Monday 16 April 2012

I am a Lucky Man. Water Fights!

Water Fights (Songkran)

Happy new year everyone, happy Thai new year that is. The Songkran Festival runs every year between the 13th -15th of April to celebrate the new year and is basically just a whole country turning into one massive water fight.

Songkran is a big deal in Thailand, their most important holiday. It is to the Thais what Christmas is to most western countries. People go back to their home towns to visit their families, exchange gifts and enjoy grand meals.

Traditionally the Thais would wash Buddha statues at this time of the year and use the 'holy' water to splash on people as a show of respect. Just like Christmas has turned into something more awesome that the traditional holiday, Songkran has degenerated into massive water fights and people roaming the streets with water guns soaking everyone. Awesome!

It is impossible not to get caught up in it, it's everywhere. You simply cannot walk down any street without getting soaked. Every house or shop has someone sitting outside with a hose or buckets of water.
Kids sit in the back of pickup trucks while someone drives them around and they drench pedestrians and throw mentholated chalk at them. It's madness and everyone from little girls to old men are involved.

There were big organised parties, with designated water fight areas that were epic. Especially the one at Siam Square that was mostly teenagers. They have lots of re-fill stations for your buckets and water guns so it was just endless water fighting for hours and hours. I would have loved this when I was a kid. What am I saying, I still love it!

The funniest thing about Songkran is all the western tourists who have no idea what is going on. Particularly the older ones. They are easy to spot because they are walking around in nice clothes, because yeeeeah that's a great idea when everyone is throwing water and chalk around. I got the best reactions when attacking these marks, including a very angry husband who was less than amused at me spraying his well dressed middle aged wifey in the face as they departed from a posh hotel. Money shot beeeeyatch.

I saw a Muslim girl, wearing a hijab and nice clothes get out of a taxi outside Platinum Fashion Mall and was walking to the entrance (a distance of about 15 meters) when this fat beast of a Thai woman with a huge shit-eating grin on her face dumped a basin of murky water over her. The girl was visible shocked and upset, but the Thai woman didn't seem to care. Everyone is fair game to be soaked during Songkran.

Lucky Man

Over the last year living in Bangkok I must have been approached at least 10 times by smartly dressed Indian gentlemen that say some crap like "You have a lucky face" or "I can see you are a very lucky man". I wasn't quite sure what their scam was, since I've always told them to fuck off before I find out.

It happened again the other day. Some fat bastard in a suit, outside in the 40c heat, walked up to me and straight out told me "oh sir, I am glad to see you, you have a very lucky face.". I told him that if I was lucky I wouldn't have some piece of shit talking to me right now and to go fuck himself. This time the guy got really offended and angry, as if I was the one in the wrong or something.

I didn't know what their scam was but was so sure they were scammers that I had total confidence in verbally abusing the guy who approached me. As soon as I got home I did some research online, by typing "lucky face indian scam" into google and getting 10 million hits. Here is a good thread about it on the Thai Visa forums.

It turns out that this is some sort of fortune telling scam that has been going on for years. Amazing that people actually fall for this crap and hand over hundreds of dollars. I guess they target me as what they perceive is a gullible, rich looking tourist. They apparently even target people of faith by hanging outside churches. I guess I fit their profile of a stupid looking tourist so it must surprise them when they recieve a mouthful of abuse from an atheist who lives here and can smell a scamtard a mile away.

I can't wait to meet one of these clowns again. I am going to snap a picture of them with my phone and confidently tell them that I, myself, am a fortune teller. That I see a grim future for them. It involves me giving their photo to my friends at Lumphini police station and them being deported back to India.

As far as scams go Bangkok is pretty safe for the most part. If you just ignore anyone that approaches you will be fine. Even in the tourist areas you don't get approached as much as most other countries I can think of. I remember my trips to Egypt when the shopkeepers and beggers hassle tourists like flies around shit.

The most common scam I can think of here in Bangkok are the taxis who wait outside hotels and try to charge tourists 4-5x the meter as a fixed price. They also double as touts for massage parlours that charge 4-5x the standard price and try to take tourists on unwanted tours of Indian suit shops and precious gem scam shops. Avoid these piece of shit taxis and you avoid most scams.

There are legit taxis absolutely everywhere in Bangkok 24/7 and it's illegal for them not to use their meter, which is insanely cheap. It's so easy to flag down a fair, honest taxi that you don't need to deal with some bastard parked outside a hotel waiting for a victim. A motto I always stick by, in any country I travel is that 'I choose the taxi, the taxi never chooses me.'.


You may have read my previous blog about an unidentified critter living in my apartment. It evaded me for a further 3 weeks until one day I woke up at 4am and caught the little bastard in my shower. It was a tiny little gecko lizard.

My first thoughts were "thank fuck it's not a cockroach or spider", followed by "but I'm still scared".

