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About this blog

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

 

Entries in this blog

Fresh Breath

Fresh Breath

FRESH BREATH By Andrew Biggs Late Saturday night something happened to me that has never occurred before in the quarter-century I have spent here in Thailand. I got breathalyzed. It was an experience that filled me with a number of emotions. Thankfully one of them wasn’t remorse for downing a Smirnoff Ice four-pack in the hour preceding, since I am a responsible upstanding member of society who doesn’t mix alcohol and driving — that and the fact I was battling a severe cold.

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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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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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Broken-Hearted Weed Killer

Broken-Hearted Weed Killer

BROKEN-HEARTED WEED KILLER By Andrew Biggs This week I made a mercy dash to Chantaburi after receiving a disturbing phone call Sunday evening. “Lersak’s tried to kill himself,” Samai breathlessly told me over the phone. “He drank weed killer at your house.” Not the kind of thing one wants to hear after settling down to one’s first Sunday screwdriver; I was in my car and on the motorway in no time, hurtling towards the eastern province at a speed that would have required 100 B

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Buffalo and Blackheads

Buffalo and Blackheads

BUFFALO AND BLACKHEADS By Andrew Biggs This week’s number one song on the Thai pop chart is a song by Stamp. Hmmmm. Stamp. Is it just me, or is the name of that band just a little … bit … D-U-L-L? Far be it from me to offend anybody in the Thai music industry, but it’s the kind of name you’d think up with your school friends and let’s see … what can we call ourselves? “Eclipse”? Nah, the chemistry nerds in grade 11 have already chosen that one. “Stardust”? Heavens no. Everyo

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Boats And Erections

Boats And Erections

BOATS AND ERECTIONS By Andrew Biggs There is a billboard that caught my attention this week while sitting in a taxi flitting in and out of four lanes of traffic on the three-lane city expressway. It depicts a young man and woman sitting back to back desolately on a bed. It was clear they were desolate by the hang-dog expression on the man’s face, and the ankle-clutching stance of the woman. It’s not often we see desolation on inner-city billboards. I’m far more used to billb

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Scribe Diatribe

Scribe Diatribe

(Author’s note: From 2012) SCRIBE DIATRIBE By Andrew Biggs Today is day one of my re-emergence after a month of hibernation, albeit self-enforced. I step out of the cave, blinking and rubbing my eyes, oblivious to everything that has gone on around me. And it’s all because I wrote a book. Yes, a book, dear reader. An entire book. In a month. In my non-native tongue. I know what you’re thinking. I’m just some well-connected columnist spitting out sometimes-witty obs

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Pornographic Politicians

Pornographic Politicians

PORNOGRAPHIC POLITICIANS By Andrew Biggs It’s been a pornographic week here in Thailand, full of breasts and genitals and all sorts of other body parts that have no place in Thai culture. Hardly the stuff that the government wants to be known for, I know. Just listen to our politicians scream whenever Bangkok is depicted by foreigners as the sex capital of the world. Not that they were doing much screaming this past week. Drooling, yes. Screaming, no. This week we discovered

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Bearded Lady

Bearded Lady

BEARDED LADY By Andrew Biggs “Oh my god Khun Andrew … what is this?” It’s not a week after Songkran and I’m in a studio to record a radio show. The incredulous voice belongs to my co-host, Puk, who has just arrived. She walks towards me, eyes wide open. “A beard!” she announces. “Yes, a beard,” I say. “I grew it over Songkran. God knows I had nothing else to do.” That was meant to be a joke but it goes over her head. “It’s not very long,” Puk answers. I want to

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Handlebars of Death

Handlebars of Death

HANDLEBARS OF DEATH By Andrew Biggs Bangkok is a great city for anybody with a death wish. If you want to overdose on heroin, come on over. Try crossing the street on a zebra crossing. Just choosing the wrong song in a karaoke bar can get you killed. And here is a new way: slip on some spandex and spending a leisurely day on a bicycle. Bangkok is a city choked by traffic. Most western cities allocate up to 30 per cent of their surface area to roadways. In Bangkok we have

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I Like My Gods Big

I Like My Gods Big

I LIKE MY GODS BIG By Andrew Biggs Back in the 1970s when I was a little boy, we had a tourist attraction not far from home called the Big Pineapple. How tragic. How could modern civilization think to build such a thing and think it would be popular? I am reminded of the immortal words of P.T. Barnum who claimed there was a sucker born every minute. The Big Pineapple was a monstrosity, yes – but it was also a big hit. The state I grew up in, Queensland, is the only state

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It's The Thought That Counts

