Sunday, August 30, 2009

Am I Thai?

I finally have a computer again, and it's even a pretty one. People now admire me for my new Macbook Pro. I'd rather keep it hidden away and admire it myself. I hate showing off things and I didnt not buy this baby to show it to anyone else.

I find the new laptop surprisingly easy to use, nevertheless, I have to get used to quite a few novelties.

Lately, the taxi drivers have gone a bit strange. I dont know if this is in line with Silom Farang's doomsday predicting, or if I have just been using them a bit more than usual.

Strangely, a lot of taxis just stop next to me these days. They have the feeling that since I am a farang, I would have this huge urge for a taxi, even when I go to 7eleven, the bus stop or the motocy stand.

I am hugely annoyed by this. Are they stupid or what? If I want a taxi, I actively search for them, and hail them down. Walking on the footpath innocently doesnt count.

Once I am in the taxi though, the mood brightens. In the last few days, most drivers thought I was born in Thailand for some reason. The Thai-Chinese taxi driver who was singing 1980's power balads thought I must have a Thai mum or something.

The taxi driver who used to live in Chiang Mai and not shower often because it was too cold for him outside (18C) thought I must definitely be Thai.

The Roi-Et taxi driver asked me: why do you speak Thai? When I continued, he also thought I was Thai and surprised to hear I was born in the land of Heidi, watches, chocolate and snowy mountains.

The hustlers in Pantip Plaza (the ultimate electronics mall of Bangkok) didnt think I was Thai. "Movie, series, dvd for you sir". One even held a DVD with a naked Japanese women in my face. I shrieked.

I hope the man understood I was not into his Japanese ladies. I was walking around with my French friend who lives in Laos and visited me for a day in Bangkok by the way. Most people thought we were a couple of course.

How rude of the Japanese porn man to just push a DVD with a naked lady into my face while I was accompanied by a lady! A week before, when I was in Pantip with my bf though, a hustler recognised my sexual preferences and wanted to offer me boys.

Well done, at least he spotted that I am a faggot, but I would have rather told him that he if he would have a good look at my boyfriend, he might realise I only need one boy:)

Walking around Pantip with my friend from France was great though. We were looking for an external hard-drive and since we both have no idea about computers, we quickly shifted our attention away from specifics to DESIGN.

You can not believe how liberating it feels, when you can finally admit you are looking for beauty in an electronic product, and not feign some sort of interest in speed, price, warranties or size.

We quickly realised: Samsung it must be. I bought a brown one (called Chocolate) and my friend the sexy red one. We were both pleased:)

I dont want to open up a huge discussion on what it means to be farang in Bangkok, multiple identities, the concept of home etc...but it feels a bit strange sometimes to be treated like a local by one person, only to be relegated to tourist-status by the next person.

Sometimes I wish I had a different skin colour - I wonder how it would be to live in Bangkok as an Asian foreigner.

By the way, tonight is a big Bangkok faggot blog meeting. Sadly we are only three:) Bkkdreamer, Kawadjan and me. Other bloggers should join us!:)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A few gay stories

Well, I live in Bangkok, so there are bound to be a few gay stories and little events, flirts, looks and smiles every day.

Last weekend, the bf and me went to JJ market to get some clothes for him for when he goes to Korea soon. When he will be there, it will be autumn so the shirts we wear here in Bangkok are not warm enough.

He got himself a stripy moneyboy-style sweater (but looks much better in it than the moneyboys:)))) and an uber-hot black Japanese-style bomber jacket.

We seemed to have been THE attraction of the fashion area of JJ, because just about every other gay was looking at us. Obvsiously we were a couple, and as a Northeast Asian/Farang couple, we actually get a lot of attention here in Thailand.

There was one moment where we both went into a shop - probably because of the seller. He was tall, skinny, had very dark skin but a nice, cute, friendly face. My bf prefers the countryside look and darker skin to the pale hi-so Thais, and frankly, I like that look too!

Awkwardness ensued when he tried on a shirt and the seller didnt know whom he should smile at more, the bf, or me.

On Monday, I went to the gym in my condo - to exercise a bit. I have lately taken up exercising. On most days I will either go and play badminton, or stay home and exercise in the condo.

