Edward's Bangkok Blog

These articles are light-hearted views from 2011 to 2016, when Edward and his wife lived in Bangkok, Thailand.

The RSS link below can be used to create a news feed in your favorite RSS reader. If you need more info about RSS, please use your favorite search engine.

Page: Previous  Next   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8

Article has image(s) City Without Horizon
(by Edward 2012-02-03)

The Valley Of The Sun

The clear skies of Phoenix often afford a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. And if you happen to look westward at about 6:30pm on almost any spring night, you will see the sun going down behind the Estrella or White Tank mountains, melting their jagged peaks in its beautiful purple and orange heat. Look eastward beyond the Superstition Mountains (and slightly north), and you will see four snow-capped peaks some forty or fifty miles distant, melancholy in the sun like four elderly men in their rocking chairs. From almost everywhere in the city you can see plenty of horizon in nearly all directions.

The Limited Sky

We live about a quarter way up a sky-scraping apartment building in the southern side of Bangkok. A friend recently visited from the states, and after staying with us for a few days he commented, "You guys have no horizon." I should mention that this man has extensive foreign experience from his childhood on, and has lived abroad longer than in the States. Yet in the days he had stayed with us, it struck him as unusual that he had never seen the horizon from our elevated apartment window. I thought over the many months that I've lived here, and could find no distinct memory of a clear horizon, nor a sunset (even though our apartment faces west). Beyond the city skyline there is almost always a gray, dismal mist. Whether it is pollution or a humid mist depends on which newspaper you read.


I was compelled to reflect on a few conversations we have had with various Thai people. They explained how so many people here desire to study in America, England, or Australia to improve their chances of a successful future. The ability to speak English, coupled with a working knowledge of foreign affairs can greatly assist a person's marketability in this economy where many depend upon foreign money. And although it is a somber commentary, I thought that perhaps we were not the only ones struggling to see a horizon in Bangkok.

Post A Comment

Article has image(s) Aw, Rats!
(by Edward 2012-03-01)

A Catalog Of Hated Varmints

In all of God's Creation, there are certain creatures that are repulsive to a majority of people. I suppose it would only take a moment to create a short list of the most obviously loathsome vermin, so let's try it. We can start with reptiles. Genesis 3 describes the "enmity" between women and snakes--something few women would deny--so we'll put snakes at the top of the list. (I must interject that before marriage I owned three snakes at one time. But although I'm an exception to the rule on this one, I still recognize the cold-bloodedness of humanity towards the slithering species, and vice versa.) We also share a common disgust for many insects, especially the infamous cockroach. Okay…cockroach is number two…check! And when cataloging odious critters, we must not neglect the attention due to rodents, typically in the form of mice and their larger cousins: rats. So let's see: in about one minute, we've got a short catalog of hated varmints. And this leads me to my main topic: rats.

One Man's Trash

Until two days ago, my view of rats was rather unsentimental. As a former snake owner, I viewed rats as fast-food for boa constrictors and pythons. I would go to the local pet store and place my order: "I'd like a large Mc-Mouse (pronounced "Mickey Mouse"), a Mc-Rat, and a couple Mc-Pinkies on the side." I didn't hate rats per se, but I can confess of no love for them either. But some people do love rats, some to the extent of having adopted them as family pets. My daughter's grade school had a pet rat that the teacher really loved dearly. She was even evangelistic with her love for rats. She would let the kids take turns taking the rat home over the weekend, and returning it to school on Monday morning. My daughter actually spelled doom to that plan when she brought the thing to our house one weekend. My wife, attempting to overcome her own rodent-hatred, had my daughter place the critter in her hands. To maintain its balance, it began wrapping its tail around my wife's fingers, sending her into a panic. She gripped the rat in her fist and started to scream. The rat began to resist the constricting fingers by clawing at her hand. My wife reacted to the clawing by gripping harder and dropping the beast to the ground. It hobbled around until my son put it back in its box under strict orders to keep it there until Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, my daughter came home with the news that the rat had mysteriously died in its cage. The teacher was so saddened by its untimely passing that she placed the cadaver in a shoebox, and marched her class out to the field where they had a funeral service. She even shed tears as she had one of the little girls in the class sing Amazing Grace. My daughter--though a serious animal lover and just a young girl at the time--was laughing herself to tears when she recounted the story that night. Well, you know what they say about one man's trash.

