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About this blog

Andrew Biggs personal Blog, open for You and everybody to read and comment on!

 

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Signs Of The Times

Signs Of The Times

SIGNS OF THE TIMES By Andrew Biggs Every day as I leave my gated community at Samut Prakan, I am greeted by the smiling face of Dr Natthaphong Robkob at the end of my soi. Not just at the end of my soi. Every three metres or so along Srinakharin Road, there he is. He is the candidate for the Thai Local Power Party, and he is running on a campaign of making Samut Prakan “the envy of the world.” With the skytrain currently being built along Srinakharin, resulting in traffic sn

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30 Years In Thailand

30 Years In Thailand

THREE DECADES By Andrew Biggs How was your Valentine’s Day? Mine was really, really special. This had nothing to do with love in any of its myriad forms, running the spectrum from unconditional at one end to Nana Plaza at the other. I just clocked up 30 years in Thailand. This milestone won’t garner as much national interest as, say, dangerous air pollution or politicians plotting ingenious methods to return to Thailand. However it was quite jarring for your columnist,

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White Lines

White Lines

WHITE LINES By Andrew Biggs It’s not often that your correspondent crosses a road on foot. This is not because he doesn’t like walking, nor does he possess a private helicopter for short hops to the mini-mart to pick up lemons and tonic water. It is more because crossing a road is usually done by pedestrian footbridge, of which Bangkok allegedly has the most of any city in the world, thanks to the chaotic nature of the unyielding, frenetic traffic below. But this week y

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What's In A Thai Business Name?

What's In A Thai Business Name?

WHAT’S IN A THAI BUSINESS NAME? By Andrew Biggs There is a building not far from my home in Samut Prakan that I pass whenever I take a shortcut to Sukhumvit Road. It’s a boring, designless concrete factory or shop or something or other. And out the very front, in very big letters, is the name of the business: “NEWISH GERMS”. It’s a name that has left me wide awake on starless nights. For the life of me I can’t work out what it means. I mean, it’s got to be a lab or chemical p

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Up, Up And Away

Up, Up And Away

UP, UP AND AWAY By Andrew Biggs Nong Max was born into a rural Thai family 15 years ago in the far north-eastern province of Nakhon Phanom. That province is 750 km from Bangkok, which makes Nakhon Phanom about halfway to Macau in China. It’s not exactly on the tourist track; Ho Chi Minh did hide out there, plotting the Viet Minh independence movement, from 1928 to 1931 in a small under-the-radar village called Ban Nachok. I once visited his home there and while historically s

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Uneasy Pass

Uneasy Pass

UNEASY PASS By Andrew Biggs Life in Thailand is full of surprises, like last Saturday when I topped up my Easy Pass. “Don’t use it for four hours,” the helpful toll booth attendant told me. “I know,” I said. “I’ve topped it up before. But I appreciate your help.” “Kha,” she said, helpfully. And with that, I sped off down the freeway without a care in the world. Just writing that — “without a care in the world” and all those “helpfuls” — belies what is going to

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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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Turd Sack

Turd Sack

TURD SACK By Andrew Biggs I once had a student who was preparing for a trip to Australia. He was a 30-year-old engineer from Chiang Mai who’d won a three-month scholarship to Melbourne. His English wasn’t great but he was a fast learner and diligent. Anyway, it wasn’t his English that bothered me. It was the way he spelt his name: Turdsack. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t immediately jump up and slap my knee and look to the heavens as I guffaw over a name worthy of

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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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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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Thwarted By Pop Stars And Lightening Cream

Thwarted By Pop Stars And Lightening Cream

THWARTED BY POP STARS AND LIGHTENING CREAM   By Andrew Biggs   How was your International Women’s Day? Mine was a shambles, thanks to ten thousand women. Last Tuesday afternoon there was the unholiest of traffic jams on Viphawadee-Rangsit near Chatuchak Park and Central Lardphrao in the early afternoon. And who was sitting hungry and alone in his ageing Teana, unable to move, in the middle of it? I blame it on karma. How else would you explain my meeting a client at

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Thrust Into The Limelight

Thrust Into The Limelight

THRUST INTO THE LIMELIGHT By Andrew Biggs Back in January, 1956, a young unknown American singer named Elvis Presley released his first single called Heartbreak Hotel. While appearing on the Milton Berle Show, Presley started rhythmically gyrating his pelvis as he sang. Half the country screamed in delight. The other half gasped in horror. What was this base, barbaric, sexual abomination of a dance that stirred the collective loins of America? The Catholic Church, always on

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The Words Just Get Ickier

The Words Just Get Ickier

THE WORDS JUST GET ICKIER By Andrew Biggs Spent a lovely morning down at Ickier the other day. Actually I’d been wanting to check it out since the week it opened, when the flood was at its peak, but I was smart enough to know 40 billion cubic metres of putrid water wouldn’t deter tens of thousands of local shoppers. It was a little quieter this week when I made it to Ickier, conveniently located a few kilometres from my home in Bangna. I’m sorry. Have I been calling it

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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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The Top 40 Farangs

The Top 40 Farangs

THE TOP 40 FARANGS By Andrew Biggs I see the Thailand Tatler Top 300 Expat List is out on the streets. It’s actually called “The 300 List”. It comes out every couple of years and resembles a Billboard Hot 100, with the Bill Heineckes of the world shooting to number one while hapless NIST English teachers hover around the 290’s like a Backstreet Boys comeback single. It was back in 2007 that I received an email from Thailand Tatler informing me I’d been “selected” as one of Th

