Bang Kwong Jail

May 24, 2004

I had one more appointment in Bangkok before returning home. Michael Connell is a 19 year old Mancunian, arrested in November last year attempting to smuggle 3400 Ecstacy tablets in his luggage through Bangkok airport, he was sentenced in March this year to 99 years in jail, as reported by the BBC, narrowly missing the death penalty after pleading guilty in the hope of a lenient sentence. Thaksin Shinwatra (Thai PM) doesn’t like drug dealers. Last year he executed 3000 without trial, some on street corners, an expert in the Pol Pot style of dishing out justice. This policy had extended to increased sentences for drug smugglers and summary execution, his concession was to soften the execution from firing squad to lethal injection. With a couple of free days in Bangkok, I’d emailed the UK Embassy offering to visit any inmates, they’d asked me to meet Michael at the notorious Bang Kwang jail, nicknamed by jailbirds as ‘the Big Tiger’ for its extreme severity, it only holds lifers or death row sentences. Arriving by cab in the Northern district of Bangkok, it looked like an enormous concrete, security everywhere, the guards were the most miserable lowlife I’d ever seen, so much for the ‘land of smiles’ I thought. It was my first time in jail, (well not including the South Carolina penitionary where I spent a rather uncomforatle night 10 years ago after dissing a redneck road cop while speeding down the highway…oops) so I was fairly nervous. I waited anxiously in the designated outdoor meeting area chatting to a English women who knew the ropes as she explained to me how hard the conditions. Michael showed up after a 10 minute wait behind the barbed wire fence dragging his chains, that was awful to see and really freaked me out. He was surprised but very pleased to meet me as I introduced myself, although it was hard to communicate being separated by 2 wire fences and a 5 feet no-mans land between us, you’d have to be a real hi-roller Houdini to get out of this place. The whole thing felt quite sureal. We eventually started to talk which was initially difficult and stilted as sadness and despair ooozed from every pore on his face. Once we started to talk he was remarkably upbeat and we got into a flow; Man United, good books, film, my travels, had he made any friends inside? yes, he’d made a couple of Thai mates and was learning Thai, he then talked about his hopes to have his sentence reduced with a view to getting a transfer and he was fairly convinced of this, I agreed and threw in a couple of positive affirmations, his face literally beamed with conviction and this was the tiny glimmer of hope which was keeping him going. After 45 minutes the bell rung and it was over, he thanked me profusely and I said good luck and made a reference to how good he looked, that was a lie but I think he belived me because he smiledI assured him that I would visit again if I was in town. I left the miserable guard some books, fruit and ciggies for Michael, mightily relieved it was over and grabbed the first cab outside. It wasn’t just that I’d run out of conversation topics but the whole place made me feel uneasy and when you’re faced with talking to this tragic waste of life, you just feel sick with sadness. Despite this I found myself liking him and feeling alot of sympathy, he had a hell of alot of character to be so positive but I fear he will be inside for a long time.

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Colonic pain…

May 8, 2004

I’ve embarked on a series of robust strategies to cleanse my soul of my numerous demons, my unsound desires, my dodgy clothes sense and an endless list of dubious beliefs in my quest to reach nirvana and divine wisdom. In India I met gurus, so called professional philosophers, palm readers and a whole range of fast taking Hokus Pokus wise guys. None of it seemed to have any affect. I was still in love with Pringles, mullet haircuts, snake skin shoes, junk food, casinos and endless nights on the lash, 20 minutes after arriving back from Delhi I was back on the Koh Sah Road tucking into a hatful of ales with pals having a pop at the local ladyboys walking past, hardly an indicator that I’d cleaned up my act. I had one more ace card to play, maybe I could physically remove my demons? Colonic Irrigition is not for the faint hearted, you may think paying a load of crispy Bart to have a hose plugged up my arse to clean my Colon is another example of reckless misjudgement but it was the last throw of the dice, besides I was curious. Fasting and Colonic Irrigation works like this; by abstaining from solid foods, in my case for 4 days, the body goes into a state of detoxification and sets about expelling years of toxins and poisions and healing itself. Coupled with this is the removal of Stagnant fecal matter in the Colon, years and years of eating crap food and the wrong combinations clogs up the body’s colon with solid mycoid which, according to the gurus causes ailments illnesses and eventually the breakdown of organs and diseases, so daily we go through a colonic to remove all the mycoid. I’m staying at the Wellness Sanctuary Spa, located on Hat Tian Beach beach on Ko Phangang, its a fanatstic place located right on the beach, secluded, very laid back and excellent facilities, restaurant spa and treatments, well worth a visit if you need a get-away-from-it-health-holiday. As soon as I started (today is the second day of 4) I wanted out in major way, no food, no alcohol, no going out boozing just psylium clay shakes, a hatful of health pills everyday and a few fruit shakes, some holiday! But I’ve managed to stick it out. There’s about 8 others doing it at the same time, mainly women, all fairly cool except a couple of wackos, so we all hang out at the Wellness centre during our fasts comparing notes about our various colonic’s and how we’re getting on, some of the conversations are sooooooo funny, never thought I’d be discussing the contents of my turds to complete strangers before arriving here. Physically I felt very nauseus and grogy this morning, apparently a normal sign for ridding toxins and poisions, this afternoon I feel fantastic, my senses are razor sharp and my mind feels slightly elated. Will keep you posted!

