Comments on The Damage Done by Warren Fellows, (12 yrs of Hell in a Bangkok Prison)


I broke down and bought a paperback book last night at a used bookstore. My plan was to go and read as many books that were written about Thailand as they had – and get an idea what kind of writers are out there. I found a couple fiction writers that I liked, but overall I wasn’t excited about anything.

Then I went to the non-fiction side and saw this book that I’d read excerpts of over the years – a couple pages every time I picked it up in a bookstore. I decided last night that the price was right and it’d be good reading for a night. 180 THB for a used copy.

The book “The Damage Done” by Warren Fellows, was really well written. It was a very easy read and descriptive enough that I have a good picture what the guy went through. Well, a good snapshot of it anyway. There were huge parts missing that bothered me by the end – but, no matter. They must not have been important to the guy.

I thought about the heat of the prison. Wouldn’t it be sizzling all year round there? He barely mentioned the heat. I guess one gets used to that pretty quickly. He didn’t mention much about how he went about learning Thai except that he picked up a phrase or two here and there and he’d listen intently when Thais’ spoke.

I’ve been here 3 years and only now can I speak so that everyone understands 90% of what I’m saying… and that’s only in BKK and the South, not in Isaan where the tones still screw me up. Admittedly I’m slow in language acquisition but still I had to try from books for a couple years to really ‘get it’.

He didn’t say much about suicide except that a lot of guys OD’ed on drugs in the prison. Were those suicides for the most part? Surely there must be a couple hundred people per year killing themselves in those huge prisons.

The conditions in the prison were appalling, but they didn’t seem that bad really. He didn’t write much about the good things that happened – the positive things that must have happened, as he wanted to focus on the negative… but there had to be a little more than what he mentioned that kept him and others ‘going’ there for so long. He was there twelve years. Man! That’s a lifetime. No, 5 lifetimes when you spend it without freedom.

He tells a lot about the heroin that’s available within the prison. The same thing that he was trying to bring from Thailand to Australia and that he was sentenced to life for – was available at the prisons to buy. Is that nuts?

What was the Thai guard so angry about – the one who moonlighted as a taxi cab driver in BKK when he wasn’t at the prison? I’d like to know more about what he thought about that. I’ve never seen a cruel Thai person. They must exist… but where are they in general society? I’ve not met any. Sure I don’t dick people around as a rule, so maybe I’ve just been lucky.  I’ve met guys that have been in Thai jails and they seem respectful on the outside. Not angry. Not out to get me or anyone. They seem pretty calm. I’ve not been drinking with them… maybe that has something to do with it.

How many foreign prisoners were in the prison? I’d like to know how many from France, Germany, England, the USA, Canada, Mexico, all over… even Laos, Cambodia, China, etc. There was no mention of any guess at the total numbers but some guys where introduced from various countries as the book went on.

Anyway, overall the book was great reading. I think it took me over two hours to read the two-hundred pages. The book was so well worded that pages flew by. It wasn’t crammed full of extra information that makes reading a Tom Clancy book such an intensive effort. The nice size print on white pages helped quite a bit too. I hate grey type on off-color white pages.

It was just really nice reading about a most tragic experience.

Ok, if you want it – let me know I’ll send it out to you. Update – I don’t have it any longer.

Anybody read “Escape” yet? Richard Barrows told me about that one – and even interviewed the guy that wrote it. I’ve not read it yet.

Did you read THE DAMAGE DONE? What’d you think?

Steve at Thailand Musings Moves to ThaiVisa

My friend Steve over at ThailandMusings.com has moved to ThaiVisa and became part of that network. You can now find Steve’s site in a subdirectory of ThaiVisa.com at thailandmusings.thaivisa.com.

I won’t talk about the details of the move, but just wanted to let you know about it!

