Jesus Gone ... Songkran Gone

After Jesus Gone, Songkran Arrives

April 19-30, 2002

Friday, April 19, 2002 (Primrose Day)


Was this what he intended?This morning's breakfast edition of the Bangkok Daily News entertained its readers with an unusual photograph: the successful suicide of a man who jumped from a very high building ... but whose landing was interrupted by a railing. In the past, both Thai Rhat and Daily News photographers have only captured solid flat-on splats ... suicide leaps that have hit the X right on. Today's jumper ... intentionally or because of bad aim ... neatly folded himself in half across an interrupting railing: from the waist down he's on one side; from the waist up he's on the other side ... rather like clock hands showing 6:25.

Outside my window here at The Oriental Hotel not much has happened:

Earlier this morning the Oriental Queen was allowed to sink again. On film it can be seen slipping beneath the tide [376k MPEG] at about the speed that paint dries.

Later, a mysterious fourth barge was positioned directly above the submerged Queen. This barge appears to be attached by cables to the cradle. And, I assume that the Queen is, in turn, attached to the bottom of the barge. Perhaps ... acting like some sort of terminally ill child in a final papoose cling to the mother ... the moribund Queen has been bound tightly to the underbelly of the barge for its final journey to the breaker's yard.

Saturday, April 20, 2002


Farewell to the QueenThe Oriental Queen 'set sail' on its last voyage this morning. For sure, 'set sail' is not literally accurate as a description of the Queen's departure. Lashed to the underside of a rusty barge ... and dragged under water to the breaker's yard ... is not what this Queen Mum expected of her last trip down the Chao Phya River. But, that's the ignominious way she went.

Meanwhile breakfast at the hotel's buffet returned to normal.

But, over in one of the city's 'entertainment zones' a few girls got into some sort of temporary trouble. However, they are probably back at work even as you read this.

Life is again normal in Bangkok.

1 Perhaps the Vatican should ask the Church of England if it could rummage through its files.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

"For half of my life everyone who was desirable, really successful, fabulously good looking and in all respects very enviable was older than I; for the second half of my life they are all younger."

Honest! I didn't realize at the time ... but one of the pictures that I took yesterday of the hotel buffet ... you know, the ones of the breakfast buffet ... well, the guy standing at the cereal table was my friend Karim. And I didn't pick this up until I checked the photos after they were on actually up on the web.1

Tonight Watcharee and I went down to the lower part of Silom Road ... where it runs under the Skytrain's elevated tracks. On Sundays this five or six block section of Silom Road becomes a pedestrian street from late afternoon until late evening. Last year the city closed the street to cars for only seven or eight Sundays; but this year it's a walking street every Sunday. Running perpendicular to Patpong's main entrances, it's a refreshing arts and crafts alternative to lackluster pole grinding, pricey cheap-booze and five-minute blow-jobs ...2

The experiment has been very successful ... and fun. Sure, there is a lot of stuff to buy ... but the best parts are the feelings that you can find: the music, quick sketches, the tattoos, pretty nails for beautiful fingers, the body painting and lots more.

Silom Road Tattoo Silom Road Nails


1 Karim claims to have been spooning out bran flakes. But, it could have been pork rinds for all we can tell from the camera height (14 floors above). Though I believe him.

2 ... BUT vice versa for those who tire easily of roughly hewed wood elephants, batik dresses and charcoal drawings.

Monday, April 22, 2002

Today my afternoon walk back to The Oriental detoured through Suan Sathorn Park, a semi-bucolic downtown Bangkok oasis that is shielded from direct sunlight by a concrete highway overpass and construction preparation for the Skytrain extension. Though it is the host to the Suan Sathron Running Club, its asphalt track and 'basic' gym equipment are at present under-utilized as the Bangkok Marathon is finished for another year. Even the normally satisfying view of the Peninsula Hotel is now partially blocked by near sky high crates of 'empties' from the local Pepsi distributor (a sponsor of the Bangkok Marathon).

A few of the spent runners have taken up their new-found slack time with tearing apart, rebuilding and adjusting old car engines so that they can power some of Bangkok's ubiquitous long-tail boats. The job is fairly straightforward: repipe the cooling system so that it sucks and spits into the river, knock off the transmission, add a really long shaft, sick a prop on the end, mount the whole thing on a pivot and bolt it all very tightly on to the stern of a long-tail boat. And give the new owner the ignition keys.

van Sloan and Lugosi




DIED 296

A Dalmation pope who devised six orders preliminary to ordination as a priest: Ostarius, Lector, Exorcist, Acolyte, Subdeacon, and Deacon.

* The picture is of Edward van Sloan as Professor van Holsing confronting Bela Lugosi (right) in Tod Browning's 1931 classic, Dracula. Professor Holding is holding a crucifix in his right hand. Dracula is seen recoiling from the 'evil' thing.