Usually I will do some weights, sit-ups and then go on the cross-trainer for 20 minutes. And of course, in these 20 minutes I will everything I have...

After that I usually go swimming to relax a bit. For swimming, I usually just take off my sports shorts and go in in my briefs. As I was doing exactly that, a Chinese-Thai in his late 20s (or so) was watching me extensively.

He then proceded to swim next to me all the time and stop where I stopped. After 10 minutes of this silly game, he provocatively went into the sauna.

Of course I didnt follow, what would I do in there with him? Anyway, he was wearing an "old-Japanese-man-style" swimsuit. Black, straight-cut and too long speedos that is.

I couldnt even see his endowment, so I went to have a shower and up to my apartment.

Usually, my way home from university goes the following way. Walk 10 minutes to BTS National Stadium. Catch BTS Silom Line until Siam BTS. Go one floor up to the platform to the Mor Chit train. Get off at Ari BTS. Take the bus two stations and walk 3 minutes home.

This is quite an interesting little trip every time. Everyone who has taken the BTS before knows that the passengers of these trains are mainly office ladies, rich school kids from the good universities and high schools, a few tourists and of course also male, mostly office workers.

There is quite a lot to see in general in terms of handsome men of course...

When I get on the bus, different story. Most of these people are lower-middle to low class people, notably darker in their skin colour and they are often a bit surprised to see a farang on the non-aircon buses.

Yesterday, I rode the bus with a young policeman. I live opposite the police station and near an army base, so there are a lot of uniformed men around at all times. If you like that, it's a good thing:)

The young policeman was a gentleman. He saw I was getting off at the same stop as I did, he pushed the bell for me and even though he was also getting off and standing at the door way before me, he let me get down first, with multiple huge, and actually really cute smiles.

I hope he has to punish me one day for being naughty...:p

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Citizen Juling or: the exposure of Thai identity

This weekend was busy. First, I went to see "Coco avant Chanel", the biographical movie about Coco Chanel's early life. It was ok.

Much more interesting was the public though. 90% faggots. There was a lot of dressing up going on too and I had the feeling most faggots thought they were Coco Chanel themselves. Almost all failed though.

Overdressing is exposing your bad taste even more, honeys.

More importantly, me and the bf went to House RCA cinema to watch a documentary called "Citizen Juling". I dont even remember where I heard about this film but the running time (3 hours 42 minutes) alerted me that this must be something major.

It turned out to be a deeply moving and extremely revealing piece of documentary filming, with the main topic of the 2006 beating (and eventually death) of a young female teacher from the far north (Chiang Rai) working in the far south (Narathiwat).

The director, Ing K, used this incided, which at the time received huge attention in Thailand and sparked outcry and a wave of sympathy for the victim from all across Thailand, including many citizens, the Royal family and the then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (who sent her a few plastic flowers), to offer a glimpse into Thai society and its regional, class, political and religious divergences.

As such, I would say that it is none less than an extensive account of the "state of the nation".

teacher Juling's mother giving an emotional account of how her daughter was beaten up

The film is an uncommented documentary and mostly just films conversations between different people, or between the film maker and students, villagers, parents, judges and military in the South (where the beating occurred) and villagers and family from the North (where Juling is from).

I think this film has revealed a lot about Thailand and its eternal struggle to achieve peace and development.

During the film, I made some striking observations, which enforced my previous opinion of social and political affairs in Thailand.

Firstly, there seems to be an extremely widespread mentality of "either-or" or "black-white" thinking among Thais. People are either good or bad; Northerners are peaceful, Southerners violent; Muslims are this, Buddhists are that. There always seems to be a fitting pre-made classfication in which people conveniently fit.

People who have learned some Thai will also realise that this thinking is reflected in the Thai conversational language, which at times is stunningly simple.

This is not a problem as such, but the trend to oversimplifications can quickly result in a mentality which does not question. The Thai society, as sad as it is, is very bad at questioning.

In the conflict in the South, the unwillingness of people to look at themselves and question their behaviour seems particularly accentuated.

