February 2006

During a night drive from Phuket to Kuraburi district in Phang Nga, I had an adventure which is a nice example of the true nature of the Thai police.

Shortly before reaching the town of Thaimuang I got stuck behind a white minivan which was driving in a very erratic way. Sometimes slowing down to 40 kph, then going 90 kph, and to make things worse, the driver chose a pretty wiggly line, often driving on the wrong lane, then cutting back to the left side, often just narrowly avoiding to crash into the ditch or other cars. I didn’t dare to overtake the guy, it just seemed too dangerous, to I preferred to keep a safe distance.

We called the cops and told them exactly where we were and what we were seeing, but they failed to show up and arrest the guy. It would have been easy to set up a roadblock and stop him but nothing happened. We even passed a large police station on the way.

After some time the van stopped, and when I just wanted to pass him, he started driving again, so I was stuck again. Amazingly, he drove very fast now and went in a straight line, so I guessed there were two guys on board and the sober one had taken over. In the end, after having followed the van for about 70 kms, the van turned into a small road and vanished. It seemed as if there was only one guy, so I can’t really explain the change in driving style.

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Kitjar Sukjaidee, a Thai-Chinese blogger, has written an article about the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations in his family.

Before the festival actually begins, the family thoroughly cleans the house, since it’s unlucky to do any kind of cleaning during Chinese New Year. (You clean away your good luck.) The main activities during the festival seem to be praying, meeting other family members and eating.

Kitjar stresses that his family has a Penang-Phuket Peranakan (Malaysian) Chinese background and thus CNY might be celebrated in a different way in “purely” Thai-Chinese families.

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Found in “The Bangkokian”, 18 January 2006:

The Wild Ones: Maeow and his motorcycle gang roam down a dusty road in Roi Et. Who needs helmets?Where were the traffic police on Tuesday when a mysterious marauding motorcycle gang blasted their way down a dusty road in Ban Jor Kor, Amphoe At Samart, Roi Et? The leader of this motorcycle gang is believed to be Maeow Charan 69.

A photo shows that this gang of “Wild Ones” has no respect for traffic laws. The traffic police should conduct an investigation as follows:

1. Did the leader of the motorcycle gang or any of his posse carry motorcyclist licenses? Many believe that they did not because Maeow and his gang prefer to ride in Mercedes-Benz limousines.

2. Why didn’t they wear helmets? Meow wore nothing on his head, but some gang members did sport baseball caps.

Read more open questions to be investigated…

Note: The reckless motorcycle driver in the photo is Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during his 5-day Reality TV publicity stunt in the North-eastern Thai province of Roi Et.

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Today my office was closed due to Chinese New Year. My girlfriend had to work, so I decided to realize my old plan: walking through Bangkok. In the past, I often saw interesting looking streets while zooming past in a taxi, which made me want to take my time and discover everything up close.

I started from Central Chidlom, my destination was Yaowarat (Chinatown) because I expected to see some kind of New Year’s celebration there. I planned not to take the direct way, but instead to make a detour via the old town center. The route to get there was flexible: if a soi looked interesting, I wanted to follow it, keeping in mind the overall direction.

So, here’s the route I took:
Central Chidlom – New Petchaburi Road – Lan Luang Road – Ratchadamnoen Klang Road – Dinso Road – Mahannop Road – Phraeng Nara Road – Atsadang Road – Ban Mo Road – Chak Road – Tri Phet Road – Pahurat Road – Soi Wanit (Sampeng Lane) – Yaowarat Road – Charoen Road – Kao Lan Road – Soi Sukhon 2 – Traimit Road – Hualamphong

In total, according to Google Earth, I covered 11.52 kilometers on foot. Don’t ask about the condition of my lungs. And besides, I’ve always had suicidal tendencies.

But let’s go into detail.
» Read more about Walking Tour: Unseen Bangkok

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Foreigners warned about Saturday’s Anti-Thaksin demonstration

The U.S. Embassy in Thailand on Thursday warned American citizens to stay away from an anti-government rally planned Saturday in Bangkok for fear of violence.

Follow the link for more information: Foreigners Warned Of Saturday’s Anti-Thaksin Demon – Thailand Forum

Reisewarnung der amerikanischen Botschaft Bangkok:
Vorsicht, bei der am Samstag (4.2.2006) geplanten Demonstration gegen die Regierung Thaksin könnte es zu gewalttätigen Ausschreitungen kommen. Veranstaltungsort ist der Platz rund um das Reiterstandbild des Königs Rama V. in der Ratchadamnoen Nok Road, Bezirk Dusit. Da nicht bekannt ist, ob die Demonstranten vorhaben, den Platz zu verlassen und einen Zug durch die Stadt zu machen, sollte die Gegend besser weiträumig gemieden werden.

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