Steve hopes it will bring newfound success – and I wish him the best. It’s a gamble for sure, and yet, it seems to make sense because TV surely has the most traffic of any website focused on Thailand except maybe Craigslist. I’m going to say it’s bigger than that too – just guessing.

Steve has been pounding out the amazing content about different locations and hotels in Thailand for the past few months. In addition to that, he has also written some great articles about living in Thailand and topics of concern to Thai expats and visitors.

If you aren’t already reading his blog, you should add it to your RSS feed and become a reader. Personally I think Steve has the right ‘voice’ to be the top blogger in Thailand. Check out ThailandMusings.Thaivisa.com and answer that question yourself.

Cheers,

Vern

Long Term Thailand Visa Overstayers to Spend JAILTIME

Update: Ignore everything I say here. Apparently ThaiVisa or PattayaONE got it wrong, and there is no change to overstay policy or enforcement of it. If you have the 20,000 THB you’ll likely be let through the border – land or airport immigration, and get to where you’re going. If you don’t have the money, you’ll go to jail – immigration center in Bangkok, same as usual.

If you committed a crime in TH or elsewhere and they find that as they check on you before they let you through the border – regardless whether you want to pay the 20K THB, you could be detained, jailed, or deported/blacklisted.

******************

The hammer appears to have dropped on long-term overstayers. No longer will you be able to stay longer than 50 days or so and just hand over your 20,000 THB and be on your merry way.

The new immigration head is implementing mandatory jail time now too!

Is it for real? Watch over the next couple months and see how the reality of it plays out.

Here’s the Thai Visa article that broke the news.

Canadian WHAT?

Major newspapers, magazines online locally here in Thailand, and transnationally across the globe, have a responsibility.

1. Report news that is fair and accurate.

2. Spell shit correctly.

Fox News apparently does neither.

There were a number of GROSS spelling, factual, and syntax errors in one of their recent articles – the entire subject and title of the article was farked from the get-go.

They’re trying to tell us that Canada has FIGHTER JETS! hahahah! Hello??

Canada has fighters? Holy wow, what is the world coming to?

Thailand has more need for an air force and fighter jets than Canada does. I think they should all get back on their horses and jockey those.

Fighter jets! Can you imagine that?

Oh wait, 2nd paragraph – hahah! Canadian Defense Department? Ok, that’s enough – who you kidding? I’m calling for the immediate firing of anyone that worked on this Fox news story.

Canadian Defense? From what?

Here’s the original article ->

These hosers are getting far too serious about nothing they ever have to worry aboot. I don’t think there’s a country on the planet they could defend themselves against anyway… Is Seychelles a country?

Maybe there’s an eskimo threat?

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History of Thailand and MANY Countries – In Nice format – Quick Info

If you ever wanted to know basic facts about any country, or even a bit in-depth – check out this link…

I looked at Thailand and it has some good info. I’ll read later. I’ve been here a while, and the longer I stay the more I want to know more about the history of this country.

Everyone is Asking about “The Book”…

I’ve received a lot of email lately asking about what the book I’m writing is about… I’ll try to explain it here.

I think most regular readers know that I’ve been writing a book over the last couple months that originally was to be about my time in Thailand. I have had some nutty experiences, due to my own nature and curiousity about life… Also due to some mistakes, some grave, that I made both here and abroad.

If I can say one thing about my life, I’ve lived it my way. I’ve done what I wanted to do… I’m not held back by tradition, by guilt, by fear of getting caught. I love to experience new things – and while I don’t consider myself an adrenaline junky, I do think I have this weird desire to always be finding something new going on – to get into, to find out about… to experience.

After I’ve been friends with someone for a while and I’ve opened up a bit about my life and shared some of the experiences I’ve had the person will usually at some point say something like,

“Holy shite, you’ve done more in your life than anyone I’ve ever known…”
or
“You’ve had such an interesting life…”

or something like that. Now, when I heard these things over the years I didn’t really give them much credence. I thought – yeah, everyone has a life kind of similar to mine… we’ve all done things that were a little outrageous, different, odd… we’ve all experienced things just in the course of our lives that were fun, cool, and worth telling others about.

