Tag - bangkok

farang guard wat pho

Then and Now: Wat Pho – Farang Guard

During a recent trip to Thailand we “retook” some pictures that we had taken about 10 years earlier. Great fun! Farang Guard at Wat Pho (Temple in Bangkok, Thailand). Wat Pho has lots of archways guarded by statues of different people around the complex. Mostly they have Chinese or other Asian features. But one set of them are "farang" (caucasian), basically an exaggerated caricature of what caucasian features were thought of at the time. Big nose, round eyes, top hat, long coat and cane. The picture on the left was taken in 2005 and the one on the right was taken almost 10 years later in 2014. The same people are in the same positions in the picture. The black mold/mildew/or pollution stains seem to be getting darker and darker. Wat Pho (วัดโพธิ์) is my favorite Wat to visit in Bangkok. It is very close to Khao San Road, just on the far side of the Grand Palace/Wat Pra Kaew complex. It is a bit more casual, less expensive, and less crowded than the Grand Palace and Wat Pra Kaew complex next door. The major feature is a giant reclining Buddha (initially built in 1832) that is 15 meters tall and 46 meters long (45 feet tall and 150 feet long). Visit Thailand now! Khao San Road Area Hotel Recommendations

Then and Now: That’s a really big snake! (Bangkok Snake Farm)

Bangkok Snake Farm Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute

(or สวนงู สถานเสาวภา สภากาชาดไทย) Kids are fearless. These two just had to hold the snake by themselves, much to the shock and surprise of the other people around and the snake handlers as well. This snake farm is a nice place for a little educational nature visit. It is right in downtown Bangkok, but you wouldn't know it once you enter the ground. Many many varieties of snakes and other reptiles are on display, along with an assortment of other small animals. They have regular demonstrations of tapping the venom of some of the poisonous types. These large Burmese pythons are not venomous at all (although they could probably snap a neck pretty easily).
girls holding big snake
We aren't scared!
During a recent trip to Thailand we “retook” some pictures that we had taken about 10 years earlier. Great fun! I think they were more scared doing it as adults. Kids are fearless!

Then and Now: Thai Iced Tea on a hot hot day!

Thai Iced Tea is a wonderful sweet tea (with a flavor reminiscent of maple syrup earthiness) that usually has condensed milk in it. One of the bags in the picture doesn't have the milk. It used to always be served on the street in a plastic bag filled with ice and a straw. These days, it is becoming more common to get it in a normal plastic cup.
thai iced tea on a hot day
I love Thai Iced Tea, but I'm still hot!
During a recent trip to Thailand we "retook" some pictures that we had taken about 10 years earlier. Great fun! She was just as cranky in the heat then as she is now! Taken near Khao San Road in June.

One night in Bangkok….


I recently had the opportunity to spent a week with two childhood friends from New York who came to visit me in Thailand. I’m posting a number of different articles about our adventures, but this article is about our overnight stay at the Tower Hotel at lebua in the “Hangover Suite” (3 Bedroom Luxury suite) on the 55th floor. It is called the “Hangover Suite” because the lebua Dome restaurants were featured in the movie Hangover II, and the movie cast spent considerable off camera time there. It deserves to be called that because of just how fantastic a time you can have in it.



Glow Nightclub, Sukhumvit Soi 23


The 10th World Film Festival – Nov 16-Nov 25

10th Edition World Film Festival, Bangkok, ThailandKriangsak "Victor" Silakong, Festival Director, brings you the 10th Edition of the World Film Festival here in Bangkok. A truly international event, the festival brings films from a wide range of countries including India, South Korea, Iran, Jordan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Myanmar, USA, France, and a host of others. A total of around 50 films will be shown.

The festival is well-known for promoting independent Thai film-makers and in the past has unearthed considerable local talent.

The event takes place at Esplanade Cineplex from November 16 to November 25 and tickets are only 100 baht a shot. It couldn’t be easier to get to – it’s on Ratchadaphisek Road and you can get there by the MRT underground – the Thailand Cultural Center station is right next to it, so no excuses. The festival opens Friday November 16 with Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Mekong Hotel – an hour-long film that was shown in Cannes earlier this year.

Check out the festival website...



STING: BACK TO BASS Live in Bangkok 2012STING: BACK TO BASS Live in Bangkok 2012

Following the critical and popular success of Sting’s 2011-2012 world tour Live Nation is pleased to announce that the Back to Bass tour will continue this fall, with Sting performing many of his greatest hits, stripped down, with a 5-piece band at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani, near Bangkok, Thailand.

Ticket prices are: 2,000/ 3,000/ 4,000/ 5,000 Baht and gold package 6,000 Baht.

Tickets available here. See Sting here.


Dave Vega @ GLOW by With Love – Nov 16

Dave Vega @ GLOW by With Love - Nov 1616 Nov 2012 - Glow Night Club, Sukumvit Soi 23, Bangkok

400 + 1 Drink + 1 Shoot

Dave Vega started DJing in the late '90s in Karlsruhe in the south of Germany. It was here that Vega and friends organized illegal techno parties at secret outdoor locations, with sound systems so loud that people in other villages kilometers away could feel the bass. People would come from all over to party and would stay all day and all night. Inevitably these parties always led to fracases with the police...

After some years organising parties, Dave was bitten by the music bug and finally made the step from the dancefloor to the other side of the dj booth. In 2000, he moved to Frankfurt and began work as a music journalist. Later he met people like Ata and Heiko MSO who offered him work at their revered label empire, comprising Playhouse, Klang Elektronik and Ongaku. A residency in the famous Robert Johnson club soon followed, and Dave started to play all over the world. Over the years, he has played countless gigs in clubs like Berlin's Panorama Bar/Berghain, Harry Klein and Rote Sonne in Munich, Rex Club in Paris, Nitza Club in Barcelona, Sugar Factory in Amsterdam, Space in Ibiza, and lately even a boat party in Honolulu, to list a few...

In 2007, Vega finally made the move to Berlin. Fueled by the energy of the city and a decade of DJing, he started producing his own music. After a few collaborations with friends like Mr. Statik from Athens on Mo's Ferry, Vega is set to release his first EP in March 2011 on the Berlin based label, Exone. His second EP will be released on the Canadian label Thoughtless Music in May. Vega's roots have always been somewhere between House and Techno - that's what he plays and and still drives him after almost 15 years of electronic music experience.


Culture ONE 2012 – 5th Anniversary

Culture ONE 2012 – 5th Anniversary
Culture ONE 2012 – 5th Anniversary

Bangkok's International Outdoor Dance Music Festival, Lakeside, Bitec Bangna, Bangkok
Saturday November 17th, 2012

A vision, a dream, an idea. Culture ONE, Bangkok's first international outdoor dance music festival that put Thailand on the global festival clubbing map is back and this year, we're turning 5. To celebrate our 5th anniversary, we've got something special in store for everyone who's anyone.

Culture ONE is the first outdoor dance music festival in Thailand that gathers dance music lovers and party goers in one field of electronic vibe. The event combines 5 stages, Godskitchen Boombox, Hacienda, Club Culture BASS, Popscene, and Psyhead Community.
More than 30 artists line-up. From House to Trance, Electro to Dupstep, Indie Pop to Rock.

The uniqueness of this festival include elaborate theme and dancer performance in combination with the world's renowned artists and world class sound system creating the ultimate festival experience.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Culture ONE 2012: Bangkok's International Outdoor Dance Music Festival ???????????????????????? 5 ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

????????????????????????????????????????????? 5 Culture ONE ????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????? 5 ???? ??? ???? Godskitchen Boombox, ???? Hacienda, ???? Club Culture BASS, ???? Popscene, ??????? Psyhead Community

See the Facebook Page for more or email for more info.


Google Street View Hits Thailand

Google Street View Khao San Road Bangkok Thailand
Google Street View Khao San Road Bangkok Thailand
Google Street View Khao San Road Bangkok Thailand
Google Street View launched in Thailand recently, the culmination of a six-month project that covers 95 per cent of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. The service provides “panoramic views” of the capital’s major arteries – Sukhumvit Road, Silom Road, many of the Bangkok’s surrounding areas, and of course it features Thailand’s leading backpacker and budget tourist destination – Khao San Road. Thailand is the second Southeast Asian country to be featured on Google Street View, after Singapore which launched at the end of 2009. According to Pornthip Kongchun, Head of Marketing for Google Thailand, Google Street View was launched with promoting Thailand's tourism industry in mind.

"In Thailand, the next cities for Street View will be Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Nakhon Phanom, Hat Yai and Nakhon Si Thammarat, and also Thailand's World Heritage cities," Khun Pornthip was reported as saying. Suraphon Svetasreni, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) added "The first priority is Thailand's World Heritage. We plan to allow Google Thailand's Street View team to collect images of the World Heritage sites started in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, as well as Sri Satchanalai". 

As far as Khao San Road is concerned, it’s pretty decent coverage which includes surrounding areas like Rambuttri Road and Tani Road. Unfortunately, there aren’t any nighttime pictures (or if there are we missed them) and for many, they might only recognize Khao San Road at night! That’s not really the point of the service though.

The problem they are going to face on Khao San Road is the very “fluid” situation on the strip. New businesses open and close regularly, and it’s already clear that the current pictures were taken a couple of months ago.

Apparently you can request an update from Google if you find that pictures are over three years old, but if they post pictures that old you might find Khao San isn’t recognizable from Google Street View! That said, it’s all interesting stuff and great KSR is covered so well. Images can be accessed through the Thai version http://maps.google.co.th/maps and through the English version http://maps.google.com/maps. Check it out!


Got an event? Spread the word?

Tell KhaoSanRoad.com about your events and spread the word around Thailand and the world!

Got an event? Want to spread the word around Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand.... and the rest of the world? Contact us now...

KhaoSanRoad.com prides itself on keeping the travelling community informed about what’s going on around Khao San Road, Bangkok, and the rest of Thailand… but we can’t do it unless you keep us informed! If you are an event organizer, let us know about what’s going on – whether it’s a cool DJ coming to your club, a concert, some street theatre, a wine tasting evening or even a bar mitzvah, if it’s in the Kingdom of Thailand use the form below to let us know what’s happening… you can attach your Press Release or send us some notes… if we feel it’s going to be of interest to our visitors, we’ll definitely post it on KhaoSanRoad.com. In addition, if you are a member of the traveling community and you hear about something that might interest others, again, let us know the details using the form below… Whether it’s cheap eats, a great place to visit, or even a kite flying competition that’s going to be held on Khao San Road next week, we want to hear about it!
Let around 2,000 visitors a day know what's happening! 
Complete this form or email us at events@khaosanroad.com



Airport Rail Link to Khao San Road

Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
It seemed like a project destined never to see completion, but it got there in the end. After endless setbacks and delays, the train line linking downtown now cuts the cost of the journey by about two thirds.

