Bangkok in the Heart of Winter, Part IX

After Part VIII and Before Spring Break at Patpong

March 17-20, 2002

Sunday, March 17, 2002 (St. Patrick's Day)



My very good friend, D.S. (or, S.D.) ... formerly of Shanghai [where I first met him at The Overseas Seaman's Club2 in the early 1980's] ... and now a resident of Taiwan ... has sent me this comment on the pictures that make up the Baby Soup recipe/presentation that was featured in these pages just three days ago, on the 14th.

Dear Alf,

Yes, I knew the story which was published on local magazine-Next Magazine few months ago and I was shocked too. Since this magazine is just a gossip magazine, I would doubt the truth of this story. According to the reporters of the magazine, they found this baby stew in a town located near Canton, China. These guys believed this was nutritious! Now, some people are not afraid of eating bugs, insects, monkey heads, bear palms or even baby stew!

I wound stay on traditional menu; we do have lots of choices. What do you think?

So, according to Dan, this dish may have its origins in Canton. Please do read footnote (3).3

This morning reader J.B. chimed in helpfully with a question I had about a NEWNES entry on the 15th ... just the day before yesterday. I expressed worry over a place called Ruthenia: did it really exist or was it something that NEWNES just slipped in to see if we were sleeping? According to J.B. the place is (was) real:

Sir; The somewhat-full story here of Ruthenia. Nearly impossible to edit down for brevity, the entire article can be found with the enclosed link. Hope this helps. Cordially, JB

From: <>

Czechoslovakia -- Second Republic, 1938-39

As a result of the Munich Agreement, the greatly weakened Czechoslovak Republic was forced to grant major concessions to the non-Czechs. ... Reflecting the spread of modern Ukrainian national consciousness, the pro Ukrainian faction, led by Volosin, gained control of the local government, and Subcarpathian Ruthenia was renamed Carpatho-Ukraine (see Problem of Dissatisfied Nationalities, this ch.).

In November 1938, Emil Hacha, succeeding Benes, was elected president of the federated Second Republic, consisting of three parts: Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, and Carpatho-Ukraine [Ruthenia]. Lacking its natural frontier and having lost its costly system of border fortification, the new state was militarily indefensible. In January 1939, negotiations between Germany and Poland broke down. Hitler, intent on war against Poland, needed to eliminate Czechoslovakia first. He scheduled a German invasion of Bohemia and Moravia for the morning of March 15. In the interim, he negotiated with Slovak Populists and with Hungary to prepare the dismemberment of the republic before the invasion. On March 14, the Slovak Diet convened and unanimously declared Slovak independence. Carpatho-Ukraine also declared independence, but Hungarian troops occupied it and eastern Slovakia. Hitler summoned President Hacha to Berlin.

During the early hours of March 15, Hitler informed Hacha of the imminent German invasion. Threatening a Luftwaffe attack on Prague, Hitler persuaded Hacha to order the capitulation of the Czechoslovak army. On the morning of March 15, German troops entered Bohemia and Moravia, meeting no resistance. The Hungarian invasion of Carpatho-Ukraine did encounter resistance, but the Hungarian army quickly crushed it. On March 16, Hitler went to Czechoslovakia and from Prague's Hradcany Castle proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate.

Independent Czechoslovakia collapsed in the wake of foreign aggression and internal tensions.

This evening Watcharee and I strolled the Sunday walking-street section of lower (near Patpong) Silom Road. There was no evidence of Saint Patrick. Nothing green. Watcharee had to settle for a yellow banana smoothie.

One of Bangkok's original Internet Cafés has started to show serious aging.

1 Last year ... or the year before ... one of our readers DID give us a lot more than what we really needed to know about him. In short, he was against the Corn Laws and made up nasty rhymes about them.

2 Originally the Soviet Consulate in Shanghai ... up until relations soured between Beijing and Moscow. Now, I think it is back in Russian hands.

3 Not unexpected, as the Cantonese are not squeamish about eating anything. It was here in Canton that the art of eating the brain of a live monkey was perfected. The restrained beast was positioned below the center of a round table ... the top of his shaved head protruding through a hole ... a 7/8ths surgical slice allowed the scalp to fold back neatly into an awaiting dish of spiced liquor ... then, without delay, there followed a quick round-the-head 'buzz' with a circular bone saw ... finally, a suction cup assisted 'pop-off' of the bony 'lid' ... and everyone was read to dig in. The trick was to get in a few mouthfuls while the brain was still pulsing.

Monday, March 18, 2002


Normally I take the shuttle-boat back to The Oriental when I am on the other side of the Chao Phya River. But more often of late I've walked south on Nakorn to the Taksin Bridge ... crossed over it ... and gone north on Krung until I'm back home. It's only about a 30-minute walk and it is rather colorful. Today I took my camera; in the brief one block from the base of the bridge to Robinson's Department Store the walkway is chunked with footpath vendors selling everything from "ready to pop-in teeth" to counterfeit watches to lettuce to sandals to keys ... not to mention clothes. All of this stuff is very inexpensive.


