Monday, 28 January 2013

Stereotypical views of Thailand in the USA

I had heard about this clip and was ready to be outraged by the racist, narrow-minded bigotry of its creator. Unfortunately it is quite funny and I work on the basis that you shouldn't be offended by something that is genuinely amusing.

It is definitely worth a look and as it comes from a comedy show rather than a documentary I will not criticise the maker's rather one sided view of Thailand. Click the link below to see the clip.

Learning Thai

On the subject of "you should not be offended if it can make you laugh": please check out Thai Lottery... and Other Stories from Pattaya, Thailand.



The book is also available at Kobo and Barnes & Noble

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Exploitation of Thai women - their perspective

A few of my earlier posts refer to the Empower Foundation, an amazing organisation run by the women who work in the Thai sex industry.

This is an excellent satire on the way the law looks at sex workers in Thailand.

Watch it here: Last Rescue in Siam

Thai to Ty Series - Marrying a Thai girl

It is every Thai girl's dream to marry a westerner we are told. This series of 7 films tells the story of a burgeoning Thai community in Denmark which was started by one woman who made the fantasy come true. She not only found a husband, she started a cottage industry finding husbands for the female members of her extended family. You can watch the first film here and the links to the others are available in the YouTube side-bar.

Thai to Ty - Film One

The series is pretty bleak viewing, but still manages to evoke a good degree of sympathy for the participants. It is essential viewing for anyone who believes that their Thai girlfriend will settle happily in the west without friends who speak their language and, critically, without wanting to continue to support their families back in Thailand. The Danes in this film are a means to an end for their Thai brides but they seem pretty content with their lot. It's not the life they dreamed of but it is clearly better than anything they have experienced before.

I usually use this blog to rant at the hopeless journalists who promulgate their prejudices with a few carefully chosen clips of Thai life and a sensationalist voice over. These films let the participants tell the story and it is not a happy one. It is, however, worth 50 minutes out of your day if you have any interest at all in the women of Thailand and the men who are looking East for their bride.  

Monday, 21 January 2013

Pattaya - Thailand's most notorious City.

It has been great to see a steady stream of visitors to this blog. If you have details of any films which you think should be added to my list of links and reviews, please get in touch.

The blog has focused on the portrayal of Thailand in the Press.

Thai Lottery... and Other Stories from Pattaya, Thailand is a fictional portrayal of life in the country's most notorious city. I recently received this from Max who has lived in Thailand for a couple of years:

 I had so much fun reading your book and it really highlights the ups and downs of living in Thailand.
 I could associate several of my friends and acquaintances with the stories and maybe even myself ;-)

My web-site is at

Any you can check out the book on Amazon by searching for Thai Lottery or clicking on these links, where you will see more 5 star reviews. - -

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

OK it's not journalism but worth a look

This is off topic as far as this blog is concerned as it's a French drama on the Thai bar scene. I am posting it here because it examines people's attitudes to Thailand and its infamous sex industry.

You can watch it here.

Part One - LadyBar - Part One

Part Two - LadyBar - Part Two

To enable the English sub-titles just click the CC box in the top right hand corner - then when the next box appears click "EN"

The purpose of my blog is to examine how journalists have ceased to be objective and increasingly use the media to further their employer's agendas. TV News has become political propaganda and documentaries generally seek to sensationalise and prey on the prejudices and bigotry of their audience.

LadyBar has no hidden agenda, it is merely intended to entertain. So no lengthy critique from me. If you like the Thai bar scene you will undoubtedly enjoy the authentic depiction of a mid-life crisis turning to meltdown as it is exposed to the temptations of Pattaya. If you have never been to Thailand but believe you know what goes on, this may change some but not all of your preconceptions.

My only disappointment with the story is that it rushed the conclusion.  The film needed to be at least thirty minutes longer.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Asia's Sex industry - France 24

Not much to quibble with in this short documentary from France 24. There is no real theme, it just stitches together a few interesting things about the sex industry in Thailand and Cambodia. You can watch it here:

The pronunciation of the host is a little suspect and I was certain that she claimed the sex industry amounted to 40% of the Thai economy, in the main body of the film the number is confirmed as 14%. We get to meet a local businessman who claims that Pattaya is changing, the departure of paedophiles and sex tourists putting it on a par with Monaco, he claims. Cue Princess Grace to revolve in her grave. We are also introduced to Philippe Seur, a French doctor who dedicates his time and money to helping AIDS victims. This section surely deserved more time as the honourable doctor appears to justify the title claimed for him by the film. He is, we are told, the Angel of Pattaya.

Having "established" that Pattaya has cleaned up its act, the action moves quickly to Sihanoukville in Cambodia, where we are assured that it is possible to buy everything available in Pattaya, only cheaper. There is a brief interview with a deeply dodgy looking character who assures us that the "paedophile problem" is exaggerated and some grainy footage of a hotel sting operation. At this stage it appeared as though the director realised he had enough footage to meet his contractual commitment and the curtain came down, allowing viewers plenty of time to switch their holiday booking from Thailand to Cambodia.

There are worse ways of spending 12 minutes but this is no award winner.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Pattaya Thailand - Hotspot for sex trafficking in all SE-Asia

"No little girl grows up wanting to become a prostitute."  It's an argument that is hard to dispute and it is at the heart of the argument put forward by the makers of this film. Find them here are and watch the video at

The narrator explains that Pattaya is the centre of sexual slavery in Asia and the YouTube blurb offers an introduction which says that "in Thailand alone there are an estimated 2 million people trapped in the sex trade having been coerced, manipulated or trafficked into it". Evocative stuff.

