Weekend Trips From Bangkok Made Easy….

Want to get Away from the City for the Weekend?

Hi Guys!!

Firstly, I wanted to sit down this Saturday morning and wish everyone out a very happy weekend where ever you are and however you choose to spend it.  Sooooo, as you’ve noticed already, I’ve decided to start sitting down more often and start blogging again.  It’s something I’ve been kicking around in the back of my head for a little while now, and it would allow me to interact with you guys on a more frequent basis…So, I know (hoping with my fingers crossed) that you’ll just love! 🙂

The fact is, after a few years now of podcasting and blogging, the blog posts I wrote ages ago still receive more than twice as many hits daily than any of the podcasts I have produced.  I’ve also found that writing is much easier for me and less time consuming than podcasting, so it is really just an easier form of expression to interact with you guys that visit the site.  Therefore, and hopefully if I start writing, I’m going to be able to get on here more often to quickly jot down the random thoughts I might have on any given day. However, don’t fear as I will also continue to podcast as well of course.  So if my little idea works out, then anything I get out is basically a bonus if you are one of the few that enjoy the TIT on a regular basis.

So, what’s TIT up to this week, you may be asking yourself?  Well, It’s the first weekend in October and I’m up in Issan (Northeastern area of Thailand) spending a couple of days with my partner.  One of the best things about being back in Bangkok is the easy access one has to potential weekends away within the country.  Bangkok is the hub of all land and air travel within Thailand, so a minimum amount of planning is necessary to reach most destinations.  The proximity to bus stations, trains and the airport make getting away for a couple of days easily accessible for a weekend after work on a Friday afternoon.

Not the cheapest, but definitely reliable...

Thailand’s has several low cost airlines to choose from, so it is only a matter of doing a little research a week in advance to secure a reasonable flight to just about anywhere in Thailand.   However, this week I opted for Thai Airways to make the journey here on Friday evening, as the last flight for the other carrier I generally use was at 4PM in the afternoon.  Silly right?  Who has time to get to the airport after work on a Friday by 3 o’clock?  You’d think they would offer a later flight to attract more weekend customers, but common sense in marketing doesn’t seem to be a strong point for this particular carrier.

Anyway, so I left work on Friday to make my 6PM flight, and took a short motorbike taxi ride to the Lumphini Station of the Bangkok MRT (subway), which is the nearest station to my work.  I use the MRT daily anyway, so it was a small matter of obtaining my little red token to take a quick ride up to the Petchaburi station.  The MRT Petchaburi station is the connection station you will use if you want to transfer over to the BAT (Bangkok Airport Train) using the subway system in Bangkok.  When you reach Petchaburi station you are going to want to use the exit 3, but be prepared for quite a walk once you reach the surface.  Use the exit, take a hard left and then start walking towards the elevated train tracks in the distance on your left.  The Airport train station is NOT near the subway station, so be prepared to do a bit of walking and sweating to reach the trains.  Also, there is no cover once you exit the station so if in doubt, make sure you bring along your umbrella.  Your going to have to walk down the street, across the intersection AND train tracks, then take another left to walk down the road to the entrance to the station.

Take the Subway to Petchaburi station to link to the Airport Link Train...

Once across the train tracks, you can’t miss the station (Makkasan City Air Terminal).  It is a huge 4-story structure, accessible on the street by elevators located underneath.  You will enter the station and be greeted by a much welcome blast of cold air, as the bulky unused part of the station is air-conditioned.  It is impossible not to gawk and wonder at the vast expanse of cold empty space that exists here at this station.  It strikes me as a colossal waste of money as a result of poor planning, but that’s a whole other story completely for another post perhaps.