Construction on the project, estimated to have cost 25.9 billion Baht, began more than five years ago in July 2005. Due to be completed the following year, what followed instead was delay after delay, caused partly by the fact that old pillars from 1997’s failed Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System stood in the way of the new system. In the face of debate over their suitability for re-use and demands for compensation from the constructors of that old system, the State Railway of Thailand decided to ditch them and put up new ones. Legal wranglings with landowners who had encroached on the SRT’s land delayed things further, but the line – which now runs largely on a viaduct over the SRT’s main eastern railway – eventually began initial tests in October 2009. After a free trial service that began for passengers in April 2010, full operations finally got underway at the end of August 2011.
The train station isn’t the easiest thing to find in the sprawling complex that is Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. From the arrivals area on the second floor, it’s a further two-storey drop on the escalators before you’re deposited near the train. And while it’s well signposted to begin with, alongside signs for the shuttle bus, public taxi stand and so on, the closer you get, the thinner on the ground these signs become, until you just have to hope you’re going in the right direction. This isn’t helped by the fact that the area near the train station is so eerily quiet; you can really tell just how new the rail line is, and that it’s not yet being given much use – at least from this main station. As a result, it’s a bit of a funny set up down there; there’s a 7-11, a Mister Donut and a couple of other shops, but hardly anyone there to use them. When we passed through the station, our train was already ready to leave and yet was almost empty on departure – even when it arrived, full, at Phaya Thai, we spotted just five western tourists amidst the river of Thai commuters. It is inevitably going to take time for word to get out to travellers about the new service.

Two services connect Suvarnabhumi with the city – the fifteen-minute Express Line aimed at tourists, leaving the airport every half an hour and running directly to the City Air Terminal transport hub at Makkasan, and the commuter-targeted City Line, which departs every fifteen minutes and runs further than the Express, down to Phaya Thai, taking in eight stations along the way and doing the journey in half an hour. The City Line can also work well for tourists, save for the lack of space for luggage, particularly at rush hour when the train is packed to the rafters with Bangkokians on their way to and from work. And while these are new trains, the bench seats on the City Line are also rather narrow and less than comfortable – perfectly manageable for a thirty-minute journey if that’s all you’re doing, but perhaps not what you might be looking for if you’ve already endured a fifteen-hour donkey-class flight. The Express Line, meanwhile, offers just a little more comfort and has space for luggage. Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways passengers travelling to the airport on the Express Line can now check in their luggage at Makkasan before before continuing themselves, far less weighed-down, by train to the airport itself. The service is available daily between 8am and 9pm and requires check-in between 3 and 12 hours before flight departure.

As the train snakes its way out of the airport and hurtles across the city’s skyline, you get the gift of a perfect view of Bangkok and its weaving maze of ground-level roads and elevated flyovers and tollways, cars inching along them like ants. The change from the green fields distantly bordering the roads near the airport, to the gradual build-up of chaotic development and ever glitzier high-rise buildings as the train approaches the city’s commercial centre, makes for an equally buzzy lookout, worth the journey in itself.

For most, though, the real benefit of the opening of the Airport Rail Link will be just how much this new transport option simultaneously speeds up and cuts the cost of the almost thirty kilometre trek out to the airport. Since Suvarnabhumi opened, for most travellers a metered taxi has been the only reliable way to get to the city – now there’s an alternative. The travellers’ ghetto of Banglamphu, including the famous Khaosan Road, can now be reached by train for a third of the price of the equivalent taxi. The relative lack of public transport in the old city, including Banglamphu, means a journey here from the airport still isn’t as direct as it is to other parts of Bangkok – or as direct as it ought to be. Indeed, there was talk of improved transport connections from Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu, as part of the Airport Rail Link, but these don’t appear to be showing any sign of materialising any time soon. Until the proposed subway link to the area is completed, a short taxi ride will still figure as part of any Khaosan Road-bound traveller’s journey, even if the rest of it can be done by train. 

Introductory fares were on offer while the Airport Rail Link was still in its infancy – until the end of last year, a journey anywhere on the City Line cost just 15B; since the start of January 2011 it has risen and the cost, anywhere between 15 and 45B, depends on the distance travelled – if you’re going the whole hog to Khaosan, figure on 45B for this leg of the journey. The one-hop journey from Suvarnabhumi to Makkasan has also risen from 100 to 150B. Both lines run between 6am and midnight, seven days a week. Coming from the airport, tickets are purchased from the machines and booths at the entrance to the station; on our visit, the ticket machines were all out of service, presumably because of the relative lack of use of the station at the time. After you’ve bought your ticket, a guard will check it (despite the purchase having been made fully in his sight) and you can then proceed down to the train.

Our test journey took us on the 45B City Line ride from Suvarnabhumi to Phaya Thai, where for 20B we connected with the Sky Train (BTS) to National Stadium station, near the MBK shopping centre. A 63B taxi (as ever, ironically more than both far longer-distance train journeys put together) then got us from National Stadium down to Khaosan Road, backpacker hub extraordinaire. Total journey cost: 128B. Compare that to a taxi that would set you back at least 250 to 350B – more if Bangkok’s notoriously gridlocked traffic is up to its old tricks. Plus you get to avoid tollway fees, which taxi passengers are responsible for in addition to the fare and which would otherwise set you back a total of an extra 70B.

The train, or at least the City Line, is admittedly slower than a direct taxi, though this is mainly because the journey time is bumped up more by the interchanges between the Airport Rail Link, BTS and then a taxi for the final leg – we set out from the Suvarnabhumi train terminal at 8am, and the City Line had us at Phaya Thai by half past the hour. It’s then about another fifteen minutes on the Sky Train from Phaya Thai to National Stadium, and our overall journey came in at just over an hour – not helped by the bumper traffic on the roads. That of course doesn’t compare overly favourably to the usual taxi journey time of around forty-five minutes, but take the Express Line and you stand far more chance of beating it. You’ll be at Makkasan in fifteen minutes, from where your best bet for minimising your taxi journey is to connect with the MRT underground subway system to Hua Lamphong, and then continue by road to the public transport desert that’s Banglamphu.

Whether by City or Express Line, you’ll get to Khaosan Road and its surrounds for a fraction of the cost of a taxi. Of course, if you favour the comfort of a door-to-door journey, or if you’re travelling with others and splitting the cost, then a taxi may well still win hands down. But, for Bangkok, a city world-renowned for its congestion, it’s a win either way – a new transport option on the scene can surely only be a good thing. 

CHRIS WOTTON is a twenty-something crazy about Thailand. After a first visit in 2008, he fell in love with the country and has since travelled its length and breadth, searching out local life – and local food! – while writing and researching for SE Asia travel guides and magazines. When not discovering and writing about Thailand, Chris studies French and German in his native UK, and runs an online shop selling authentic Japanese and Thai cooking ingredients.


A Month in the Floods of Salaya – Part 7

The return - (23/11/11)

A month in the floods of Salaya
A month in the floods of Salaya

When I arrived at Bang Sue station to take the train back to Salaya, it was a much livelier place than it had been two-weeks previously.  The ticket seller sold me a ticket for the 4.08 pm train without a moment’s hesitation.  As we reached the flood-zone on the western side of the Chao Phraya river, the water seemed to have receded slightly in places and the speed of the journey took me by surprise as I suddenly saw the Salaya sign and quickly scrambled off the train less than an hour after departing.  The water appeared slightly lower but the platform community seemed to have grown.  There were also a lot of people waiting for a train to Bangkok.  I was ushered into a wooden boat paddled by a young bare-chested man.  He negotiated the flood waters expertly with his single oar.

I paid him 20 baht and stepped onto the road at the bottom of the bridge.  There was a fleet of motor-bike taxis waiting at the bottom of the bridge in the shade of a tarpaulin roof on a metal frame.   I walked with my bag to Pitchaya Apartments and found Tu and Ter, Ter’s mother, brother and a friend.  They offered me some dinner and I gave Tu the cigarettes she’d ordered from Bangkok. 

I popped in to see U and Pui at the coffee shop.  Their plank walkway was well above the water and I was offered a tot of whiskey. U informed me that my soi was dry.  Their latest estimate was that the water would be down to near-normal levels in about seven days.  As I walked home, I noticed that the roadside dwellers had a few smoky fires lit on the grass verge and guessed they were to fend off the invasive mosquitoes.  As I continued down the traffic-free road followed by some curious dogs, I passed two or three small snakes, their light-coloured bellies squashed on the tarmac.  A man with a torch was cruising the edges of the flood water with a trident-spear.

I arrived at my soi and was relieved to see that U was right and that my soi was dry and dusty with the sediment of the vanished waters.  My front yard was a mess with the debris of the receded water.  My bin on the wall was still full, my plants sat up there too, looking like I’d abandoned them during a drought and  when I opened my fridge it gave off a nauseous odour.  But all-in-all, I could only reflect that I had got off very very lightly .. this year.

Paul Wilson is a some time actor, stand-up comedian and cartoonist.

Part 1Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Paul Wilson is a sometime actor, stand-up comedian and cartoonist. Visit Paul's Top Man Tone Facebook Page...


A Month in the Floods of Salaya – Part 6

A month in the floods of Salaya
A month in the floods of Salaya
Salaya to Bangkok by train (10/11/11)

When I checked the water level at my doorstep, it had receded another centimeter.  I packed my bag for a trip to Bangkok by train.  As I splashed up the soi, one of my neighbour’s, Yui, informed me that she and a couple of other residents were also going to Bangkok by train and that a train was due to leave Salaya station at 2pm.  I thanked her for the information and said I would see her on the platform. 

