I was on my way home after a Saturday night out with friends. It was 2.30am and I was stopped at the lights at a relatively lonely intersection in Sathupradit, downtown Bangkok. Next to me and also on a motorbike was a “win” – a motorcycle taxi guy.
I nodded in appreciation of a fellow bikie and looked up to see the light had changed to green. I looked right to see a black pick-up whizzing though the crossroads before it creamed the “win” rider and carried him 30 meters down the road before fleeing into the night.
I put my bike on its stand and ran off to see if there was anything I could do. Those moments are imprinted on my mind even though it was nearly 20 years ago. One of his legs was a further 20 meters or so away having come off around the knee. The other leg was bent double with the sole of the foot in the small of the victim’s back.
In horror I watched as he tried to get up. In my best Thai I told him to lie down and thought frantically about what I should do. I was relieved to see that a man and a woman had seen what had happened and were now on the scene calling into a mobile phone. I didn’t even have one yet.
I figured there was nothing I could do, I would just be in the way now. So as more people gathered I left the scene and went home and unusually for me at the time cuddled the wife.
She asked why?
Everyone who has lived in Thailand a while can tell you hair raising stories about the roads – especially Rooster who has biked well over 400,000 kilometers, and is still relatively alive.
So it was no surprise this week that one of the leading stories on Thaivisa was one so many could relate to – the nurse ploughed into at the intersection in Nong Bua Lamphu by the woman who claimed that her brakes failed.
Incredibly the 23 year old nurse survived and was even sitting up in hospital the next day. It was clearly the nature of the hit – a somersault over the bonnet rather than a full force smash – that saved her as a helmet was not the reason she survived.
But it was a pertinent reminder of the horrors of the Thai roads that see perhaps 25,000 killed each year, often for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many Thais call it fate – I prefer the word sickening.
Meanwhile “The Sun” in the UK, sometimes amusingly referred to as a newspaper, wrote about the “Boozy Brits” in the kingdom wondering whether or when we would tire of them! They cited the dangers of drug and alcohol fuelled parties in a foreign land but not once mentioned the roads as a source of peril!
Talk about local knowledge – the reporter had just replaced the word “Torremolinos with Thailand” in the mother of all rehash stories. Forum posters said there were equally bad Germans or South Africans, etc etc, as Rooster sipped his coffee and enjoyed the banter.
And banter there certainly was when the top story of the week, the banning of darts in Pattaya, was revealed.
Following such titter-fests as the bridge players being carted off to jankers and the rounding up of the grannies playing cards this was a new highlight of the lowlife of QUOTES, the Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard.
Apparently no one had a license but that was not the only difficulty – there actually weren’t any licenses yet.
Happening in sex city Pattaya I couldn’t help think of the best catchphrase ever associated with darts – comedian Jim Bowen’s famous “…you get nothing for two in a bed” on his chronic “Bullseye” show.
TV curmudgeons came out of every hole in the forum woodwork to bash the Thais for their stupidity but apart from the fact that the issue is probably tied up with gambling meaning that anything goes when it comes to the antics of the constabulary in Thailand, many of the posters appeared to be British.
For surely the British have a virtual monopoly on absurd licenses. I mean who in their right mind thinks you should have a television license when you pay for cable? It costs 147 sobs a year for the downtrodden Brits (49.50 for black and white) to watch TV, though a government website says you can get 50% off…….if you are blind.
You also, of course, need to pay the hilarious sum of 12 pounds 50p to own a dog – though the police don’t need to bother with their own K9s.
For Rooster, I would never blame Thailand for its foibles – all governments are equally barking to me.
I am, however, thankful to the Thai government for allowing me to win money at tournament Scrabble and not lock me up.
They take 5% of my winnings in tax but I don’t begrudge them of that as I have enjoyed earning sponsors’ money to the tune of about one million baht over the course of my crossword gaming “career” in Scrabble mad Thailand.
And I would never like to do anything illegal in Thailand….