I couldn't get near the wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie, because he was so fast and sneaky, so I ended up having to call security (embarassing). Security man, at 5am, caught the gecko alive and I tipped him 100 baht so everyone ended up happy, even the gecko.

A week later I noticed something sort of blocking the drain in the shower. It was the gecko's tail, ewwwwwwww. Apparently they drop their tails to fake out their attacker.


The cinema offerings in Thailand have been really crap recently. It is mainly due to floods at the end of last year, they held off releasing a lot of the new Thai movies and are releasing them all now. So there isn't much room for English language / Hollywood movies. The only thing that looked watch-able recently was The Hunger Games, which I enjoyed but I'm sure you nerds out there are going to tell me that "the book is way better". Books, really? What, do I look like a nerd or something? A movie takes me 2 hours to watch, a book on the other hand takes me 1 month with my attention span. Therefore every movie is automatically better than the book.

There is a new poker documentary out now that has been getting some real good reviews. It's called All In: The Poker Movie. It's showing in a few cinemas in the states but most of us will have to wait for the digital download to be released on Aptil 24th at their website

The poker documentary I am most looking forward to though is 'BOOM: The Incredible True Story of Online Poker' which has been in production for 4+ years and is directed by Ryan Firpo ('Busto to Robusto' and Team Online short films). Just like 'All In', it was due to be released last year but since Black Friday has changed the story of Online Poker it has had to be heavily re-edited to be up to date and relevant. There's no official release date but it is due to be released this year.

Being produced this year and released in 2013 is 'Runner, Runner'. A high stakes online gambling movie starring Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck. There is very little information about the movie right now, other than that it is has been written by the writers of 'Rounders', so certainly a movie to be excited about.


I got a lot of good feedback related to my last blog post, about ZOOM poker. The largest poker website in Russia, Gypsy Team, even translated my writing into Russian and made it a feature article on their site, which is a huge compliment.

I am considering doing more of the player interviews since the previous ones I did were almost universally liked. They are a lot of work to produce though. I have massive amounts of respect for the guys that do regular podcasts. I doubt that most people appreciate how much planning, research, editing etc. hours go into such things.

I still get a lot of people asking me to make more comedy video blogs. This was always the most fun part of the blog for me but I am on the fence about doing more of them. So many people just don't get the joke and take them seriously, and I get a lot of nasty comments and emails.

Daniel Negreanu tweeted jokingly the other day about how he was watching some cosmetic surgery TV show and that he has now decided that he will be getting triceps implants, botox for his elbow skin and laser hair removal on his toes. 90% of the replies he got were from people who took his comments dead seriously and were calling him out on it. Just amazing that so many people are so ridiculously humourless and downright stupid. Having said that - the more downright stupid people that want to get into poker the better!


  1. The geckos are good luck. Plus they eat flies, spiders, mosquitos, and just about anything else they can catch. The only downside is listening to

    Tooooooook toooooook toooooookay

    all night :-)

  2. He didn't even make a noise like that, that's how he managed to live in my place so long without me finding him I guess.

    Real crafty, sneaky little things they are.

  3. Dale, make the vids for the 10%. The rest can piss off.

  4. Hi Dale, I'm also from Britain and I have considered living in Thailand for a year or more whilst playing poker. Could you link me to some information on the Thai visa system for 1+ year visits? What I have found so far has been sketchy and ambiguous. Thanks.

    1. A tourist visa can only be max 60 days (extendable to 90 days for 40 quid and a visit to immigration centre).

      If you want a 1 year visa your only real option is an ED visa (education visa). So you will have to study something at international university of a Thai language school, and apply for the visa through them.

      With the tourists visas you can keep leaving and getting another one at a Thai embassy in cambodia or malaysia every 90 days.

    2. Thanks, that's clearer now! I guess they review case-by-case to decide if a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc... tourist visa will be issued.

      Is it a pain in the ass getting another 90-day visa? Do you think it's likely that one of your visa renewals will eventually be turned-down? - One of my biggest concerns with moving to Thailand!


    3. It's a pain in the ass getting a new Visa. The easiest way I've done it is to fly to Kuala Lumpur. The embassy only accepts applications 9am-midday and then pickups after lunchtime. No flights arrive early enough to apply the same day you fly in. So you much fly in, stay one night, apply, stay a second night, pick up and fly back to Thailand. So cost of return flights, 2 nights in a hotel, 40 quid for 60 day visa, another 40 quid to get it extended by 30 days back in Thailand.

      Have also done bus trips to Cambodia but they are purposely making it more difficult to get visas from here and the last time I ended up having to stay 4 nights instead of 2.

      There's almost no chance they refuse you a visa if you have less than 6 previous Thai tourist visas in your passport. Just make sure you don't overstay on any of them.

  5. Thanks man, that's really helpful. The reality is that getting a tourist Visa will cost about 800 pounds and take up 8 days for travel, per year. It's a relief to hear I should be able to plan an 18 month trip without much worry about Visa renewals.

    All the best.