Review: Confessions Of A Bangkok Private Eye
I was skipping through Singapore Airport and the bright orange coloured book caught my eye. The cover draws one in quite well, and I picked it up and remembered seeing it on Stick's site. Hmm… I was book-less, this looks like an amusing read so
it was off to the counter to buy it.
It’s a reasonably well written series of yarns that cover an undetermined period of time for Warren Olson and his hi-jinks in Thailand. It’s sort of a long Stick submission through the eyes of a person who tells us the obvious, even though we cannot always see it. Each chapter has its wave of eye rolling experiences that anyone experienced in Thailand as an expatriate (of any sort) would have heard of directly or actually been involved in. I think many might even think they recognize themselves, but this is delusional as the situations themselves are, in some circumstances, quite generic. It can be a painful, if amusing, read
If you’re looking to be surprised, there are a few gems in there for you. There’s a broad spectrum of stories about suckers from all sorts of nations. All of you are neatly covered (although it feels somewhat contrived in parts), even down to cheesy accents. One is certainly horrified by some of the “dumbness” of the persons wanting the investigation. There’s a Stick submission today (17 Oct 06) that points out a submission where the person whose life is destroyed would do it all again, even if he could have predicted the future and knew what was coming. What’s that all about??? This book confirms this epidemic stupidity. It’s not just newbie’s either, it’s the wise owls that get trapped in the web of desire, no matter how unlikely.
One of the areas you don’t hear much about, but it’s always in the news, are the consequences of running foul of a local, the local law or any “mafia” types. There are a few stories here that will make you sit up and think, gee, must be careful. One can never forget that one’s a “passenger on a dodgy China Airways jet” when they’re living in LOS, we’re here for the ride, and it’s not always good. These stories are written with a wry smile, but the message is clear: – DON’T RUN FOUL OF THE LOCALS
I thought the sequencing of the book was a little confusing. It does jump around a bit and the introductions to times or places or scenarios seem to be repeated a bit too often. It could have, in my opinion, been improved if it was tied by a common thread, or the story was less of a series of short stories. I am sure that could have been done with some effort, as they have fictionalized the book so as to not confirm to the deluded masses that it’s them they are talking about. The end result of the read is a smile and a lot of head shaking. How can these people be so stupid? Well it’s clear that the insights and observations of the authors are spot on. They’ve not tried to be too clever with this book and my Thai “better half” has nearly finished it, often commenting on how silly these people are. This shows that the prose is not too difficult, and that a foreign “Non native English speaker” can read and comprehend it well. This is a must, I believe, for the target audience is not necessarily the British or Antipodean audience. But having such a “down under” influence, and in the circumstances under which it was conceived, it fits in well with the lives of those who would read and relate to it.
As a side note, my Thai “better half”, who’s reading this kind of material for the first time, had no idea that her world (Thailand, not the sleaze bars) was seen in this light. Sure she understands the massage parlours, karaoke bars and such things, but was really unaware of the depth of this lifestyle, and the effects it has on the unsuspecting farang who flock here in droves. Sure, she knew we went out to go-go bars, but what it actually means deep down is lost on many Thais. It’s like they don’t want to know (they are not brought up in a society that allows them to ask lots of questions). It was quite the eye opener for her to see her fellow countrymen in such a light. Thais naturally think all of the problems are caused by farang. Go figure huh?
Anyway, back on track now, this book is the handbook for any expatriate coming here on a tour of duty. This should be perused with great vigour on the flight over. Skip the first few beers and let the lessons learned here sink in to your thick heads. Many of us could have had this in advance. I think a follow up book to this could be a list of all the traps you could find yourself in, even if you’d just say “I’d do it all again” later. Forewarned is forearmed.
Stickman gets a mention in the book, as clearly there’s a lot in common with Stick's site content and the book (unfortunately maybe??). I am sure that by reading this book, and reading the next book (we’re looking for volunteers.. hehe) and the ultimate appendix “www.stickmanbangkok.com” should be enough to give any expatriate or his wife, girlfriend, boyfriend or dog a heads up as to what they are heading into, if the lifestyle of drinking and women chasing is what you’re looking for. If you’re a tourist looking for nice temples, scenery, good deals on T-Shirts and a nice sleep on the beach, this is definitely not the sort of book you’d want to be reading.
To summarise:- light and entertaining. Probably won’t be read twice. But it’ll get talked about. A lot!!!
One more thing, The ladies should read this. Having an understanding of what they are up against is not such a bad thing. My next submission, “The concept of deceit circles” will elucidate.
It is an excellent book and one everyone should read.