Bangkok When the Leaves Turn, Part III

Between Part II and Part IV

October 1-9, 2001

Monday, October 1, 2001 (National Holiday in China commemorating the formation of the Central People's Government in 1949)

NEWNES continues:

Here at The Oriental just two things worth writing about: First, a baby turtle was found wandering by itself at the Sala Rim Naam. Lost from its mother, it's now in the care of the restaurant's receptionists. Second, Watcharee bought a new jacket for the upcoming temple party.

(from the International Herald Tribune)
1901: Half a Man

PARIS At the old-fashioned inns and restaurants in Sweden it is customary to charge less for women than for men, on the theory that they do not eat so much. At some hotels in Sweden a man and his wife are charged as one and one-half persons if they occupy the same room. A husband and wife may travel as one and one-half persons by railway, and also by the post routes, furnishing their own carriage.

"Ah, but Thailand! Where to be a man is to be fortunate indeed, especially a man of wealth or political influence. The women are beautiful, and seem willing to accept behavior duck-feeding tales to the contrary that their sisters elsewhere would never put up with. How come?"1

"Men are like rice seeds, ready to grow wherever they fall, but women are like rice, they just rot as time goes by."2

What is ever fair?

Wescott, with little to work with:

DIED 654

This Duke of Brabant was one of those in whom love works with a dangerous generosity. He was worldly and happy, but the death of his duchess broke his heart; he went off by himself and lived in a hollow tree for the rest of his life.

Any English families on holiday here?

The earth started to move beneath Tangshan in the early morning hours of July 28th ... [1976].3

At a depth of 11km directly under the city of Tangshan, the Great Tangshan Earthquake (GTE) unleashed a destructive power four hundred times greater than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. Fatalities were sustained as far away as Beijing, about 200km west of Tangshan.

In Qinglong County (115 km from Tangshan), more than 180,000 buildings were destroyed by the GTE; over 7,000 of these totally collapsed. However, only one person died, and he died of a heart attack. Meanwhile, in the city of Tangshan and in all its other surrounding counties, more than 240,000 people were crushed to death and 600,000 were seriously injured. Five hours after the earthquake, Qinglong County dispatched the first medical team to the disaster zone, and within a very short time, sent relief teams to Tangshan to help with rescue work and transport of the wounded.4

"Do you have any more head shots? You know, from Si Quey's place! Last year you showed us one with a bullet hole in the forehead ... with the slug zipping right through the brain and coming out the other side."

"Yes, here is a fresh 'front 'n side' one. Actually there are four shots here. After the pathologists passed the head through the band saw, four camera angles were needed to properly capture it."

"Hmmm ... not all that messy! Anything 'better'?"

"Something from a 'criminal abortion'?"

1 THAILAND TATLER, October 2001, page 96.

2 An Old Thai saying.

3 Time and date: 03:42hours, July 28, 1976. Location: Tangshan city, Hebei province, China


Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Wescott was speechless; not even a 'why the 2nd?'.




Though they are separated (here at Si Quey's) by less than a dozen feet, they were never connected in life. And, though both legs (right and left) are recognizable as coming from humans, the torso is so ... 'what?' ... that we have to take the curator's word that it was once part of a person.

(from the International Herald Tribune)
1951: Radio Magic

MUNICH - Radio announcer Dietrich Elvenpoek was fined 200 deutsche marks ($47.60) and given a suspended three-week jail sentence today [Oct. 1] for suddenly interrupting his news broadcast last December with the words "Regina, queen of the diamonds." The announcer explained to the radio station manager that he did it because he "just felt a great urge to say these words to relieve me of a headache." However, he later admitted that a magician had paid him 300 marks ($71.40) to repeat the words in his broadcast to fool a roomful of people attending a seance.

Wednesday, October 3, 2001 (Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux)


It didn't say that ... but it might have. Instead, "Swissair Suspends All Flights". Watcharee and I were booked on SR 183 (Bangkok to Zurich) and SR 116 (Zurich to Miami). But, for reasons totally unrelated to the carrier's liquidity problems we changed our travel plans and decided to spend the balance of the year here in Bangkok. Unfortunately, we'll miss this year's two main corkscrew meetings: the CCCC in Atlanta and the ICCA in Miami.1



Ewald the Dark and Ewald the Fair

Twin brothers, Englishmen, who went to Saxony as missionaries and were killed, one with a stick and one with a sword.

