Bangkok When the Leaves Turn, Part II

Between Part I and Part III

September 24-30, 2001

Monday, September 24, 2001


Today the Bangkok Post makes gloomy reading.

PS That number 'problem' that I mentioned yesterday ... and the day before, and the day before that! OK, take your sheet of paper fold it over in half then again in quarters; so that the original sheet is now 1/4th of its original size ... but, of course, it is now four times thicker than when you started. OK, keep this up ... continue folding until you've done it 100 times. Go ahead ... I'll wait.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

How is your folding coming along?

If you have been diligent, your 100th fold (from a 'full' sheet to one of 'double' thickness to that of 'four deep' ... etc, etc ... ) should now have this many layers!


"Really? I was too busy folding to count."

Yes ... 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 ... right up to that great big number.

"What about the other number you gave us? The one starting with 28,581 ... and continuing on and on for another eighteen digits?"

That's the number of miles-thick your pile of papers is. Awkward sentence, I know; but, that's how high is that pile on your table.

"And, the 4,869,332,672 number ... the last one you gave us?"

The result of simple division: the number of years that it would take a flashlight beam to race from the bottom of your pile to the very top.


NEWNES notes another bad day for Norway1:

And, Wescott's improbables continue to march through the calendar:

DIED 1721

This Franciscan was lame, deaf, and blind, but governed his convent ably nevertheless. He insisted that others should devote themselves fanatically and painstakingly to their every-day duties; he himself, justified as well as incapacitated by fate, spent most of his life alone, at peace, in abstract meditation.

Last night Bangkok's prime time television showed a 'live' autopsy. Live AutopsyNot understanding a word of spoken Thai, I was thoroughly unprepared for the lightning fast ... "slash, buzz, crack and slurp" ... and there it was: flopped right out on the table: a whole human brain. Watcharee was nonchalantly doing her nails throughout ... so, I guess it's not all that uncommon to have live TV straight from the marble slabs of Bangkok's morgue. As everything happened so fast, I was only able to 'catch' the credits: this final flashy smile of the pathologist as she was about to wash up.2

After a couple of weeks of 'tasteful' photographs, the Bangkok Daily News has returned to its coverage of messier things. Morton had to fish around his darkroom toolbox for both dots and bars for this morning's production run.

Staying with the media, it's interesting how world-class crisis bring out the full-page ads in the world-class newspapers. Today's International Herald Tribune is the vehicle for "Maharishi's Proposal For Permanent World Peace". His Holiness, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,3 has built a chart that shows how the clever use Lepto-Quarks, Bose Fields, optics, acoustics, gravitation, neutrinos and fluid dynamics can be combined into one all-promising "Technology of Invincible Defense" ... so that nothing bad will ever happen again.

"Uhhh ... Can you show us some more pictures of Patpong girls ... even if they are with elephants?"

1 For Paul's young Norwegian friend, Pauline, this must have been a terrible week for dressing: raiding closets for 'black' must have taken her deep into grandmother's territory.

2 The insert? Perhaps the last owner of the flipped-out organ?

3 I swear to God ... I thought this man was dead! But, no ... forty-four years after introducing us to Transcendental Meditation ... he has now come up with the "Total Natural Law" to make every nation "invincible".

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

In a belated celebration of our anniversary, Watcharee and I revisited Bangkok's Museum of Forensic Medicine ... Si Queybetter known by locals as "Si Quey's Place".1 It is a strange collection: an eclectic mix of sliced-through heads, chopped-off limbs, freak organs, heat-dried hunks of people, weirdly-dead babies hovering Stanley Kubrick style, and lots of photographs of really bad ways to die. If you haven't already seen it ... it's better looked at on an empty stomach.

New additions to the museum ... or, perhaps things I didn't see on the first spin-around ... well, I'll post them here in bits and pieces over the next week or so. It's too heavy for one go. For starters, those whirling blades from Bangkok's long tail boats are really dangerous to swimmers. As is defending yourself from a knife attack with your bare hands.


1 Si Quey (pronounced 'See Uee') is perpetually posed at the top of the stairs. Looking somewhat stretched and bent after his 'hanging', it seems like his final display was a bit of an afterthought. After his last handlers embalmed him, it appears that they stood him in a closet to thoroughly dry out. Then, not knowing how to properly show him, they just propped him up in a glass box ... not unlike the shape and style of a regular outdoor phone booth. From this standing position he's become the unofficial greeter of the museum.