The 20-baht boat ride from the bridge over khlong Maha Sawat was paddled by an out-of-work office worker.  As we made our way slowly past flooded houses and store-fronts and through trees to the station, she told me that a large crocodile had been spotted further down the flooded railway track.  When I arrived at the station, only the two platforms were above the floodwater. The right hand side platform was a bustling community with the flooded market as a backdrop. There were food sellers, the odd pick-up, tents and tarpaulins accommodating families and dogs as well as a few would-be passengers all sheltering from the afternoon sun.  I was greeted by my neighbours from the soi and was offered a place in the shade.  I was informed that the train was not due to arrive until about 4pm so I had plenty of time to wander up and down the platforms.  I bought some food and drink though there was no drinking water to be found.  I was generously offered whisky as well as a ‘boxing’ by some of the men.  
The train finally arrived making its way slowly through the water covering the track.  People loaded their bags and there was plenty of available space on the wooden bench seats.  I found a spot next to a window facing the front of the train.  We pulled out of the station and were on our way to Bangkok, normally an hour’s journey.
The spray from the wheels of the train gave the impression of being on a boat.  The train made its way gingerly along the submerged tracks.  Birds with striking white V’s swooped down low over the water.  The train slowed to go through slightly deeper water.  A man, chest deep, was coaxing some hens out of a tree.  Some washing was strung on a pole, but the bottoms of the garments were dangling in the water. Two telephone boxes stood three-quarters full.  At the next station, a couple of dozen cars were lined up on the platform, two or three of them having been converted into not-so-temporary homes.  On the opposite platform there was a row of motorbikes.  Some small boats were waiting for passengers from the train.  We passed a big walled estate with nobody home.  At a raised level-crossing, there were stacks of garbage accumulating.  Two majestic herons flapped low against the setting sun, inspecting the damage done.    A shouted salutation from the train startled a man in the water.  Over a dozen people were perched on a stack of girders and scaffolding eating dinner.  Two men on an ice-berg of foam were doing the same as the sun sank lower.  A shouted “Su su” from the train directed at no one in particular was followed by the creepy sound of rattling corrugated iron walls protesting against each other as the wave from the train swept through long-abandoned workers’ hovels.  On an unused siding, a community of tents and wigwams had developed.  A little further, a family was cooking dinner under a canvas awning outside a big house.
Some people were gathered on the steps of an empty up-market condo.  The doors were locked and there was washing hanging from the ground floor window bars.  A small bamboo raft loaded with two big bottles of water and some other provisions was being pushed along.  A woman, being rowed in a small boat, filmed the passing nine-carriage train.  An ‘Everglades’ boat manned by the army was waiting for the train to pass, the officer in charge sitting contentedly up high.  A teenager belly-flopped into the green water as the train floated past a dead-end bridge loaded with bull-dozers and other heavy works vehicles.  We passed a a solitary sentinel spirit house standing defiantly atop its shortened pole.  The full moon low in the east watched malignantly as a man almost up to his neck made his way trying to keep a small plastic bag and bottle of M150 valiantly above water.  The train slowed down as we approached Taling Chan junction, which was under renovation and home to many.  The floodwaters were pink and black in the sunset as we passed homes of blue and white plastic tarpaulin.
The glow of a charcoal burner under a canvas roof silhouetted a group of children with their sparklers.  There was a startling bang from the train as someone let off a firework, joining in the Loy Kratong celebrations.  Suddenly there was a new sound; the clack clack of the train as it found dry tracks.  Crickets joined in as we approached the overflowed Chao Phraya.  There was a welcoming fire-works display, red and yellow, above some buildings not too far away.  The train swayed as it passed a dry level-crossing and dry roads.  The mosquitoes were out in force as we arrived at Bang Sue, where an hour and a half after leaving Salaya I alighted the train.

Part 1Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Paul Wilson is a sometime actor, stand-up comedian and cartoonist. Visit Paul's Top Man Tone Facebook Page...


A Month in the Floods of Salaya – Part 5

A month in the floods of Salaya
A month in the floods of Salaya

Bangkok – Salaya by lorry (7/11/11)

After three days in a mainly dry Bangkok, I went to Bang Sue train station to find out about trains to Salaya.  The train station was so deserted I was slightly surprised to see two ticket sellers at the ticket counter.  I asked about trains to Salaya, but was informed that there were floods there and therefore no trains.  As I had previously been told that it was possible to go to Salaya by train I decided to persist and told the man at the counter that I knew that Salaya was flooded but that I wanted to go there anyway.  He curtly informed me that there would be a train leaving at 9 o’clock the following morning.

About an hour later, I received a call from Chai.  He told me that a lorry would be leaving Bangkok at 3pm for Salaya.

There were only about a half-dozen of us waiting for the flat-bed truck to depart.  There were boxes of provisions such as soft-drinks already on board. At the last moment, two boats were loaded, taking up nearly half the available space.  However, there was still enough room for everyone to have their own white, plastic chair to sit on.  We left Bangkok on the lorry at just after 5pm.  When we reached the floods it was already dark and the flood waters had a more sinister veneer.  We picked up and dropped off several small groups of waders, laden with bags of groceries, who loomed into view on their way back to their homes. On this return journey in the dark, I did not feel any of the excitement or euphoria I’d felt three days previously going the opposite way.  Perhaps this was partly because I was voluntarily going back to a flood zone and felt a little trepidation and foolhardiness. The other passengers also seemed subdued and there was not much chatter as everyone tried to make themselves comfortable in the limited space.  We arrived in Salaya after about three hours.

I found Tu and gave her the cigarettes she’d ordered.  M was there and informed me that at the Royal Gems Resort and Golf Club, not two kilometers away, a 2.5 metre crocodile had been found in a flooded building.  I popped in to see U and Pui.  U offered me a whisky and then showed me his infected foot.  It was an ugly sight; most of the sole of his foot was covered in angry red spots. He said he’d got the infection from the flood water and the day before he’d been unable to walk.  Today was his second day of anti-biotics and he was feeling a lot better.  The water level had gone down slightly.  They told me that on the TV they said the water would go down in two weeks, but that that really means a month. 

I cycled home and found the flood water at my doorstep had dropped by one or two centimeters.

Part 1Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Paul Wilson is a sometime actor, stand-up comedian and cartoonist. Visit Paul's Top Man Tone Facebook Page...


A Month in the Floods of Salaya – Part 4

A month in the floods of Salaya
A month in the floods of Salaya

Lorry trip from Salaya to Bangkok (4/11/11)

I popped in to the coffee shop on my way to the pickup place for the lorry to Bangkok.  I asked what ‘ROFE’ written in ink on the cling film of one of the loaves meant.  It quickly became clear that it meant ‘loaf’.  On another was written ‘Made by Italian chef’. While I was drinking my coffee, a customer came in and remarked on the ‘bang mii’ on sale.  She bought a couple of the small buns.  I arrived at the pickup place by 8 am, the agreed time.  Five hours later, it arrived stacked full of stuff and not a few people.  I climbed up and made a place for myself amongst the people, bags and other paraphernalia being transported to Bangkok. 

We turned left in front of Mahidol University and passed the flooded market and a boarded up 7-11 with a broken window.  A dog stood forlorn on a dry patio.  We went over a bridge, part of a network of circular flyovers which was full of cars and red and yellow municipal trucks, ranging from dustcarts to fire engines patiently waiting.  People were being picked up in ones and twos until I was perched on the top of the stack of bags.  We made our way slowly through the floodwaters in the scorching dry heat. 

There was a man sleeping on a foam mat on the roof of a car, itself perched on tyres in a so far successful attempt to keep the engine above water in the limited shade of a roadside tree.  A lone person with a plastic bag sat on a bus stop bench, feet above water.  A trials biker valiantly negotiated the flood, his bike fully loaded.  There were trucks full of people going the opposite way.  At one point I saw a modern townhouse estate partly underwater with workers still building though it was unclear if they were building the complex or flood barriers.

It was starting to get uncomfortably hot on the top of the lorry with no hope of finding any shade.  Everyone wrapped themselves up in long clothes, hats and scarves.  On the right, three young guys were spotted on a float hitching a ride behind a lorry.  We overtook a man wading through the water pulling a cockerel along perched on a black inflated ring.  Seven young men casually pushed a car on a wooden raft.  On the opposite side of the road a boat with a huge fan motor on the back like in the Everglades droned past.  “Bao bao!” shouted a man from the side of the street for the lorry to slow down as it passed his ‘riverside’ dwelling.  Some people filmed us on their phones as we passed by.  There was some friendly banter from sellers in their flooded shop houses and we were even serenaded by a man sitting on his pickup tail gate.   At one point I saw a man casting his fishing net in the middle of a three-lane highway.  A lorry going in the other direction was stacked high with three or four different types of boat.  Cars were triple parked on both sides of a flyover bridge and then I saw my first moving public bus in while; a red 189 ploughing its route through the flood. There were occasionally lots of shouted instructions to the driver as passengers were picked up or dropped off.

All of a sudden, there was a pleasant breeze as we picked up speed on a dry patch.  I saw sand bags being filled but also people picking vegetables in a roadside field.  It was an unexpected relief not to be able to see water for the first time in weeks.  We started dropping off more people than we picked up.  Now we had to hold onto our hats as we were going fast for the first time since leaving two hours before.  There was quite a lot of traffic and when we came up to a traffic light that was working it seemed strange to think how quickly normal things can become quite alien. 

When we arrived in Bangkok, the remaining passengers and I got off.  I asked what time the lorry would be going back to Salaya the next day.  This was met with some derision as the ‘pilot’, who had been directing operations from the top of the lorry just behind the cab, while shaking my hand, asked me where I was from and reminded me that they had just brought me from Salaya where there was flooding.  When they realized I was being serious, they explained that they were in fact headed to Uttaradit and wouldn’t be going back to Salaya until Monday.  Chai, who seemed to be officially in charge, and I swapped phone numbers and it looked like I would have to extend my stay in Bangkok by a couple of days.

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Paul Wilson is a sometime actor, stand-up comedian and cartoonist. Visit Paul's Top Man Tone Facebook Page...


A Month in the Floods of Salaya – Part 3

A month in the floods of Salaya
A month in the floods of Salaya

Bread Day – (3/11/11)

Today was the day I decided not to watch any more news on TV.   After a banana breakfast, I attempted to clean my front yard as there was a worrying amount of small flies accumulating.  I didn’t have any water proof boots so decided to use black plastic bin liners instead.  I put my plants that were on my doorstep, or still in water in the yard, onto the chest-high walls on either side of the yard.  I also put the black bin there too.  So my front step, which is the width of the house, was now empty except for one-storey of sand bags.  I got a hard-brush with a long handle and started to push the dark green sediment slowly out into the soi.  I swept and mopped the front step.  When I took the plastic bin liners off I discovered that they were not as water-proof as I had thought.  After showering, I received a call from Paolo.  He called to say he had successfully baked 11 loaves and some rolls.  I decided to have a second, more substantial breakfast in preparation for the day ahead.  I heated some baked beans and threw in some leftover rice, my anemic pet gecko giving disapproving looks.  While my food was digesting, I jotted down the sounds I could hear from my kitchen.