Over at Si Quey's place the emphasis was on death brought about by not breathing.2

Both the Bangkok Daily News and Si Quey's place looked at the dangers lurking in electricity: the man-made kind and that from those thunderous smites hurled down by Our Lord.3

The Oriental Queen left her dock this morning with very few passengers. As October starts the 'high shoulder' season here at The Oriental, it's not surprising that we have fewer people around the place. Even in the best of times there is usually an occupancy pause between the last to leave off-season guests and the first to arrive full room-rack-rate clients.

1 Because of this, my "Best Six" for 2001 will be sort of remote. As we had planned to be in Florida later this month, I had intended to photograph my "Best Six" corkscrews during that time. Now I am going to have to rely on a somewhat awkwardly clustered 'inventory' picture ... a hastily laid out drawer of the few pieces that I found here and there during the last twelve months of e-Bay trolling.

2 For various reasons.

3 The girl in sunglasses ... killed by lightning ... looks surprisingly happy. But, whether those are her real sunglasses (or, were added after her death as a thoughtful modesty touch) the caption does not say. The other two girls had their dead eyes made more anonymous by squiggly green marking-pen ink.

Thursday, October 4, 2001 (Feast of St. Francis of Assisi)

Sure, it's a different view ... but still, it is of something that has become a strange fixation of mine: the roof of my neighbor ... RCK Buildingbut, here you can see it from one of the mini-suites at the far other-end of my building. Yes, still up here on the 14th floor. But, called a "city-view" room, its main gaze looks toward the rising sun; but, a crick of the neck down-and-to-the-left shows off quite nicely what the French Embassy has been up to for all these past months. The swimming pool needs work ... but, the courtyard looks almost done.

Oh, yes ... that tall building over there: the RCK Building ... it's mostly unoccupied. Thrown up with limited thought on how to get all the cars from its garage onto the main road at rush hour, its prospective tenants are wondering if 60 minutes is too long of a time to make it just to the street.1

Coming home, floors 9 and below me are now largely open ... .technically. As 'occupancy' in all the Bangkok hotels is way off (The Oriental being no exception), everyone in the hotel business is being terribly cautious. Rather than unlock elevator doors at every floor, my place is incrementally phasing in the lower layers one at a time. Yesterday Watcharee and I looked at the newest: an 8th floor riverfront offering. It is brilliant: thoughtfully designed and beautifully decorated. Kurt Wachtveitl must be very pleased.

[ ... sound of throats clearing ... ]

Lightning Girl

"The girl in the sunglasses ... the one killed by lightning ... 'apparently' killed by lightning ..."


"She doesn't appear to be really dead; or, at least not fully dead. I mean, she is smiling and she looks like she is actually happy ... and her hair; it looks like it was ... well ... professionally done. Like it was done just for that photo."

Yes, I know what you mean. She does look out of place ... especially with that smile. All the rest of the 'dead' ones appear totally dead ... for sure. But ...

"... And, she's the only one in black and white. The rest are in color. Do you think the curator at Si Quey's is putting us on?"

It's certainly worth a return visit to find out.

Si Quey Tools

"Before you go ... do you have anything fresh from Si Quey's?"

Let's see ... scalding ... kitchen gas explosion ... trachea soot ... and a really nasty burn case.

"Anything else?

Hmmm ... some skulls. Oh, and a few tools for getting at their contents. And, do you want skeletons?


[ ... sound of chairs scraping ... ]

Wescott went on and on about him:2

Francis of Assisi
1182 1226



1 Incidentally, there are rumors that spirits are now unhappy with what was to be the new Chao Phya Sofitel Hotel. [Though monks could be hired to try to placate them, the results are not guaranteed.] Apparently this is the real reason why the Sofitel marquee was recently pulled from the building's face.

2 He takes up pages 170 to 175 ... far more than anyone else, even Jesus. Last year I doled Francis out in pieces over the better part of a week. If you are really interested, you can flip back; he IS a major saint. God only knows why!

Friday, October 5, 2001




A noble Roman widow who joined a woman's auxiliary branch of the Order of St. Basil and worked among the people. She was dying of cancer, but did not want to die because it meant leaving another nun named Beneddeta. St. Peter appeared to her and promised that she would have to be separated from her friend for only a month; so she passed away contentedly. St. Peter kept his promise [he killed Benedetta at the end of the month].

[from the International Herald Tribune]
1951: Homing Parrot

WOBURN, England The Duke of Bedford announced today that he has bred a strain of homing parrots. The birds are Budgerigars, a dwarf species of the parrot family, which can be taught to talk. The duke said this special strain will fly free during the daytime but will come home at night to eat, sleep and breed. His statement to the press did not go into the possibility that his birds may make the homing pigeon obsolete by delivering messages orally.