Edward the Martyr
962 - 978

Edward, King of the West Saxons, was murdered by his step-mother's servants. His half-brother's grief, and popular horror of the crime, appear to have dictated his saintly reputation; so he may be said to have been canonized more or less to make amends.

Incidentally, Watcharee and I may fly from Bangkok to London next month ... something big looks like it might loom-up rather unexpectedly in far-tucked-away Leeds2 in mid-April. This something is a thing that hasn't happened in the Erickson family for many years. Everyone is now wondering if anyone from San Diego will attend.

1 Once while waiting for a bus in Berlin I stood outside the house in which he was born, lived in at one time, or died in (... or, it might have been the place where he invented the diesel engine).

2 Leeds (the team) is having a bad season this year. Though the city does have a good university (lots of my balloon crew have come out of Leeds); and the law school is becoming stellar (it has a good criminal law department staffed with luminaries who are in charge of keeping the "Standard Works" current).

Tuesday, March 19, 2002 (Feast of Saint Joseph)


About three months ago the Patpong Corkscrew Club (Thailand)1 had its first AGM here in Bangkok. The event was covered heavily in these pages. According to some, we 'milked' it excessively over the subsequent weeks. I think not.

Anyway, members Nick Hunt from Sydney, Australia and Helgir Solheim from Oslo, Norway sent their 'apologies' for not being able to make the AGM and the several emergency 'special' meetings that were called to discuss the latest Swiss patent developments in cork extraction technology. But, members Ohmy, Gift and Amma were able to shoulder most of the work even though they had to do this totally unassisted by our more experienced members. The House of Corkscrew Balloon Dot Com in its own little way wants to give all five a nod of thanks for their 'regrets' and their work. We can do this best with some 'out takes' that up to now have not been seen outside of THOCBDC's own darkrooms.2 So ... we have Nick and Helgir about to ladle up some homemade punch; AND the Patpongettes standing around stark naked.


2 No, this is not a cheap way to get more 'skin' onto our pages. The second picture ... that of Amma and Gift in bed together ... has nothing to do with the Swiss patents.

PS One of my daughters, Christy Erickson, has just this hour (00:27 Southeast Asia time) rolled her new commercial site on to the World Wide Web:

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Dear readers, rarely does Wescott honor a saint with so many words ... but, I am sure that you will agree (if you stick with his words) that Benedict was well worth the read.

480 - 543

The Man who adapted monasticism to Western human nature and to the needs of medieval Europe. In his youth he was continually tempted, and one night ran out naked and rolled in a thicket of briars. Perhaps he did his offending body real harm, for that is the last we hear of temptation. The thicket may still be seen, near Subiaco, but the briars are roses now - St. Francis having changed them when he was there.

A community of unusually immoral hermits asked him to preside over them; but his Puritanism distressed them so that they tried to kill him, either by means of a snake in a loaf of bread1 or by a cup of poisoned wine. Benedict discovered the plot in time, and never went back there again.

One of the last temples of Apollo was in Monte Cassino, which is the reason Benedict chose it for the first house of his order; and though he destroyed the temple, it seemed for centuries that, all uninvited and unknown, the spirit of the Lord of Light was with the Benedictines, tempering the half-oriental monkish humor. In fact Benedict's intention was 'to secure a true balance of the different faculties, and to guard against emotional excesses.' He was moderate in discipline, on one occasion forbidding a monk named Mark, afterwards a saint, to tie himself up with an iron chain, recommending instead that of the pious will-power.

His physical presence must have been infinitely impressive; some of the most powerful barbarians of his day shrank from his melancholy gaze, or even cringed at his feet. He died standing at the altar with outstretched arms.

Ceiling Work

Unwanted Waters Attack Luggage Room of Gore Vidal Suite at The Oriental

'Sappers' Rushed to 14th Floor

Little Damage Suffered
Small Puddle Contained

It could have been much worse. Watcharee heard a dripping noise. When she went to investigate she saw a wet spot on the floor. Drops of water were coming from somewhere above the ceiling. Floor butlers were summoned. Engineers were called. Ceiling panels were removed ... exposing all sorts of pipes and wires and fittings and other mechanical and electrical things. Repairs were made. Full stop!2



1 Inserting a venomous snake into a loaf of previously baked bread was not an unusual way of killing a foe in those days. The snake, usually a young male puff adder, remained quite docile while nestled in its warm, soft and airy loaf. But once disturbed by an invasive bite, the reptile reflexively and instantly struck-out ... invariably sinking his fangs and empting his poison sacs into the tongue or lip of the unsuspecting 'biter'.

2 Meanwhile Watcharee was forced to continue with her 'cross-stitching' far away from the crisis area.

Next: Spring Break at Patpong

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