Rock Climbing in Krabi

April 25, 2004

I decided to stop off at Ray Leigh beach, in Krabi Province, on the way up to Koh Phangang for a spot of rock climbing. Ray Leigh is acclaimed as the best place in Thailand if not the world for hot shot climbers looking for adventure. My decision to climb proved to be a brutal reminder of the frailities of my body and maybe a sure sign that I’d been in the Sun a little too long. The place is a totally beautiful bay surrounded by sand stone white cliffs, its a mix of resorts on the west beach and the low budget travellers on the East, naturally I was staying in a guest house on the East side with all the other cheap skates. On arrival I signed up with the Krabi climbling school for a morning’s beginners class with a local Thai instructor, known as Spiderman, he advised against 2 days straight and looking me up and down suggested a half day beginnners class, he proved to be right. The first problem was simply hauling my sorry arse off the ground…my arms seemed to muster the energy of a sparow. My technique was floored from the start, spiderman proceeded to bark orders at me as I hung about 3 feet off the ground enveloped in safety ropes and exhaustion. Meanwhile all the other beginners climbers happily leapt up past me like it was climbing a simple ladder to my increasing embarrasement. After struggling for the first hour I did muster some respect by making it to the top of 2 of my 4 ascents which was an achievement given my initial struggles, Spiderman politely congratulated me and I could sense a look in his eyes that he was glad I had decided against further ascents. Rock climbling Ray Leigh is the perfect place to visit, the tuition is excellent and its offers a spectacular variety of differing cliff faces to do it. I would advise more preparation than me particulalry building arm strength before coming out here. There a fair few bars around so I checked out a few ales in the evening with some pals which turned out to be a great night, its generally quite quiet around Krabi now, watched some fantastic fire poise (swinging fire on chains) displays by the locals outside the bar and had a generally wicked craic. Off to Koh Phangang tomorrow.

Volleyball Disaster

April 20, 2004

One of my learnings studying Hypnotherapy and trauma is that unknown fears can unleash themselves from the depths of your subconscious mind at the most unopportune moments….like on the beach. I’d gone to watch my Swiss friend Renate (nothing connected with those 80’s pop muppets Renee and Renate I’m glad to say) to play volleyball on Ko Lanta beach with a motley crew of locals, about 50/50 Thai and Farang (westerners). I turned up to watch, they were short of a player, I couldn’t refuse the request to play. There were 6 players aside, each player marking an area approximately 2 metres square, me covering the back middle, this was unfortunate because I was receiving service. The first attempt to hit the ball was so gallactically appalling that I started to feel a cold sweat creeping up my forehead lurking from the depths of my subconscious. I pretended to my teammates it was a one-off. My second attempt was worse, I got a slight touch to the ball which propelled it like a torpedoe 200 feet at right angles to the court landing on the waves, shit now I could feel the tension and my team mates were starting to give me strange looks. We rotated, I was now at the front of the court, last chance to make ammends, as I tried to block a shot with my hands I somehow managed mishit it and wallop the back of my team mate’s head, like the main dreadheaded-cool-guy… which wasn’t cool. As he rolled around I knew it was time to answer my fears and get substituted., they willingly agreed and to my relief I was off. But its not a reflection of my time here because I’ve had a fantastic 5 days on Ko Lanta, longer than planned, its more chilled out than Koh Phi Phi and the people seem a little older and more relaxed. I’ve been doing loads; snorkling round the islands including Emerald Cave, hired a car with 2 great English girls and went round the island exploring the caves and wildlife and did some fantastic Scuba Diving. I almost suffocated 20 metres down though when a puffer fish looking straight into my mask appeared to have an exactly similar facial features to my brother Chris, serioursly, it really freaked me out, was I dreaming? I almost swallowed my mouth apparatus, I gave chase but the little just legged it off. Chris what are you doing here? I thought to myself.

 I’m heading next to Ray Leigh Island for some climbing and then onto Koh Pang Yang, you won’t find me near a volleyball court! You must visit this isladn if your planning a South Thailand trip, really worth coming here Good night

Koh Phi Phi

April 14, 2004

I’m on the island of Koh Phi Phi on the west side of South Thailand, arrived here 3 days ago from Krabi, I’m having a a really great time, its blistering hot, beautiful and chilled out. I’ve eased off the ales for a couple of days in an effort to get back into doing stuff, there’s an abundance of great things to do; did a 1 day refresher dive course yesterday with Viking Diving, they call it refresher but it was really me starting from scratch but I soon picked it up, it was wicked fun and the other 5 on the trip were great, bought back happy memories of my Aussi adventure in the Barrier Reef 16 years ago, is it really that long ago? I wonder how my old travel buddy Mike Vickary is doing now. The only disappointment was the lack of any sharks and turtles..they all seemed to hide when I got in the water. Today I went on a day trip round the surrounding islands with some people I met last night, lots of snorkling and sunbathing, great fun. I was last here 10 years ago with my brother Paul, we stopped here for a few days after hooking up with Chris and my Dad in Hong Kong, we cained it for 4 days so I hardly remember anything except that my brother was in full throttle party mode. The island is now a full on resort, particularly popular with young beautiful Swedes and an assortment of different travellers, generally I’ve met alot of great people but its not as friendly as other Thailand destinations. The only fright I’ve had was 2 nights ago when I was almost killed by a falling coconut outside my beach hut, was thinking how disappointing my obituary would have been, not eactly a Jim Morrison Hoepfully climbing tomorrow and then over to Ko Lanta, hope you are well.

