now’ only for the Ladyboy to reply ‘I don’t want to leave, I want to stay here, it’s great being locked up with a few friends!’ So, the police just let the Ladyboy stay put and after a few more days the police had to virtually handcuff the Ladyboy and throw him/her out into the streets after they had realized that this certain Ladyboy had been having lotsa ‘fun’ with the other randy inmates every night.

Then, just last week we had the pretty hilarious goings-on of a certain farmer and his wife up there in the north-east. This is the story. Our farmer friend had just managed, to his great relief, to secure a loan for 50,000 baht and being a supposed ‘model husband’ had given his wife 49,000 baht to look after while he kept 1,000 for a night out in town with his buddies. Well, our farmer friend must have been having a splendid night out celebrating as he got so unbelievably drunk that on arriving home he ordered wife to hand over the other 49,000 baht to finance his night out. Of course, his wife wasn’t haven’t any of this and slammed the door in his face!

Infuriated at the disobedience of his wife, the farmer managed somehow or another to get his dirty hands on a small childrens’ water gun. Running back to the house with the wife fast asleep, he immediately ordered her at gunpoint to ‘flash the cash’ or she would be shot! Taking the wicked threat seriously, she quickly hands over the cash and he runs back to join his friends. One plus one equals two and after a quick chat with her neighbours she realized he had been ‘taking the pish’ and swore her revenge! She soon spotted her beloved husband in a local open-air bar surrounded by an entourage of sexy dancers. Infuriated at the capers of her loved one, she went up to the table and slammed him in the back of head with the family’s huge water pot.

Hospitalized for a couple of days cause of his head injuries, he told the media ‘Please tell me wife that I didn’t mean it. I still loves her. I just had a few too many to drink!’ Well, the wife must have been pretty stupid too, as when being interviewed by the media she burst into tears and says ‘Oooooh, I’m so sorry too, I shouldn’t have hit me husband so hard, I just hope he forgives me!’

And finally there is the ‘classic’ tale of a cartain Samlor Driver (Cycle Rickshaw/Tricyle Driver) that cocked-up his life so much that there is even a saying in the Thai language that originated out of him ‘Mue-an Samlor Tuk Huay’ (To behave like a Samlor Driver that has won the lottery). Quite a long time ago now, it hit the news headlines about this extremely poor Rickshaw Driver from Nonthaburi that had struck it lucky and won a huge two million baht on the country’s national lottery. Absolutely delighted with his win, he kicked his wife and mother-in-law out of the house and decided to ‘go on the razz’ as a single man. So, for the next few months, our Rickshaw Driver friend did nothing but party-it-up and have a whole string of adorable girls at his ‘beck and call’. He must have enjoyed himself so much that he gave his money away like pieces of paper and blew the entire sum of two million baht away within the spate of six months! Today, our Samlor friend, still single, can been seen once again driving his Rickshaw around the streets of Nonthaburi Town. And I’m not joking!