In the village where teacher Juling was beaten to death, no one saw anything despite the fact that these villages are extremely tightly knit societies. At the same time, the extremely heavy-handed approach by the police is not widely questioned.

There have been several incidents in the past few years where suspects and offenders were simply shot in execution-style as opposed to interrogation.

The ignorance on both sides results in a demonisation of the other side. The Muslim minority becomes to hate the state, which represents oppression and the majority of Thais are extremely suspicious about anything from Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat (the three "red zone" provinces) and anything Muslim as such.

The religious differences, often cited as the cause for the conflitcs are downplayed by many locals, Buddhists and Muslims. The local Imam speaks about his opinion that it is not in the interest of religions if people just use them to differentiate themselves from others and do not practice them with their hearts. A local Buddhist man says that it is ridiculous to seperate the people into Muslims and Buddhists since they have blended for a long time.

This also comes out in the feature: we can see people speaking Thai and Yawi (the local language) interchangibly and Arab words have been integrated into the Thai language.

Therefore, religion can not be the cause of the problem but is rather a scapegoat.

In my opinion, personal, social, geographical and religious oversimplifications, paired with ignorance to question are a dangerous cocktail. This is sadly the situation we are in in Thailand.

Watching this documentary I couldnt stop thinking about my home country, Switzerland, where so many different regional, linguistic, religious and political identities can easily co-exist. Why is this not the case in Thailand?

I think the core of the problem is, as said before, the unability, or unwillingness to question common conceptions. The Thai identity is very strongly shaped by the notion of unity (which rests on the three pillars of the nation, the religion and the monarchy).

"We are all Thais" "How could Thais fight against Thais?" "He did this or that, he cannot be Thai"...etc.

Here in Thailand, due to the unwillingness to question and the strong desire to unity, strong leaders are preferred. This has lead to the rise and continued popularity of Thaksin but also an extremely strong belief into the three pillars mentioned above.

It would be presumptuous for me to present a "solution" to the current problems of Thailand, especially the Southern insurgency. I think nevertheless that the first, and most important step that needs to be taken is the acceptance that Thailand is made up of so many different local culures, ethnicities, customs, languages, identities, even religions!

If people can accept that Thailand is not one monocultural territory from Chiang Rai to Narathiwat, a big step towards the development of the country would be made.

If you read until here, thanks for following my thoughts. It may be boring perhaps but to me it was very important to put a few thoughts out there. I care very much about Thailand and the sad things happening every day, not just in the South but also in politics, touch me.

By the way, during the whole 3 hours 42 minutes of this film, an Australian faggot with 3 fag-hags was sitting in front of me. He managed to laugh very loudly at the most inappropriate moments, clap his hands theatrically after the end of the film (as the only person) and prance around giggling after such a sad and heavy story.

Finally, I can recommend everyone who is interested in Thai current affairs (well the story happened in 2006) to go watch this movie.

It is screening every day at 6.30pm at HOUSE RCA, entrance is a mere 100THB.

Please also check WiseKwai's review of the movie here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Relaxing on the Mekong

After I came back from New Zealand a bit more than a week ago, I only had little time to settle in Bangkok. Me and Kawadjan planned a trip to the South of Laos for the Queen's Birthday, which was on last Wednesday.

So, only 4 days after arriving, I was on the plane to Ubon Ratchathani with Kawadjan. As you could expect from us two faggots, this would be one GAY holiday - and it started off early!

When we got off the plane at Ubon, we were looking for a songteaw or some other transport which would bring us to the bus station. There was nothing.

Soon after though, a gay Singaporean (or so I thought, he turned out to be Bruneian) and his Thai boyfriend started to talk to us.

After an estimated 2 minutes, he (the Bruneian, his Thai bf was too shy) told us about his ex-boyfriends and language skills, and asked us whether we were a couple and whether we sometimes have sex together...

His Thai bf seemed to like us and quietly suggested we should come with his mum and dad to his native village...we let them drive us to the bus station and thanked them.

This little encounter reminded me why I really love Thailand. The Thai bf's parents showed absolutely no hesitation to help us and his mum could hardly stop talking to me, sometimes grabbing my arm to lead me into the right direction...very nice!!!