It's The Thought That Counts

IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS By Andrew Biggs HBD Those three letters coursed relentlessly across my smartphone screen last weekend. The message came from students, friends, acquaintances. Every time it beeped at me I admit I felt all warm and fuzzy, which was nice since I was on an alcohol-free weekend and I needed something to get me through, though after a few dozen times they also brought tinges of regret. Regret that I was one year older? Nah … regret at how the in

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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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Armpit Girl

Armpit Girl

ARMPIT GIRL By Andrew Biggs There is an ad on Thai TV at the moment for a skin product that whitens your armpits. That’s right. Your armpits. It’s an add for a roll-on deodorant but the main thing is not that you smell nice. Rather, your armpits will be white. The first time I saw this ad, I immediately took off my shirt and examined myself before a full length mirror. Dispelling immediate thoughts of starting a diet on Monday, I lifted my arms to see if indeed I had black ar

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Australia, After The Commercial Break

Australia, After The Commercial Break

AUSTRALIA, AFTER THE COMMERCIAL BREAK By Andrew Biggs I am watching the most amazing thing I’ll see on TV for a long time. Those aren’t my words; they are Ken’s. Ken is a rapid-talking over-joyous man on the wrong side of 50, displaying signs of extreme teeth bleaching along with a probable background in used car salesmanship. He is about to reveal to me something called “nutrient infusion” on live television. “Now watch closely Janie,” he says to the tall woman standing nex

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Breaking The Bank Lines

Breaking The Bank Lines

BREAKING THE BANK LINES By Andrew Biggs This is the sign, prominent and loud, that pounced on me as I strolled past Bangkok Bank this week. “PLEASE GET A LINE,” it announced, stuck to a glass window, behind which a bank teller, as sullen as he was youthful, sat with a face like thunder. My right hand twitched, wanting to reach for my top pocket where a whiteboard marker nestled, so that it could change the N in LINE to an F. Because that’s the kinda guy I am. The sign bo

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More Like A Devil Doll (Part 1)

More Like A Devil Doll (Part 1)

MORE LIKE A DEVIL DOLL (Part 1) By Andrew Biggs Back in 2016, Thailand embarked on a brief love affair with Angel Dolls. The whole country went crazy over these dolls that had alleged mystical powers to bring good luck. Airlines were charging for their seats; grown men and women chatted to them, took them to beauty parlors and even, stuffed them full of amphetamines and smuggled them down to the capital. It had gotten so wacky, international news agencies were following the story

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More Like A Devil Doll (Part 2)

More Like A Devil Doll (Part 2)

MORE LIKE A DEVIL DOLL (Part 2) By Andrew Biggs “Ladies and Gentlemen, the cabin light will be dim. If you wish to keep on reading, please switch on the cabin light above you.” It is early evening on an Air Asia flight back to Bangkok after an exhausting day in Surat Thani. I’m so fatigued, even the absence of a plural “light” in the recorded announcement fails to move me. Had I been feeling a little livelier, I would have called the nearest flight attendant over and a

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Amway, Insurance And Chicken

Amway, Insurance And Chicken

AMWAY, INSURANCE AND CHICKEN By Andrew Biggs I was having a solitary lunch last Tuesday with my friend Evil Neil when a phone call came out of the blue. A phone call on my cellphone, that is. Regular readers know Neil, a helpless victim of corporate cellular phone advertising who changes his phone as often as we eat somtam, and who, with every new device, plasters superglue between it and his ear so that it’s permanently stuck to his head – hence my “solitary” lunch with him last

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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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Rodent Karma

Rodent Karma

RODENT KARMA By Andrew Biggs A mouse has bitten through the router cable at my office. My accountant says she’s heard scurrying noises of late in the ceiling, not that she thought to do anything about it for reasons about to become apparent. Now a mouse has bitten through the cable, rendering us without wifi. “Jai yen yen,” says my accountant, an older woman whose soft voice belies her razor-like hacks at any budget breakdown that lands on her desk. Her swift and decisive act

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How I Got To Thailand

How I Got To Thailand

HOW I GOT TO THAILAND By Andrew Biggs One of my earliest observances of Bangkok life was made from the second floor of a Khlong Toey guest house, from the window of a room festooned with linoleum and cockroach. Looking down upon the street, there was a group of Thais sitting on a frayed bamboo mat in a rough circle, and inside that circle were plates of food with forks and spoons sticking out of them. There was an ice bucket and soda water bottles and a bottle of local whiskey, p

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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 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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Sabai Dee, Somtam

Sabai Dee, Somtam

SABAI DEE, SOMTAM By Andrew Biggs This week I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Suan Dusit University, my host being none of than the Dean of the Faculty of Education. We ate at the university restaurant, which doubles up as a training ground for hospitality. Despite our lofty stature we chose to eat traditional Thai food. The Dean had pad kraphao while I ate rard nah. We also shared another dish. “It’s a specialty of the restaurant,” my host told me. “You’ve got to try it.

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