Broadcasting Returns

At 9:20 am local time the heads of the military branches and the national police appeared on TV.  General Sondhi read a statement mirroring what was announced last night:

We took over because of the increasingly divided and fragmented society, caused by Thaksin’s corruption.  We are loyal to His Majesty and will return power to the people as soon as possible.  Thank you for your cooperation and our apologies for any inconvenience.

IMG_4342  IMG_4341

The heads of the armed forces and national police, leftRight: General Sondhi speaks.

Immediately afterwards, broadcasting on Thai TV channels returns, all news stories showing some very compelling footage of the tanks around the palace, soldiers, etc.

One of the morning programs “Puuying tung Puuying” (Woman to Woman – “The View” of Thailand without Star Jones-Reynolds) returned with the normally very relaxed women all sitting upright at a news desk, rather uncomfortably, with vaguely shocked expressions on their faces.

Previous Coups

From the Globe and Mail website, information about nine of the most recent coups (now totalling 19) since the Kingdom became a democracy in 1932.

Previous recent coups in Thailand

— 1971: Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn returns to power and abolishes the constitution and dissolves the parliament.

— October 1973: A student-led uprising ousts the “Three Tyrants” — Mr. Thanom, his son Col. Narong Kittikachorn and his father-in-law Field Marshal Praphas Charusathien — who ruled Thailand for much of the 1960s and early 1970s. A brief period of democracy ensues.

— Oct. 6, 1976: At least 46 student protesters, who were demonstrating against the return of Mr. Thanom to Thailand, are killed and hundreds more are wounded by the police and army. A coup installs a new military-guided, right-wing government.

— March 26, 1977: The military government thwarts a coup led by Gen. Chalard Hiranyasiri after Gen. Chalard and about 300 men seized four government and military buildings.

— Oct. 20, 1977: A bloodless military coup, led by Adm. Sangad Chaloryoo, installs Kriangsak Chomanan as prime minister.

— April 1, 1981: Factions in the military attempt to overthrow Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda’s government.

— Sept. 9, 1985: Retired military officers stage a failed coup attempt.

— Feb. 23, 1991: Gen. Sunchinda Kraprayoon topples the civilian government of Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan in a bloodless takeover.

— May 1992: Gen. Suchinda’s is forced from power when troops gun down at least 50 pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok. In the aftermath of the violence, his appointed prime minister resigns. King Bhumibol Adulyadej intervenes to end demonstrations, and parliament votes to reduce the power of the military in Thai politics.

The Morning After the Coup

At about 6:00 this morning, my phone rang.  It was Ajarn Yai (principal) from Bangkhonthii school, agreeing with my sentiment that I shouldn’t drive down there today.  “Well, see you next week,” she said in a characteristically Thai manner.  Coup?  Oh, mai pen rai!

Since last night, all of the foreign channels on cable have been blocked – even “Spongebob Squarepants!”  Who knew he was subversive?

From the internet, especially which is a great consolidator site, it appears that what we had yesterday was actually two coups:

Conflicts between to military groups, one pro- and the other anti-Thaksin, had been mediated yesterday by the head of the King’s Privy Council – a body that serves as the mouth of His Majesty in politics.  The negotiations broke down during the afternoon.

Prime Minister Thaksin staged an initial coup, going on air live from New York announcing a state of emergency and firing the military supreme commander, General Sondhi (I’m modifying the spelling from what I used last night to more accuracly reflect the pronounciation).  The military was already at the TV stations (some local stations are owned by the military) and pulled the plug mid-way through the announcement.  Except for Channel 9, which played the entire statement.

BKK Coup 3 It was at that point that troops led by General Sondhi (pictured left) staged the counter-coup.  The Fourth Army Brigade took up positions around key government buildings, including all ministerial offices, the Dusit Palace and Government House.  One motivation that has been cited is that there was a major protest scheduled for today by anti-Thaksin forces called the People’s Alliance for Democracy.  The armed forest police based at Khao Yai National Park (90 mins away) had been called into the city to quell the protest.  The military decided to stage the counter-coup at this point to prevent what could have become a violent clash between the forest poice and the protesters.

A few weeks ago, General Sondhi had asked the National Park Department to return 1,000 rifles that the army had loaned the forest police several years ago, claiming that the army had a shortage of weapons.  This lead additional creedence to rumours of a possible coup.


Funny and slightly overdramatic SMS from Tawn’s friend Pim, received early last night, about 10:00:

There’s a coup going on.  Stay home and lock the door for safety!

