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Love And Debt Alleviation

Love And Debt Alleviation

LOVE AND DEBT ALLEVIATION By Andrew Biggs Guys, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is this: Never before have Thai women been so keen as to want to hitch up with you. We foreign guys are red hot in Thailand. And the bad news? That’s coming a little further down. The phenomenon of Thai women taking foreign husbands recently led to an internet bushfire that remains raging to this day. It comes in the form of Madame Praiya’s Institute for Lonely Thai

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Road Angel

Road Angel

ROAD ANGEL By Andrew Biggs One of my staff bought a car this week. It’s a second-hand Nissan Silphy, which according to the old owner is “as good as new”, a statement one must take with Goderich, Ontario, the largest operating salt mine in the world. Nevertheless my staff member is thrilled to be paying 8,000 Baht to a finance company for the rest of his working life along with any future offspring’s. It was the picture of the car he posted on Facebook that piqued my interes

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Shooting Paper Planes Into The Sky

Shooting Paper Planes Into The Sky

SHOOTING PAPER PLANES INTO THE SKY By Andrew Biggs It is hard to believe nine years have passed since Mong Thongdee hit the media spotlight. Little Mong was big news in September, 2009, a few months before the violent clashes between anti government protesters and government troops which killed two dozen people. His was a cute story; a 12-year-old Northern boy who won the national paper airplane flying competition, which apparently is an annual event. He was in grade 4

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Food Tennis

Food Tennis

FOOD TENNIS By Andrew Biggs There is movement at the end of my soi. It started a week ago and now the changes are swift. A sign goes down, a sign goes up. Old wooden planks, serving as roofs and walls, get prised apart. Tables and chairs and cookers are being gathered up and moved across the road. It was the duck noodle shop on Monday; then the fried chicken stall the next. And last night, as I returned home from a late-night meditation class at my local temple, it was Jeck,

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A Polite Lady And An Ugly Man

A Polite Lady And An Ugly Man

A POLITE LADY AND AN UGLY MAN By Andrew Biggs UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is toying with the idea of women-only train carriages. The idea is to stem the rising tide of female harassment in public places after British Transport Police reported a rise in sexual assaults on trains. Jeremy, don’t. Just don’t. I live in a country where we have such things. We, too, have high rates of sexual assault. So we have lady buses and, to my absolute horror, lady parki

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Unceremonious Ceremonies

Unceremonious Ceremonies

UNCEREMONIAL CEREMONIES By Andrew Biggs “Boss, I need to take four days off in the middle of March,” my driver said to me a month ago, breaking a silence I’d been enjoying in the car. My driver taking four days off is not a catatonic-inducing event. Just between you and me, I relish the solitude of driving myself around for a few days. I get to crank the speaker up loud, and for a short time I’m relieved of having to emit non-committal grunts in acknowledgment of his observations

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Heartsong

Heartsong

(Note: Written during the week of His Majesty King Bhumibol’s Royal Cremation, 26 October, 2017) HEARTSONG By Andrew Biggs The Royal Thai Anthem is known as Pleng Sansern Phra Baramee, or “The Song The Praises the Glory of the King”. This piece of music is 130 years old. It was the third national anthem of Siam for more than 40 years, from 1888 to 1933 — the one prior to that was the UK’s “God Save The King/Queen” with Thai lyrics. It is a curious melody in that it almo

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Take This Thermometer And Shove It

Take This Thermometer And Shove It

TAKE THIS THERMOMETER AND SHOVE IT By Andrew Biggs For the first time ever, in the nine years I have written this weekly column, I write to you with a temperature of 38.7 degrees. Apparently that’s pretty high. I’m not an expert on body temperature, but it was high enough for me to end up in a special waiting room at my hospital, separated from the Samut Prakan masses, and not because I was a VIP. At my hospital all patients are required to have their height, weight, body te

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A Choice Of Drug, A Drug Of Choice

A Choice Of Drug, A Drug Of Choice

A CHOICE OF DRUG, A DRUG OF CHOICE By Andrew Biggs Jackie is the grown-up daughter of my dear friend Kelly. Now she’s 21 and wants to take a year off university and travel around South-East Asia. This is the email I received from her: “Hi! This is Jackie! I don’t know whether Mom told you, but me and my boyfriend are going backpacking around Asia and want to include Thailand! We were wondering if we could stay with you for a week or so when we get to Bangkok! We’ll arrive in

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Road Rage

Road Rage

ROAD RAGE By Andrew Biggs Late Thursday afternoon the silhouette of my driver appeared in the doorway to my office. “Do you need to be driven anywhere special tomorrow?” he asked. What kind of question is that? I’m perfectly capable of driving myself anywhere special I care to go. I have a valid Thai driver’s license, which I got after a difficult written test— not because of the information required, but because the translation was so abysmal. In the past you had to sit

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Trials of a Thai Twenty-Year-Old

Trials of a Thai Twenty-Year-Old

TRIALS OF A THAI TWENTY-YEAR-OLD By Andrew Biggs If Hollywood sitcom writers ever feel hard up for new ideas, they may like to pop over to my house for inspiration. I am sharing my leafy mansion with my 20-year-old Thai niece. Let’s call her Gift, since she would be mortified if I used her real name, though that would require her reading this column, something the average 20-year-old Thai apparently doesn’t care to do on a Sunday. Gift is living with me now, since my home is