I’ve only recently come to believe that I’ve experienced more of these things than the average person…

Couple that with this uncanny ability to remember like a movie rolling in my head, situations that were funny or fun and I think I might have what it takes to write an interesting book about my life.

So, this book started out as a “vern’s last 3 years of misadventure in thailand” type book. It is now more like,

“Vern’s last 41 years of misadventure…”

Highlights of the book…

– As a 13 year old sitting in a forest for 12 hours in 18 degree (Fahrenheit) windy, snowy weather in Northern Pennsylvania with no food, no way back to the camper… my uncles had forgotten where they dropped me off at 4:30 am that day as we began the first day of doe hunting season.

– Details of my two near death experiences at the hands of Oahu’s wicked surf, once on the North Shore and once on the tamer south shore.

– Marrying a Canadian supermodel, moving from Honolulu to NYC and becoming a Paparazzi photographer.

– Giving 80 year old men with elephantitus of the bollocks in an old folks home anal temperatures… cleaning colostomy bags and rubbing medication on a 94 year old woman’s vaginal lips that were red and chaffed.

– A shark grabbed a large trout I caught while wade-fishing in Florida. I had wrapped the stringer line around my then girlfriend who was pulled by her neck into me as the shark knocked me sideways pulling us both. We were just able to get the stringer off her neck in time…

– Losing a poisonous copperhead snake in mom’s yard.

– Driving in the Presidential motorcade.

– Bizarre meditation experiences in which I thought there was a very distinct possibility that I was losing my mind… (later found out I was losing my mind, my ego… but that it was a good thing – not a bad thing…)

– Drinking underneath the kitchen of a very popular bar in my small hometown with my team mates from my soccer club. We ordered steak sandwiches, french fries and drank quarts of beer on a tab… This had been going on for scores of years before we got there. Oh – I was 13 years old.

– Stealing garbage bags full of pot (marijuana) from a local dealer, cutting down each plant with a pocket knife and stuffing it into the hefty garbage bag.

– Riding across a bridge full of holes on my bmx bike as it was under contstruction and closed to all traffic, falling and slicing my hand open, requiring many stitches.

– Having a knife held to my throat as a 7 year old that wouldn’t give one of the local bullies a ride on my bike.

– Stealing the family car, crashing it, fixing it and getting it back home before anyone knew what happened.

– Stealing a case of Molson Golden from a neighbor’s porch, drinking it and getting violently ill (at 12 yrs).

– Being threatened by Woody Allen as my friend homed in on us with his zoom lens from across the street (New York City, East side)

– Finding a dead man in the alley close to where I lived in New York.

– Being interviewed by the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations as a possible spy for Russia.

– Losing 250,000 Thai baht in Thailand as a result of extortion from various officials – don’t want to say more for now…

– Eating what was supposed to be a thoroughly COOKED scorpion and ending up in the hospital with breathing and heart problems.

– Dying on the floor of my apartment in St. Petersburg, Florida after an allergic reaction to Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup caused my usually absent asthma to kick into high gear, leaving me passed out on the doorstep of the apartment clutching the phone as the 911 operator tried to get more information…

– Talking to John F. Kennedy, Jr.

– Being threatened by Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick

– Publishing photos in NY Daily News, New York Post, People and Globe Magazines…

– Seeing Iman’s new breasts at a photo shoot. Other insight into top model’s lives…

– Meeting David Byrne in Central Park

– Meeting Robin Williams in Central Park

– Arriving just after an elderly man pushed his wife out of the way of a NYC bus and, in doing so was run over and decapitated by the bus…

– Doing a photo shoot with Miss America

– Dinner with Bruce Willis

– Winning the Stock Market Game as a high school senior and flying to NYC first class to have a tour of Wall Street and the Stock Exchange.