(As if we lived in a small shop house near the Grand Palace!)

As for today, a national holiday has been declared: schools, the stock market, and government offices are closed.  Traffic on Asoke is still pretty heavy, so not everybody has received the message.


Coup d’État Finally Arrives

BBC At 10:30 pm local time Tuesday evening, Tawn received a call from one of his customers telling him that they had just heard there is a coup d’etat occurring.  There have been rumours going around for many months about the possibility of this, and it appears to have happened.

Turning on the television, every channel is playing a simulcasted generic montage of photos of the king, royalty, monks, and generally happy people.  Various patriotic songs are being played.

From the BBC website at 10:39 pm (Tuesday evening local time)

Thailand calls state of emergency –

Soldiers have entered Government House and tanks have moved into position around the building.

Mr Thaksin, who is at the UN in New York, announced he had removed the chief of the army and had ordered troops not to “move illegally”.

An army-owned TV station is showing images of the royal family and songs linked in the past with military coups.

Correspondents say that there have been low-level rumours of a possible coup for weeks.

Thai media say that two army factions appear to be heading for a clash, with one side backing the prime minister and the other side backing a rebel army chief.

Our correspondent Jonathan Head said it was not clear which faction had taken the initiative.

He said there has been pressure growing on the prime minister to resign, following a political impasse in which April’s general election was declared invalid.

But it was thought that Thailand was making progress towards holding another election later in the year, our correspondent says.

BKK Coup 1 Updated 11:11

On the TV screens a message now reads (translated from Thai by Tawn)

“The Committee of Politcal Reformation Under Democracy, which believes in the Monarchy and includes the heads of the military including Air Force, Navy and Army, and the National Police, are taking control of the situation in Khrungthep and surrounding areas.  There has been no resistence.  In order to keep the country in peace we would like to ask your cooperation.  We apoligize for any inconvenience.”

Updated 11:21

There is now a gentleman appearing on TV in a suit and tie (yellow Thai and is wearing a royal crest on his lapel – in show of support of the monarcy).  Unclear who he is as he didn’t identify himself.  He repeated the same message that was previously listed above.

Updated 11:29

Reports from BBC, Germany and CNN are showing some conflicting and confusing things.  Thaksin, who is in the UN right now, is saying that the government has Khrungthep (Bangkok) and surrounding areas under control.  But whose government?  The Thaksin government, or the opposition government lead by General Sonti, the head of the military?

 Updated 11:40

The gentleman appeared again, repeating this message.  This time with a little more emphasis on the “no resistance” part of the message. 

Useful article from BBC giving some background on the turbulent political situation here this year.

 Updated 12:00 midnight (Now Wednesday Morning)

The gentleman appeared yet again this time providing the reasons for the coup.  Here is a roughly translated text, provided by Tawn:

From Committee of Political Reformation Under Democracy: As it is clearly seen that the current government has caused the society to be fragmented, many people are skeptical of how the government is being run.

Corruption has occurred.This is the worst in our history.This has caused many parties to come close to challenging the King’s power.There have been attempts to solve this problem but they have been unsuccessful.

This situation has made it necessary for the Committee – consisting of the heads of the military branches and the National Police, to take over the power from this point.

Rest assured that the Committee does not intend to run the country; our intention is to restore the power to the hands of the Thai people as soon as possible.

Thus, to keep peace of the nation, and restore the rightful position of the monarchy.

I have edited the televised version of this speech and uploaded it to You Tube with subtitles.  Low quality – be warned.


Updated 12:27

A subsequent message has been delievered that the Committee is now in control of the government and the curfew imposed by Thaksin has been lifted.  All soldiers are advised and military are advised to remain in place and not to move, including arms and equipment, until ordered to do so by General Sonti.  Soldiers are also to report to their commanding officer if they have not already done so.

Updated 12:37

Another message has been delivered on the TV consisting of four main points:

  • The current constitution has been invalidated
  • The senators and members of parliament have been relieved of their positions
  • The King’s advisors remain in power
  • The judiciary remains in power

General Sonti Bunyaraganan is the signatory to this statement.

This is interesting because it makes it very clear who is responsible.  Tawn says that from his memories of the last coup when he was back in middle school, the next step will be “to clear the chessboard.”  In other words, to wipe away all vestiges of Thaksin’s power.

Updated 12:53  From the Bangkok Post website

BKK Coup 2 The army commander Gen Sonthi Boonyarataglin staged a coup d’etat Tuesday evening (Thailand time) and ousted the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Thaksin was in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, and had earlier tried to dismiss Gen Sonthi and order troops back to their barracks. His order, via a voice broadcast on TV and radio, was cut off halfway as the dramatic coup unfolded.

