Thailand Can NOT Catch a Break: Monk Pimp-Slaps an Expat

No, you didn’t read that sub-title wrong. A Buddhist monk delivered a series of slaps to a farang. It’s not clear whether the slaps were issued because the victim was a grown man wearing capri pants. But seriously though, it’s pretty well established that the slappings were delivered as the result of a communication mishap in which the monk heard one offensive word, but the victim says he said another (non-offensive) word–apparently corroborated by nearby witnesses. The story is here.


This is a minor incident, except that… well, it was  Buddhist monk. When men of peace get all slappy people start to wonder if there isn’t some greater underlying anti-farang sentiment. I mean, a monk is the last person you expect to slap the snot out of a person who’s just sitting there, and–if they are the last–that means that all the other Thais have been slapping around foreigners already. For the record I only got pummeled about the head and neck in the Muaythai gym, so it was in context.


There’s good reason why Thailand is one of the most beloved tourist destinations in the world. The people are awesome. The food is delectable. It’s easy to get around to see the country’s many impressive sights and serene beaches. It’s laid-back, and, unlike some tourist destinations, it’s a country that’s eager to have you whether you’re a poor backpacker or a wealthy industrialist.


However, lately Thailand cannot catch a break on the tourism front. First, the country is under martial law. I can say from experience that there isn’t much evidence of change if you’re a traveler. However, it probably still keeps some people out. Some governments even issued warnings to citizens out of fear that violence might erupt if citizens tire of the situation. “Martial law” doesn’t exactly scream safe travel destination.


Then in September (around the time I was last in Thailand) a couple was brutally murdered with a hoe on Koh Tao. This might have been even worse for the tourist trade than the martial law. For one thing, it got a lot of press because the couple was really, really nice looking, making it easy to plaster their faces across every media outlet in the world. For another thing, they were killed with a hoe. Who kills someone with a hoe, really? The only way it could have been worse was if it was murder by Garden Weasel (as seen on TV.) (I’m not saying that if it had been an ugly couple that got shot or stabbed with a knife, that the effect on tourism would have been minimal, but…)


As it was, it resulted in the need to put out a new tourism video entitle “I hate Thailand”, that oddly makes Western tourists seems like even bigger pricks than they (we) really are in an effort to attract tourism.

All that said, you should go to Thailand.

Your Life is Hard? Try Working with Ninjas,Pirates, and Smugglers!

Ninjas, pirates, and smugglers aren’t exactly chatty. They burn, or shred, their correspondence. They sow seeds of disinformation to confuse the authorities. They lurk in the inkiest of shadow worlds behind doors we don’t even know exist. Still, who wants to do a hatchet job on a pirate? Right?

Did I mention that these are characters in the novel that I’m currently revising (or did I let you believe I was talking about in-the-flesh smugglers so that you’d keep reading.) Sorry, no one ever accused me of NOT being a deceitful bastard. Well, my friend, you’re now more than Tweet deep in this post; that’s quite an investment; it’s the modern-day equivalent of having read The Iliad, so you might as well keep reading.

Kiss the Cobra (my third working title) features a cast of characters of not only the aforementioned occupations but also monks  (both the scholarly and  kick-ass kung fu varieties), an Emperor, a muay Thai master, and a secret society that makes ninjas look like chatty Cathys. Like all good lies, this novel begins with a seed of truth. That seed is the rescue of Emperor Go-Daigo from imprisonment by an evil (ok, quasi-evil) shogun in 1337.  From that seed, it’s my wild imagination run amok… or is it? The Emperor assigns the loyalist ninja who rescued him, Korando, to travel to Southeast Asia to acquire an artifact that legend has it will help him re-consolidate power.

Cut to the present day, a linguistically-talented young man, Matsuo (a.k.a. “Matt”), comes into possession of a scroll. The scroll is Korando’s journal, written and hidden as a confessional. Matt investigates Korando’s journal on an electronic bulletin board only to find himself being chased by nefarious characters. Matt discovers that there are still people willing to kidnap, kill, or commit treason for the secrets that Korando’s journal may possess.

The novel weaves the 14th century journal with this present-day cat and mouse game between the forces of good and evil. There’s murder and mayhem, love and betrayal, victory and defeat, virtue and vice; in short everything you love in a novel is densely crammed into this book.  There’s even one character who may or may not be a Zombie–I’ll let you be the judge.

Now let me just add this screenshot of me to show you ho

Do you ever get a chill on the back of your neck?

Did you ever get an inexplicable chill on the back of your neck?