Khoa San Road

April 2, 2004

I inadvertently made a scientific discovery while playing pool this afternoon in the Irish Bar on the Khao San Road, that Charlie Darwin’s theory of natural selection is seriously floored. If Darwin was to zap down to my pool table today and see the knucklehead Bozo-brain I just played against he’d be astonished to find living empirical proof that natural selection doesn’t always work, that even the dumbest and the unfittest sometimes survive and that the human race is actually capable of evolving backwards towards a kind of hybrid neanderthal ape. And what was that Thai girl doing on his arm? Even hookers can have standards of taste I thought tio myself. I’m not about to reveal his nationality except to say I’ve met better Australians..alot better. In fact I’ve just spent 3 days partying, drinking and laughing loads with 3 excellent Australasians including 2 Kiwi’s, Shaun was the cheekiest bloke I’ve ever met, as well as 2 vivacious Essex girls clare and kate and we were joined by a lovely Ukainian girl who seamlessly blended to make a excellent gang of Khoa San lash heads. Consequently I did nothing since I came back from Hong Kong, except sit by the pool at the D&D guest house, laugh, talk some more and order another round of drinks, I’m starting to wonder if I can ever return to the real world. The vague plan is to head off from Bangkok to Ko Samet for a few days chilling and then head South to Ko Phang Gang, Ko Lanta and anywhere else worth visiting. Goodnight.

Thought of the day; looks like Becks been caught with his pants down in Madrid

Bang Kwang Jail

March 20, 2004

I had one more appointment in Bangkok before returning home. Michael Connell is a 19 year old Mancunian, arrested in November last year attempting to smuggle 3400 Ecstacy tablets in his luggage through Bangkok airport, he was sentenced in March this year to 99 years in jail, as reported by the BBC, narrowly missing the death penalty after pleading guilty in the hope of a lenient sentence. Thaksin Shinwatra (Thai PM) doesn’t like drug dealers. Last year he executed 3000 without trial, some on street corners, an expert in the Pol Pot style of dishing out justice. This policy had extended to increased sentences for drug smugglers and summary execution, his concession was to soften the execution from firing squad to lethal injection. With a couple of free days in Bangkok, I’d emailed the UK Embassy offering to visit any inmates, they’d asked me to meet Michael at the notorious Bang Kwang jail, nicknamed by jailbirds as ‘the Big Tiger’ for its extreme severity, it only holds lifers or death row sentences. Arriving by cab in the Northern district of Bangkok, it looked like an enormous concrete, security everywhere, the guards were the most miserable lowlife I’d ever seen, so much for the ‘land of smiles’ I thought. It was my first time in jail, (well not including the South Carolina penitionary where I spent a rather uncomforatle night 10 years ago after dissing a redneck road cop while speeding down the highway…oops) so I was fairly nervous. I waited anxiously in the designated outdoor meeting area chatting to a English women who knew the ropes as she explained to me how hard the conditions. Michael showed up after a 10 minute wait behind the barbed wire fence dragging his chains, that was awful to see and really freaked me out. He was surprised but very pleased to meet me as I introduced myself, although it was hard to communicate being separated by 2 wire fences and a 5 feet no-mans land between us, you’d have to be a real hi-roller Houdini to get out of this place. The whole thing felt quite sureal. We eventually started to talk which was initially difficult and stilted as sadness and despair ooozed from every pore on his face. Once we started to talk he was remarkably upbeat and we got into a flow; Man United, good books, film, my travels, had he made any friends inside? yes, he’d made a couple of Thai mates and was learning Thai, he then talked about his hopes to have his sentence reduced with a view to getting a transfer and he was fairly convinced of this, I agreed and threw in a couple of positive affirmations, his face literally beamed with conviction and this was the tiny glimmer of hope which was keeping him going. After 45 minutes the bell rung and it was over, he thanked me profusely and I said good luck and made a reference to how good he looked, that was a lie but I think he belived me because he smiledI assured him that I would visit again if I was in town. I left the miserable guard some books, fruit and ciggies for Michael, mightily relieved it was over and grabbed the first cab outside. It wasn’t just that I’d run out of conversation topics but the whole place made me feel uneasy and when you’re faced with talking to this tragic waste of life, you just feel sick with sadness. Despite this I found myself liking him and feeling alot of sympathy, he had a hell of alot of character to be so positive but I fear he will be inside for a long time.

A collection of photographs taken from inside Bang Kwang Jail; http://home.freeuk.net/mounsey/Insides.HTM