The next step to reaching the airport train is that you’ll need to go up to the 3rd floor via the elevator and buy another token to take you to the airport.  It is at this point you will most likely notice that the air-conditioned space abruptly ends when you approach the ticketing booth, and you are again thrust back into the sauna/steam room like environment “cleverly” created at the station. After purchasing your new token, go around the corner through the gate and take the Suvarnabhumi escalator up to the platform above.  Hopefully, you will not have to wait long for a train to come along.  Be aware that the trains currently DO NOT run frequently enough to keep patrons from melting in the heat, but the governing authority has assured the public new trains will be coming along in the near future (near meaning a few years in Thai government language) to make the wait time less painful and inconvenient for travelers.

Getting to the mostly unused Makkasan station will be a bit of a walk from the Subway...

Now you might think, as transportation options currently stand, the airport link really isn’t the most convenient means of reaching the airport given the abundance of cheap taxis available in Thailand.  However, rest assured that it certainly beats getting caught up in the legendary Bangkok traffic jams dependent on the time of the day your flight arrives or departs.  Use your best judgement given the time of day your need to make the journey out to the airport.  I left work at 4PM and the whole trip took me about 45 minutes from start to finish, which would have been impossible in a taxi at that time of the day otherwise.  So, I reached the airport with plenty of time to spare before my flight.

Then, once you arrive keep in mind that upon reaching the airport you must go up to the 4th floor for check-in, made little easier now by the escalators near the glass lift/elevator.  Please DON’T stand there and wait for the elevator/lift as it takes FOREVER to make the journey from top to bottom of the airport.  It was worth the wait previously because getting up and down on the escalators used to be like traversing a maze at Suvarnabhumi, but it seems common sense has prevailed for the time being with up and down escalators located next to each other finally.

Exit the Airport Link and make your way up to the 4th floor for check-in...

I went directly to Thai airways domestic counters to get my boarding pass printed as I’d already checked in online but you can’t print it yourself online for some reason which seems to defeat the purpose to me.  However, there were no long lines so I was quickly on my way to have a quick snack before my flight.   So here I sit enjoying a leisurely Saturday morning up in the Northeastern city of Udon Thani at the regional hospital where my partner works.  He lives at a condo block located on site at the hospital, so this usually where I spend my time with him here visiting Udon Thani.  Today we’re thinking about visiting a local dinosaur bones national park, but time will tell as the day progresses.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my little delve back into the written word, and if so please feel free to leave comments.  I do enjoy writing so hopefully (fingers crossed), I can get back into the habit.  I hope everyone is having a great weekend and fear not as I will talk to you soon!

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Bangkok from Dusk to Dawn…

Posted this amazing piece of Video over on the Facebooks, but I like it so much I thought I’d post it here as well. I think Florian Böhm, the creator the video, is an expat here in Bangkok as well.  Have a look for now, and Tom has a podcast brewing in the kettle…..will be recording later today babies! 😉

You Know You’ve Been in Thailand to Long When…

my hood

I know right?  Two times in the same week…Could it really be?  Anyways, I was checking the blog this afternoon when I got home from work and it occurred to me that I should post a counterpart to the “You know your from Alabama when…” as I’ve not had the pleasure of residing there for nearly a decade.  Therefore, I poked around the internet and found MANY such lists related to foreigners living in Thailand.  So, I pieced together a list of those i found funny yet relevant to my life here and most, if not all, of these are also 100% true.  Sooooo, I thought I’d share yet another list with your reading pleasure and I hope you find it as comical as I did and do on a day to day basis here.  Also, if any questions occur to you while you are reading through the list then please feel free to post them.  I will be more than happy to do my best to elaborate!  Much love as always and will podcast over the weekend!

……………………………………………………………………………………………

You Know You’ve Been in Thailand to Long When…

1. You can go for weeks without toilet paper.

2. You don’t flinch when another car or taxi drives you down the wrong side of the street.

3. You decline to wear a motorbike helmet because it’ll mess up your hair.

4. You stand in the shadow of a telephone pole while waiting for a taxi or bus.

5. It is no longer surprising that the only decision made at a staff meeting is what the group will be having for lunch immediately following the meeting.

