April 2006 in Bangkok, Part II

After Part I

April 13-19, 2006

Thursday, April 13, 2006 (Pre-journal)

Another scene from Ana's Hua Hin visit:

Thursday, April 13, 2006 (First Full Day of Songkran)

For the next three days moving bands of pick-up trucks will roam the streets of Bangkok soaking everyone in their wake. The bed of each truck is crammed with at least a half dozen to ... in some cases ... more than a score of nubile girls and testosterone-charged boys each heavily armed with long range water rifles and buckets of water. Those underage street fighters without wheels shoot their water from the curb, with a little help from their parents. No one is safe.

But, it is all great fun.

Meanwhile the candidates for the April 23rd (runoff) election again flood the sidewalks of Bangkok with tens of thousands of redundant posters. No one is safe.

Not fun at all.

PS: The answer to yesterday's dinner question:

Friday, April 14, 2006 (Good Friday) (Pre-Journal)

Friday, April 14, 2006 (Second Day of Songkran and Good Friday)

For sure, Songkran is a lot more fun than Good Friday. Where would you rather be: riding in the back of a pick-up with a lot of wet T-shirt girls (*) or sitting in a pew hearing about how Jesus suffered on the cross? (**)

(*) But, doesn't the one with orange hair looks like a cross dresser?

(**) Though the recently revealed Judas gospels now suggest that Christ was a terribly disturbed 'suicide-crucifixer'1 who essentially hired a hit man for 30 pieces of silver to have himself whacked in public.

1 Hey, He took two other 'crucifixees' with him. But, it was His cross that got central play.

PS: Reader L. Q. from Malta writes: "Alf, do you mean like that rapper Marvin who on one of the recent Soprano episodes paid Bobby $7,000 to get himself shot in the ass?"


PPS: Julie had dinner with us at Next2 in the Shangri-La. After dinner it took us almost two hours to drive her home as Silom Road was blocked with Songkran celebrants (drinkers).

April 15, 2006 (Songkran 2 ... also, the day before Easter) [*]

Like a coward, cocooned in my car, I drove to Patpong to watch the water works. As it was just mid afternoon there was very little action. But, my car got 'washed'.

Apparently because of all the water that is being tossed about Bangkok's air is now cleaner. Between 1 and 2 this afternoon the 'big billboard nose' at Lumpini Park showed four green lights and just one yellow one. Particulates, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide all had green scores of 37, 10, 3 and 13 respectively. Ozone was a yellow 57.

[*] According to legend Christ is now off the cross but not yet out of that cave blocked by the big boulder. God only knows what he was doing in there.

PS: Res Ipsa

A BRITISH broadcaster who travelled to the Philippines to be crucified on Good Friday for a television programme pulled out of the stunt in tears yesterday — and blamed God for his decision.

Dominik Diamond broke down and wept after watching nine Filipinos take their turn to be whipped and nailed on crosses and realising that his turn was next. "God wanted me only to pray at the foot of my cross," he sobbed, sinking to his knees and praying as local people and tourists started to boo.

Five, the television channel, denied it was disappointed that Diamond, a radio and TV presenter and outspoken Daily Star columnist, had decided against being crucified. No date has been set for the broadcast of the programme. If shown, it may have to change its original working title, Crucify Me.

Diamond was set to join an elite group of radical Roman Catholics who mark each Easter by re-enacting the Crucifixion. Thousands of people gather to watch the volunteers nailed to crosses with metal spikes the size of pencils.

Negotiations had taken place to bestow on Diamond the privilege of becoming only the second Westerner to take part in the event, known as Karabrio. The ceremony is held in the village of Cutud, 50 miles (80km) north of Manila. Men dress in white robes and flagellate themselves with glass-tipped paddles and bamboo whips, in penitence for their sins.

Diamond, who said that he had had a crisis in his faith, decided to go on a pilgrimage taking in the Vatican and a Jesuit retreat in Italy, and culminating in the crucifixion to restore his faith in God. Despite his failure to go through with the exploit, producers insist that the documentary would still be aired.

After pulling out of the challenge, Diamond said: "At no point was it ever conveyed that I would definitely be crucified. At all times in this journey I have been guided by my God in ways I could never have predicted. Having experienced the humility of bearing my own cross through the streets, I felt my God wanted me only to pray at the foot of my cross."

Sebastian Horsley, an oil painter, was the first Westerner to take part in the Karabrio. He felt that it would be valuable for him to experience that level of pain, for artistic rather than religious reasons.

Horsley was pleased with Diamond's refusal to go through with the ordeal. "I'm glad he bottled it. I mean, going over there with a Channel Five crew is not right. It got leaked to the press when I did it but I wouldn't allow any film crews to come with me.

"This is very special to these people. It is something they do to get closer to God, not something that should be cheapened," he said "I tell you, it really hurts having nails driven through your hands. Your arms are strapped up and they put alcohol on them and then bang in the nail."

Forty-five-year-old Ruben Enaje grimaces as he is nailed to the cross for the 20th time during annual lenten rites in San Pedro Cutud village, in San Fernando city about 70 kilometers (45 miles) north of Manila on Friday April 14, 2006. Enaje said it is his way of thanking God for miraculously surviving a fall from a building when he was a construction worker. At least seven Filipino devotees were nailed believing that the sacrifice would save them from sin.

Five denied that the television channel was disappointed with Diamond's decision: "It's not a surprise. He always said from Day 1 he would make a decision when he got there and it was absolutely up to him."

Ruben Enaje, a Filipino carpenter who takes part in the festival every year, became Diamond's mentor as the presenter tried to summon the willpower to be crucified. Mr Enaje has had himself nailed to a cross every year since 1988 to show his gratitude to God for saving him when he fell out of a window. Guided by him, Diamond made his own cross and carried it for two miles through the streets of Cutud.

Ed Stobbart, the executive producer, said: "I've been talking to Dominik for about a year about the idea. He used to be practically the face of Celtic (football club) up in Glasgow and he would get into all kinds of problems there with people who had an issue with him being Roman Catholic. He thought, ‘Hold on, I'm not even that into the religion'. He ended up leaving Scotland with his family.

"His insomnia was a major problem. He used to lie in bed all night praying for God to let him sleep and He never answered so he began to think there was no God."

Mr Stobbart conceded that the programme's name, Crucify Me, may no longer be appropriate. "Let's just say the title is subject to discussion. Read between the lines," he said.

Sunday, April 16, 2006 (Pre-journal)


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bronze jungle creatures checking themselves in the mirror while an angel watches. [Photo taken outside of a Bangkok foundry that specializes in making very heavy and hard to pack souvenirs.]

Monday, April 17, 2006 (Pre-journal)

The cartoonists are right on the heels of the paleontologists.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

We had dinner at the top of State Tower (64th floor) with Ploy and her parents. This was the first time that Ploy tasted Maine lobster.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Food rules. Even corn and kidney bean yogurt.

Next: Part III

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