Golden Triangle Digest: Late Night Weekend Edition, December 13th, 2020
I'm here for the culture. Not temples, not bar girls. But rather, black magic and car crashes and dirty cops.
Dear expats and readers,
Mind if I share a little story?
I was down at the pub the other day. Sat next to a young farang guy - I’d say 25, 26 tops. I pegged him as an English teacher, I don’t know why. He surely wasn’t a tourist - not the type to do the ASQ Hotel stint anyway.
I was curious how he got here to Thailand. So we got to talking.
A couple big Leo’s in and I told him a bit of my story. I never play all my cards so I kept the details skint but true.
I asked him the same. He said: “I’m here for the culture.” The tone and timber of his voice gave away the fact that he was serious.
Ones like us — I’d imagine if you’re reading this, you’re like me anyway — say it with a wink and a nod. We tip our cap to the irony beneath the words: so many of us came for the anarchic sabai-sabai spirit, some for the debauch of girly bars and soapy massages, some still for beer poured over ice on a tropical day, and the right to just plain live our lives free and exactly as we damn well please.
The stuff that keeps us here, right?
But this guy was serious — he came for the “culture.” So, as a man who puts my own time on a pedestal, I excused myself from the conversation. I check-binned out of the bar after the last big Leo, my 3rd.
I never learned why he came to Thailand.
The two meanings of “I’m here for the culture.”
Before the whole business of COVID-19, whole air fleets landed and departed on the daily. Mugs fresh off the plane would still use the culture bit as cover to explain why they washed up on Thai soil.
Water downed culture, you know the kind: the same old temples, the street food, overcrowded beaches, tuk-tuks, and tourist ghettos where these mugs are corralled on and off the stage just in time to snap a selfie to prove to their mates back home that yes, they too have been there.
Where, I don’t know, take your pick of the low-hanging fruit: Khao San Road, Old City Chiang Mai, Patong, Grand Palace. All find places, mind. But you’ve seen them once, and it’s enough.
But it’s good for us to remember something. We were all first-timers once. So these mugs, well, maybe they haven’t found their real reason for being here yet.
So, what’s our reason for staying then? The bar girls and soapy massages, their novelty wears off. The freedom to do what we want? Yeah, we get used to it. Thai swill poured over ice? Hits the spot on a tropical day, but I don’t stay for it.
If somebody put a gun to the back of my head and asked me why I stay in Thailand. I would say: “I stay for the culture.”
And that’s what True Crime Thailand is about.
I love the nitty-gritty culture in Thailand. The dirty deals. The corrupt cops. The loss-of-face passion crimes. The Golden Triangle drug lore. All of it, it’s what I write about for a reason.
My mission is to bring the real underbelly of Thailand to light for every farang in Thailand, every expat, everybody abroad who happens to be interested.
That’s why I stay here. I’m digging in my heels deep to accomplish this mission. I’m here to stay.
So, if you’re reading this newsletter for the first time, welcome. I hope that I succeed in my mission.
OK, enough about me. Let’s get to the stuff that brings us together.
True crime in Thailand.
Extortion attempt on Farang for 128 million baht
One popular story we covered this week was out of Koh Samui. The island is renowned for some of its dirty deals, especially around foreigners and real estate. And by dirty I mean that farang get the shit end of the stick.
A friend of the newsletter told us about a memoir called “Siam Was Our Home” by Edna Bruner Bulkley. She lived in Thailand for 70 years. Her last descendant was a woman who sold real estate on Koh Samui. She left in 2008 because of the corruption on the island.
The current case happened to a Mr. Christoph. An officer with the DSI (Department of Special Investigation) tried to pump him for 128 million baht. If he didn’t cough up the dough, the threat of losing his business was on the table.
Thankfully, an anti-corruption committee is standing up for Mr. Christoph. They said that even foreigners should be treated fairly in Thailand.
Cambodian black magic made him do it
The story of Madman Jack, the crazed knife-killer who went on a spree in Udon Thani, taking two young girls’ lives, captivated readers this past week.
We followed up on the case and brought a strange report to light from the Thai press.
Turns out Jack was a disciple of Khmer black magic. The police even called an Ajarn, a kind of spiritual teacher, to the station to exorcise the evil magic from the killer.
This is the type of cultural stuff that we get excited about. Police would never do this back home. But it’s par for the course in Thailand.
I fell asleep, officer
We wouldn’t be doing our job if we ignored Thailand’s traffic insanity.
Whether you want to blame the mayhem on the roads here on lack of education or brake-failure, that’s your prerogative. As it stands, the country’s contends for the top spot in annual traffic fatalities per capita. And many are due to criminal negligence.
Take a truly horrific crash that happened in Bangkok this week.
The woman driving reportedly fell asleep at the wheel. In the middle of broad daylight. Now, don’t get me wrong. She probably wasn’t scrolling through the latest edition of the Golden Triangle Digest. But I’d bet dollars to donuts she was on Instagram or the like.
Sadly, a Grab Food driver and another innocent old man bore the brunt of her negligence.
Insanity Club gets stitched up on Soi 11
The popular night club is facing 5 years closure. Insanity issued a release saying that “it’s not you, it’s us” in a weird Facebook post that claims the authorities aren’t shutting them down, but rather, they’re taking the action upon themselves.
Whatever you tell yourself to help you sleep at night, I guess.
We reported on the raid in our Facebook group where we cover breaking news and crime stories on the daily. Wait, what? You’re not in the group? For shame.
Our job is to not only break the news that matters most, but also to follow up on it. So, that we did. We dug deep and found an opinion piece by the notorious Chuwit Kamolvisit, who’s known as the “tub tycoon.”
He was a big time player in the soapy massage and night club business in his day. At one point he was paying hundreds of thousands to dirty cops to look the other way. When the law got the best of Chuwit on other cases, he went scorched earth and got very loud about dirty cops in Thailand.
He’s an interesting guy and he made some interesting comments about the nightlife scene in Bangkok and how it works.
But wait, there’s more!
I’m not just a big tease.
When I say I’m going to put something out, I will. My word’s my bond.
Here’s what you can expect in the coming weeks from True Crime Thailand:
We’re putting out an in-depth look at the 2011 Mekong River massacre, which you can read about here. I’m pairing this with a film review of Operation Mekong, a 2016 Hong Kong-Chinese produced true crime film that dramatized the events. You can expect this on Wednesday December 16th.
The week after, just before Christmas, we’re going back in time to the story of the cannibal serial killer Si Ouey. He was executed by firing squad at the Bangkok Hilton / Bang Kwang prison in 1959, charged with killing seven children, and even worse, cannibalizing their remains. Si Ouey's name is used until this very day by parents who wish their children would behave. True Crime Thailand is putting together a full-length article on Si Ouey and his grisly crimes.
We’ve also got a super-secret surprise for New Year’s. Let’s just say this, if you like our content but want to listen to it in the car, or when working out, or on the plane, then we’ve got you covered. Pair that alongside interviews with Thailand’s most interesting expats — I guess we just let the cat out of the bag. We’re doing a podcast, and it’s going to be fun. Stay tuned.
If you enjoy the stories and writing I put out, share this newsletter with a friend.
If you have any crime stories to report, feel free to reach out at email@example.com.
I’ll urge you one more time if you’re not in our Facebook group. It’s where we push out most of our content first.
I just ran all this through WordCounter, and we’re at 1,500 words. So I’ll call it a night.
Always at your service,
True Crime Thailand