6. Hearing “Mai Mii” (Don’t have) or “Mai Dai” (cannot) for the 500th time in a day doesn’t annoy you anymore.

7. You no longer wonder how a civil servant, who earns 400 USD per month drives a brand new Mercedes.

8. Curry is perfectly acceptable breakfast food as long as it has a fried egg on top.

9. Au Bon Pain or the Sizzler is a chic classy hang out serving good food.

10. A policeman stops you for a minor infraction and you automatically reach for your wallet, and not to get your license.

11. You are not surprised when 3-4 men with a ladder show up to change a light bulb or change the filters in the air conditioner.

12. You instinctively know to look both ways twice before crossing a one-way street.

13. You wonder where the salt and chilli mix is for fresh fruit.

14. You’d rather SMS someone than actually meet and talk.

15. You are careful to cover your mouth when picking your teeth, but openly pick your nose at the dinner table.

16. You keep a roll of toilet paper on your dinner table, but not in the bathroom cause it doesn’t go in the toliet.

17. A hot pizza right out of the oven is smothered in ketchup and oregano and it looks just fine for dinner.

18. You know first hand that “Love You Long Time” is not a satirical quote from Full Metal Jacket, but an actual saying.

19. You know when people say they’re “going to bed” that they’ll actually be partying until 2AM and beyond in a cylindrical nightclub resembling a spaceship.

20. “Sexpats,” “Pirates,” “Yellow Fever” and “Rice Queens” are all in your vocabulary.

21. You can shame a group of prostitutes with one contemptuous stare.

22. You understand why drivers flash their 4 indicator lights when driving straight on at intersections.

23.  You just smile, shake your head and sigh when the waiter correctly repeats your order and yet the cook makes something completely different.

24. When shopping at a supermarket, you peak into another farang’s (Caucasian foreigner) cart and wonder to yourself what other farang’s eat.

25. You quietly mutter “farang” (Caucasian foreigner) to your Thai friend/partner when you see other foreigners in public.

26. You regularly fumble for five minutes to find a 10 baht coin despite 10 people waiting in line behind you to use the machine.

26. You know that dogs are animals best given a wide berth or avoided rather than attempt to pet.

27. Touts and Indian tailors ignore you when you walk past their shops.

28. Not only does it not bother you that a lady is cleaning the stall next to the one you are using, but you are not even startled when she begins to sweep/mop under the door of your stall.

29. You are adept at examining knock-off sunglasses and watches with a discriminating eye.

30. You can tell the difference between the “I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about” smile and one of genuine amusement.

T.I.T Episode 10: Rain, Rain go Away!

•    Welcome, finally episode 10
•    When it rains it pours
•    It’s football season at home….I miss it!
•    Fashion faux pas on the sky train again
•    Comments, emails, messages…
•    Special shout to my new listeners!
•    Andrea, Laura, and Weegie
•    Remembering 9/11
•    Homeland Security woes…
•    Muay Thai or Kick Boxing
•    Must see place in Bangkok?
•    I finally got to see Mama Mia…
•    Going to the movies in Thailand vs. the US
•    Look, look….a farang!!!!
•    Being on the other side of racism
•    Tom’s take on the protests in Bangkok
•    Quick summary of what’s going on politically
•    The Prime Minister was brought down for what???
•    My partner’s take on Thai politics
•    How I met my partner
•    The advantages of internet dating
•    Closing remarks and love

Email me at tomnthai@gmail.com or comment or you can even send me an mp3 if your feeling extra happy when you hear this episode!

Make sure to go check out my fellow podcasters at the Rainbowpodsquad and the Freak Network for some excellent entertainment.