Stuff like this. I’ve left out maybe 50 more things that are in the book that make it nice reading as well. I try hard not to put stories in the book that are only funny to me and my family, because I have LOTS of those and you’d bore of them eventually.

Most biographies have a general underlying theme about the life of the person being chronicled… for this book, the general theme is the variety of experiences that I’ve had over the course of my life. Some happened to me and some happened because of me.

I think it will be a really good read… I’ve got 120,000 words finished now and I still haven’t written about my time working in the mental health system with a woman that drown her 2 kids, the young guy that had over 200 personalities that killed his landlord and his wife with a hatchet and burned their house down… the guy who was reliving killing himself over and over and over… my schizophrenic aunt that told me jesus was on her left shoulder and the devil on her right and they were both giving her advice…

I didn’t write about the time I was trapped in my office with two teenage boys with major mental health issues that wanted to avenge some wrong they felt I caused them… I was searching the office for weapons I could use to put through their eyes before they killed me.

I didn’t write about the time the chair came flying through the window of the office in the early morning hours (2 am?) as I relaxed for what was supposed to be a quiet night at the supervised apartments facility for mentally challenged individuals.

I didn’t yet write about working with a spam king to help him send 3 billion emails per month.

I didn’t write about the mentally insane guy in New York that was telling me he was Jesus Christ and who had burned stigmata into his feet with a lighter I guess… Years later I saw his photo in a newspaper as having pushed a woman to her death in front of a NYC subway train.

There are many things that won’t get told, but the ones that I do share in the book should make the book interesting and hopefully successful on some level.

I’ll try find a publisher in NYC or Chicago and see how that goes.

If I can’t find a publisher for the book I’ll release it as an ebook – for free on this site and the www.thaipulse.com site and I’ll make it interactive with photos, maps, videos, everything possible so you can see the background media to get a better idea what each story is about…

Books are SO limited in what they can give… most give just words. Word stories are nice, but having it backed up with color photos, wav clips, Videos, Google Maps, Google Earth shots, songs, whatever, would make the stories come alive a lot more.

So, I’ll try for a book publishing first and if just nobody interested, I’ll go the online route…

So, that’s what the book is about…

I’ve got so many stories that I’m trying to pick and choose which to keep in the book and which to toss.

If anyone knows someone that can edit a book (American preferably) and would like to do it just to get the credit in the book once it’s published – please let me know. I don’t have $ to pay an editor unfortunately and if I don’t find one I’ll rely on my sister to do it… she has a degree in English Lit – she can edit a book, yes? Lol – we’ll see…

Learn the Thai Alphabet in 1-Hour! – groundbreaking system gives you the easiest, fastest method to learn the difficult Thai Alphabet in a fraction of time it takes everyone else. Not a joke! It seriously works – I’ve reviewed this book.

Cleansed – a fiction novel set in Patong Beach. Vigilante justice.

Living in Thailand – What is it like to live in Thailand? Could you do it? Follow one man’s journey.

Moving to Thailand – What is involved in moving across the globe to live in Thailand? What is it like? All your questions answered.

The Ultimate Guide to Teaching in Thailand – There have been a couple attempts at books that cover this subject. We have reviewed them and found them seriously lacking. Here is a very complete book on the subject.

25 Ways to Make Money in Thailand without Teaching – Many come to teach and find out after a semester or a year that it just isn’t what they want to be doing. Thailand’s great cost of living means there are any number of ways to earn a sustainable living. Learn 25 ways to accomplish this online.

Joys Thai Food Recipes – Joy’s 50 best, 100% authentic Thai recipes. A classic!

Joys Thai Dessert Recipes – Joy’s TOP 20 Thai dessert recipes. A must have!

ThaiPulse! is “Blog of the Month” at Thailand Voice Network

I received an email from Richard Barrow the other day saying that he was thinking of making my ThaiPulse! blog the blog of the month since he really liked what he was seeing.