Tanks and troops of the Fourth Cavalry Battalion moved into strategic points in Bangkok, including the Royal Plaza.

A so-called “Democratic Reform Council” declared itself in control, a throwback to former coups when military commanders promised more democratic reform.

Like most of the previous 19 military coups since 1932, there was no violence. Tanks surrounded Government House and apparently some newspaper offices. All broadcasting on local TV was interrupted, and replaced by a notice which stated the military takeover and apologised “for any inconvenience.”

At least in the early hours of the coup, most other communications continued uninterrupted. Cable-TV broadcasts continued — including foreign news reports of the coup — and the airports remained open.

Thailand websites including the Bangkok Post were operating under very heavy loads as people tried to find out what was happening. As always, local broadcast media contained no breaking updates.

Mr Thaksin said he would return to Thailand from New York. The shadowy coup administrators said he would not be allowed to resume his post as prime minister.

Sources told the Bangkok Post that Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulananonda had tried and failed to mediate between the coup forces and another army faction loyal to Mr Thaksin. Gen Prem was summoned to the Royal Palace.

The whereabouts of most of the members the government were unknown. Mr Thaksin, Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkol were in New York. Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Wannasathit, the caretaker premier, was reportedly detained by the military.

Updated 1:10  

While I’m sure many additional detail will emerge in the next few hours and days, I think I’ve seen enough excitement.  I’m heading to bed, leaving you with these final thoughts:

  • There have been 19 coups since Thailand became a democracy in 1932, almost all of which have been bloodless.
  • Prime Minister Thaksin won two elections – most recently in 2005 – with landslide victories.  He still commands a respectable majority in opinion polls.
  • Accusations of vote-buying and other election tampering arose after this April’s snap election, called three years ahead of schedule when the Prime Minister came under significant attack from opponents.  The courts threw out the results of the election.


Return from Phuket

Sunday evening we arrived back in Khrungthep after a busy two days and two nights in Phuket, the glitzy, touristy resort Island an hour’s flight south of the capital.  There is a lot to share and many stories to tell and I’ll get to those in the next day or so, since I have a lot of work to do this morning.

For the moment, though, I hope you’ll consider these pictures and brief captions as an acceptable amuse bouche for your attention, whetting your appetite for more:


Patong beach along Phuket Island’s western shore, early in the morning before the crowds of tourists arrive to soak up their Vitamin D.


Saturday morning we were invited to the religious ceremony, which about thirty people attended.  Five monks changed, Dan and Kathy made offerings, and all of us were splashed with holy water.


Afterwards, the traditional water-pouring ceremony was held.  Each guest, in descending order of importance starting with the parents of the bride and groom (or their grandparents, if present), pour a small amount of water on the bride and groom’s hands while wishing them good fortune, health and happiness in their marriage.  Here, the bride’s mother does the rod nam offering.


Afterwards, guests relaxed in the library, visiting and enjoying refreshing ginger tea and lychee water.  There was some intrigue as one of the guests, a friend of the bride’s who is the ex-boyfriend of one of Tawn’s close friends, arrived for the ceremony with his boyfriend, who it turns out that another one of Tawn’s friends who was at the wedding had had an affair with two years ago.  Confused?  I’ll try to explain it all later. 


After the rod nam ceremony all eight of us piled into the rental car (including Tawn’s friend EE and her husband Chris, who now live in Melbourne, OZ) and drove 60 km across the island to a small local seafood restaurant that is right next to the pier where the fishing boats offload their catch.  We had a huge feast of incredibly fresh seafood including some of the best grilled calamari I’ve ever had: if you thought that squid is rubbery, this would change your mind.  We ate too much.  By the time we returned to the hotel, we had only thirty minutes to freshen up and change, heading back to the Chedi Resort for the second part of the wedding celebrations.


The bride, Kathy, and her father arrive on the back of an elephant complete with dancers and musicians.  The attracted the attention of many of the resort’s guests who, in addition to the wedding guests, had quite a few memories of this spectacular entrance.  Kathy is Tawn’s friend from Chulalongkorn University.  Kathy and Dan live in Hong Kong.


Sorry for the poor picture quality.  The service was held just before sunset with the ocean as the backdrop.  The temperatures were surprisingly cool and the clouds kept the sun from being too strong.  Then, just as they started to exchange vows, the sun dropped below the clouds, flooding Dan and Kathy with a radient light. 