A passing helicopter
The splutter of a boat’s engine
Distant voices
The boat revs up then fades
As it passes down the klong
Relative peace now
Birds chirruping
The hum of a water pump
The voices and birds barely distinguishable
A scratching on the roof
A bird or a squirrel
A water bird trilling
I made it through my gate without having to put my foot down.  I decided not to stop at U and Pui’s semi-submerged coffee shop as I felt time was pressing.  I left the bike at Pitchaya apartments and saw Tu and a guy at the entrance to the apartment complex selling bottles of water, coke and ice under a big umbrella.  I went to have a chat.  Tu suggested I wait with them in the shade for a lorry.  I suggested we swapped flip-flops as mine rubbed my feet.  She kindly obliged.  I got bored of waiting for a truck and decided to head off on foot.  After five minutes, I arrived at the bridge over klong Maha Sawat.  I arrived at the top of the bridge in time to see a fisherman fire his catapult spear down into the klong below.  His line being pulled in different directions as the fish tried desperately to get away; there was little chance.  As the fish was pulled up from the water, the 10 inch spear dangled on the end of the line having cleanly gone through its body just below its head.  A friend of the fisherman threaded the spear back through the fish and the fish was dropped onto the hot tarmac of the road to flap about in desperation.  I crossed the bridge to the awaiting flood water.  I was hailed by a gaggle of people with boats.  They were offering me a ride through the flood water over the railway to Mahidol University, about 500 metres away.  The price was 10 baht; someone suggested 100.  I got in the designated boat and was pulled along by Ming, a 13-year old school girl who wasn’t at school because it was closed.  I felt a bit uncomfortable sitting in the boat like a mandarin and urged Ming to get in so that we could paddle.  She refused as it was easier to pull the boat than to row it.  In no time, I was at some metal steps up the sandbag wall outside the Mahidol entrance.  I took the dry long-cut through the Mahidol campus.  I rejoined the flooded road in front of the university further up but used the sand bag wall alongside the flooded road as a footpath and made it nearly all the way to Big C without having to go in the water.  I passed the Tesco Lotus, closed because of staff shortages.  I went into Big C but discovered that they’d obviously not had a delivery since I was last there two days ago.  I bought some cream.

I went into the water and got my shorts wet for the first time that day.  I waded towards Poalo’s, passing the Mahidol Arts Faculty on my left, and a bit further up the Royal Thai Navy School with the guard in full uniform inside his sandbagged kiosk.  Four navy cadets were playing in the water, showing off to four girls who were sitting in the floodwater.  “Pai nai?”  I am asked a bit further along the Salaya – Nakhon Chai Si road.  “Durn len” I reply, using one of my stock responses, which hit the target.  On the right was an outside depot of flood goods.  I popped in to see if the price of a boat had come down.  5,500 baht, so the price hadn’t changed.  As I turned to leave I heard ‘4,000 baht’ and was informed that another type of boat was 4,000 baht.  Unfortunately, it was made of metal and weighed 30 kilos which would be too heavy to carry over dry patches alone.

I passed the Ministry of Culture on the left.  The last two hundred metres of the trip were the deepest at chest-level and I was glad to get to Paolo’s restaurant at Rangsee Place without being attacked again.

Paolo poured me a glass of beer while I had a quick shower and put on some dry clothes.  I took my beer into the kitchen of the restaurant and Paolo proudly showed me his bread. It smelt and tasted delicious.  He explained that it had cost him about 300 baht (not including his time) to bake the 7 kilosish of bread.  There were 11 huge loaves weighing almost 700 grammes each as well as eight small buns.  He reckoned the big loaves would cost about 100 baht at a supermarket.  I paid him 500 baht for the lot, though we both agreed we weren’t in it for the money.  Paolo cut one of the loaves in half and then cling filmed all the loaves. I had another beer but said I’d better not stay too long as I didn’t want to get too drunk.  Paolo informed me that it was the last of the beer anyway.  I insisted he keep one of the loaves and we packed some of the bread into my bag and the rest I had to carry in a black plastic bag.

I retreated into the water very carefully as I didn’t want to slip and waterlog the bread and started my journey back home.  Paolo had revised up my previous estimate of the distance and I now realized that I had to cradle the bread above the water line for seven kilometres and not the five I had previously guesstimated.
I hoisted my two bags of precious cargo above the water and felt relieved to get through the initial part of the journey without slipping and the bread still dry. 

I passed the Navy College on the right and then the Faculty of Arts.  I negotiated a couple of fast flowing tributaries and was happy to reach the sandbag wall just after Big C on the right with the bread still safe.  This was the half-way point, or at least psychologically, as I knew that there was a real possibility of not having to go into the water again until I reached my flooded soi. At a bus stop I encountered a couple of women eating.  I offered them one of the two half-loaves.  They were appreciative though one of them did ask if there was anything inside it.  They offered me a couple of bottles of water which I declined.  A hundred metres later, I was at the gas bottle shop and dug out the other half loaf to give to the woman there.  I stepped down into the Mahidol University campus and started along the long-cut.  Immediately, a young guy on a motorbike offered me a lift.  This was much appreciated as it was hot and the bags were getting heavier.  When we got to the exit with the sandbag wall truck pick-up/drop-off point, I delved into my bag looking for a roll to give him.  He waved me away saying he had plenty to eat and then he was off.

I felt greatly encouraged when I realized there was a fire engine about to depart that was going to turn right.  So, without having to wait on the grassy knoll, I was transferred to the fire-engine and clambered up the ladder on the side of the truck.  I got off at the bridge-cum-car park and walked towards Pitchaya Apartments where the school is.  I passed the boat-makers on the left side of the road welding metal panels to the boat frames.  Just ahead on the same side of the road was the closed post-office whose grounds were now home to some families.  When I arrived at the Pitchaya complex, I encountered one of the municipal workers who was camping out in front of the school and gave him a loaf.  He suggested to the security guard that they could share it.  I popped in to see if Tu or any of the gang was about.  I gave a loaf to Ter’s mother. Ter, Ter’s mother, M and one of the cleaners all immediately tasted it and agreed it was delicious.

I retrieved my bike and pedaled to the coffee shop down the road.  I gave U a loaf of bread and then suggested he might like to buy some of the remaining loaves to sell in his coffee shop.  He asked how much I was selling them for.  I told him 70 baht a loaf.  He immediately agreed to buy the remaining five loaves that he could see in the black plastic bag.  I fished around for the buns and pulled out five which I sold to him for ten baht each.  He telephoned Pui who came along and paid me the 400 baht.  I had a can of Leo and after the mandatory tot of whisky I was on my way.  I arrived at my soi and bumped into Thip and her housemate who were out for a stroll in their wellies.  I showed off the bread and told them I’d leave them some on their gate.  I stopped at Oum’s and gave her a loaf.  She gave me a lime that she explained I should use to ward off snakes from my house.  Safely home, I checked the contents of my bags.  There were three small rolls left.  I put two in a small bag and paddled opposite to hang them on their gate.

I came back home and went upstairs to fetch the peanut butter.

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Paul Wilson is a sometime actor, stand-up comedian and cartoonist. Visit Paul's Top Man Tone Facebook Page...


A Month in the Floods of Salaya – Part 2

A month in the floods of Salaya
A month in the floods of Salaya

Notes from the Flood Zone – (1/11/11)

“One month we’ve been waiting for the water” Thip, a neighbor, said as she stood at my gate in her short black wellies in three inches of water.  I was on my doorstep not venturing to put my feet into the perturbingly murky water stagnating in my yard.  Thip then informed me in her near perfect English that there was a possibility they might cut the electricity and water.  We agreed that that would probably be the time to evacuate.  “Anyway,” she said “they will give us two days’ notice.”  My next-door neighbor came out and started sweeping out the floating muck from her front yard which then flowed into mine.  Thip pointed out that I had some mushrooms, indicating a floating stick with some fungus growing on it.  I thought that sweeping the muck out of my front yard could be a sensible thing to do, but maybe not today.

That morning, I had woken up at 7 am in my friend Paolo’s Italian restaurant, Mamma Mia at Rangsee Place on Nakorn Chaisi Road about five kilometers or so from my house.  I felt a bit rough because Paolo had insisted the night before that I drink as much of his keg of beer as possible as it wouldn’t keep much longer.  As soon as I opened my eyes, I inspected my feet which to my relief were not swollen as I had been convinced they were before falling asleep a few hours previously.  This paranoia had been mostly due to the sting or bite I had received from an unidentified water creature while I was wading to the restaurant the previous day but also possibly partly fuelled by the beer.  Mario was already up too, and Paolo made the three of us coffee.  We surveyed the water level around the restaurant and apartment complex island. The level, although high, was not as high as I’d feared it might have been.  Two of the three pumps were working to get rid of the shallow water in the car park and out into the street-cum-canal on the other side of the wall of sandbags.  It was a beautiful morning and it was clear that it was going to be another hot day with clear blue skies.  The usual circular discussion ensued about water levels and whether they would rise or not and for how much longer the water would stay.  As Paolo needed a new gas bottle for the restaurant the plan was that Mario, who was staying at Rangsee Place, and I would leave together with the empty gas bottle by boat.  I was hoping we would take the biggest boat so that we could sit in it and not have to wade through the chest high water on the road in front of the restaurant, especially after my incident the previous afternoon.   My hopes rose as we were allotted the biggest of the three boats, well two really, because the wooden one had obviously seen better days and did not look ‘road’-worthy.  However, my hopes of a dry trip were dashed as the bottle, the size of a small man, took up nearly all the place in the boat, meaning Mario and I had no option but to wade through the water guiding the boat along.

There was little traffic, by which I mean boats and waders.   The going was quite smooth and the bottle reclined magisterially in the bottom of the boat with its neck propped up on the back seat as if to better admire the view. The water became less-deep after a short-while.  We had some bemused looks and some lovely smiles too as we pushed the boat along. A bit further, the canal became very shallow and the road re-emerged for a couple of hundred metres. 

We parked the boat at high and dry Sabai Boutique Apartments where I was relieved to find an ATM that wasn’t flooded and was still working.  We met a guy who lived nearby.  He said he was living on the second floor as his ground floor was flooded.  He also casually mentioned that he’d seen a crocodile that morning and hunters had shot it, which perhaps explained the loud bangs we’d heard earlier at breakfast.  It wasn’t really what we had wanted to hear, though the man explained that there was no danger of there being any crocodiles where we were going and reassured us that any snakes would only be small ones and not big.  When he enquired about a meal at Mamma Mia’s, I generously agreed that he could eat for free, but then forgot his name and didn’t inform Paolo of his unwitting generosity.  We left the boat and bottle attached to a lamppost and continued unencumbered towards the gas-bottle shop.  We thought that perhaps they might have a car or truck big enough to come through the flood waters to pick up the empty gas bottle.  After 200 metres, the road dived back into the flood waters again and we continued through water up to our thighs.  There was a Big C so I went in to see what, if any, food they had left. 

