As I sit here at my keyboard, my eyes wander around my apartment, spying what little shares the apartment with me. The place where I live is a relatively small studio apartment, long and narrow, as opposed to the more conventional square shaped box. There's a bathroom off one end. There is no kitchen, nor is there a separate bedroom. Everything is in the one room – the bed, the wardrobe, the sink, the fridge, the computer, the fans, everything. I do my entertaining, my work, my sleeping, my food preparation, my studying, my considering, my reading, in fact I do everything in the same relatively small space. Does it sound like the last place you'd want to live?
I like freedom. And I really don't like being tied down. I'm not someone who needs to be surrounded by a lot of material possessions to make me happy. As far as possessions go, a computer and a camera are about all I really need to be happy. While I have a TV, I barely turn it on and while I also have a stereo, the reality is that most of the music I listen to is through the computer, these days. I have a video but again, I don't use it, in fact it was one of the dumbest purchases I ever have made. While this might all sound a little extreme, I am actually very happy with the place I live and the way I have my apartment arranged.
In a small apartment you do not need a big stereo system and it always makes me chuckle when I walk past an apartment that is the size of a shoe box but is home to a sound system the size of a house. There are so many bars that you can easily go out and listen to music at any time, cheaply too.
But its not just music that you can go out for. In Bangkok, you do not need to fill your apartment with all of the conveniences of modern living because almost everything can be had elsewhere in your neighbourhood, and may even be better than what you'd otherwise have at home.
Hungry? Food, even if you had a kitchen, how could you make it so cheap AND so good as the street vendors do? Food vendors in my neighbourhood charge 25 baht for a good sized helping. Time, effort, money, you just couldn't match it – so why would I need a kitchen? Still, I know that I couldn't live without a fridge…that would be just a bit too much!
So many people, both Thai and farang, spend very little time in their apartment. In many ways it is a place to sleep, to store a few things, and little else. Even somewhat wealthy Thais may have an abode that defies their riches and evidence of this can be seen in some of the cheaper inner city apartments that go for just a few thousand baht a month, yet the car park is full of late model European cars.
With the numbers and variety of vendors in most Bangkok neighbourhoods, most services are available and many will provide you with a greater level of service or better experience than you would get in your apartment anyway.
OK, so some people like all of the comforts of home right there, accessible at any time, with no need to share with others. And some people like their privacy. In such cases these people may choose to fill up their apartment with all of the goodies that they require.
But, if like me, you don't want to be tied down with the material possessions of modern living that can quickly become encumbrances, then Bangkok living will appeal to you as much as it appeals to me because you simply do not have to fill up your apartment with all of the things that you may not necessarily want nor need. No matter how sparse your apartment is, you know that just a few steps from your doorstep there will be a decent restaurant, somewhere to listen to music, or somewhere to entertain you, all at very reasonable prices. And that's nice to know.
Where is this pic?
Taken a couple of years ago, so it may have changed a little.
Last week's pic was of course Sri Ayyuthya Road in Central Bangkok. It took a week before anyone got it right…many people wrongly thinking that it was Wittayu Road with a lot of guesses for Sathorn Road too. The first person to get the pic right was XXXXX who wins $US 25 worth of sexual aids and other adult goodies from the good guys at ClubHombre.com. Like last week's picture, this week's pic was taken almost three years ago and this place may have changed a little since then…
Need net or computer services?
Rumour has it that there is something of a genital wars outbreak down in Pattaya. Several Bangkok based expats who frequently venture down to Pattaya have reported that they are finding high numbers of girls with warts where exactly you don't want them! One fellow took four girls back to his hotel (greedy bugger!) and three of them had genital warts, suggesting an awfully high percentage may have been exposed! Genital warts is a nasty one and for those who like to self prescribe antibiotics to kill your STD problem, you're out of luck with this one. The ways to rid yourself off them include scalpel, laser and freezing them off. Mmmm, doesn't sound like any fun at all!
On Thursday 31 October, there will be a Spooky Halloween Party featuring the Soi Dog Blues Band at The Living Room. If you wear fancy dress, all regular drinks will cost only 75 baht each. It kicks off at 7:30 PM. Take a look at their web site to see what a great time they had last year. www.thelivingroombangkok.com Ahh, so Clinton Plaza is still alive…just!
In the event of a terrorist act, Soi Cowboy has more exits than Nana. These words started off a conversation that went on for quite some time, discussing the possibility that Bangkok might become the target of a terrorist attack. Yep, with the horrors of Bali still fresh in our mind, rumours have been running wild, and there has been a huge amount of discussion on the topic. Many westerners have been discussing at great length just what may happen. The major topic for discussion is just where would a bomb be detonated. Many people discount the American Embassy because of the high security presence there. The other favourites are the nightlife areas of Cowboy, Nana and Patpong, and also the possibility, and probably the one that would do the most damage due to sheer numbers, Khao Sarn Road. Yep, the rumours are going fast and furious this time. Amongst the rumours I heard in a Bangkok bar. "A Bangkok entertainment area will be a target within 24 hours". "One Western Embassy has advised the bulk of their Indonesian and Thai embassy staff to return home". Whatever the case, we can only prey that the nutcases stay away from Thailand and that Western and Thai intelligence are on top of things. Personally, I can't see a nightlife area being a target. With the world becoming more and more politically correct, there may well be celebrations in certain PC countries if somewhere like Nana Plaza was blown up.