For Direct Download: Right Click Here | The Freak Network | The RainbowPodSquad

Subscribe to Tom in Thailand in Itunes: Click here

The Stereotype of the Sexpat…

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night where or when ever this finds you in the world. It is just before 10 AM on a lazy overcast Sunday morning here in the Big Mango, and I thought I’d sit down and bang out another entry for your reading pleasure…or not as your tastes may be. Last night my partner and I departed from our usual routine and went out for a nice Saturday evening dinner. We visited a nice Thai restaurant called the River Bar for a nice meal. We drove across the impressive Rama 8 bridge/monument and had dinner on the Thonburi side of river. It was a very nice romantic dinner of baked fish, spring rolls, and sweet&sour pork. We don’t get to do those very often, unfortunately, due to my partner’s work schedule so it was a really nice thing for us to do together.

Anyways, I want to get to the topic in my head before it floats away into nothingness as things often do when they cross my mind. There is a ugly brush that is used to paint most foreigners living in Thailand that I’d like to address today with you. You see, there are a few assumptions or myths perpetuated by many if not most people ,both Thai and foreign, about us western men living here in Thailand:
1. The main motivation or factor for Western guys to move here to Thailand is sex and we only come here for the easy access to sex.
2. Western gay men are unable to be faithful and commit to monogamous caring relationships with only 1 partner.
3. Western gay men over certain age are only attracted to young dark skinned guys or girls.
4. Single western men have sex many times a week with random different partners for the purpose of one-night stands.
5. The sex industry in Thailand is caused by and used exclusively men from western countries.

So, firstly I for one did not move to Thailand for sexual reasons. I met my former Thai partner in the US while we were in school. We were together in the US for 7 years and I decided to give moving here a chance when the time came for him to move home. Also, I have another very close friend that moved here for a previously established relationship as well, and we have both agreed many times how these sort of racial stereotyping annoys us. To be perfectly honest, I really couldn’t even find Thailand on a map when i first met my partner, much less know about the sordid international reputation. Secondly, I know gay couples that have been together for decades and are just as happy being monogamous as some heterosexuals. The desire to step outside a relationship for sexual fulfillment is not limited to sexual orientation or race.

Thirdly, this idea in Thailand that all western men are attracted to very young dark skinned boys and girls is the biggest bunch of krap I think I’ve heard here. Everyone has different tastes in the world or else Baskin Robbins wouldn’t bother with 31 flavors. You don’t get to decide what your eyes find appealing so it is not fair to assume everyone of a certain age and race has the same tastes. Fourthly, I did not and have not ever engaged in a constant stream of one night stands on a weekly basis. This would apply here, home, or anywhere else in the world as my sex drive just isn’t high enough and perhaps I’m to picky. The randomness of meaningless one night stands has never appealed to me but I certainly wouldn’t throw stones when it comes to this point. To each his own, but my point is that it is just not me or my western friends.

Finally, I have heard many times over the years that the sex industry here in Thailand is perpetuated by the western male. This silly myth is easily dismissed by the presence of the massive structures used as “massage” parlors here in Bangkok around the ratchada area that cater almost exclusively to Thai clients. There is also a street called soi Thanaya here in Bangkok filled with “karaoke” bars that cater exclusively to Japanese clients seeking female short term companionship. However, I think westerners are more open when the frequent these type of establishments as it is not uncommon to see a westerner sitting in an open air bar with a “friend” on their arm for the evening. I think many Asian cultures are more private about such things, and thus the myth has been perpetuated that only westerners partake in such carnal activities.

I don’t know why I felt I needed to get that off my chest, but it is a conversation I’ve had with close friends very often. I wonder why it seems to be human nature to stereotype our fellow man? We are so quick to label one another as we pass in this world, but the world is a much more colorful place than we give it credit. There is a lot more depth of character out there passing you by, so next time you make an immediate assumption about someone I hope you pause to consider your thoughts again. Obviously, there are going to be those that fit your stereotype but not everyone wears the same size clothes, right? Anyways, I hope you enjoy your Sunday and will speak to you again very very soon. I’m thinking the next entry will be a video blog so make sure you stop by again soon!