There was lots of instant coffee, whitening cream and shampoo, but nothing that could sustain anyone for very long.  I rang Oum, a neighbor, anyway to see if she might like some sauce or such like: “Mii kanom bang mai?” she enquired. “Mai mii.” was pretty much the extent of our conversation.  I thought I should pass her over to the lecturer of criminology who I’d just met wandering between the bare shelves, but apparently their conversation was as equally straightforward.  I bought some nuts, a chocolate bar and some instant coffee as well as some shampoo, and though my skin was turning an alarming shade of red, forwent the whitening cream.  Mario and I carried on through the flow. 

There were people paddling small boats, sometimes metal, sometimes plastic.  Some boats were being pulled and some had engines though these were rare.  People were being pulled on rafts made from bottles, big black inflatable rings, or even tubs.  Some people were evidently on their way out of the flood zone as they were carrying their most precious or essential belongings; clothes, dogs and the ubiquitous electric fans.  People were floating their dogs along in plastic containers. 

Plastic boats were being sold for 5,500 baht or more.  People hitched rides on the big trucks which came past occasionally trying not to send tidal waves over the sandbag flood barriers on the right-hand side of the road.  Some people were playing in the water.  Sometimes, at a junction or soi entrance on the left, the water flowed quite strongly into the main thoroughfare.  A few men were fishing with trident-like spears at one point where the flow of water cascaded down a short waterfall.  We watched for a while and though we spied a couple of fish, we didn’t see a catch.

We finally found the relatively dry gas-bottle shop on the right-hand side behind the sandbag wall which doubled as a pathway for people who preferred to try and stay out of the water.  The woman who ran the place with her husband said that it would be impossible for them to collect the bottle as the water was too high.  Her eyes lit up as I handed her my shopping.  As Mario pointed out, she had evidently misunderstood my explanation; I was handing her my stuff to look after while we went back to fetch the boat and bottle.  After clearing up the misunderstanding,
Mario and I started to make our way back to Sabai Boutique Apartments.

We soon stopped at a street restaurant and had a quick meal sat at a table in ankle-deep water.  We then continued along and then happened upon a higher som tum restaurant with healthy looking vegetables on display.  We quickly agreed to stop and have some more food.  We asked to use the toilet but ended up washing our hands in the kitchen instead. 

We stopped to watch the trident-fishermen again, and this time we witnessed a catch.  The fish looked like it came from the sea; it was by Mario’s estimation about 5 kilos which he later upgraded to possibly 10.  (It was later explained to me that this fish had probably escaped from a local temple). By now, the sun had reached its zenith and I was worried about getting too sun burnt.  We got back to the boat and took out the gas bottle, rolled it down the dry part of the road to the wet, then went back to fetch the boat.  We carried the boat over the dry stretch of road, put the bottle back in the boat and carried on to the gas-bottle shop. 

The empty bottle was exchanged for a full one and Mario paid the woman the 940 baht Paolo had given him.  I think she was impressed with our efforts as she gave him a discount.  The new bottle loaded into the boat, we turned around and went back the way we had come.  The current was in our favour.  A few people seemed slightly amused to see us passing by for a fourth time.

When we got to the dry part, we stopped and decided to wait for a big orange lorry that was coming our way.  The lorry had a huge winch which the driver expertly manouevred and with the help of a rope hauled the bottle upright and onto the back of the truck.  Mario and I passed the boat up to the people on the back of the lorry and Mario climbed in the cab.  As my help was no longer needed, I bid Mario farewell, thanked the lorry people, turned around and started off in the opposite direction home.

I stopped off at Tesco Lotus as it was open.  It had slightly more food options than Big C.  A bit further along, I took a long-cut through Mahidol University which had been kept dry by a huge wall of sandbags and came out at the exit opposite the Salaya – Bang Len road, the road to my soi.  On the sandbag wall some people had organized an official looking pick-up/drop-off point for people.  I was kindly offered a boat to sit in for the three metres to the waiting truck.  As soon as I had climbed aboard, the lorry pulled away and we passed the flooded police station on the right.  We made our way slowly down to the railway crossing, which although raised, was under shin deep water.  After the lorry had climbed like an amphibian up onto the bridge over the flooded khlong Maha Sawat, everyone disembarked onto the dry road.  I crossed the bridge and made my way on foot.  At Pitchaya apartments, I saw Tu, the manager, outside her office with a couple of guys hauling packs of bottled water.  I told her that I’d slept at Mamma Mia’s and she urged me to go and check my house as she thought it would be flooded after the previous night’s surge.  I picked up my bike and then stopped off a hundred metres down the road to have a coffee at my usual place.  They filled me in on the latest news.  There was another customer in the shop who summed things up by saying nobody knew what was really going to happen because they never tell the truth on TV.  I suggested that it was sometimes stressful, sometimes boring and sometimes sanook.  They agreed that it was sanook.

I rode the short distance to my soi wondering how much worse the flooding in my soi was going to be compared to 24 hours before.  To my relief, the water level had not risen too much and was now about 3 cms deep at my doorstep.

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Paul Wilson is a sometime actor, stand-up comedian and cartoonist. Visit Paul's Top Man Tone Facebook Page...


A Month in the Floods of Salaya – Part 1

A month in the floods of Salaya

A month in the floods of Salaya
Sand bags - (end Oct ‘11)

There had been a continuous crawl of traffic along the Salaya to Bang Len main road for about a week.  Pickups packed with families, their possessions and pets, the usual volume of 10-wheel trucks but also trucks carrying cars out of the flood zone from further up north. 

I walked home past the traffic jam going the other way and as I entered my soi I could sense an atmosphere I’d never felt before.  There were more people out in the street than usual and it was clear something was afoot.  A neighbour came over and explained that they had had an hour’s warning from the police that the flooding was coming.  Before long, a lorry delivered a huge pile of sand.  There was a frenzy of activity as everyone helped fill sandbags and cart them off to their front steps.  A car’s headlights were used to light up the scene as the sun had already gone down.  The mosquitoes were voracious, relentlessly attacking our legs.  After the pile of sand had been devoured, inspecting my now blistered hands and rubbing my sore back, I watched a police car approach slowly.  I did not know the hierarchy of the soi, and perhaps neither did they, but they pointed out that some people had higher levels of sand bags than others.  What is more, some houses, whose owners had the misfortune of not being present, had none. 

An hour later, there was no sign of water coming up through the drains as had been feared.

A few days later, though, water appeared at the bottom of the soi nearest the klong, which is just the other side of the wall at the end of the soi.  Each day, a nervous eye was kept on the size of this puddle.  Some neighbours built knee-high walls in front of their homes. The water, silently, slowly, almost imperceptibly, spread up the sides of the soi, obeying the camber of the road.  I had images of the future, when I would be looking at higher and higher reference points to judge how much the water had risen.

As the days progressed, the traffic jam on the main road became more desperate with more and more families and lorries crawling along.  Some families decided to go no further and simply stopped and set up camp on the grass by the side of the road creating ‘Grapes of Wrath’ type images with homes made from corrugated iron, pieces of tarpaulin or advertising banners, albeit with an opposite foe. 

Back in my soi, the water had crept into my front yard.  To gauge the pace of its advance, I decided to retreat my potted plants away from the water, nearer my doorstep a tile at a time.  Alarmingly, I found myself moving the line of plants more and more frequently until after just a few hours they were sitting on my front step, a penultimate line of resistance in front of the sandbags.  As the water then continued to rise up the step, I thought I’d better take some hitherto neglected emergency measures.  I started boiling water and filling buckets and moved some of my remaining stuff upstairs.   I stocked up on black bin liners as possible substitutes for the toilet. 

My neighbouring sois were not so lucky; they already had substantially more flooding.  To get to my local grocery store two sois away, for example, I had to wade through knee deep water.  The shop was slightly elevated and they had built a low wall, so for the moment they could still operate in relative dryness.  Lots of the residents from canal-side homes were evacuating to higher ground, pushing boats laden with their possessions and children.
I decided to offer space in my dry house to people less fortunate.  I offered a place to stay to some people sitting despondently on the side of the road.  My offer was declined as they said they were waiting to get picked up.  I tried down by the klong, where the exodus of people had gathered together and were already forming systems for food and sleeping.  A lot of families had chosen a huge metal platform with a roof but no walls which sat just above the canal.  Others had occupied an unfinished, two-storey indoor market also without walls adjacent to the canal.  I offered my house to different old couples or people with young children.  They all politely declined my offer explaining that they preferred to stay with their community and that they had free food and toilet facilities.
The next day, a neighbor came to my gate in her black rubber boots shouting frantically.  By the tone of her voice, I imagined we were on a two-minute warning to get out.  I grabbed a bag and shoved in some things.  I rushed out of the house as her shouts seemed to be becoming more agitated.

We got to the end of the soi nearest the main road when I realized I hadn’t needed to bring my bag.  My help was required to help unload a delivery of sandbags to build a wall at a part of the soi which had no wall to stop over-flowing water from the huge pond behind the houses opposite mine coming into the soi.

A short time later, I noticed that there was a buzz of activity at the other end of the dead-end soi by the 6 foot wall.  One or two teenagers had climbed over and were in the waist deep water on the other side.  As the plan became apparent, I volunteered to join them, thinking that being in the water might be a good option in the intense heat.  We started feeling around in the unclear water for submerged sandbags, which had evidently been overwhelmed in their previous job of protecting a wooden canal-side home half under water.  When we had retrieved a couple of sandbags each and hauled them up to people on the wall, a big plastic boat was passed over the wall from the soi.  Thus, we were able to load the sandbags, made heavier by the water, into the boat and then when the boat was full pull it to the wall.  The hardest part was then to pass these sodden, dripping weights up a small ladder and onto the top of the wall where people passed them down onto the bed of a pickup.  It was back-breaking work, but at least we could take pauses lounging in the cool murky water. 

After unloading each boatful, we had to turn the boat over to empty it of water and sand. Underfoot, one’s feet first felt the vegetation and squidgy mud of the small bank from the wall to a small canal side lane, then the comforting feel of tarmac.  We then used our feet to feel for sandbags.  When a sandbag was located, you then felt down with your hand to locate the open end of the sandbag to pull on.  As the locals seemed at ease in the dubiously coloured water and even sometimes dived under, I tried not to think of snakes, crocodiles or water-borne diseases, and tried to keep my head above water.  When, finally, it was deemed that enough bags had been pulled out of the water, we climbed back over the wall. 

