Fear and Loathing in Bangkok


There was almost no book review this week. The week I was due to pick one up from Bookazine was during the extended Pattaya Songkran, and I had this mental picture of returning to Bookazine with a soggy pile of pulp. Fortunately I dodged all the revelers and settled in to read this book Fear and Loathing in Bangkok (ISBN 978-616-7503-24-0, Heaven Lake Press, 2014).

While I enjoy Christopher G Moore’s writing, I also enjoy Voranai Vanijaka, the journalist who promoted this book on the front cover, noting that “Moore is a keen observer of Thainess”, to which I would probably say “Moore is a keen observer!”

The book is a collection of Moore’s blog-style items and is divided into nine major sections. The weekly thoughts from Moore as he surveys his Thai world will fill the reader with interest as he delves into the Thai community world with humor and irony. “Try doodling cartoons about sacred figures and see how far your claims of artistic license and freedom get you in the 100 meter shackled leg race in the prison courtyard.”

The major sections are “Where the wild things are” which covers dumb criminals and elephants, the “Criminal justice system – Thai style”, “Crimes without borders”, “Culture and justice”, “Government, crime and technology”, “Anger and fear”, “Brain Games”, “Crime fiction”, and “On writing”.

Moore comes up with some interesting figures in the “Criminal justice system – Thai style” telling the reader that in one raid on a Thai prison, the authorities found “284 mobile phones, 1,700 methamphetamine pills and 50 gm of crystal meth.”

In dealing with justice Thai-style, Moore looks at the heir to the Red Bull fortune and his Ferrari which struck and killed a policeman and the ways the rich can manipulate the system. The worst punishment for the crooked police investigator being a transfer to an inactive post, where the officer waits for everything to blow over, while he still collects his salary and plays golf to while away the long hours. Moore sees and says it all.

Moore explains very succinctly the way that cross-border crime works, with opium being a typical commodity to be sold, with the money returning via multiple bank accounts in many countries. “Organized crime is highly profitable because it has the ability to patch together a makeshift set of mutually beneficial relationships that thrives on secrecy, non-traceability and the sanctity of borders.”

The current road toll is a recent topic with the figures from Songkran’s seven days being publicized. Moore writes, “In Thailand where I drive on the highway a couple of times a week, I witness something approaching low-level warfare on wheels.” Theoretically a dash mounted video camera would be evidence, but not necessarily here where CCTV’s can get “lost”.

For B. 495 you receive the thoughts of a master observer. If you are a long-stay ex-pat you will agree with the substance in his chapters. So get this book and nod sagely. If you are a newbie get this book and learn what the LOS really is like, before you venture out with your opinions.