Moments later we were on the international bus across the border to Pakse in the south of Laos. On the bus, Kawadjan found a new girlfriend...since we had no seats, we both sat at the back of the bus on the floor or the luggage compartment, where kawadjan bonded happily with a Lao girl, who took a dozen pictures of us...

The border to Laos was just about the strangest border I have ever seen im my life. You arrive on the Thai side in a huge building which, according to Lonely Planet looks like a giant Nacho bowl, where the Nachos are purple. How true!

Then, you basically walk across the border on a dirt-track where you are going to pass ladies selling bamboo shoots, fruits, cows grazing, and a few little huts, which looked semi-official.

After we finally found the border control building, we tried to enter Laos. Since I am a rich farang, I have to get a visa for 30$US (my country is the cheapest for some reason, others, such as Canadians have to pay 40$US). I needed to fill out three forms (!) and supply a picture. I didnt have a picture, but smiling at the Lao border guard and speaking some minimal Lao seemed to put them into a mild mood!

After crossing, we went to the market and got some food. This bloody border is so porous I could not believe it. Anyone could have just walked past all these houses, cows and market stands, no one would have noticed!!!

After changing into a songteaw in Pakse, we soon arrived in Champasak, our first destination.

In Champasak, we were greeted by two kathoeys (the only ones I saw on the whole trip!!!) They let us pass to the ferry, which brought us to Champasak proper, across the mighty Mekong.

The river should become the dominating theme of our trip. Currently, it is the rainy season, so the river is very high, has a muddy reddish-brown colour and at times is impossibly wide. (it looked more like a lake to me)

Champasak is famous for its Angkor-style temple, Wat Phu. The sun started to set as we arrived there and the background of luscious green colours of the grass against the ancient ruins were a spectacular sight!

As I stood atop the temple, I couldnt stop noticing that during the same time in Europe, castles were built, which have massive grey walls and which were all about protection from the enemy. At the same time, the builders of Wat Phu just couldnt stop designing this place: lakes, elaborate stairs lined with trees, terraces and temples - amazing!

Then, the tuk-tuk driver brought us back to a guesthouse, which belonged to his brother. We took the fancy air-con room and me, and later also Kawadjan joined the owner and his family for some Beer Lao.

This was not the last time we had Beer Lao. On the opposite, holidays in Laos seem to revolve around Beer Lao, lab (minced meat dish) and chatting with friendly people. Among the family, the youngest member had to pour the glass, which would be consumed as quickly as possible by the temporary owner (yes there is only one glass!).

This ensured that everyone got equally drunk and that we all had a great time. Besides, the owner's nephew was a sight to behold...cute!!! And he gave me stares too! But I was a bit shocked to find out that he was only 16...(picture will follow!)

Lao guys, as I knew from my last trip already, are really gorgeous friendly people, quite curious too! They do a lot of manual work, so they build up some nice muscles! But since they work hard, they also age very fast!

In the guesthouse, kawadjan and me were reminded that Lao is still a very conservative and closed country. People go to bed around 9 or 10pm, there is an official curfew at 11pm (if you dont close your bar, you get fined!) and people are up again by 5am or so.

Also, it is forbidden for non-married couples to sleep together! The same holds for foreigners and any Lao person (unless married).

Article 3 on the guesthouse reads: "In the hotel-guesthouse, do not have man and woman sleep together if they have not husband and wife!"

Luckily, kawadjan and me are both men, so we were not too fussed about this:P

The next day, we made our way to the very south of Laos, where the 4000 islands (Si Pan Don) are formed by the mighty Mekong, which is making its way south to Cambodia.

Si Pan Don is a relatively new kid on the block in terms of tourism, and guest houses offering cheap (from 2US$) bamboo hut accomodation are springing up like mushrooms.

Rightly so! The scenery is amazing. The river, filled up right to the top breaks up in a few fastly moving streams, which make their way down through gorges, rapids and waterfalls, which can be observed from the islands.

Around the islands, traditional villages give an impression of what Lao life was 50 years ago, and still is now. There are dozens of kids playing, animals of all sorts crossing your path, and buffaloes calmly grazing the shores when they are not busy on the rice fields.