It was not until later that evening when us ‘sandbag divers’ were being treated to a meal in one of the neighbour’s houses that I learned that a one and a half metre crocodile had in fact been spotted in the floodwaters on the other side of the canal earlier that day.

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Paul Wilson is a sometime actor, stand-up comedian and cartoonist. Visit Paul's Top Man Tone Facebook Page...


Short Film Shot at Gazebo

Here’s something of interest to people who know Khao San Road… A trailer for "Reactions" starring and directed by Erik Markus Schuetz … He asked to film the movie at Gazebo Club Khao San Road and it will be shown at all the International Film festivals. Other than that, it’s a bit of a mystery! This is his bio page on IMDB, which oddly enough doesn't enough doesn't mention his stunts in Kill Bill - wish we could tell you more... Looks pretty good though…


DARE 2/11 in Bangkok – 24 September 2011

DARE 2/11 is online for 24 September 2011
DARE 2/11 is online for 24 September 2011
DARE 2/11 is online for 24 September 2011
DARE 2/11 is online for 24 September 2011
DARE 2/11 is online for 24 September 2011

After the success of DARE 1/11, DARE 2/11 is online for 24 September 2011 – and it promises to be awesome!

This is Thailand’s first major MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) championship in Thailand and fighters in 8 weight classes will share a staggering Million Dollar cash bonus for their efforts.

Using the "Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts" followed by all major MMA promotions in America (UFC, Strikeforce, etc.), the DARE championship brings the best fighters in Thailand, the region, and the world to Club Insomnia in Bangkok for a world class event that ranks alongside any you might see in Las Vegas! 

Confirmed fighters include:


 ONE SHIN -Shannon Cai VS DK – DK Panjabutra

 This contest will be an all Thai affair between two mixed martial artists from very different fighting backgrounds. Panjabutra is a decorated, Black Belt Judoka with an extensive list of Judo titles and accomplishments. Shannon enters the cage from much less orthodox roots and learned to fight from a senior in his Baguazhang (ancient Chinese martial art) class who was a Vale Tudo champion in Thailand. He has an amateur MMA record of 5-1 and will be making his professional MMA debut at DARE 2/11.


 LEK -Robert Lek VS NUAY – Saengchot Parkaiphet

 It’s Thai vs Thai as two highly experienced Muay Thai fighters do battle in the DARE cage. Both have several hundred Muay Thai fights under their belt and a number of regional titles but will be stepping inside the cage for the very first time. They will be representing two of Thailand’s top MMA academies, Ole Laursen’s Legacy gym and the recently opened Phuket Top Team and both will have been working hard on their ground games in preparation for this contest. 


 BODIN – Bodin Panjabutra VS THE PROFESSOR – Rodrigo Praxedes

 THE PROFESSOR – Rodrigo Praxedes is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Black Belt from Juggernaut Fight Club Singapore, who has won multiple BJJ titles in South America, Asia and Australia. BODIN – Bodin Panjabutra is a Judo Black Belt from Panjabutra Gym at Chiang Mai who has represented Thailand in both Judo and Jiu Jitsu and is a national Judo champion who has won a gold medal in the Jiu Jitsu category at the 2009 Asian martial arts games. Both men are decorated competitors and legitimate national champions who will be stepping inside the cage for the first time, meaning that absolutely anything could happen.

SHOGUN - Adam Shahir Kayoom VS KIM - Seok Mo Kim

 This is going to be a very interesting fight where SHOGUN – Adam Kayoom, a well known martial artist and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt & instructor based in Bangkok, will be facing a high rated MMA talent from South Korea in front of his home audience.


 XIMBICA - Rodrigo Ribeiro VS THE G.O.A.T – Wade Henderson

 XIMBICA - Rodrigo Ribeiro is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt from Evolve MMA (Evolve Fight Team) Singapore, who has a total of 15 professional MMA fights and a record of 8-7. THE G.O.A.T - Wade Henderson from Team Titan South Africa – fighting out of Tiger Muay Thai & MMA is a BJJ Brown Belt who has 32 professional MMA fights and a record of 21-11. With almost 50 professional MMA fights on their combined records, this fight will be the most "experience rich" MMA fight to ever take place in Thailand.


 ONE SHIN - Shannon Cai VS DK – DK Panjabutra

 This contest will be an all Thai affair between two mixed martial artists from very different fighting backgrounds. Panjabutra is a decorated, Black Belt Judoka with an extensive list of Judo titles and accomplishments. Shannon enters the cage from much less orthodox roots and learned to fight from a senior in his Baguazhang (ancient Chinese martial art) class who was a Vale Tudo champion in Thailand. He has an amateur MMA record of 5-1 and will be making his professional MMA debut at  DARE 2/11. 


 LEK - Robert Lek VS NUAY – Saengchot Parkaiphet

 It’s Thai vs Thai as two highly experienced Muay Thai fighters do battle in the  DARE cage. Both have several hundred Muay Thai fights under their belt and a number of regional titles but will be stepping inside the cage for the very first time. They will be representing two of Thailand’s top MMA academies, Ole Laursen’s Legacy gym and the recently opened Phuket Top Team and both will have been working hard on their ground games in preparation for this contest.


 BODIN – Bodin Panjabutra VS THE PROFESSOR – Rodrigo Praxedes

 THE PROFESSOR – Rodrigo Praxedes is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Black Belt from Juggernaut Fight Club Singapore, who has won multiple BJJ titles in South America, Asia and Australia. BODIN – Bodin Panjabutra is a Judo Black Belt from Panjabutra Gym at Chiang Mai who has represented Thailand in both Judo and Jiu Jitsu and is a national Judo champion who has won a gold medal in the Jiu Jitsu category at the 2009 Asian martial arts games. Both men are decorated competitors and legitimate national champions who will be stepping inside the cage for the first time, meaning that absolutely anything could happen.

SHOGUN - Adam Shahir Kayoom VS KIM - Seok Mo Kim

 This is going to be a very interesting fight where SHOGUN – Adam Kayoom, a well known martial artist and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt & instructor based in Bangkok, will be facing a high rated MMA talent from South Korea in front of his home audience.


 XIMBICA - Rodrigo Ribeiro is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt from Evolve MMA (Evolve Fight Team) Singapore, who has a total of 15 professional MMA fights and a record of 8-7. THE G.O.A.T - Wade Henderson from Team Titan South Africa – fighting out of Tiger Muay Thai & MMA is a BJJ Brown Belt who has 32 professional MMA fights and a record of 21-11. With almost 50 professional MMA fights on their combined records, this fight will be the most "experience rich" MMA fight to ever take place in Thailand.

Tickets are the same price as last time:

1,100 THB for Standard tickets, when purchased in advance and 1,500 THB when purchased from the door, 2,000 THB for the VIP Podium tickets when purchased in advance and 2,500 THB when purchased from the door.

Check out more video here.

Tickets can be booked from here: DareFightSports.com

Read this interview with the organizer Jussi Saloranta and our coverage of DARE 1/11

Doors open at 3pm and fights start at 4pm.


Foreign Prisoners Story

Foreign Prisoners StoryMy name is Philipp Mattheis, I am German journalist writing for e.g. NEON, an general interest magazine for young people (www.neon.de).  I would like to do a story about foreign prisoners in Thai prisons. I know it is possible to visit them, and I have also heard, that some of them have posters on the walls of Bangkok hostels inviting travelers to visit them. Could you help me with some information? What preparations do I exactly need to visit them? Do I have to contact them in advance or do I just go there during the visit times? Is it true that they have restricted the visits only to family members? German prisoners would be the first choice, since it is a German publication, but it is not that necessary. I already had some contact with the German consulate: They said, they won’t provide any names for data security reasons... So, if you could get me a list - this would be very, very helpful! The thing is also: I probably cannot be longer in Thailand for more than ten days. Do you think within this time it is possible to meet let's say five prisoners? Is it still true, that there some bulletins in Bangkok’s hostels, where prisoners invite travelers to visit them?

Do you have the current information on this? If so, let us know and we'll forward it to Philipp...


DARE 1/11 – Thailand’s First Mixed Martial Arts Championship

Jussi Saloranta Interviewed DARE 1/11 Mixed Martial arts Championship, Bangkok, Thailand
Jussi Saloranta
DARE 1/11 Mixed Martial arts Championship, Bangkok, Thailand
DARE 1/11 Mixed Martial arts Championship, Bangkok, Thailand
DARE 1/11 Mixed Martial arts Championship, Bangkok, Thailand
For me, one of the reasons to move to Thailand was an interest in the local martial arts. Like Karate in the 60s, and Kung Fu in the 70s, Thai boxing - or Muay Thai as it is known in Thailand - has experienced a phenomenal growth in popularity over the last 20+ years. It seems Muay Thai has spread to almost every town and city in the world, and virtually every country has a range of Muay Thai associations, leagues, and federations. But living in Thailand, and plugging into the local cable TV on a regular basis, I became aware of a parallel (and equally meteoric) rise in the popularity of another martial arts genre – Mixed Martial Arts.

Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, started in its modern form in 1993 with the launch of the Ultimate Fighting Challenge (UFC) in the USA. UFC brought fighters with different combat styles to the same arena – an “Octagon” – an octagonal cage where full contact fights took place under the scrutiny of a referee, a doctor, and under a comprehensive set of rules. These were no blood fests or street fights; these were professional, organized events with global TV coverage.

The spectacle of watching Muay Thai fighters, Judo, Jujitsu and Karate exponents, pugilists and wrestlers test each other’s skills had immediate appeal, and as with Muay Thai, MMA went global. It produced a number of stars - Royce Gracie, whose particular brand of Brazilian Jujitsu dominated the early years of the sport, and since then the likes of Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz have become household names in the West (the latter appearing in movies, and curiously, Donald Trump’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice’). 

Given the strong element of Muay Thai in MMA, a question on many people’s lips was “Why hasn’t MMA come to Thailand?” The kingdom has for a number of years had a variety of Mixed Martial Arts clubs, but it has never had a full-fledged MMA tournament to boast of… Not until now anyway.

June 25, 2011 sees the launch of DARE 1/11, Thailand’s first MMA championship under adapted UFC rules and with experienced MMA referees. Initial fights take place at Club Insomnia on Sukhumvit 12 with winners of this event moving on to the quarter finals of the DARE championship. The prospects of this event taking off are good, so we caught up with organizer Jussi Saloranta to ask more. Here’s what he had to say.