I Hope That Was Chicken

As I alluded earlier, my opinion of rats was forever changed two days ago. It was lunchtime, and my family and I were out-and-about and feeling adventurous. We agreed to try a new restaurant near our church. You must understand that many Thai businesses function in multi-story "shop houses." The business will occupy one or more floors on the bottom of the shop house, and the upper floor(s) are where the business owner lives with their family. It is not entirely uncommon to walk into an empty shop where some sort of sensor on the door alerts the family to come down to service the customer. Now you can understand when I say that the restaurant we decided to try was a shop house. The staircase to the living quarters was clearly visible in the back corner of the main dining area, only mildly obscured by a jutting wall. An indoor lily pond decorated the wall under the staircase, and on the wall parallel to the stairs was a large mirror exposing the stairs hidden behind the small wall. The light was dim and warm, the tables were embellished with attractive decor, the silverware was clean and wrapped in fancy napkins, and atmosphere was well scented and comfortable. The food was so exceptionally delicious and well-priced that we all agreed that this was to be a regular stop for the Kidwell family. Then something in the mirror caught my eye. It looked like a cat coming down the stairs. It was large enough to walk down the stairs with its hind feet on the upper stair behind it, and its forefeet on the stair below. I honestly thought that the family cat had simply gotten out of the home upstairs. Then after a couple seconds of staring, my eyes focused, and I started to my feet and cried out, "Dear God! That's a rat!" My family was shocked by my animation, but the restaurant staff seemed to not notice. I am not exaggerating a bit when I say that was the largest rat I have ever seen, and the last one of its size that I ever want to! I sat back down, calmed myself, and got out my Thai-English dictionary app. I now know that the Thai word for rat is "noo." I told the staff, "Ti nohn, noo. Noo, ti nohn. Khun kao jai?" ("Over there, rat! Rat, over there! Do you understand?") I showed the word "rat" in the dictionary, and the waitress repeated, "noo?" "Yes! Yes!" I exclaimed in Thai. "Over there!" She calmly went back to her stance by another staff member, and to my shock and fear, did nothing else. I kept watching the small wall that hid the bottom stair, certain that the colossal fiend would be coming around to chew my toes any second. I mustered a smile (a necessary act in Thai culture), and asked for the bill. For most of that night my family mocked my out-of-character behavior. But then I began thinking out loud. "Rodents follow corners. Why didn't the rat come around the wall when it reached the bottom? There must've been a hole leading to the back…where the food is." It was deathly silent when I concluded, "I hope that was chicken."

Post A Comment


Posted by: The dad (2012-03-03)

Hey, Funny story. Reminded me of the one I wrote about Denzel and Roland called "Arley and the rat".

I will have to dig it out and send it to you.It really happened but it doesn't sound like it.

You know that the hatred toward rats started during the Bubonic plague epidemic of the 14th century?

 We ate squirrels back home and they were in the same family as rats....rabbits too. I haven't eaten a rat..at least I didn't KNOW if I did having been in the orient myself. LOL

Great stories on this blog though. After your 5 year committment you should publish it.


Posted by: Ed (2012-03-03)

As an addendum, the picture above of the girl eating the rat is from the Isan region of Thailand where eating rats is so common the street vendors grill them in plain sight...tail and all. The restaurant we went to was called "Thai Isan" something-or-the-other, so I've considered the possibility that the rat I saw had escaped from their stock room. [heh heh] Ironically, Thai people think it's gross to eat rabbit, and I wouldn't even blink at it.

Posted by: The Dad (2012-03-05)

WOW. Rabbit is great when it is done right.My mom used to buy it in the store and make it in PA. Deep fried it was terrific.Sherri wouldn't touch it but I sure would.