Malloy (Mystery Book of Days):

1971 William Friedkin's Oscar winner The French Connection opens [the day after tomorrow]. Based on a true story, the movie classic follows New York cop "Popeye" Doyle brilliantly played by Gene Hackman in his unrelenting search for the Frenchman responsible for a huge heroin shipment worth $30 million.

Tonight this map will lead Watcharee and me into an 'uncharted' area of Bangkok.


Saturday, October 6, 2001


Now Munich?

The circle of ripples from the WTC epicenter continues to grow.
First, it was Swiss Air unable to pay for its gas ... its planes padlocked on the ground at Heathrow. Now, is it our very own Gabriele Thiers-Bense running scared with too much matrimonial meat in her lockers ... her fridges suddenly swollen with excess jerky? Maybe not evident at first read, I admit ... for the Thiers-Bense puffery is almost always the same week after week: "... stunning ... by descent from an esteemed ... elite residences in ... graduated from prestigious ... enjoys horses ... ONLY FOR MARRIAGE ..." Only by carefully comparing back to back Saturdays in the Herald's INTERMARKET can we tell that this famous marriage house at Str. 5, Otto-Heilmann, Munich-Grunwald 82031 is in deep trouble. Last week's "Stunning Shanghai Lady" is still pushing the same CV ... as, too, is "... an equally Stunning Blond Vice-Pres." continuing to flail her same readiness to move to the rim of hell for almost any old 'I do'.1

Staying with the 'until-death-do-we-part' vows, this morning's Bangkok Post reports that the murder case against Dr. Wisuth ... [Remember him? His last lunch with his wife: laced sushi. Followed by: a chop-chop. Then: a flush-flush, at least up until the drains choked. But, her DNA was found in the septic tank just as it was about to leech away into the soil.] ... has been dropped. "Not enough concrete evidence", says the prosecution. But, the cops will appeal. Stay tuned.

On Wednesday, Wescott, in one brief sentence, gave us the days of Ewald the Dark and Ewald the Fair. Mercifully little, it was thought, was known about their miserable little lives; save that they were both religious meddlers. After the first comma Wescott killed one with a stick ... the other with a stone. Full stop, I thought.

Not so. Waving arms and chirping loudly, Tilman Smith2 told us what Wescott could not:

Today we celebrate the feasts of two saints named Ewald who also happened to be brothers. According to the History of the Church by St. Bede these brothers lived in the 7th century. One was known as Black Ewald because of his dark hair, the other White Ewald because of his blond hair. They were missionary priests. They arrived in Germany about the year 694 and spent several days with a local official. So strong and impressive was their faith that many of the pagans feared that the brothers would convert their Chief, and these men did not want to lose their gods and festival practices. Heuualdi et Heualdi (translated into Anglo-Saxon as Ewald and Ewald) were killed before they could make contact with the Chief. According to tradition their bodies were thrown in the river, but an English monk, Tilmon, miraculously found them (Nightly over their bodies shone a bright light, visible for a long time, which revealed where they were and how great was their merit) and buried them.

The Bangkok Daily News, balancing circulation concerns with public service responsibilities, leads its readers into the day with an overturned multi-wheeler engulfed in flaming gasoline ... and a dead body ... and another dead body.


Wescott has a long piece about MARY FRANCES OF THE FIVE WOUNDS OF JESUS (18th Century) that you can read elsewhere.

1 Actually, she said, " ... absolutely flexible regarding a relocation in connection to marriage."

2 "Not to toot my own horn, but I thought you might be interested in knowing what I do when I'm not stitching quilts ... XO Tilman." [Tilman's Mennonite activities keep her out of the kitchen.]

Sunday, October 7, 2001

I think Denise1 knelt here, too.

Justina of Padua

The orphan daughter of a barbarian king, executed for Christianity at the age of sixteen. On the way to her trial she knelt on a bridge over the Po, where the prints of her knees in the stone, or the fraudulent work of her admirers' hands, may still be seen.


A couple of nights ago, the map that I showed you 'took' us to Baan Chamnong: a Thai restaurant owned by one of The Oriental's managers. As it does not cater to foreign tourists, everything from its outdoor sign to the menu is in Thai. Seafood seems to be its specialty.

Today Watcharee and I are going to Ayutthaya: a 'family' thing, temple related. More later.

1 Yes, 'our' Denise ... the same girl who graces Corkscrew-Balloon #3. She was in Padua during her very first trip to Europe: the first leg of which was a walking trip that was organized by Butterfield and Robinson. The second part was built around ballooning and the Palio. I think we have a very nice picture of her in a LBD (little black dress). She photographs well in anything.