KSR: Jussi – thanks for meeting up with us like this. First, let’s get some personal details – where are you from and how long have you been in Thailand?

Jussi: OK – well, I am from Finland, and I have been living in Thailand for about 4 years now. I first came here in 2004 for a holiday and just fell in love with the Kingdom and its amazing people. I decided that this was the place where I wished to live. My involvement in the DARE Championship is handling the foreign fighters and public relations, and I also assist our Thai owners with international promotion. Our team includes both Thais and foreigners, each with years of business experience in Thailand and in Scandinavia.

KSR: How did DARE Championship get started? 

Jussi: Ever since I came to Thailand I’ve wanted to create something for local sports – something that would feature local MMA talents alongside international competitors. There are a limited number of professional MMA fighters in Thailand and there’s been very few fight possibilities in the country, so I thought I’d contribute in that direction. Right now the timing seems right, so led by our President Mr. Thitidonpipat, we decided to launch the DARE Championship with the goal of becoming the number one pro-MMA event in Thailand and the region. We believe that like everywhere else in the world, MMA will catch on in Thailand sooner or later, but making it a reality has involved a lot of people doing a lot of hard work – our organizers, promoters, trainers, camps, gyms, fighters, other dedicated individuals… They have all done tremendous work.

KSR: Are you are martial artist yourself?

Jussi: Yes - I have been involved in the martial arts since I was 10 years of age. I have also been a huge fan of MMA since the end of the 90's when MMA / NHB first came to Finland and we saw the first UFC fights on VHS. Ask any of the members of our team and they will probably tell you the same thing. 

KSR: Tell us a bit more about the tournament. How many people are involved and what’s the format?

Jussi: The DARE Championship starts with opening preliminary fights and the winners of these in each weight class move on to the quarter-finals. After that winners go on to the semi-finals and ultimately the finals. In the first event, DARE 1/11, we will have a total of 6 fights with 12 fighters from 8 different countries. Initially it will be an "open tournament" and later it will transform into something more similar to the UFC structure where you have a champion and guys fighting to move up the ladders and become the number one contender in each weight category.

KSR: So when can we expect the follow up events?

Jussi: We are looking to have the next event - DARE 2/11 - three months after the first one. This way, we would be looking to see the next part of the championship around September 2011.

KSR: And where will the finals be held and when?

Jussi: All of the weight classes are moving forward at their own speed. We will probably see the first DARE Champions crowned early 2012. We are very happy to be working with Club Insomnia Bangkok on Sukhumvit Soi 12 – this is where the first events will be held. The venues for the championship events have not been decided yet.

KSR: So, the fighters – are they locals or international? Are there any names involved?

Jussi: DARE 1/11 feature fighters from Thailand, Brazil, France, Korea, Malaysia, South Africa, the UK and the USA. These fighters include a black belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion from Brazil, a Judo black belt and Olympic competitor from France, a South African Muay Thai champion, a local Thai MMA fighter with over 150 Thai Boxing fights - who’s now fighting MMA - and a number of other interesting fighters. We have two fighters from Thailand competing in DARE 1/11 - Ngoo Ditty, probably Thailand’s best known Thai MMA competitor (read more about him here) and Detchoot Detsuriyan, the Thai Amateur MMA Champion (read more about him here). 

KSR: Is there likely to be much coverage; TV, etc.

Jussi: All the fights will be recorded in HD and released for public viewing after the event via a range of selected broadcasting channels. The footage might also be shown on Thai TV after the event. Future DARE events will have an online mobile application in place which will allow us to stream the fights globally. In this way the DARE Championship will be available globally, coming live from Bangkok, the fight capital of Southeast Asia. (Follow updates here)

KSR: On your website it says that the event will be under “adapted UFC rules”. How will the Thailand event differ from a standard UFC event?

Jussi: We are using the "Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts" followed by all major MMA promotions in America – UFC, Strikeforce, etc. These are the same rules that have been approved by the various State Athletic Commissions in the USA. These rules are in place because they protect our fighters’ safety. DARE events will though only be a fraction of the size of the UFC events and are also designed to be more exclusive in their set up. We only have 300 tickets available for each of the first events and we advise all those interested of coming to book a ticket in advance as we might sell out quickly. You can book a ticket at our website or pick tickets up at any of our sales points in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket or Hua Hin. The information is on our website. 

KSR: So what goes and what doesn’t go – what are the rules?

Jussi: The rules are designed to protect the fighters. Basically, all techniques that seriously injure an opponent are prohibited. For example, techniques like hitting the back of an opponent’s head or his spine are not allowed. Kicking the head of an opponent who is on the ground or trying to attack the groin, eyes, and fingers of an opponent are also strictly against the rules. It is also important to remember that all of the fighters in DARE are professionals. They have all been training for years and each of them has fight experience. Most of them have been operating as a professional fighter for several years and understand the risks involved. Importantly, they also know how to respect their opponents. DARE will only promote professional Mixed Martial Arts where the fighters are trained, prepared and experienced, and therefore understand MMA rules.

KSR: So if any KhaoSanRoad.com visitors are interested in going to event, how do they get more information?

Jussi: You will find more information from our website and our Facebook page.

KSR: And what about tickets?

The tickets for the first DARE event on 25 June 2011 are priced in two categories: Standard tickets are 1,100 THB in advance and 1,500 THB on the door, while VIP Podium tickets are 2,000 THB in advance and 2,400 THB on the door – these tickets provide a better view and offer some catering. Again, tickets are available from our website or our sales points in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin. Tickets can be booked from our website. Doors open at 4 p.m. and the action starts at around 5 p.m.25 June 2011.

KSR: What are the chances of bringing DARE to Khao San Road?

Jussi: We will have to see about that. If there is a big demand for it, we are always happy to consider it as a possibility… 

KSR: Well, good look with the event – it’s going to be very interesting to see how this pans out.

Jussi: Thank you very much and best regards to all KhaoSanRoad.com visitors. Your support is very much appreciated. See you all at DARE 1/11.


Raising The Standards

The Standards, Bangkok, Thailand
Thankfully, in a world of musical platitudes, Matt and the boys (and girl) are raising the standards. After going it alone, and succeeding, they are taking their sound to the UK on a tour designed to see if a Thailand-based band can “compete with the big boys”. Listen to the sounds on their Facebook page to hear what The Standards are all about. 

The history of popular music in Thailand has been a pretty woeful affair. Twenty-five years ago, it was Asanee Wasan that were credited with bringing Thai music into the modern era. For someone stepping off a plane in what was then the post-punk era, Asanee Wasan’s soaring power chords and painfully slow rock ballads equated more with ancient history than anything contemporary. Fortunately though, things did change – at least for a while. 

Thailand’s ‘New Wave’ happened about 15 years after the fact, but it was worth the wait… Bands like Modern Dog, Clash, Silly Fools and Paradox emerged to offer something a bit different alongside the nation’s usual fare. It got to the point where an ex-member of Suede was in a band in Thailand (Futon). And they were all pretty decent bands… Modern Dog for example opened for Radiohead’s visit to Bangkok, toured extensively world-wide, and in 2006 blew bands like Franz Ferdinand off the stage at Bangkok 100 (even though they were on earlier in the day). Grunge, Indie, Punk, New Wave, Death Metal, Hip Hop, House – whatever the musical style someone, somewhere, was experimenting… But unfortunately the momentum didn’t carry. 

As with elsewhere in the world, Thailand’s music industry adapted and survived. Slowly, but surely, “alternative” was tamed, packaged and brought into the mainstream. Today, the kingdom’s music scene is, to say the least, predictable – a steady and sure product of similar sounds generating an equally steady source of revenue. The time is right for a new ‘Modern Dog’ to shake things up a bit. Perhaps ‘The Standards’ are the band we are looking for.

The Standards are a musical oddity. They have been around for about 4 years and their lineup includes 2 foreigners and 3 Thais. Front man Matt Smith provides the vocals while Nay Voravittayathorn hits the drums, Manasnit Setthawong (nickname Nit) provides keyboards, Paul Smith plays lead guitar and Sithikorn Likitvoarchaui (nickname Mc) plays bass.

A chirpy Cockney from Woolwich in South London, front man Matt certainly has the front man look (ala Damon Albarn). He played in a couple of bands in the UK, most noticeable being Foxtail, a London-based band with ‘Mod’ overtones. Despite lots of concerts and coverage in the NME, nothing ever got to vinyl. After moving to Thailand he missed being in a band and he very quickly helped pull The Standards together. 

Unlike other Thai bands, they don’t have the promotional weight of a mega-corporation behind them, and despite this – perhaps because of this – they are doing the business. Considering the context they are working in, The Standards have a very unique look and sound. They’ve played most major venues in Thailand (including club Culture near Khao San Road, and Immortal, which used to be on Khao San Road until a couple of years ago), their music videos are played on MTV, they've played live on MTV, and they supported megastars “The Charlatans” who played Bangkok in 2010.

"It’s easier to get your music out to an audience these days,” suggested Matt when we spoke to him. “Back in the day it cost 600 or 700 quid an hour to record in a decent studio, but these days you can do everything on a Mac.” That flexibility led to the band putting together “Well, Well, Well”, a three-track EP on CD and “Nations”, a full-blown album which sits nicely amongst the racks of CDs by foreign artists found in record stores around Siam Square. “We tried working with some of the local producers, but it didn’t work out. We wanted more of a live sound. At the time we have a regular event called Popscene at Bangkok Rocks on Sukhumvit 19, and we recorded everything there. The owner just let us use the place afterhours and we did things like record the vocals in the toilet so we could get the right sound.”

The band’s big sound and attention to detail has translated into a powerful live act which soon amassed a solid following of locals (20%) and expats (80%). In the short time they have been together, they have toured extensively – they did an Asian tour with 9 concerts in Singapore, Borneo, Malaysia, and a three day festival in the Philippines. More recently they played CAMA in Hanoi. Quite an achievement in its own right, but all the more impressive when you consider they manage themselves.

 “The fact that we manage ourselves means we can do what we want”, added Matt. “The Thai alternative sound is more like British music in the 80’s, but our sound is more influenced by bands like Kasabian and Arcade Fire. It’s very different from what people are used to here. If we really wanted to make something of ourselves in Thailand we’d have to change our sound and it wouldn't be worth it really. It’s hard work doing everything ourselves, but we just enjoy it.”