More Songkran Madness…

Hello to you my wonderful readers. Well, I was finally able to find a good video to sum up the Songkran holiday after much anticipation on your part I’m sure. The opening goes on for a bit with some explanations, but trust me as it will give you some idea of the ‘festivities’ going on in every city across Thailand at the moment.  Take a little time if you have it and watch as you will understand why one cannot simply opt out of the merry making.  It is about 10:30 at night as i sit here writing for you guys and we’ve just returned home from dinner where I noted people ‘still’ out and about randomly dunking bucket loads of water on every and anyone that happens by. I had said in an earlier post that the festivities were supposed to end at sundown, but it seems this year that this rule has been ignored. Also, I had said that the holiday is only supposed to last for 3 days, but the madness has been extended to 4 days since the first day of Songkran fell on a Sunday this year. I guess the politicians thought everyone needed an extra day of drunken soakings before returning to normal daily activities on Thursday. I would also like to note before I close this post that the official death toll due to alcohol related accidents thus far has reached 180 and 1,103 traffic related injuries with only 2 days and 2 more left to go. I dare say for these unfortunate people affected by the holiday related tragedies thus far the ‘fun’ of it all is well behind them.

Murder in Paradise…

thai_police.jpg

I read through some of my favorite blogs tonight, and surfed through the various message boards I enjoy to try and muster some idea to share with you guys.  I came across this news story on a message board I frequently read, so I want to start my entry today with a quote from an article that recently appeared in one of the big English language newspapers here in Thailand.  Brace yourself and read it slowly, then I’ll give you a bit of background following to catch you up to speed regarding this sad story.

Choochart played down the recent killings, saying, “I believe security in Thailand is better than in many other countries.” He also said that some of the attacks were occasioned by the behavior of the women themselves. Under a front-page photograph of a Western woman in a skimpy bikini, The Bangkok Post quoted Choochart as saying, “They tend to choose a quiet spot away from other people, take off the bikini and sunbathe. That’s when the attackers strike.”

Yes…you read that correctly.  This was a quote from a very high ranking officer of the Thai National Tourist Police regarding the brutal murder of a young Swedish tourist in the southern resort island town of Phuket recently.  The young lady was attacked and murdered on a public beach in southern Thailand.  The media here has bowed to pressure from the government to downplay this attempted rape and murder to counter warnings that embassies have issued to their citizens considering or traveling in Thailand.  I’m just going to have to say that the officer’s response to the horrible crime is sadly quite typical of the level of service one can expect from the boys in brown here.  I think that to blame the victim is appalling and sadly this is not the first crime of this sort that i’ve seen float through the news relatively recently.  Worse still, the murderer was caught, or I think actually turned himself in and his reason for killing this young lady was simply because she resisted the attempted rape.  That was directly from the mouth of the murderer.

Shocking isn’t it?  I mean, I never really thought much of the police, even at home, as it is a job i think bullies grow up to hold.  However, If a crime is committed or you find yourself being the victim of one, then the police are the first people you call, right?  I can honestly say that growing up I didn’t always like them, but I did respect them.  Would you ever even dare to slip a cop a bribe tucked into a piece of paper, while being pulled over for a traffic violation?  Would you ever expect to see a cop saunter into a business looking for a little “protection” money?  Sadly, these sort of things are so common here that no one ever bats an eye.

I remember walking down the street a while back with a close friend, as I needed to visit a suit shop to be measured for a suit.  We decided to have a cigarette as we walked down the sidewalk and passed a little police box on our way.  In passing the police box, my blood immediately began to run cold.  I had heard stories of cops on this particular stretch of sidewalk eliciting tea money from foreigners, and my anxiety levels shot up immediately.  Sure enough a little ways down I turned to see the cop crouched down peering at us from the edge of a building, like a gremlin waiting for sparrow to happen by.  Luckily, we ducked in the shop and disposed of the ciggies before the cop was any wiser.  It is just a sad state of affairs, and one wonders why most Thais barricade themselves behind high walls with broken glass along the top to protect their homes.  Who can we trust here to take care of us when things get bad?  Just my 2 cents I guess.  What do you think?