After the service the guests enjoyed appetisers and drinks on the beach and the nearby lawn.  Traditional Thai music was being played and dancers performed.  As the sun set, the sky was ablaze in a glorious combination of pinks and purples – which my camera hardly does justice to – and everyone was lining up for photos with the bride and groom.


After the service, the mahout gave rides to anyone who wanted them – this was as close as Tawn wanted to get to the beautiful elephant.  After about a half-hour, the elephant was tuckered out and half-way down the beach with two of Tawn’s friends on its back, kneeled down on the sand for a rest.  We subsequently gave Eddy and Jack a hard time about being too heavy for the elephant to continue!


The reception was intimate – only about 80 guests – and was in a tent on a lawn next to the beach.  The music changed to a live jazz combo doing all of the favourite songs from the 40s and 50s from Gershwin to Porter to Arlen.  Dinner was all Thai food, with great curries, veggies, and as a highlight heaping platters of grilled seafood: rock lobsters, prawns, whole fish… it was really spectacular.  The glass tea light hurricane lamps were the thank-you gifts for the guests, sourced by our friend Ble, a local designer.  It was a lovely setting and the weather was perfect for it.


Sunday we had some free time.  Tawn and I walked to the nearest temple in the morning, since it was his birthday, to make a donation and receive a blessing.  This temple is right on the beach at Patong and was completely destroyed by the tsunami.  It has since been reconstructed, although some work in continuing. 

In the afternoon we spent more time with with Eddy, Ble, Jack and his boyfriend David.  As our flight was delayed, we had time to hang out at a resort community that has boat rides on their lagoon, then do some shopping for local Thai food products before heading to the airport.  We were spread across three different flights, ours departing the latest.  As Jack, Ble, and Eddy’s flight pushed back, there was a lovely view of the sun setting behind it into the Andaman Sea.


To Phuket

Tawn and I leave this afternoon for our first trip to Phuket, to attend the wedding of one of his university friends.  It should be particularly interesting as we’ve been invited to participate in the pitii rod nam – literally the ceremony of pouring water – the morning ceremony for family and close friends where monks officiate.  This is the the religious ceremony that is held in Thai culture, akin to the church ceremony in a Christian wedding.

Most guests are usually invited only to the reception, so I’m looking forward to seeing this slice of Thai culture up close.

There may not be any – or many – entries until Monday, so thank you in advance for your patience. 

Trip to the Police Station

Missing my International Driver License and keen to have another blog-worthy adventure, I headed down to the Thong Lor Satahnii Tamruat (Police Station).  Located way down Sukhumvit Soi 55, two Skytrain stations away, it took me about thirty minutes to get there.  I informed Tawn and my tutor of my whereabouts, so they could alert the newspapers if this farang driver was incarcerated or never heard from again. 

After quite a bit of walking – the station is much further down from the Skytrain station than I thought – I finally arrived at a squat, concrete building with a few lush trees under which a few dozen officers lounged in the shade, in front.  Thai police stations are not the epitome of modern design, nor of up-to-date interiors.  Straight out of the 60s, everything was a shade of formica, mostly dingy grey.  The only sign with an English translation was the one on the outside that said “Fines” and showed an arrow pointing indoors.

Inside, a few people were sitting around in handcuffs; another group of three were speaking with an officer.  A row of six desks, arranged to suggest a counter, were occupied by six officers all of whom appeared deeply engaged in their work.  Finally, a woman working the endmost desk finished looking at her phone and then motioned to me to come over.

My tutor suggested that I should try speaking some Thai with them, so I made the attempt.  It worked pretty well, I suppose.  The first officer looked at my ticket, then went to speak with another officer, then lead me over to another counter across the room where two matronly policewomen chatted.  There are plenty of women on the Thai police force, it seems, all located at desk jobs in the station.

The process was pretty straight forward: she retrieved a stack of driver licenses from a drawer and located mine.  She took my 400 baht and filled out a receipt.  She made small talk with me, asking me various questions such as where did I come from, how long had I been in Thailand, did I like Thailand, did I like Thai girls – to which I did my best to answer in Thai, although sometimes I would feign ignorance with some of the more pointed questions.

The most pointed of which was, “so you’re working in Thailand?”  Of course, I don’t have a work visa nor a work permit, so the correct answer is, “no.”

The almost as pointed questions was, “so you like Thai girls?” to which I responded, in Thai, “Oh, I like all Thai people; they have such good hearts.”  (A particular expression in Thai, jai dii, literally means “good heart.”)

