This is a story I wrote for the Toronto Star in 2006, reprinted here as a supplemental to an episode of The Bangkok Podcast on tourist scams.“Why are you being so stupid?” shouted ‘The Godfather’ through uneven brown teeth as he jabbed a gaudily-jeweled finger toward me. I sat across the rickety table from him, as a bead of sweat marched its way down my temple, sticky from the tropical heat. How did I wind up here?
As a blogger in Bangkok, sometimes you get invited to events that run the gamut from huge to intimate, celebratory to somber, memorable and forgettable. I rarely go to these, usually due to a combination of being lazy and busy (I'm complicated), but a few weeks ago I was invited to an event by a company that was both familiar - hearkening back to my childhood - and vague, in that it wasn't a company you'd expect to be throwing shindigs: Ricola.
In May of 2010, my friend Tony Joh and I stuffed ourselves into a hot, tiny little room in the back of a friend's office, set up a few beat-up old microphones, and hit record on a laptop. It was the beginning of the Bangkok Podcast, and we had no idea if it would be successful or not, or if we'd even enjoy it or not. Luckily, it panned out, and over the next few years we did a weekly show that allowed us to meet monks, journalists, celebrities, politicians, and scholars, among others.It was great fun, but when Tony moved to Tokyo and I got busy with a new job and married life, we pulled the plug. However, as of November 2016, the Bangkok Podcast is BACK, BABY!
It's that time of year again - the vegetarian festival is upon us. This is the time of year when observant Thais eat only vegetarian food for ten days as a sort of penance for all the suffering that meat-eating causes for the rest of the year. It's a good idea, if you're of that mindset, but I usually spend those ten days actively seeking out shops, stalls, and restaurants that don't have that annoying yellow flag that says jae (เจ), which means vegetarian.
The Search for Captain Bush’s Grave started when my friend Andrew sent me an email asking if I knew anything about the old abandoned house that sat, forgotten and forlorn, across from the Sheraton Hotel. The house itself is gorgeous but decaying; it sits as if slumped in a beanbag chair, shutters falling off, paint peeling, bricks missing, weeds growing through every crevice. And the street that it sits on? Charoen Krung soi 30 – aka, Soi Captain Bush. […]
After living over 35% of my life in Thailand, I’m always reminded on my all-too-infrequent trips back to Canada how much I took for granted growing up. When I was a kid, I hated the town I lived in – “Ugh, I can’t wait to get out of this place!” we all used to say, like we were singing the chorus of a Springsteen song. But looking back with
grace and age, it’s clear to me how idyllic my childhood really was – miles of green grass, flat sidewalks, bike lanes, and baseball diamonds. The bank tellers knew me […]
I’ll be the first to admit that in the past, from time to time, I have bought counterfeit things. You know, in moments of extreme weakness. Taken a shortcut to save a few bucks. Usually it was for things that were pretty low profile – DVDs (back when people still bought those), shoes, sunglasses, and the like. But as I got older, I started to appreciate that, generally, you get what you pay for. When it’s a DVD it’s not a huge deal, but when you start to realize that the world of counterfeits extends to more serious […]
Hey! If you’re reading this, you’re on the brand new design of my lil’ website. I put no small amount of work into it, so I hope you like it. It might not seem like much, but us bloggers can get quite proud and obsessed with our websites. I don’t think it’s misguided effort, either, especially in the 21st century. If you have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or any type of online presence, you are, essentially, a brand, and brands need to be taken care of. […]
If you haven’t picked up on it during previous posts, I’m the proud father of a beautiful, hilarious, mischievous, lovely little boy who just turned 1. I’ve written pages and pages privately about the experience thus far, but very little publicly. I wanted to reflect on one element of being a parent in Thailand that has never stopped making me laugh and/or frown in equal measure, and that is how Thais – most of the time females – react to kids. […]
There’s a very tired joke I like to make whenever some friends and I are oot and aboot in Bangkok. If we see a construction site, I always say “Maybe it will be a museum or library!” and everyone laughs and I get high fives, because 99% of the time it will either be a mall or a condo. Or both. Some love it, some hate it, but you can’t deny that Bangkok’s efforts to overtake Singapore as Asia’s shopping hub are ambitious and persistent. […]