Thursday, September 27, 2001

Last year I wondered about these two. At the time I said something about Tilman Smith (the little known wife of a famous chef) cheering them ... or the leg ... on. Given what has happened ... well ...

Cosmas and Damian

Twin brothers of Arabian origin, doctors, who never refused a patient and never took any pay. One of their operations the amputation of a diseased leg and the grafting of a dead negro's healthy leg in its place no longer seems as miraculous as it did, because of multiplication of such miracles. The Emperor Diocletian's officers are said to have had great difficulty in putting them to death.


Si Quey's Place never seems busy. A few Japanese tourists with video cameras ... Thai school kids (usually boys, with girls in tow) ... myself ... .Watcharee, only because I made her come along. Oh, and I do think that mothers ... women, at least 1 ... must come to the place sometime, as the offerings to the babies2 always appear to be fresh. Other than that, the museum is very quiet. There is no admission charge; however, a 'donation' box by the stairs encourages support. There are no attendants walking around; no security cameras to be seen. Theft or graffiti is probably not a problem. Shoes can be worn at all times and there are no limitations on photography. And, there are chairs. The place is air-conditioned and well lit. Food and drinks are not available.

1 Men usually don't do this sort of thing.

Friday, September 28, 2001

For today's starters: Si Quey shows off his lower mummified bits and pieces. Also, the mummified head of his 'friend' (hung, too, for murder, rape and other assorted mischief).


Equally relevant, Wescott gives us:


An Anglo-Saxon poetess patronized by Charlemagne and his wife. They invited her to live with them; life in a convent suited her better.

(from the International Herald Tribune)
1926: Elusive Tsar

PARIS The fascinating question of the escape of Tsar Nicholas from the slaughter and holocaust of Ekaterinenborg has again been aroused in Russian monarchist circles, following reports from Switzerland that the Tsar is in hiding somewhere along the French or Italian Riviera. According to reports reaching Paris yesterday [Sept. 26], the "Little Father of all the Russians" is in good health and ready to claim his throne against all comers as soon as the decadence of the Bolshevist regime reaches the point where military intervention becomes possible.

Last night a special ceremony took place at the Bangkok Marriott Resort and Spa. A check for almost 400,000 baht was given to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre. Elephant Bar PaintingThis money was raised by the organizers of the King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, which was held on September 15th and 16th near the Anantara Resort and Spa at Hua Hin. After Mr. William Heinecke, the owner of both resorts, presented the check to the Centre, Mr. Oliver Winter, on behalf of the two elephant polo teams from Thailand, presented him with a memorable gift of the event. Christopher Stafford, the General Manager of the Anantara property, was the night's master of ceremonies; he was also the guiding hand that organized the tournament.1 Incidentally, the Marriott's Elephant Bar, to which we later retired for restoratives, sports a marvelous painting of elephant polo.

ALIMAK is still retreating from The Oriental. But, is he taking the guests with him?

1 Also present was Laura Speirs (who probably did more work than anybody to put the whole elephant polo thing together) ... dressed in basic black, looking quite beautiful ... as always.

Saturday, September 29, 2001 (Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. Also, the start of Michaelmas Term)

No, I have never really wondered why kids like to wander around Si Quey's house.1 It's obvious. It's a damn-inviting place for any boy to spend a rainy Saturday ... the things to see are so incredibly 'gross' and ever so colorful to describe:

" ... and there was this guy cooked to death in a pot, all the meat just hanging from burnt-off skin ... right next to this was a lady who had her guts hanging out of a big hole in her side ... and another fat woman with her leg all shot away and blood all over the place ... ".

"Mom, tell him to stop!"

"Keep it up, Num! Just keep it up ... your father will really give you something to be sick about when he gets home."

But, what about those very little, big-eyed children ... all in tight tow ... and parents whispering into their ears? Well, Miss Kat of Kat's Corner, over at the Bangkok Post has the easy answer:

"I talked to several Thai people about my shock at seeing so many children at the museum. One friend told me, 'Oh yes. My parents brought me to that museum when I was a child. It is not about Buddhism or a religious lesson. Parents like to tell children really scary stories. They do it to show you what can happen if you are a bad girl, if you talk to strangers, or if you do not come home on time. The parents bring you there so that you will behave. I could not sleep for six months after going there.'"

For the record, NEWNES:

The Archangel Michael

Michael, whose name in Hebrew means that he resembles God, is the highest in rank of the seven archangels; the captain of the heavenly armies; the recorder; the master of intercession and revelation; the keeper of souls of the dead; and the lord of mountains and high places.