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Canine Mortality

Canine Mortality

CANINE MORTALITY By Andrew Biggs My beloved dog of 15 years is dying. His descent into canine dotage has been swift. Gone are the days when he bounded down the driveway to greet me at my front gate, tail wagging, jumping for joy, pawing and slobbering over my mid-priced Robinson slacks and Platinum Plaza work shirt. These days it’s enough for him to lift his head slowly and stare out towards me with milky eyes. The light has left those eyes, and he labours as he breathes. He’

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Nipplegate

Nipplegate

NIPPLEGATE By Andrew Biggs Tove Lo is a Swedish singer enjoying a hit in the dance clubs at present. Her song is very catchy and kind of fun. It is called “Disco Tits”, and here are the lyrics to the chorus: “I’m sweatin’ from head to toe I’m wet through all my clothes, I’m fully charged, nipples are hard Ready to go.” Needless to say it’s a raunchy little number, in which Tove Lo informs us she loves to go out to clubs where she drinks to excess, gets really high on a n

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Better Late Than Australian

Better Late Than Australian

BETTER LATE THAN AUSTRALIAN By Andrew Biggs On my recent trip home to Australia, my mother took me aside on the last day. “I can really see Thai culture has had an effect on you,” she said as we ate our last meal together. “In three ways.” I waited, quiche perched mid-air on fork, for the impending triad. “First, you are so much more relaxed and even-tempered. Gone is the hot-headed Andrew from before. “Second, you smile so much more. That’s got to be a direct resu

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Kindergarten Elites

Kindergarten Elites

KINDERGARTEN ELITES By Andrew Biggs Congratulations to the little boy on page two of the Bangkok Post last Wednesday, throwing his hands up with joy at being selected to attend Chulalongkorn University Demonstration Elementary School. Actually, the six-year-old wasn’t “selected” per se. He passed the exam required to enter grade one. He was among only 100 who got in out of more than 2,000 students who sat it. I wish the kid well … really, I do. He has learned a life lesson ab

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Korean Dream

Korean Dream

KOREAN DREAM By Andrew Biggs Chai grew up on a small plot of farmland 30 km outside of the town of Kalasin. His childhood was that of waking up, planting rice and vegetables, going to school, coming home, planting rice and vegetables again. Rinse and repeat. It was a circle. That’s how Chai himself described it, drawing one with his hands. “A circle every day,” he said. “The circle made me really tired. I wanted to leave.” He said this circle happened from birth up

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Not Deaf, Very Dumb

Not Deaf, Very Dumb

NOT DEAF, VERY DUMB By Andrew Biggs There has been a commotion this past week in the media over the appearance of two attractive young westerners begging for money at a Khlong Toey intersection. Just four days ago The Bangkok Post published a photograph of one of them, a woman, clutching a bunch of Thai flags and trying to flog them off car window to car window. There was a man as well. Why were they begging? Why were they so attractive? And most importantly to the authoritie

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Superstupids

Superstupids

SUPERSTUPIDS By Andrew Biggs This week’s tale of pretentiousness and warped social mores begins in the sleepy seaside town of Hua Hin. Sleepy seaside town? Such was the description of Hua Hin when I first made a stop there a quarter of a century ago, but now? There’s nothing “sleepy” or even “seaside” about the place. It’s a beach town where you can’t see the beach. The main road doesn’t run parallel to it; I have no idea where a family who decides “I say! Let’s go to

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Street Food, Street Carnage

Street Food, Street Carnage

STREET FOOD, STREET CARNAGE By Andrew Biggs There are two categories where you can find Thailand sitting at the top of the world charts. The first is for street food. There isn’t another country in the world that can match the variety and quantity of what is peddled roadside here. CNN has lauded Thailand, in particular Bangkok, for the best street food in the world. So has Conde Nast Traveller, Virtual Tourist, Skyscanner … the secret is out. The second category where we hav

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Once You Go White

Once You Go White

ONCE YOU GO WHITE ... By Andrew Biggs Deadlines can be merciless things. I have a weekly deadline for this column to which I strictly adhere, and just writing that sentence makes me peer ominously out the window for fear of a lightning bolt splitting me asunder. Like all journalists, your favorite columnist must send this column in at a specific time and day, and if I am a little late, then my editor turns into a monster. I am telling you this because a news story dropp

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Cross About Wires

Cross About Wires

CROSS ABOUT WIRES By Andrew Biggs An important high-level meeting this week resulted in my being driven down Sukhumvit Road from the Ploenchit intersection all the way to Asoke. This was largely due to my driver taking a wrong turn. How I would dearly love to extrapolate on this minor point, focusing on the shortcomings of the Thai education system that fails to equip some Thais with the necessary knowledge to read maps. How else do I explain my driver, despite Google Maps s

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Chaos And Hermes Handbags

Chaos And Hermes Handbags

CHAOS AND HERMES HANDBAGS By Andrew Biggs This is the story of a Hermes handbag, an ageing academic and an overzealous police force. It is a story that one hopes will end in common sense, but then again I hope to win the lottery on the first of next month. Let’s begin with the cops. Here in Thailand we have a special division of police officers whose task it is to crack down on cyber crime. What constitutes cyber crime is laid out in the shadowy Thailand Computer Crime Act of 11

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Hoary Old Cogs

Hoary Old Cogs

HOARY OLD COGS By Andrew Biggs The truth and the military make strange bedfellows. This is not, necessarily, a savage indictment on Thailand’s current military regime. It’s true of any military. When ranked from most important to least, qualities like courage, fortitude, strategy, strength and unity are considered characteristics way, way more important to the military than trifling, annoying tenets such as truth and honesty and, let’s be frank, democracy. There are two parti

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