Monday, October 8, 2001 (Feast of Saint Pelagia)

"I personally didn't know him very well."

- Abdullah Mohammed Binladen, youngest of Osama's surviving siblings.

"It's a big family. There is a black sheep in every family."

- Abdullah, when pressed on the point.

Readers here will remember that it was not long ago that Prince Charles was overheard asking one of the bin Laden kin during a state dinner: "What's your brother been up to lately?" The press only reported the question, not the answer.

Circulation editors at the Bangkok Daily News were pleased with what came out of Morton's darkroom last night: a double killing with masses of blood1 and a total nude-in2 by hundreds of farangs.3

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post, the International Herald Tribune and the Asian Wall Street Journal headlined the start of World War III.

"But, what's that picture on page 4? In the Post! It doesn't look like 'children thrown from a refugee boat' to me. Looks like sheep4 grazing."

Quite right. Well, almost! Neither tossed overboard kids nor sheep ... just more farang nudes. It's the work of New York artist Spencer Tunick who is known for his "mass nude photographs". While the Emmy Awards has been canceled some shows must go on.


Wescott clearly enjoys this one, as will you:

Pelagia the Penitent

This confusing maiden of Antioch was condemned to loss of her virginity and to death at the age of fifteen. The first part of her punishment so terrified her that she asked to retire to her room for a moment, went out on the flat room of her house, and threw herself down. Since suicide is almost the worst, as well as the final, sin, it requires a doctor of theology to justify her canonization. What makes it still more troubling is that, in spite of her age and her fear of rape, she had been a professional prostitute, and in her longing for extreme deprivations, had disguised herself as a man and lived in a monastery on Mount Oliver. Perhaps there were two saints named Pelagia in Antioch; or secret worshippers of Venus, eager for holy sanction of their own conduct, may have introduced into the legend its improper complications.

1 An eyeball analysis suggests that the paper's Photo Shop 6.1 team on just this picture alone employed a 'record' quantity of hatch-work. In order to cover up the spilled blood, and other viscera that escaped from the skeletal cages of the deceased, a never-before-undertaken-number of little 'box-lines' had to be carefully positioned to block out all of the offending red stuff.

2 Remarkably few 'bars' were needed in this photograph. As the attention of most of the participants was focused on something away from the camera, hundreds of potentially offensive nasty parts, both above and below the belly button, were aimed in another direction. No fat ladies took off their clothes.

3 'Farang' is Thai for 'foreigner'; technically anyone who is not Thai, but the term is generally only applied to 'round eyes'.

4 Watcharee thought they were pigs. Incidentally, many Thai people do not eat beef because buffalos and cows are friendly farm animals that help with work around the house. Pigs do not


PS. The Christmas season for advertisers started today.

Tuesday, October 9, 2001 (Leif Ericson (sic)1 Day Norway)

On Sunday Watcharee and I drove up to Ayutthaya. This photograph of her and her cousins2 was taken at Wat Glang, the neighborhood Buddhist temple frequented by her family. We stayed for lunch.


Elbowing each other for intolerant eyes:

Had Wescott allowed his pen to look at Islam ... well, we can but wonder what he would have written about their superstitions.3 So, we are left with just the fools of Christendom:


Denis is believed to be identical with Dionysius the Areopagite, the first Bishop of Athens who St. Paul converted. Pope St. Clement I sent him to France, with some assistant missionaries. They settled on an island in the Seine, perhaps the Ile-de-la-Cite or the Ile-St.-Louis. There Denis was beheaded; and his body stood up, took his head in its hands, and went as far as Montmartre, accompanied by singing angels.

The great mystical and scholastic works known as the Areopagite's are now ascribed to an unknown genius of the fourth or fifth century. St. Gregory of Tours, the first French historian, denies that the first Bishop of Paris was St. Paul's convert, and dates his mission and martyrdom two centuries later.

In any case, he is the patron-saint of France, and is invoked against headaches.

1 The spell-check feature in Microsoft's Word program insists that the letter 'k' belongs between the 'c' and the 's'. NEWNES, obviously using a 'hunt 'n peck' Remington, can be easily forgiven for this omission.

2 With fifteen aunts and uncles, her family tree is like a Banyan.

3 Could a bin-Wescott even have survived? Dear reader, do you remember that loony cleric who got terribly 'bent' because young Christopher (quite innocently) wrote something untrue about Mohammed? Yes, it was a long time ago ... during our journey in Pakistan. Anyway, Chris got a number of missives from him ... claiming that all Muslims were offended by his teenage words.

Next: Part IV

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