For me, having not grown up in the tropics, the sight of shiny green rice fields and towering coconut trees on the shore of the Mekong was just simply fantastic. Here are some impressions:

Progress however is coming to Si Pan Don at quick speed. Since last week, one of the islands, Don Khon (where we stayed) is connected to the power grid! Consequently, we saw people putting up satellite dishes, and where the TV had been installed, dozens of people congregating to watch Thai TV.

The other island, Don Det, is more popular with travellers due to its "Khao San" feeling, wide availability of drugs, cheaper accomodation.

Actually, we DID not very many things. In the morning, we'd head out to one of the many restaurants to have some delicious Pho (noodle soup). Then, we'd rent a bike and find a place to have some lunch - and our first Beer Lao of the day, before doing much the same in the afternoon.

It was always enormously important to get a good stop before sunset, because that is when the locals showered. They showered in the muddy waters of the Mekong, and god forbid, these views can be amazing. Hunky young Lao boys in tight underwear, cleaning themselves in the Mekong on more than one occasion totally blew us away!

We also enjoyed a very good relationship with some of the waiters. Especially in one restaurant, the boy started to understand that we were gays and that we liked him. He enjoyed the attention very much.

On the last day, we bought some silk off his shop, and he showed me which ones I should buy so I would look beautiful (he used the Lao word ngaam which is only used for women)....and he even suggested he could look ngaam too!!!

I bought some silk clothes and kawadjan and me did some "camwhoring" with our matchy-matchy skirts. In the evening, we showed the waiter the pictures we took in his silk and he was thrilled...:)

A more negative story sadly also happened during these four days on the islands. When kawadjan and me sat down for a beer at some place, the owner (26yo, like me) relatively quickly revealed that he was gay and that he thought we were a couple.

NO, we are still not a couple, but it was interesting to listen to his stories of being gay in Laos. Apparently, he has some foreign friends which want him come to their farangland, and he also has farang friends in Pattaya and Phuket.

In the meantime, he had actually been to Pattaya BUT ONLY FOR THE BEACH, of which he assured us about 4 times.

He went on to tell us stories of travellers, which he sucked off and fucked too. He didnt stop emphasising how much he liked farangs and how dark cocks make him vomit. He should have looked at himself.......

By that time I had to go to the toilet (you feel what is going to happen, yeah?). The toilet was in the backyard of his guesthouse, facing the kitchen. I did my deed and wanted to leave. But there was Mister Aek, who hurriedly asked me if I am not boyfriends with kawadjan, and whether we would really not have sex....

He also asked me whether I have a boyfriend...I said yes, but it was too late, he simply grabbed my crotch. And he grabbed it hard, it hurt!

I was shocked and shouted and hurriedly went back to kawadjan and urged him to pay so we could leave. I didnt dare telling kawadjan what happened, because there were other travellers. The host, Mister Aek did however have the audacity to appear with a camera, wanting to take pictures of me....

He also explained kawadjan how he thought my dick was hard, so "we in Laos do it like this" and he felt empowered to just feel me up.

What an ASSHOLE! I was really shocked. I had never been sexually harassed before, and I really think that it is not a laughable matter at all.

This was not just a friendly clap on the butt, this was a forceful grabbing of my cock!!!...I left a scathing remark on, which is a popular website for Southeast Asian travellers...

This did sour the stay in Laos a little bit, but all in all, I had a lovely time again in this wonderful country with its wonderful people...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

back in bangkok!

I got back from New Zealand on Saturday night. Suvarnabhumi was a dream! Quickest processing of my passport so far (they normally take some time finding my stamps and visas), quick picking up of the luggage, no scanning of luggage and I was already out.

Strangely, there were no taxi touts and it was extremely quiet in the arrivals hall. My bf smiled from far away and it was lovely to see him again after these weeks. I missed him a lot of course, but he generally struggles more...

I think in a couple, there's always one who struggles a bit more with distance - that's not to say I really missed him of course.

It's just always so nice to see him after a long time because every time I am amazed at how cute he actually is...hehehe.

Since then, I had three lazy days, cooking at home on sunday night, going to university on monday and going to do merit today.