Once upon a time a Calabrian named Gargano lost one of his bulls, which was found standing in the mouth of a cavern, spell-bound. Unable to get it to move, Gargano shot at it; and the arrow turned in the air and killed him. A few days later St. Michael appeared to a bishop in the neighborhood and explained that the cave which had attracted the bull had been used for evil heathen performances, and he wanted it turned into a church. It is still a church, and bits of the rocky walls are taken against cholera.


Throughout everything, Munich's Gabriele Thiers-Bense has been with us. While other advertisers have drastically altered copy ... and have even totally pulled whole acres of print from pages ... the Thiers-Bense marriage mediation group has not missed an issue. I am convinced that even if ... whole civilizations sank beneath oceans of hate ... entire continents be raged by nuclear fires ... yes, even if next to nothing was left of our world ... there would still be that "SHE": that " ... global, top, prestigious, from esteemed descent, irresistible, cultured, multi-lingual woman who is willing to relocate anywhere, ONLY FOR MARRIAGE ... ".

As on every Saturday past, Gabriele is at the top of today's IHT "Intermarket":

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Hardly pausing for breath:

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Buried deeper in the classified print ... but, for those who want to cut to the quick:

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Even more to the point:

SULTRY EUROPEAN BLOND seeks international Businessman for liaison, 212 289-5112.

1 New candidates for Si Quey inclusion appear almost daily. This morning's Bangkok Daily News featured the quasi-mummified body of a young boy who was recently found in a spirit house. Dead, but not decayed, his remains were fussed over by pickers in search of lucky lottery numbers (the 15th and the 30th of each month are the drawing days). Watcharee says that Thai people believe that finding something 'strange' augurs well for lottery number selections. Like strangely mutated banana plants and porkers gifted with the sex organs of both, this 'preserved' kid promises the glimmer of a work-free life to the players of bimonthly lady-luck.

Sunday, September 30, 2001

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.


Wescott1 waxes well on this one. Yes, he is worth a read in these interesting times.

342 420

While in Rome as a rich young law-student, the great Dalmatian turned from a dissipated though brilliant way of life to extreme asceticism. Shame of his worldly scholarship, apparently, drove him to theology; and it was because he loved Greek that he learned Hebrew, which he detested thus preparing to make his Latin version of the Bible, the Vulgate. During the first part of his life he traveled indefatigably; now in Trier on business for his father; now in the Syrian desert, where three zones of natural desolation, from bad to worse, were made to correspond to differing degrees of unnatural human austerity, and where he reduced his body to a cluster of almost separate bones; now in Rome, in the thick of theological trouble.

In Rome he was surrounded by learned ladies, and when he finally settled in Bethlehem his closest friends among them Paula, 'the mother-in-law of God', as he called her, and her Godly daughter did likewise. He sold his patrimony in the Balkans and built a monastery and a school; the noble bluestockings built three nunneries and a hospital. There for thirty-four years they led an ideal literary life, noble and harsh and monotonous and selfish dieting, praying at fixed hours, working at all hours. In that hot-bed of faith, differences of doctrine sometimes led to a little rioting; erring theologians did set fire to one of the old author's buildings; but in general he was allowed to fight his intellectual battles in peace.

The evidence of a thousand paintings to the contrary notwithstanding, it was the monk, Gerasimus, and not Jerome, who had a pet lion.

Jerome is supposed to have spent a year in purgatory for his excessive love of Plato. He is the patron of students and men of letters, especially theologians.

NEWNES confirms:

A lot of others, too:

NEWNES reminds us that a generation ago Britain tried (and eventually abandoned) an idea that Americans are looking at now:

1939: Identity cards were first issued in Britain.

"Can we see something more from Si Quey's place?"

How about a picture of a "Blast Force Injury From a Molotov Cocktail"? And, perhaps that oldest of exchanges: "An Arm and a Leg"?

1 My copy of Wescott ("A Calendar of Saints for Unbelievers") is falling apart ... literally. The spine has snapped between pages 172 and 173 (in fact, pages 173 178, inclusive, are totally loose from the others). Though it wants repairs, it remains as you well know fully functional. But now, I tote it in a plastic carrier bag from "Little Twin Stars": a seller of angel related products. Not incidentally, just up the street from The Oriental there is a bookbinder. Frankly, I am surprised to find that such a service is still available.

2 Discussed earlier.

Next: October in Bangkok

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