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The South's Biggest Justin Bieber Fan

The South's Biggest Justin Bieber Fan

THE SOUTH’S BIGGEST JUSTIN BIEBER FAN By Andrew Biggs Her name is Arena and she accosts me on the front lawn of the Songkhla resort. “You’re Andrew Biggs!” she cries. “I used to watch you on TV when I was a little girl!” Yes, dear reader, I am blessed to be greeted with such a comment, though it is very much a double-edged sword. While it is nice to elicit a reminiscent smile, that sword is also rusty and painful as it plunges deep into my ego, reminding myself that thi

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The price of love

The price of love

THE PRICE OF LOVE By Andrew Biggs My heart goes out to the jilted bride who made the news this week, left standing in her wedding dress in front of a crowd of well-wishers, having to explain that her future significant other had chosen insignificance. My heart also goes out to the groom. I have my nephew Neung to thank for that. The 24-year-old bride had been stood up by her 18-year-old groom. They’d met in April and had allegedly fallen in love in the three short months since.

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The Pied Piper of Briefcases and Washing Machines

The Pied Piper of Briefcases and Washing Machines

THE PIED PIPER OF BRIEFCASES AND WASHING MACHINES By Andrew Biggs It was a dark and stormy night. I’d been beating away for a couple of hours — on my Macbook — when I felt the need for a break. So I casually flicked on Facebook. Scrolling down my Timeline, catching joyous glimpses of the wildly interesting lives of Facebook Friends living life to the fullest (as opposed to me, still working at 9.30 pm on his own), I happened to notice an ad for a leather belted briefcase.

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The Perfect Despot

The Perfect Despot

THE PERFECT DESPOT By Andrew Biggs The phone call came in the evening more than a month ago. “It’s Somtow,” said Somtow Sucharitkul, maestro extraordinaire, doyen of Opera Siam, popular author of sc-fi, talented elder statesman of the Thai art world. “I’m thinking of putting on a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Full orchestra. I’m wondering if you’d be interested in a lead role.” I had to cup a hand over my mouth to contain the squeal of excitement. It was th

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The Pendant

The Pendant

(First published October 20, 2016, the week after HM King Bhumibol passed away) THE PENDANT By Andrew Biggs I received the royal pendant almost 10 years ago; a small, metallic pin shaped in the insignia of His Majesty the King. It was presented upon completion of my services for the 60th Anniversary Celebrations of His Majesty King Bhumibol’s Accession to the Throne. The brooch is small and elegant in its triangular form with an emerald green background. The pendant cam

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The Part-Time Teetotaller

The Part-Time Teetotaller

THE PART-TIME TEETOTALLER By Andrew Biggs Buddhist Lent is upon us. I’m going to refer to it by its Thai name, Khao Phansa, not to be a show-off but more because I’ve never felt comfortable with “Lent.” It conjures up too many childhood memories of sanctimonious religious friends broadcasting their hunger pangs in the lead-up to Easter, not to mention that dreadful “Forty Days and Forty Nights” hymn we were forced to sing. Khao Phansa on the other hand is light and bre

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The Glory Of Gunsaray

The Glory Of Gunsaray

THE GLORY OF GUNSARAY By Andrew Biggs Ten-year-old Gunsaray stepped on a mine earlier this year, blowing his left leg off. Such are the hazards of living in rural Cambodia, the most heavily mined country in the world. It is estimated there are still up to five million mines buried in the fertile plains of our eastern neighbor, which works out to one mine every 3 Cambodians. Gunsaray spared two other Cambodians of their quota. I can’t imagine the grief of losing a leg at that

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The Farang Accent

The Farang Accent

THE FARANG ACCENT By Andrew Biggs All around my Los Angeles neighborhood are hand-written signs tacked onto lofty palm trees: “ACCENT ELIMINATION”. The two words are followed by a local telephone number, which to my surprise doesn’t begin with 555. Accent Elimination – how intriguing. A long, long time ago I was here in Southern California as an AFS foreign exchange student. This was pre-Crocodile Dundee, and Americans had next to no knowledge of Australia … but they did love my a

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The Circle Of Nakhon Pathom

The Circle Of Nakhon Pathom

THE CIRCLE OF NAKHON PATHOM By Andrew Biggs Greetings from Nakhon Pathom! This week your favorite columnist finds himself in a hotel room for five days in this little town just west of Bangkok. “Little town” is hardly a good description, though it was certainly that way when I first visited here a quarter-century ago. Bangkok has since extended her tentacles, swallowing up the likes of as Samut Prakan and Nonthaburi and Minburi. Over to the west is a motley crew of smallish

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The Charlatan's Son

The Charlatan's Son

THE CHARLATAN’S SON By Andrew Biggs Once upon a time there was a little boy who lived in the eastern province of Chantaburi. His nickname was Plabu, or “Goby Fish” in English, and at the age of five years 8 months he approached his father. “Father, I am going to die in 15 days,” he announced. “Please buy a tape recorder. I have some things to tell you.” The year was 1974. All sorts of terrible things were going on in the world; Richard Nixon resigned, inflation was spira

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