Within five minutes our business was concluded and the officer practiced her English with a farewell greeting, “See… you… again,” to which I responded, “Let’s hope not.”

Not wanting to walk all the way back, I decided to try a form of transportation I have not yet tried: the motorcycle taxi or rot motosai.  At the mouth of each soi and at strategic points along the ways (large sub-soi, busy office buildings) there are gangs of motorcycle taxi drivers, distinguished by their Bangkok Metropolitan Authority-issued orange vest.  They wait turns to shuttle passengers on the back of their small motorbikes (scooters, usually) to and from key points along the soi. 

The routes are largely fixed, I can go up and down the soi and to sub-soi along the way, but cannot cross to the other side of Sukhumvit, for example.  Prices depend on distance and are usually fixed at 10-20 baht one way.

The danger of riding motorcycle taxis is difficult to exaggerate:

For each trip they make, there is a different center of gravity depending on the size of the passenger; they weave between cars and oncoming traffic; and the mandatory helmet that is provided (usually in a basket on the front of the motosai) is either too small or is so flimsy it would offer no protection.  So you sit on the back, one hand clutching your bag, the other clutching the handle at the back of the seat: two minutes of adrenaline as you make your way to the Skytrain station where you are deposited, hopefully in one piece.  You pay your baht and then walk away, heart still beating fast.

Pity the poor women in skirts and dresses who have to ride sidesaddle!


Now Teaching Procreation

DSCF0549 Wednesday, Tod joined me for the second time to teach down at the school in Bangkhonthii.  This is good not only because the students like him (heard last week: Phom khittung khruu Kobfa – “I miss Teacher Tod.”) and he provides helpful translations when I’m explaining more complex concepts, but also because he’s just a pleasant person to have with you on an adventure.  This week had a few adventures, mostly of the “Wild Animal Kingdom” variety.

Right: A student leads a game of Bingo, writing words on the board for everyone to read.

DSCF0563 The electricity is back on and the fans are working in Bangkhonthii.  The number of functioning dry erase markers is on a precipitous decline so a trip to the office supply store to supplement their ranks will be necessary before next week.  The older children completed their “All About Me” project, which has lasted a few weeks.  The end result: a bulletin board full of mini-resumes with full-colour pictures, names, ages, and favourite fruits, animals, colours, and body parts. 

The younger children were admiring the board after school, asking when they would get to do the same project.  “In a few weeks,” I said, adding to myself, “when you learn what the words “animal,” “fruit,” and “colour” mean!”

Left: Admiring the “All About Me” project done by the older students (grades 4-6 combined), the younger students (grades 1-3 combined) ask when they will be able to do the project, too.


There are usually one or two dogs from the nearby houses who hang around the school.  They are friendly and generally patient with the tremendous abuse suffered on them by the students, especially the boys.  Today there were another half-dozen dogs there with non-stop turf wars, growling, barking, and since at least some of the dogs were in heat, pro-creating.

Warning: This next part gets a bit graphic; delicate readers may choose to skip it.

While working in groups – Tod worked with half of the students, I took the other half to sit on the porch and review sentence grammar – one of the male dogs came up and sniffed around.  One student was petting him, and the other students became quite talkative when they noticed the dog’s prominently erect penis, which seemed to be dripping blood.  Nice.  Some students thought this was quite intersting; others scooted away trying to get as far from the dog as possilbe.  I tried to shoo the dog away so we could get focused.

Later in the afternoon, the students having way too much restless energy, we went out to the playground.  One of my favourite games – it burns up energy very effectively – is to draw pictures of different fruits using sidewalk chalk, with their names written in English – then have races where participants from three teams run across the playground to locate the fruit whose name I’ve called out. 

When this proved to be lopsided in favour of one team, I changed the game and had all the boys work in one group and girls in another.  Then we had the individual groups run from fruit to fruit, Tod and I trying to coordinate so their paths didn’t cross.  It is funny to watch the herd behavior: if one person who is regarded as a leader starts to head in one direction – even if it is wrong.  When it is determined that this person is wrong everyone else will turn towards the next presumed leader, following like a flock of birds.

More graphic material

While we were out there, the pack of dogs wandered up and the drippy male dog proceeded to mount one of the female dogs who usually stays around the school and have sex.  This was like some National Geogrpahic episode, except we were right there as were two dozen screaming, yelling, “eeew-ing” Thai children.  I and another teacher tried to clear them out, coitus interruptus being an appropriate response to recess interuptus.  

