Here we are, Bangkok; a Sunday in mid-June hurtling straight towards the eye of rainy season.
It’s been another busy week with perhaps the most prominent story being the fallout from the Nataree Massage bust last week – the owner and manager are currently thought to be hiding out somewhere in the city with 14 charges relating to commercial sexual exploitation of underage girls hanging round their necks.
Also gripping the nation was the Thursday attempt by the Department of Special Investigation to search the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple and arrest Phra Dhammachayo on charges related to money laundering. The investigators faced a wall of passive resistance as hordes of Dhammakaya followers blocked access to the temple by praying.
As always, there have been plenty more high jinks and news stories occupying Bangkok though — here’s the best of them.
In a bold and progressive move, minister Paiboon Koomchaya has proposed reclassifying methamphetamine (commonly sold in Thailand as yaba) to the status of a ‘normal’ drug, claiming that jailing offenders often does more long-term harm than good. This would be a significant turn-around for Thailand who has typically taken steps to inflict harsh punishment on drug criminals.
In case you were considering it – don’t kiss a gecko. Or indeed any lizard. Photos emerged this week of a young lad in Lampang with a large lizard attached to his upper lip, which refused to relinquish its grip until the boy was taken to see a doctor.
Speaking at a panel event hosted by the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand, two former volunteers at the controversial Tiger Temple spoke to how they were unaware of any abuses carried out by the abbot or the monks and that seemingly good care was taken of the wild animals. Edwin Wiek, founder of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, spoke against the temple’s operations.
Luk khrueng – those of mixed race – are widely adored throughout Thailand for their ‘exotic’ mix of Asian and Western features. One father to two young luk khrueng daughters talks about the difficulties in raising children who are continually told of their beauty and aesthetic value and whether there are long-term repercussions entwined with that.
Phil from the Ajarn blog talks us through a few of the hurdles he’s trying to cross now he’s reached “the dizzy heights of ‘upper intermediate'” level of Thai language learning. Some of these problems will likely to be familiar to anyone looking to get past the basic level and to actually start having meaningful conversations in this arguably difficult language. He talks about his tendency to overcomplicate conversation and the lack of consistency among native speakers to agree on the best translations of English words.
This is an interesting post from a Thai trans man on the current ‘hot’ issue of what bathrooms transgender people should be using. Jay talks about the debate captivating the US right now and how he feels when he’s expected to use the women’s bathroom in Thailand, as he’s typically perceived as a ‘tom’.
For Bangkok book lovers…
The Bangkok Books website has bravely attempted to list all the books that have been written about Bangkok, as well as the locations of the city’s bookshops. There’s also an easily digestible blog alongside it. A good read for those interested in Bangkok’s literary history.
A question likely pondered by many a canny businessman landing in Thailand – can foreigners own or franchise a 7-Eleven? The ubiquitous stores pop up overnight and are seemingly guaranteed success. But before you get too excited, this thread will bring you back down to earth with the horror stories and realities of running such a store, including how as soon as you reach a certain threshold of income, another, better 7-Eleven will pop up right alongside you.
This Thaivisa post asks the incredibly broad question of whether Thais feel shame – based on the poster’s experience with a seemingly good-for-nothing brother-in-law and a wife who continually takes her family’s side over her husband’s. The responses here vary from calling out the poster for the wide generalisations, to tips on how to deal with opportunistic in-laws.
One popular response:
A pick-up artist in Bangkok…
Wannabe snake ;-) pic.twitter.com/VqByCJmzgB
— Stickboy Bangkok (@StickboyBangkok) June 15, 2016
New problem in Thailand: wife never tells husband she had work done before they met… first baby comes out looking like the original wife.
— MulletFarm (@MulletFarm) June 15, 2016
Fact: Application fees for intl kindergartens in Sukhumvit can be more expensive than fees for graduate programs at Ivy League unis
— teamkorn (@teamkorn) June 14, 2016
— อือ (@tumsoma) June 15, 2016
That’s been The Week On Sukhumvit – see you next time!