I always hear positive things about Dynasty Inn in Soi 4 and many claim it is the place to stay in the Nana area. On that Monday almost two weeks ago when the heavens opened and the rain fell and fell and fell, many places in the area were flooded. The management at Dynasty Inn, which received its fair share of the flood water, set up a van to move people between the front and rear wings in the Dynasty, a distance of about 10 metres. It kept people dry. Great service!
Love it or hate it, you cannot knock the Eden club as a successful business model. I mean, how many establishments of that ilk can boast that they have future bookings? This place is not a hotel, yet they have future bookings! Some folks have made bookings right up until July 2003! Marc, the proprietor knows what he is doing, that's for sure. For more details, check out – www.edenclub-bkk.com.
One really has to laugh at that One2Call (AIS's prepaid mobile phone system) advert that has a bunch of Thais on holiday in Kaikoura, New Zealand. They are out on a boat, watching the whales, snow capped peaks in the background, all peace and tranquility. All very suay, just what the average Thai likes. Next thing you know, the Thai girl in the ad picks up her mobile phone and starts using it. Hmmm, now the funny thing about One2Call is that it doesn't have international roaming, does it…! Seems like someone made a bit of a cock up to me.
Is this Japan, or is it Thailand?
Mahlee, who long ago served as manager of Playschool (back 1997ish, when Richard was her boss – before he took the money and ran) and then circa early 2000, she opened the very first go-go at CEP – Flowers A Go-Go (which was later reworked into the Candy Store). Mahlee is now back in BKK after a sojourn to Switzerland with a husband (?), and is working as manager at Dollhouse in Cowboy. It's her work in creating the 30 baht happy hour special, and the uniform "enhancements". What one Bangkok bar regular recalls about Mahlee is that she is an extraordinary recruiter of talent. She is from Galasin, and had a way of recruiting young beauties off the farms there, and Khon Kaen, to work for her. Can we expect that she will repeat her past pattern and load up the Dollhouse Cowboy with a fresh bunch of heartbreakers? Time will tell.
Hollywood Strip in Nana Plaza seems to have improved a lot recently. In the past the staff there resembled a herd of cattle – and well fed cattle at that, but now there are a lot of pretty girls dancing there. In the larger of the bars, now once again known as Carousel. they have installed a second rotating gogo stage, a second carousel. This is the only gogo bar with two carousels. Chatting with the manager, he confirmed that Hollywood will NOT be raising drinks prices this high season, which has got to be a good thing. Hollywood Strip is well worth poking your nose in.
If you're going to The Londoner, and are walking there from the Phrom Pong BTS Station, that is you would be heading west on Sukumvit, be careful as it is VERY easy to miss. They really do need to erect a sign with an arrow showing exactly where it is.
Thinking of teaching English at a school near the beach? Think again! English schools operating near the beach tend to be amongst the most unprofessional in what is already regarded as a bit of a cowboy profession. Schools near the beach tend to pay very poorly, are generally inadequately resourced, both in quantity and suitability of resources, and are generally run in a very unprofessional way. If you have your heart set on teaching on an exotic island, or really close to the beach, you're actually far better off applying for a job at one of the big hotels, many of which do have an in-house English teacher. Not only will you be paid better, you won't have to put up with all of the inherent shit that you get at language schools, be they near a beach or anywhere else for that matter.
Sandbags laid out near the Sathorn Pier.
I made it down to the river this week, one of my almost monthly rituals, an excuse to go for a quiet cruise on the Chao Praya River Express, and get away from the noise and nonsense of the inner city. A lot of evidence remained of all of the flooding from the heavy rains that we have had over the last month. Sandbags were laid out all over the show and there were obvious signs that the river's level had risen really high. While down there, I note that the Sathorn Pier has been completely redone – and it is a lot better than it used to be. With the connection there with the Saphan taksin BTS station, this is now a very busy pier.
A certain chain of language schools with a hyphenated name that specialises in hiring unqualified, inexperienced teachers and throwing them into the premises in shopping malls is up for sale. It seems that there has been somewhat of a disagreement between the husband (non-Thai) / wife (Thai) couple and the Mrs did a runner with a rather large chunk of cash. Anyone in the market for a chain of language schools with a poor reputation, actually, about the poorest there is? I hear they particularly like Brits and Americans…
I forgot to write in last week's lengthy opening piece about Isaan that should be noted is that we did not see any beggars in our travels up there. None. Not even outside big hotels or attractions popular with tourists. It was a refreshing change from the gang organised beggars that you are seemingly everywhere tourists go in Bangkok.
Yep from time to time, this site goes down. Funnily enough, each time is has gone down in the last year has been for a different reason – me voluntarily pulling the plug while the heat went up, a virus attacked it, DNS server error and most recently a domain name that had inadvertently lapsed. I have NO plans at all to stop this site nor this column, quite the opposite in fact. So, if it does go down, you can be sure that I'll be doing my level best to get it back up ASAP.