That's something I have never done. Me, the bf and my friend from university (girl) took a taxi to Thewet and bought some fish at the market. Then we went down to the river and freed them...that's as easy as it is.

My friend had two big catfish, which were very lively in the plastic bag and bit holes in them, so they were nearly dead by the time we were at the river.

The bf and I had little snake fish. He picked one up and it was - surprise suprise - slippery! He nearly lost it...We wished that we have a happy and long time together...

Making merit is really big in Thailand right now because tomorrow it is the Queen's birthday. And since the Queen is all of Thailand's mum, they call it "mother's day". There are meant to be fireworks and something like a vigil at 8pm where people light candles. How cute!

But I wont be in the country anymore by then!!!

Tomorrow morning, I will catch a plane to Ubon Ratchathani with fellow blogger Kawadjan. We will go to the south of Laos until monday morning. Lets see what my second Laos trip will deliver.

This time almost certainly no crazy story with waiters. Kawadjan and me will probably numerically double the gay scene in these little towns and on the islands. Lets see how they take our "faggotry" (as kawadjan would call it)....

there should be heaps of pictures to any case, I wont be able to blog from there, since the places we will go to are not conntected to the power grid...good luck to us!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Solo Roadtrip to the West Coast

this is my view right now as I write. pretty, isnt it? But it has its price, Queenswotn is expensive! What I cant understand though is that if I pay such a punishable amount for my hotel, why is parking, internet and a toothbrush/paste not included?

Two nights ago, I went to a French restaurant. The food was ok, but the waiters were not. As you can only expect from French people, they were smug, wearing a fake smile and I, as a single guest was about as welcome as a gay in an evangelical church.

When I wanted an espresso AFTER asking for the bill, the waiter exploded...Upon paying I realised that the only additional thing he needed to do is type "+3.5$" into a calculator.

People may say that Thai smiles are not genuine...but service is a hell of a lot better in Thailand than here!

I sound like a bitter queen now...but all I actually want is some friendliness. Kiwis are quite a friendly bunch and they love to small-talk a bit when you visit their shop or restaurant...Europeans however still have a lot to learn...

Yesterday I went on a trip to the West Coast. It's simply my favourite place on earth. When I come here, I feel the air, the light, the vegetation, everything is different!

I drove 540km yesterday, and about the same the day before...but I drive a hybrid, which uses exactly 5.3L/100km with my style of driving:)

Today, I wont go so far. I need to buy honey for my honey...he wants to give some to his parents in Seoul when he visits. Asian people love New Zealand Manuka honey as it is supposed to give you health benefits.

I must confess that I did something really naughty yesterday. As I was standing on the beach, the setting sun flooding the beach with warm orange light, I felt the urge to do something.

A friend once told me that when he's far away from civilisation, such as in lakes, rivers, forests he likes to enjoy himself.

It feels liberating indeed. I was surprised how quickly I finished...much quicker than when I watch naughty movies :))...I also took a picture of the evidence, but you wont get to see that:)

*blush blush* I shy.

As I stood up to get dressed again, a farang couple walked past not very far, phew...lucky!

Before that though, I wrote mine and the bf's name in the sand and drew a heart around it....sweet or cheesy?

On the way back to Queenstown I stopped by the lake - and took pictures of the on it, it looks awesome!!!

I only have two nights left in New Zealand, then I'll be back in Bangkok. Yay! Lets see how long I will feel like a tourist in my "home country"(Thailand). The last time it lasted a morning.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

From Christchurch with Love...

I went to "town" today, for the second time since I am here. The university is in the suburbs and I was too busy to take the bus to town...well not too busy, but since everything closes at 6pm at latest, it's a bit difficult.

Today was a marvellous day as you can see, blue sky, cold, crisp air. The top-right part of the above picture is for someone who knows it...

I went to the New Zealand Film Festival, to watch a German movie: "Der Baader Meinhof Komplex".

very capturing movie....and I learnt a lot about recent history too.

This is my last weekend in Christchurch. On Tuesday, I will go on a trip by myself to the mountain resort town of Queenstown.

These were all impressions of Christchurch, how it looked like today. Can you see that I love the blue sky and the wintery light?