The attention of the students was easily redirected when I told them to go back to the classroom so we could play bingo.  “Biiiiiiinnnnnggggooooo!” and they’re off. 

More Photos

A day at Bangkhonthii School isn’t complete without taking photos.  The teachers regularly are snapping pictures – in fact, I should get the digital files for some of them as there are few pictures I’ve posted of me teaching – and of course I carry my camera to capture whatever interesting moments occur.  The students are such hams, though, that they are excited anytime they can get photographed.

DSCF0547 DSCF0552

DSCF0568 DSCF0567

Clockwise from top left: Tod helps the children play Bingo – “Does everyone see “chin” on their card?”  Afternoon session of badminton among the older girls, using a rope tied to the flag pole as a net.  A “bright” student.  Younger children make rabbit ears after class is over.

Also on Wednesday, Ajarn Yai plied as much of a guilt trip as she could on me, since I had failed to show up on Monday for a major community event.  She told Tod how many parents, monks, and other important people had showed up, looking forward to meeting me.  For my part, I brought a large basket of expensive imported Washington apples and California oranges for her and the other teachers.  Tawn assures me that Thais have short memories on things like this.


My Friends at the Metropolitan Bangkok Police

First, let me clarify: there is no sign anywhere near my apartment indicating that right turns are illegal during commute hours.

So when I was trying to make a right turn into my apartment on Tuesday afternoon at about 3:30, I was suprised when a khon tamruat (police officer) pulled up along side me, shook his head, and indicated that I should continue driving onwards.

Confused, since I and hundreds of others of people make that turn all the time, I assumed he just didn’t want me blocking traffic there.  So I drove further down the road.  Considering my options for making a U-turn, the closest location with a dedicated u-turn was about 1.5 km down the road (about 1 mile) – through heavy traffic and two major intersections.

This didn’t make a lot of sense to me, so about 200 meters down the road I saw a break in the oncoming traffic so made a right turn into the Q House office complex.  Upon later research, there is a small sign on the left-hand side of the road nearby indicating no right turns during rush hours.

BKK Police The police officer, keeping an eye on me, drove down to the parking lot and pulled me over.  In his limited English, he told me that there was a sign saying no right turn.  So I asked where I was supposed to make a U-turn if I couldn’t turn right.  “There’s a sign.  No turn,” was his response.

The normal practice when you’re pulled over by a low-paid police officer is to give him your “Thailand Driver License” – a 100-baht bill folded and discreetly placed behind your regular driver’s license.  Since I’d like Thailand to make it to the rank of first world nations one of these years, I’ve decided that I’m not going to support that practice.  So I gave him my International Driver’s License (available for $10 at the American Automobile Association, $15 non-members) and my California Driver’s License.  He didn’t seem interested in the California license so took the IDL instead.

He asked me whether I read Thai (I said no – speaking English the whole time) and then wrote me a 400-baht ticket, explaining (kind of) that I had to go to the Thong Lor police station to pay the fine and retrieve my license.

So I have had my first experience being pulled over.  I’ll go to the police station today or tomorrow and retrieve my license and report on that experience.  I’m going to demand a signed and dated receipt for my fine, though.  Not going to pay money into the deep pockets of the police chief.




Date: Tue 12 and Wed 13 September, 2006
Performed by: National Opera House of Belarus
Composer: Guiseppe Verdi
Conductor: Andrei Galanov


Bangkok Fest 3 One of Guiseppe Verdi’s most famous operas, Aida is based on the French prose of Camille du Locle, with a scenario by Auguste Mariette. This opera in four acts has a libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni. The opera first premiered at the Cairo Opera House, on 24 December, 1871 and was born of the desire of the Khedive of Egypt for an opera that echoed Egypt’s ancient past.

Set in the time of the Pharaohs, it is the story of a young Ethiopian princess (turned slave), torn between the love of her homeland, family and the man who loves her — Radames, the Commander of the Egyptian Army.

It was staged by the well-known National Opera House of Belarus.  The conductor was Andrei Galanov, leading a full symphony orchestra.


All in all, we had a very fun time at the Opera, but Tawn and I agreed afterwards that Opera (something to which we’re both relatively unexperienced) is an acquired taste and it really requires a good deal of preparation before and patience during to fully appreciate it.  Nonetheless, it is good for us to attend from time to time, broadening our cultural horizons.  Perhaps having better subtitling would help, too.  We spent eight minutes on a single phrase: “Let us invoke the earth spirits.”