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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Falangs in Thailand

Michael J Baird has become well known in Pattaya (and now Thailand) with his most insightful cartoons published in the Pattaya Mail. Four years ago, he was interviewed for the Pattaya Mail and was described as “… often seen walking through the streets of Pattaya with a beatific smile on his face, a straw hat perched jauntily on his head with MJB on the hatband, a small pony tail poking out underneath and the fashionable number three cut greying stubble. Mike is an artist.”
That was four years ago, but he has not changed, although he may be slightly more grey! You can still find Mike most days, just wandering around the streets of Pattaya, watching people and getting the ideas for further cartoons, and he has now collated 100 of them into book form called “Falangs in Thailand, Adult Colored Cartoon Book”.
The difference between this book and other cartoon books is that on the facing page he gives an explanation of how or why the cartoon was done. For example, he writes “I saw this sign offering drinks at ‘Buy one get one free’. But the sign said ‘Ladies Night’ so I thought it meant ‘Buy one lady and you get one free’,” so of course the cartoon has the man with his two ladies saying, “Thailand, there’s no place like it!” The interesting fact with this one is this really did happen. The Henry J Beans outlet on Beach Road did have that sign until the Pattaya Mail published a photograph of it. True!
Mike Baird can also see some the sadder aspects of life in Fun Town, writing, “For some people, life in paradise isn’t so rosy” with the cartoon showing a small child holding on to flower sellers saying “I wanna go to sleep. It’s 3 in the morning.” I think we’ve all seen that one too.
Another very telling vignette has the explanation “What is it that women have, that guys just lose their brains over? If we could bottle it, we could rule the world.” The cartoon facing it is entitled “The urge to self destruct is one of the strongest forces known to man.” The cartoon depicts a drunk at the bar, whilst the text balloons say “I know she’s only 19 but I truly love her. She’s different from the rest.” Plus another saying “She wants a 1,000,000 baht dowry and 20 baht in gold as some sort of commitment.” Unfortunately, this is just so true. You have seen this so many times.
At 450 baht this is a cheap book of laughs. Mike’s latest is available at all Bookazine stores and will provide hours of laughs and guffaws for anyone who knows the bar culture. Newbies who arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport with pockets full of National Health Service supplied ‘willy stiffeners’ should read and digest the meanings behind the cartoons before approaching Walking Street. It is, however, as the title suggests, an ‘adult’ book so there is the more than occasional coarse language, but I believe that even the vicar’s daughter would have heard it all by now anyway!