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Ceasefire on Sukhumvit

Ceasefire on Sukhumvit

CEASEFIRE ON SUKHUMVIT By Andrew Biggs It’s a jungle out there on the streets of Bangkok. Behind the wheel we curse, cut in front, blast our horns, tailgate, angrily flash our lights, and do whatever we can to ensure we get to our destination quicker than any of those other despicable drivers. We create lanes out of the shoulder. We ignore all notions of fairness; if there is a line of 20 cars lined up to get off the main road, that won’t stop some buffoon in a dirty white pi

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Road Monster

Road Monster

ROAD MONSTER By Andrew Biggs It’s always fun catching up with Ronnachai, though the most recent time I saw him it nearly didn’t happen thanks to an incident along the way. “I got pulled over for drink driving just outside Buriram,” he said. “I blew 82, whatever that means.” Next to him his best buddy Tam burst into laughter and slapped his knee, while Ronnachai rolled his eyes and broke into a smile. We were sitting at a roadside café on a mountain not far from his and

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The Art Of Transport

The Art Of Transport

THE ART OF TRANSPORT By Andrew Biggs There is a new business that has opened up on my way to work. It’s called “Car Media Solutions” and that very name sums up everything that’s weird about modern society. It was difficult to guess initially as to what service was being peddled. The fact it is offering solutions means there is a problem, and that problem is in the form of “car media”, whatever that is. If I had to guess I would say car media involves publications, broadcaste

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A Military Coup ... And Nothing To Say

A Military Coup ... And Nothing To Say

A MILITARY COUP ... AND NOTHING TO SAY By Andrew Biggs (Note: Written during the week of the military coup, May 2014) This week your favorite columnist is restricted by what he can write. According to the National Council for Peace and Order, I am not allowed to criticize them. Nor am I allowed to tell lies about them. I can live with those two edicts. Throw enough money and alcohol in my direction, packaged with a few veiled threats concerning the ease with which a vis

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Custard's Last Stand

Custard's Last Stand

CUSTARD’S LAST STAND By Andrew Biggs It’s been a hectic few weeks for your columnist as he entertains visiting family members and tries to work. Work and family. Just that would be enough, but I had to go and eat a piece of chicken that gave me the worst food poisoning I’ve had in years. My doctor wanted to admit me to hospital, but my mother was flying in that night and it might be a little melodramatic if she went directly from Suvarnabhumi to a Samut Prakan hospital where

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Death And Inactivity

Death And Inactivity

DEATH AND INACTIVITY By Andrew Biggs There has been a push this week for the death penalty for corrupt government officials — may I be the first to announce my opposition. The push is an amendment proposed by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, better known as the NACC, though perhaps FUTILE might be a better abbreviation for all that commission is up against. In a nutshell, punishments are going to get tough for government officials who engage in bribery. A corrupt off

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Comical Memories

Comical Memories

COMICAL MEMORIES By Andrew Biggs My friend Stuart is in charge of Bangkok Comic Con, a four-day annual exhibition held at Bitec. Stuart is an affable, friendly, wordly fellow despite his roots in Gippsland, Victoria. Or rather, he is affable and friendly for 48 weeks of the year. As his annual event looms his face becomes strained and gaunt, and friends are tossed aside as the stressful task of running a mega comic book event takes over. You’d think an event filled with

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Giving Me The Cookie Runs

Giving Me The Cookie Runs

GIVING ME THE COOKIE RUNS By Andrew Biggs Fern has a new high score on Cookie Run. Fern has hit 1,042,511 points and is now at Level 20. This is good, since Fern was at Level 19 just the day before and Level 18 last Friday. Her ascension has been astounding. Two minutes after Fern’s triumphant SMS I receive one from Mr Onn. Mr Onn has achieved a new high score of 1,868,147, totally eclipsing Fern. Not ten seconds later I receive an SMS from Peachy who has managed

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Buddhist Tenets, Under The Table

Buddhist Tenets, Under The Table

BUDDHIST TENETS, UNDER THE TABLE By Andrew Biggs The new department head greets us with a friendly smile as he invites us into his office. He is a middle-aged man with a full head of hair and a moon face, sporting a slight paunch, and dressed in a suit despite sweltering temperatures outside. I am in a province an hour’s plane ride away from Bangkok, where we have been undertaking a government contract to provide English training for a group of government workers. The project

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A Wrinkle In Time

A Wrinkle In Time

A WRINKLE IN TIME By Andrew Biggs We are in the middle of a intense meeting discussing commissions and profit margins and project viability. My eyes are trying to focus on a sheet of figures but my head is swimming, my forehead creased and weather-beaten by my sales team’s demands. I look up and spy Au, one of my Sales Executives (as they prefer to call themselves replete with capitalization) tapping her left cheek and pouting in my direction. This is not a pout of displ

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Transient Coinage

Transient Coinage

TRANSIENT COINAGE By Andrew Biggs Okay, so it’s bye bye to the two baht coins. Nice to have seen you guys again. Take care and we’ll check you next time you’re in town, which, according to my calculations, should be January 2020. The news that the government was phasing out two baht coins didn’t surprise me. You see, the two baht coin is the Brigadoon of the currency world in Thailand. I’ve lived here 23 years and it has surfaced on three different occasions. On avera

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The Big Apple Vs The Big Mango