1 Though always voguish among Oxford dons, Kant never really became mainstream-popular until he was 'republished' by Monty Python in a skit.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

My friend Tung1 and her Finnish boyfriend, Rami, have just made the society section of a local Finnish newspaper. The Finnish Blat simultaneously announced the couple's upcoming marriage and Rami's easy decision to permanently move to Thailand ... well, at least until he has finished his postgraduate work at his university here in Bangkok. Even then it is unlikely that the couple will ever return to Finland; Finnish food is so alien to the Thai palate that such a move would probably be the rock upon which the marriage would break apart.

Ning and Tung

This afternoon Ning (left) consoled Tung (right) as she counted down her last hours at the Gym. After a two-week holiday Tung will start a new job, as the only female concierge at The Peninsula Hotel.

Oops ... Now we have to go back three days ... to April 20th ... NEWNES for that day needs a major emendation.

Wedding Bells

And still another correction arrived in this morning's cable traffic. This one from a Mr. D. B. of Ottawa, Canada. He writes ... in reference to the engines or motors that were pictured in yesterday's journal: This engine features what looks like a Garrett turbocharger on the right side, the radiator-looking thingy on the left side could also be an intercooler.

Judging by the size of the engine and the turbocharger, I'd say they were large truck engines myself. Like from a transport or dump truck.

I replied:

As my knowledge of motors is pretty much dated to about the year that Ford first introduced the T-Bird, I must confess that what I put down on 'paper' was a wild guess ... an obviously wrong one. Of course, we at The House of Corkscrew Balloon Dot Com have always prided ourselves as being somewhat cavalier with the facts (when it is self serving or when we are totally ignorant).

He replied:

Ha hah, that's quite all right. I'm a budding wrench head myself, so I've still got a lot to learn. I am currently back to building up my turbo car. I hope to have it back on the road in a few weeks. I intend to race it at the local 1/4 mile track this year on Saturdays. I'd love to get some in-car video, it's a rather wild ride when the turbo is on full-song! :)

Readers are reminded that tomorrow night a significant step forward will be made in the selection process for the Screwless Tuskers Elephant Polo Team. Though 'Breaking News' might be flashed late Wednesday, full coverage should not be expected until Thursday.

1 Tung is one of the two Thai lady receptionists at the Fitness Centre at The Oriental Hotel. Today was her last day of work.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

No time for words! They will have to wait until tomorrow; even then Thursday will be a day of mostly pictures.

"Why, Alf?"

Today was the Screwless Tuskers' night out on the town. Actually, Watcharee and I, Ning and Mr. Ice, and Wise and Jean went to see Miss "A" perform at the Ratchada Cabaret Show. Oh, our chauffeur's daughter also went with us.

"Can you give us a hint?"

Well, sort of ... OK, I'll flash five pictures right up here, right now ... no links, just splashes of color. It (some or all) may be misleading. But, maybe not.

Come back tomorrow.

"Anything in NEWNES?"

Not really ... Anthony Trollope, novelist, was born in 1815; Marshal Petain 41 years later.

"OK, we'll check back tomorrow."

Thursday, April 25, 2002

As I promised yesterday, today is going to be devoted to the first part of last night's Screwless Tuskers'1 evening at the theatre.

Ning rented a van for our 45 minute drive to the Ratchada Theatre, where each evening ... seven days a week ... the thespian troop puts on three separate performances: at 6PM, 7PM and 8PM. As our very own Miss "A" was already on stage ... [for the first show] ... when we drove away from The Oriental Hotel, only Miss Wise, Mr. Ice, Miss Ning and the driver's daughter were within my camera 'range' in our tight, thin, long van.

When we arrived, at a little before 7PM, the cabaret cast was mingling with the crowd.2 Not a social mingling, mind you ... rather, a money making mingling: have your picture taken with a 'star' for only 20 baht (about 50 cents US). Anyway, it was great fun.

Miss Wise, casually dressed (with her signature red-framed glasses), just wandered about and looked beautiful. Remember, dear reader, it was Miss Wise who was the first runner-up in the Miss Tiffany Contest 2002.

And the mingling allowed Miss "A" a chance to flaunt her feathered finery. Incidentally, Ning can be seen rubbing shoulders with the all the stars at every Kodak moment. By the way, near the marquee there is a large oil painting of Miss "A".

Field Trip! Miss A and Ning

Tomorrow we'll take you inside the theatre.

1 For newcomers, The Screwless Tuskers is The House of Corkscrew Balloon Dot Com's wholly owned 'ladyboy' elephant polo team. Along with The Screwy Tuskers elephant polo team (also a THOCBDC 'charity') they both hope to 'dominate' the important elephant polo activities at Hua Hin, Thailand, this coming September.