Not strictly illegal but highly irregular were the business practices of a pair of massage-cum-manicurists on the beach at Lamai who relieved the Swede of 3,500 baht making him feel like a turnip.
The headline pointed to an occasion when an English football team manager failed – hardly news as all but one have, miserably in most cases. But this fleecing on Samui was no laughing matter for the Swede who went to the cops.
The authorities relieved the ladies’ of their license which was one of two shocks – the other being that they actually had one.
The story reminded me of my formative traveling years dossing my youth away on the beaches of Goa in India. A beach vendor had convinced me that after months of scummy traveling my inner ears would be filthy.
More naïve and trusting at age 20 I let him scrape around a bit and was shocked by the wax he showed me on a clean handkerchief. He proffered a sign that said 5 rupees for ear cleaning and I readily agreed convinced of the dirt within.
Within seconds I was in abject agony as he scraped his cleaning tool on a stone he had miraculously discovered by my eardrum. A new sign was whipped out dramatically: Stone Removal Service 50 rupees.
The stone was removed but Rooster did not pay – some other foreigners helped me chase the miscreant from the sands as the ruse was now obvious.
People who claim they have never been scammed are immensely tedious. They are often those who find it oh so hard to put themselves in the shoes of others – almost a badge of honor for many posters on the know-it-all forums of the internet.
Not scamming, just plain stealing was the “farang on a bicycle” caught on two CCTV cameras coolly strolling into a temple and pinching 1,000 baht from a donation tree in the chapel. The abbot, clearly believing that karma rather than the Keystone Kops would have a better chance of retribution did not bother to report the matter.
Though he was probably only after money for a Darts License, one had to wonder about the sanity of a man who would steal just one 1,000 baht note and leave plenty of purple and red ones still hanging on the tree.
In the light of events in recent years surely he had to be British thus surely growing up with the adage “in for a penny in for a pound”.
If karma does indeed take him down the same was definitely true of the monk in Suphanburi caught on CCTV stealing ladies’ knickers from an alley behind a gold shop.
The abbot soon had him defrocked though, thankfully, it was not reported exactly what smalls he was wearing under the saffron robes. While the devil is in the details such revelations would have been wholly unholy.
Talking of the unholy, the corruption scandals rolled on this week with DPM Prawit still clinging to the straws of power thanks to his boss and perhaps relieved that a former chief of police was taking some of the heat.
The cop had suggested that he had nothing to answer for after 300 million baht miraculously appeared in his account from the owner of under-fire soapy massage parlor Victoria’s Secret.
What worried me was that he was using the self-same excuses trotted out by arch-fugly Prawit in the watch scandal – that he had just borrowed the cash from a friend.
I wish I had some Thai friends like that – I could quit my day job for a few millennia.
Similarly keeping a straight face in the face of adversity was the owner of the coffee shop in Sattahip who had got the punters rolling in for the proverbial eyeful after advertising his wares with some “Busty Baristas” in nothing but skimpy aprons.
For the owner the cops mentioned the Computer Crimes Act, as they are wont to do, while the lasses would be lassoed for lewdness. But the real crime was that all the men who turned up hoping for a bit of “nom” with their cappuccino were left high and dry as it was, of course, all just an advertising stunt.
And so to this week’s Rooster awards.
The “Liar, Liar Pants On Fire” award goes to poacher and ItalThai mogul Premchai Karnasuta. Period.
While the “Patience Is A Virtue” prize is awarded to the pick-up driver at JJ Mall in Bangkok who rather than wait a few minutes for a BMW driver who had blocked him in in the parking lot or just get someone to help him bump the car a few meters, rammed his own pride and joy into the back of the Beamer.
It reminded me of my own idiocy when I bought my first car back in 1997 and stupidly double parked at Central hemming someone in while I went off to the shopping center to play Scrabble all day. I got back to my new Toyota that had been mercilessly scratched over a large area by the gas tank opening.
Learning my lesson might have been worse except for the very fruity Thai language that I learned from the handwritten note that those responsible had kindly slipped under the wipers.
Proving there is always a silver lining if one thinks positively enough.