That’s great news!

I had become aware of Richard’s network of Thailand blogs and web sites a while back and I enjoyed his writing style and photography. They even have videos!

Yesterday I was reading more about their network and found that they actually have 98 domain names and have developed about half of those into Thailand sites! I had no idea! You probably have read many articles on their network and not even known, as not all of the sites carry the same name or network name.

Over the months I’ve linked articles both from this blog and from my main site, ThaiPulse! Thailand Travel Blog Network to articles that Richard has written or that others in his network have written. I think Thailand Voice is a quality site and worth checking out!

Have a look!

Thailand Voice

4 Books to Read on Vacation in Thailand!

I don’t read books much anymore, but spending a lot of time on the trains and buses over the course of my time traveling around Thailand I picked some used books up just to stave off the boredom that builds up on a 12 hour trip. I don’t have an IPod video gadget and my laptop battery is done in 90 minutes to 2 hours depending what I’m doing.

Books don’t need batteries. The following books are the ones I really recommend.

I never read books in their entirety. When I hit a spot that the book starts to get boring or is about something I could give a yank about, I skip it. Sometimes I skip whole chapters, sometimes I skip the whole middle of a book! With this list of books I skipped very little. In fact, I think only the Girls, Guns, and ganga did I skip anything at all.

Read these!

Books about Asia that were good…

Girls, Guns, and Ganga…
A free-flowing book that got me to identify with this guy’s easy going lifestyle… but he was wrecked on drugs a lot of the time!

The Bangkok Hilton –

Story of a girl from England that was put in jail in Thailand and England for a long, long time for attempting to transport drugs country to country. This one is a sad story that is about a serious mistake and loss of freedom for so many years… If I’m mistaken about the title of this one let me know – I read two about westerners that were in jail here – one was an English girl – and that’s the book I liked… there was another one – and I hope I’m not confusing them…!

Books about Asia that i’ve read recently that ripped my heart out..

The Sorrow of War – Bao Ninh

This one is from the perspective of a guy in the Vietnam war… the part about him having a girl that he loved and that loved him at the beginning and what that turned into – and then what happened at the very end as it’s revealed is farking heartbreaking and takes “sick” to a new level…

The Sorrow of War
Bao Ninh
[translated from the Vietnamese]
Minerva 1994

Bao Ninh’s The Sorrow of War is a powerful Vietnam war novellete. Sometimes there is difficulty understanding from which perspective it’s being written – and that’s cool! Kien, is the writer. The story jumps backward and forward in time between the events. Kien looks at the whole timeline of his life, but the majority is on the events of the war – from his perspective.

3 September 1995

First they killed my father…

This is a story about the Cambodian Kmer Dynasty nightmare. Just ridiculous the amount of hell that the Cambodians endured for not really understanding what was going to happen to them or why it was happening. This one tells the story from a little girl’s perspective. Her family is forced to work on the farm and she is one tough little girl – but it kills you to know that she is so tough at this very young age…

Here are some other books at ThailandeBooks.com you should check out – readable on iPhone, Blackberry, Mac, PC, etc…

Learn the Thai Alphabet in 1-Hour! – the easiest way to learn the Thai Alphabet.

Cleansed vigilante fiction set in Patong Beach by Mike Fook.

Living in Thailand are you relocating to Thailand? What will your move be like? Find out here before you move.

Moving to Thailand relocating to Thailand.

The Ultimate Guide to Teaching in Thailand Finally a book that covers everything!

25 Ways to Make Money in Thailand without Teaching Teaching works for some, but for most? Nah, they tire of it or don’t try it in the first place. Here are other ways to make cash while in Thailand.

Joys Thai Food Recipes Joy’s 50 best, 100% authentic Thai recipes. A classic!

Joys Thai Dessert Recipes Joy’s TOP 20 Thai dessert recipes. A must have!