Historically, “it’s all about the music” is a sentiment that has been relegated to cliché, but as far as The Standards are concerned, it really does seem to be the case. With a sound that doesn’t fit the local scene and no managerial support, The Standards have created a niche in Thailand’s music scene that allows them to keep doing what they like doing – playing their music. Now, with that under their belt they are taking on what might be considered the ultimate challenge – a tour of the United Kingdom.

Matt has been the focal point in the organization of The Standard’s UK tour. They have organized everything themselves. They’ve contacted the venues, begged to borrow equipment, and apart from promotion by the venues themselves, promoted it themselves. To pay for everything they have organized their own sponsorship. “But we aren’t going to make any money out of it,” points out Matt, “quite the opposite in fact”. 

He’s breaking his neck 24/7 organizing a tour that is going to put the band out of pocket… I guess the question “What’s the effing the point?” would come to anyone’s mind. The answer it seems reinforces the “it’s all about the music” concept.

 “We’ve just got to go there just to see what happens. We aren’t aiming for world domination or anything, but we just have to know. We have to know how we compare against the big boys. If we don’t do it, it will always be on our minds, so, yeah, it’s a pointless exercise. We hope to get people talking but there’s no real objective beyond that”. 

The Standards take their Thai homegrown to the UK in July 2011. Here’s a breakdown of the tour:

The July dates are:

01/07/11 – Camden Rock, London

03/07/11 – Bull And Gate, London

04/07/11 – Workshop, London

05/07/11 – Haymakers, Cambridge

06/07/11 – The Shed, Leeds       

07/07/11 – The Blue Cat, Stockport

09/07/11 – Alan McGee’s Greasy Lips, Jamm, London

10/07/11 – Rhythms Of The World Festival, Hitchin

The tour is sponsored by Wood Street Bar, Smu Guitars, and Popscene.

More info on the Facebook event page.

Pictures Miki Giles


Cherating, Malaysia

CheratingMost people travel to the coastal city of Cherating to soak up the sun on the beautiful beaches, and Cherating is acclaimed by many people to offer some of the most stunning stretches of sand in the whole of Malaysia. Lined with swaying palm trees and lapped by cool, clear water, it is true that the beaches here look like something off of an idyllic tropical postcard.

Cherating started life as a traditional fishing village, and fishing is still one of the most popular forms of livelihood head. Those who like to dine on freshly caught seafood will find a large number of restaurants that serve up the catch of the day and the restaurants that line the beach offer visitors the chance to soak up the atmosphere while eating their fill. Simply choosing a spot on the sand and sunbathing for a while. Water sports are also popular, especially yachting, surfing and swimming.

Although this is the perfect place for doing nothing all day, there are plenty of things to do if you have extra energy to spare. Bicycles can be hired from most guesthouses and cycling is a great way to explore the village and surrounding area. People wave as you cycle past and beckon you to stop and shop for locally made souvenirs.

Visit the turtle sanctuary and you may be lucky enough to arrive when the turtles make their way to the shore, which takes place between June and August. The Green turtles emerge from the sea late at night during these months to lay as many as 100 eggs at a time and visitors have the chance to watch the event.

Cherating is also famed for its arts and crafts, and this is the perfect place to purchase gifts and souvenirs to take back home. Items such as pandanus leaf hats, bags and mats are all popular purchases here and make for unique reminders of your trip to Cherating.


Taman Negara, Malaysia

taman_negaraThe large and lovely Taman Negara is one of the most interesting national parks in the whole of Malaysia, which is no mean feat considering the amount of areas that compete for this title. This is a great place for independent travellers to explore, while those who book a guided tour of Taman Negara will be taken to many of the park’s most enchanting spots by a local guide, who will also be able to reveal hidden gems.

The jungle here dates back some 130 million years and has managed to withstand the tests of time remarkably well. Those who have sharp eyesight and a good guide will have the chance to spot a wide range of animals as they make their way through the undergrowth, including monkeys swinging through the trees, a whole host of different species of snakes, tigers, elephants, rhinos, shy deer and the unusual looking tapir.

Those who have a strong sense of adventure will find plenty to do in Taman Negara, and among the most popular activities here are river rafting and cave exploration. Special treks are held in the evening, which gives visitors the opportunity to spot some of the park’s most active nocturnal creatures.

The majority of people come here in order to go trekking through the rain forest, and Taman Negara offers visitors a wide range of different types of trekking experiences. One of the most popular lasts for half a day and takes trekkers to the top of Teresek Hill, which is famed for its stunning panoramic views. The Canopy Walks offers visitors the chance to view Taman Negara from a different perspective, while others lead the way to stunning natural features such as waterfalls and caves.

Those who want to really get to know Taman Negara will want to spend the night here, and a wide range of different accommodation options are available. Camping out offers visitor the chance to really get back to nature and it is possible to hire camping equipment as well as fishing rods and other gear from the Mutiara Taman Negara resort shop.


Ipoh, Malaysia

IpohPerhaps most famous for its rich and varied traditional cuisine, Ipoh is one of the largest cities in the whole of Malaysia and can be reached easily by taking the train from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Situated on the banks of the mighty Kinta River, Ipoh is also known for its picturesque gardens and charming buildings, earning it the nickname of Bougainvillea City.

The Old Town district is the perfect place to explore on foot, and there are also plenty of pavement cafes and restaurants in this part of the city where visitors can simply sit and soak up the atmosphere for a while.

Ipoh is famous for its food, and there are a wide variety of dishes to try. People travel from as far away as Singapore to dine on delicious curries, noodle dishes and a huge range of local specialities. A good place to find cheap and tasty food is at the hawkers stalls that line the road and gather by busy markets, especially in the evening.

Those who have got plenty of time to spare in Ipoh will want to take a trip to the cave temples of Perak Tong. This area was established as a place of worship by a devout Buddhist priest back in q926, and a large number of caves and grottos can be found here, many of which have been decorated with murals, which some of the chambers feature Buddha images and are used as places of worship to this day.

The cave of Sam Poh Tong is located to the south of Ipoh and contains a turtle pond. Another interesting day trip is the temple of Kek Look Tong, which also features a cool cavern. Climb into the cave and walk through to the back, where you will discover the Chinese Buddha of Future Happiness. There is also an ornamental garden with ponds and pagodas behind the cave.


Johor Bahru, Malaysia

johor_bahruThe bustling city of Johor Bahru is the capital of Johor state and was once named Tanjung Puteri. The city can be found on the very southernmost tip of Southeast Asia and is famed for its intense natural beauty. Travellers come here from all over the world to explore the tropical rainforests, climb the mighty mountains and swim in the waters of the sparkling waterfalls that surround the city of Johor Bahru.

There is a large causeway linking Malaysia to Singapore and many people pass through Johor Bahru on the way to ‘the garden city’. However, for those who take the time to explore, Johor Bahru is full of natural and cultural delights.

A great way to get an idea of the natural beauty of this area is by climbing Mount Ophir. At 1,276 meters this is the highest point in the area and provides fantastic views across the city and the Straits of Johor.

There are a large number of interesting buildings to explore and top of the list should be the ornate Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque and the Royal Palace Museum. The nearby communities of Kukup village and Muar town are good places to visit to gain an insight into traditional Malay life.

Those who want to soak up the sun for a while should take time to visit the enchanting Desaru beaches as well as the tropical island that are situated just to the south of Johor Bahru. Featuring cool, clear waters, Pulau Dayang is perhaps the most popular of these islands and is an excellent place to practice water sports such as scuba diving and snorkelling.

A great day trip destination is the Endau Rompin National Park, where you will have the chance to wander through pristine tropical rainforest and perhaps spot the Sumatran rhinoceros. You will also find the pretty Kota Tinggi waterfall, which is a good place to cool down after trekking through the forest.

Other local attractions include Johor Zoo, Saleng Zoo, Orchid Valley and Istana Garden, which is a great place for jogging or simply a walk in the park.


Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Cameron Highlands, MalaysiaThis beautiful hill station is the perfect place to visit when you’re feeling the heat in Malaysia. Situated at an elevation of between 1300 and 1829 meters, the Cameron Highlands are significantly cooler than much of Malaysia, making it a good area to visit during the scorchingly hot summer season.

With its cool climate and lush natural beauty, the Cameron Highlands feel like they should be located somewhere in Europe rather than in Malaysia, and this is the perfect place to retreat from the heat and take part in natural activities such as hiking and trekking.

A large number of guided tours are offered by local companies and take visitors to surrounding places of interest such as the BOH tea factory, where visitors can learn all about the art of tea manufacture, right from the time the tender tealeaves are first picked to the drying and packing processes.

Other interesting attractions that can be found in the area include strawberry fields, bee gardens and insectariums. Most daytrips through the area also include trekking through the forest, and knowledgeable local guides will be able to tell visitors all about the flora and fauna that can be found along the way.

The Cameron Highlands has long been receiving visitors from all over the globe, and there are plenty of amenities for travellers to make use of here. In addition to stunning accommodation options visitors will also find an excellent selection of restaurants here, which serve up everything from authentic Indian curries to Chinese fare, while there are also a number of bars and shops to be found along the main drag.


Melaka, Malaysia

Melaka, MalaysiaThe city of Melaka is a great place to pause for a while on the trip through Central Malaysia, and this traditional city is often referred to as the ‘soul of the nation’, as many people see it as summing up exactly what Malaysia is all about. Of course, there are a large number of large and impressive mosques here, while visiting the vibrant local market places is the perfect way to gain an insight into local life as well as doing a spot of shopping along the way.

Melaka is famed for its rich and varied cuisine, and excellent restaurants can be found all over the city. Taking a cooking class here is also a good way to find out what Melaka is all about while gaining a skill that you can use to impress friends and family members with when you get back home.

While the city can be rather busy during the daytime, it is surrounding by intense natural beauty, and sun worshippers will want to spend time soaking up the sun on Melaka’s pristine sandy beaches. There are also large forests and parks to explore here, which are simply teeming with a diverse range of flora and fauna.

Local legend explains that the city of Melaka was founded by Parameswara, who is believed to have been related to a Hindi prince and possibly even Alexander the Great. The story goes that Parameswara was hunting and stopped to rest near the Malacca River. He was standing next to an Indian gooseberry tree known as a melaka when one of his hunting dogs was startled by a mouse deer and fell into the river. Parameswara took this incident as an auspicious sign and decided to build the capital of his new kingdom where he stood, naming it after the tree under which he had been resting.

Visitors will want to spend at least three days exploring Melaka, as there are numerous unmissable attractions to discover here. The city can also be used as a convenient base to explore a whole host of surrounding attractions, while this is the perfect place to arrange for tour guides, change money and make use of endless other amenities.