The Big Apple Vs The Big Mango

THE BIG APPLE VS THE BIG MANGO By Andrew Biggs I am typing this column in sub-zero temperatures on the other side of the world. I worry the icicles on my fingers may play havoc with the inner workings of my MacBook Air, as they rattle and break off my fingers. An exaggeration, perhaps, but that is how it feels. I am shivering, frozen and, in part, shriveled. So where am I? You call it New York. I call it a refrigerator. I am in the United States on vacation, celebrating

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Civil Service, Colorless

Civil Service, Colorless

CIVIL SERVICE, COLORLESS By Andrew BIggs Our event is over. It has been a resounding success. Months of planning all came to a head when we staged an English seminar and camp for high-ranking civil servants of a government ministry. The participants, all 200 of them, gave us above-average positive feedback. We even wrote and published a well-received 200-page manual full of tips and tricks to help them with their English. There is nothing else for us to do but to get p

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Cricket Balls

Cricket Balls

CRICKET BALLS By Andrew Biggs Today is day one of the first test cricket match of the Australian summer. It’s Australia versus India at the Adelaide Oval. Australia is still reeling from the ball tampering scandal in South Africa last year, and they face the world’s number one test playing nation, India, who have never beaten Australia in a series here. Australia’s two leading batsmen are not on the team, having been banned for 12 months after the ball tempering scandal. One

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Life Changes

Life Changes

LIFE CHANGES By Andrew Biggs Once I had a staff member who started with me as a man and, when he resigned two years later, was a woman. His name was Pop and his job was advertising sales for a magazine I was editing. He came to his job interview in a suit and tie. Rakishly thin with a gait not dissimilar to Miss Thailand’s, he was a polite young man with a perpetual smile on his powdered face. Pop was an enthusiastic salesperson, hitting targets and getting his commissi

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Closing The Borders ... Again

Closing The Borders ... Again

CLOSING THE BORDERS ... AGAIN By Andrew Biggs The prime minister’s threat to close the country sent all sorts of strange ripples throughout Thailand. This column begins with the ardent hope that you already know this news, because if so I am saved a needless one hundred words explaining its background, thus allowing me to extrapolate my watertight theories and opinions on the topic for an extra one hundred words. Ardent hope? Journalists are taught from an early age not to h

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Coffee Porn

Coffee Porn

COFFEE PORN By Andrew Biggs Last Sunday was the last day of National Book Fair at Queen Sirikit Convention Center, where your beloved correspondent had a booth. The bad news was that book customers are dwindling, and not just at my booth. The worldwide trend is away from physical books and towards e-books. Sadly in Thailand, the trend is simply away from physical books. The good news? My booth wasn’t so far from the convention center’s restaurant and bar, the latter of whic

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Nightmare On Retail Street

Nightmare On Retail Street

NIGHTMARE ON RETAIL STREET By Andrew Biggs Just got back from a clothes shopping trip in Los Angeles. Hardly justification for a column, I know, but bear with me. Things get a little more deep and meaningful as we progress. Buffalo Exchange is a popular clothing shop for hip American teens so I went there today with my American niece Sabrina. Fourteen-year-old Sabrina and thirty-something-Andrew have so much in common. She’s ultra-cool (that’s not one of them) and loves seco

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Gestapo Car Park

Gestapo Car Park

GESTAPO CAR PARK By Andrew Biggs The Don Mueang car park is absolutely full but there is a tiny, tiny sliver of space right at the entrance — and the security guard has agree to let me park there. For this reason I will neither be condescending nor critical of him. Little do I know at this point, however, my father’s declaration throughout my childhood that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” is about to ring true. I admit that when it was clear there were no parks I did

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The Ultimate Garden Party

The Ultimate Garden Party

THE ULTIMATE GARDEN PARTY By Andrew Biggs Yesterday the Ploenchit Fair completed a full circle. The quintessential British event returned to its mother’s breast, the British Embassy, as a swansong for the grounds themselves. There are not that many annual events on the Expat calendar that have stood the test of time. There are the various embassy balls, of course, and this year Fight Night made a successful return after its alleged demise in 2016. But nothing comes close to

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Sane Censors

Sane Censors

Sane Censors By Andrew Biggs Back when I was working at Channel 3, one of Thailand’s two major free-to-air commercial TV stations, there was a unique department consisting of three very refined, elegant ladies. They were older women who dressed immaculately, often in colorful Thai silk dresses. Their hair was perfectly coiffed; softly-spoken and friendly, they always greeted me with a smile and kind words. Once they gave me a book on how to transliterate Thai words, which was very

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Speaking In Tongues

Speaking In Tongues

SPEAKING IN TONGUES By Andrew Biggs Thailand is reeling with another monk-in-sheep’s-clothing scandal. A monk is flying on a private jet to Europe for a shopping spree. That was after he made a TV ad for an air purifier. Not bad for a guy who’s taken a vow of poverty and whose wardrobe consists of three saffron robes; why go all the way to Paris to buy those? This is what happens when we worship men more than religion. I’m very familiar with religious charlatans, growi

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Detoxic: The Colon Column

Detoxic: The Colon Column

DETOXIC: THE COLON COLUMN By Andrew Biggs By the time you read this column, I will have returned from a week away at detox. Yes, you heard right. Detox. Angelina Jolie’s done it. In fact just about all of Hollywood has done it, so naturally, it’s my turn. I’ve never really been into detox – it’s something people with too much money, time, and toxins encrusted onto the walls of their intestines do. And yet for the first time in my life, I am giving up all worldly pleasures and dis

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