Article has image(s) Feeling Like Childhood Songs
(by Edward 2012-03-30)

(SPOILER WARNING: you are recommended to click here and read the "Aw, Rats" article below before proceeding.)

And The Cat Came Back

"The cat came back the very next day." I have a magnetic memory for rusty songs and numbers, and that chorus has been in my head more decades than I'll admit. The meaning is so plain even Lestrade could divine it--there is a tenacious feline that keeps returning to the home of its reluctant master. I feel obliged to include the fact that I am no lover of cats because I believe that cats have no masters...only servants. And I refuse to serve any tyrant, whether feline, canine, or Orwell's porcine type. But I admit that I have a guilty admiration for the tenacity of a creature that keeps on keeping on, sometimes against the face of good reason, and contrary to those who may be trying to kill it. I'm feeling like that cat, and I'll tell you why.

I'm Turning Japanese

"I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so." While this was a pop song during my childhood, it was as common on the lips of children as anything by Mother Goose. Despite more than thirty years of experience in songwriting--lyrics and music--I have been unable to parody these lyrics to Thailand. There are no three-syllable forms of "Thai person"--at least none that make any sense to an English listener. "I'm turning Kon-Krung-Thep, I think I'm turning Kon-Krung-Thep" is about as close as I can get, and I think it sounds stupid. But David Fenton (the original songwriter) captures the "angst," as he described it, of "turning into something you didn't expect to." I'm feeling like that guy, and I'll tell you why.

You Know You're Adapting When...

A few weeks ago, I posted the story "Aw, Rats!" about an experience that would cause any American restaurant to be condemned by the Health Board. The short version is this: I saw a gigantic rat--and I mean a hyperbolically enormously gigantic rat--coming downstairs inside a restaurant while we were eating. The food was delicious, but I just couldn't get over the "rat thing." I nicknamed the restaurant, "Rahn Ah-Hahn Bahn Noo" ("House of Rat Restaurant"), and added it to my blacklist...never to return. The following week, a friend from America came to preach for our church, and he too had formerly been a missionary. (Most missionaries I know have a Bible's-worth of cultural stories ranging from mildly ammusing to completely disgusting to extremely terrifying.) He laughed as I told him the rat story, and later showed him the restaurant. Then our conversation became surreal. He asked, "How's the food?" I said, "The food's great, but I can't allow myself to go back." He said, "I'd like to try it." I protested, "You're kidding, right? You're not kidding? But this is where I saw the rat!" He calmly said, "Let's try it." I was defeated. Now forced to face my worst fears, I was losing my American pride! I was sacrificing my dignity! I was compromising my civility! I was...I was...I was maybe overreacting a bit, at least from the perspective of a missionary. We went in, sat down, and had a delicious meal...sans rodent. I felt victorious over my vices. My fears once again conquered, I went home and slept with a smile. But to my horror, the next night he wanted to go back again! "Dear God, how much must I take?!?" We went in, had a wonderful time, delicious food, and best of all, no rats! The following night--can you believe it?!?--we tried to go yet again. I mean it when I say, "we" tried. I was actually looking forward to it. The food is outstanding, and if there's an occasional rat in the dining room, no biggie. But they were closing up at the restaurant, and wouldn't let us in. (Their sign said, "Open to 10pm," and even though it was only about 9pm they had already cleaned and were locking up...not uncommon here.) And that's why I feel like the cat that came back, and the guy who was turning into something else.

Post A Comment


Posted by: Ed (2012-03-30)

The menu sample above is from the restaurant mentioned in the article. I especially liked reading the "pig tongue" and "chicken knuckles."

Posted by: The Dad (2012-04-01)

"Thought he went away but the cat came back cause he couldn't stay away."- Lee Moore and Jaunita on the WWVA( Wheeling ,West Virginia) radio jamboree(every Saturday night in the early 50's).Ah yes.......memories.

Page: Previous  Next   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8

Please note that each blog article has a "Post A Comment" link at the end so you can post comments directly to the article to which they relate. (The last "Post A Comment" link relates to the last blog article.)