Saturday, June 30, 2007


Unlike the U.S.A., transsexuals and transgendered people are a visible and accepted part of Thai culture, with the most common types around town known as kàthoeys. I assume this attitude is influenced by Buddhism, a religion which places a high value on tolerance.

Also called ladyboys, kàthoeys were once men (some technically still are) but are living their lives as females. The term "kàthoey" can apply to someone who is just cross-dressing, or others who have had things added or removed to make their transformation complete.

I admit, the sight of a kàthoey can be a bit startling at first, especially when it's at one extreme or the other. Some have done such a remarkable job that for a moment you can catch yourself thinking "Hey that person is kind of hot." Other times, they simply look like one of Dr. Frankenstein's experiments gone terribly wrong. How a total stranger chooses to live their life is really none of my business, so "to each his own."

Generally, I'll see kàthoeys on the skytrain or working behind the cosmetic counter when I walk through the department store. But last week, we went with a group of friends to full-scale kàthoey cabaret, just for kicks.

Located in the Asia Hotel, the Calypso Cabaret was basically a lot of dancing and lip-synching done up in campy style. While the performers may not have had the kind of talent you'll find on the Las Vegas strip, they made up for it with sheer enthusiasm.

The gender-bending performance featured elaborate costumes, fancy set pieces and up-tempo music.

Some of the costumes left little to the imagination, which led me to believe that most of the performers have had the full surgery or at the very least are masters at the art of concealment.

In the middle of the show, they dedicated a few numbers to some of pop culture's most famous divas, including Marilyn Monroe...

Tina Turner...

Josephine Baker...

And Michael Jackson.

Not all of the performers could have passed for females. Some were obviously men in drag and for the most part, provided the comic relief in the show.

What usually happens in a show like this is that a male member in the audience will get singled out by the entertainers on the stage and get playfully harassed throughout the night. Since our seats were in the first and second row, the members of our group were all fearful that we were going to be a target of some unwanted affection. Fortunately, that person wasn't me. Unfortunately for our friend Ron, it was him.

As the night wore on, Ron was constantly serenaded by this particular performer, who had a different outrageous getup every time.

I have to admit, that Ron was a great sport about the whole thing and after the show I think he even exchanged phone numbers with his new "friend." (Just kidding! Ron is a happily married man whose wife Jenny seemed to get a big kick out of his predicament).

All in all, the Calypso Cabaret was a fun time. It's one of those things you should do at least once when visiting (or living in) Bangkok.

Special thanks to our friend Anselm for arranging the evening and supplying some of these photos.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Baan Klang Num II (which means "House in the Middle of the Water II" ) is a popular seafood restaurant with the locals here in Bangkok. It is a bit off the beaten path (on Rama III Road) and therefore not too well known with expats. It is situated on the Chao Phraya River, but further down from famous places like the Grand Palace and Wat Arun.

Recently, we went there with a bunch of friends and had a great time. We had a table right on the River and it was a pleasant, breezy evening and thankfully not as hot and humid as usual.

I don't really care for regular fish, but from what I was told, the river bass was excellent that night.

I do like shellfish and really enjoyed the giant prawns...

However, there wasn't anything really special about the radish carved into the shape of a swan...

One unique item (at least for me) that they had on the menu was ostrich. I never had ostrich before and couldn't pass up the opportunity to at least try it. I'm happy to report that it was delicious.

The combination of a relaxed atmosphere and great food makes Baan Klang Num II an excellent place to hang out with your pals while enjoying a fine meal.

For this reason, I'm dedicating this blog entry to all of the friends I've made here in Bangkok (including those not pictured). Thanks for making this past year a memorable one.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Today (June 22), marks the one-year anniversary of our arrival in Bangkok. Sometimes, it seems like we've been here forever. Others, it feels like the time has just flown by.

To commemorate this momentous occasion, I am posting a bunch of random family images that never really fit into my standard blog entries (the pics don't match the text).

It's kind of weird to think that it's been a whole year since I've set foot on American soil. At times when going through something like this, you kind of step back and think about the daily routines and simple things in life that you take for granted.

With that in mind, it's been one year since I've:

Seen my parents, sister, family and friends.

Worked for "The Man."

Used a garbage disposal.

Seen real snow.

Worn a long-sleeve casual shirt, sweater or outdoor jacket (I've had to put on a dress shirt and suit coat only a handful of times here).

Done yard work.

Driven a car in actual traffic.

Had to turn the heat on at home or use the fireplace.

Watched the Red Wings or Lions on TV.

Pumped gas.

Eaten at Taco Bell, White Castle, Arbys and Wendys.

Swam in a lake.

Attended a sporting event.

Went a day without sweating profusely.

Watched "The Daily Show with John Stewart."

Had to carry around a set of keys.

Celebrated Thanksgiving or Easter (we kind of skipped those holidays last year).

Played poker.

Drank water from the tap.

Gone a whole day without realizing how truly lucky my family and I are to have this experience.