2 I was the only 'farang' at the performance. Thai people do not count Japanese, Koreans and Chinese as proper 'farangs'.

Friday, April 26, 2002

As promised, 'today' we are finally inside the theatre.

And, everything you see here took place right on the stage ... and, everyone on board is a 'ladyboy'. But, can you find our Miss "A" in this jumble? The lighting may throw you a bit so you'll have to look closely.

Tomorrow we'll mingle again with the cast ... outside the theatre, but by then it will be dark ... with only harsh flashes lighting our way.

Ratchada Show Ratchada Show Ratchada Show

Saturday, April 27, 2002

After the 7PM show our very own Miss "A" again took center stage: this time in the parking lot of the Ratchada Cabaret ... surrounded by some other cast members and two fans from the audience: Miss Ning and Miss Daughter d'Chauffeur. Like the pre-show mingling experience it, too, was designed as a cash cow.1

After Miss "A" finally slipped back into street clothes all seven of us had dinner at a local seafood restaurant. Misses "Jean" and "A" had no worries about tucking into desserts.2

The van ride back to The Oriental ... what can be said? Our Screwless e-team looked satisfied with their first night on the town.

Our next meeting should probably be at The Peninsula Hotel. Maybe we'll schedule it for the first week in May when Tung starts to work behind the concierge desk.

1 Life in the theatre, like life everywhere, is unfair. Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese men unashamedly paw their way to the front of the queue to have their photos taken with the likes of our Miss "A" ... but what about the 'less gifted' members of the troupe? Does anyone want their snap to be taken with ladyboys who, for starters, should never have walked into the surgeon's office to begin with? I think not. But, they need to eat, too! So, the management encourages a 25% contribution.

2 In contrast, Gift, Amma and Ohmy largely used water and air as their basic food groups ... with pills as dietary supplements.

Sunday, April 28, 2002 (Fiftieth Anniversary of Japan Sovereignty Day)


For me, today was a lazy Bangkok day; Watcharee went up-country to visit her family and I just stayed around The Oriental.

But, I like to think that on this slow, hot, end-of-April Sunday, Gift, Amma and Ohmy hung around our club headquarters and 'boned-up' on their corkscrews. Probably just wishful thinking on my part.

If Rande is reading this ... "Are you interested in doing a photo shoot before you head back to Microsoft? The girls are certainly keen for another 'go'."

1 Little known is that Farouk died in 1965 while eating Oysters Rockefeller at a casino in Monte Carlo [he actually just tipped forward into his plate ... dead]. His dinner companions were two strikingly beautiful blondes. Neither of them found fault with their dishes and there was no evidence that the oysters or their preparation were in any way responsible for the ex-King's death. At the time of his death he was very overweight, for which there is ample 'Paparazzi' evidence. Of course, Farouk's unfortunate affinity for "Speedo" type swimming briefs made him fair game for the tabloid cameras.

2 NEWNES did not use inverted commas around the word executed. Whether being hung by the toes from a streetlight is a legitimate extension of 'executed' is open to editorial debate.

Monday, April 29, 2002

What with really fun things going on all over Bangkok (mainly the sinking of the Oriental Queen, Songkran, the first meeting of the Screwless Tuskers, etc.) we've rightfully neglected the 'men and women of God, Allah, and the King of Spades'.1 Wescott's prize pigeon for today seems to have made his biggest mark after his body was in pieces.


Torpez, or Tropez

A Pisan martyr whose body was shoved out in an old boat with a rooster and a dog, and drifted ashore either at the mouth of the Arno, or in the Gulf of St. Tropez on the French Riviera.

During a bad draught in Pisa, his head was carried about the town, with immediate results: the Arno overflowed, sweeping over part of the procession. Those who were carrying the head dropped it; but two angel swimmers dove in, and brought it back to the archbishop.


The Wall Street Journal in the mid-1980's ran a couple of articles about some new fangled technology. One is about the possible usefulness of a computer 'mouse' that the Apple people figured might be a handy way to get the average Joe interested in computers. The other talked about how some computer geeks even buy things using a computer service called CompuServe (a unit of H&R Block).

And, if in 1995, you bought Yahoo stock ...4

Watcharee is learning past, present and future tenses in her English class at A.U.A. It is sleep inducing.

1 Superstitious simpletons, con men, the deranged and lied-to children; to name only four of the basic fool groups.

2 To coincide with the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's death?

3 This is the only instance when NEWNES uses the word "will" in this context. As the publisher's presses ... (then located in London's terribly gritty wharf area) ... finished rolling out the second and last edition of NEWNES DICTIONARY OF DATES in 1966, the book can only hope that Halley's Comet made its predicted comeback. Did it?

4 Making sure that you then sold it ...

Tuesday, April 30, 2002


A) B)
C) D)
E) F)

Next: Countdown to Northern Europe

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