It is impossible to take issue with most of the content for three reasons:

1. The avid male Pattaya fan will enjoy the familiar clips of their favourite holiday destination.
2. There are a couple of heart-warming stories of girls who hated the life and made a successful transition to a new way of making a living.
3. GlobalBreakthrough appears to be an active charity trying to help girls who want a new opportunity not just a pressure group seeking the criminalisation and vilification of the girls or their customers. They are to be applauded for this.

The only issue is that, understandably, the film looks at the argument from only one perspective. For the other side of the story I can only refer you to a web-site produced by the girls who work in the Thai sex industry.

It is certainly true that no little girl grows up wanting to be a prostitute and as another interviewee says, "the girls all want a way out". The truth is, however, that many would not swap their lives for a poorly paid job elsewhere in the Thai economy. Prostitution for them may be unappealing but is often a lifestyle choice. Whilst there are countless victims in the global sex industry, to paint Thailand as the stand out example of female exploitation is neither accurate nor helpful, but hats off to GlobalBreakthrough for giving the women of Thailand another option.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Banged Up Abroad - the Sandra Gregory story

The book is almost always better than the film and this is no exception. Forget You Had a Daughter is an extremely moving account of Sandra Gregory's conviction and imprisonment for attempting to smuggle three and half ounces of heroin from Bangkok to Tokyo. Banged Up Abroad is the condensed version of the story covering, in detail, only the period up to her imprisonment. The book portrays her as a naive. vulnerable young girl who learns to live with the consequences of her actions, coming out the other side a stronger person. The film, although narrated by Gregory herself leaves the viewer shaking their head wondering how anyone can be so shallow and dumb. It really does not do her justice.

By focusing only on the period up to her imprisonment,  there is no opportunity to see how Gregory coped with her time in jail. The film is not therefore about being "banged up", it is about how she ended up in jail. In many ways it is the less interesting half of the story. The presentation does capture the attention, partly Gregory telling her story to the camera, partly a dramatisation of the key events, although at times one wonders whether it might not have worked better as a full reconstruction.

Sandra Gregory as a narrator is refreshingly free of self pity and takes complete responsibility for her actions, unlike many of those interviewed  in documentaries of this type. There is no hushed voice-over inviting us to shake our heads in disgust at the savage Thais who treat misguided youths in such a harsh manner. The story is presented in an unemotional and matter of fact way.

Banged Up Abroad is worth a look -

But if you rreally want to know what happened to Sandra Gregory, buy the book:

Friday, 4 January 2013

The Bodysnatchers - Bangkok

I want you to imagine the scene when the producer of The Bodysnatchers – Thailand met with his Thai agent. The Producer (“P” in the exchange set out below) has heard that Bangkok is running with ruthless, blood crazed lunatics fighting each other to retrieve the bodies from the many road accidents in the Thai capital. The Agent (“A” in the same exchange) is explaining the reality on the ground. I think it may have gone like this:

P – So I understand that these guys will stop at nothing to make sure they are first at the scene.
A – No, not really. There used to be a problem but its pretty well regulated now.
P – But I heard that they drive round the city like lunatics and practically fight over the corpses. That’s the angle we need for the film.
A – Afraid you are about twenty years out of date, mate. There used to be a problem but it’s sorted.
P – Bugger. We’ve sold the story already and the crew arrive tomorrow. What are we going to do? What if we follow these guys around, what will we see?
A – Just a bunch of really dedicated people trying to help out because there is no government sponsored service. It’s pretty impressive really.
P – What’s the use of that? We need some blood crazed brown people to look down on, that’s what our viewers want to see.
A – Well there are a couple of celebrities we could use. Movie actors.
P - Now we are getting somewhere. Are they cute?
A – Two men I am afraid but there is a teenage singer who we could interview, she is pretty hot.
P  - OK – let’s go for it, if I go back without at least fifteen minutes of blood and gore that’s me for the chop.

And thus another piece of narrow-minded racist drivel was born.

Journeymanpictures was desperate for a story that simply wasn’t there. The crew wanted to show Thailand as a backward barely civilized nation. The facts did not fit the story they had already written but it did not put them off.  Body retrieval is handled by a couple of well-run operations, staffed by motivated volunteers eager to do their bit for society and Buddhists are far less squeamish about death than westerners, it’s just part of the journey to another life. This documentary sought to portray these people as ignorant, thrill seeking opportunists. Unable to make the facts support their argument they lent on a professorial looking type to opine that they were “like children, unaware of the consequences” of what they were doing. The volunteers were described as “dedicated followers of traffic mayhem”, in spite of the fact that they were simply doing a job that people get paid for doing in the West. The programme had already plumbed the depths but as it drew to a welcome conclusion we were informed that the volunteers were simply seeking a heavenly reward. The choice of words was extraordinary. The narrator attempted to imply that the volunteers were trampling on the bodies of the victims with the phrase “the road to Nirvana is paved with the bodies of the dead”.  This is gutter journalism of the worst kind, we are invited to view Thailand through the eyes of someone who simply cannot understand why anyone could do anything without monetary reward. Their motives are assumed to be vile and base.

Am I recommending you avoid this film? Absolutely not. Someone got paid to turn out this garbage and if you can live with the narrow minded cultural blindness of the presentation it’s quite entertaining. I suggest you watch it here:
and then write to the producer and tell him he is a moron.