A Guest of El Chang

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

"A Guest in El Chang"


Chapter 1

I had arrived in Thailand as a young 25-year-old to teach English for a year but had soon made myself at home, married and had a kid. The years passed by and I settled comfortably into life in the middle-class slums of Samut Prakan.

It was early 2020 when news of the COVID virus hit the golden beaches and shining temple rooves/roofs/tops of the buildings of Thailand.

My 3rd wife, Lek. A golden-skinned, brown-haired maiden, 10 years younger than myself assured me it was nothing to worry about. Mai pen Rai (that's Thai for stop asking about it) she would purr in her soft Isaan accent. Her pert, clammy breasts glistening in the midday sun as she gave her favourite brother in law a massage.

"Mai pen Rai my arse" I grumbled to myself over a cool, refreshing swig of my favourite Hanoi Beer (available from all good pubs). "I'm going to ask her again".

And I did.

This time her reaction was one of shock and sadness.

The virus had hit Thailand like a young male Red Bull heir hits a policeman. Overnight life changed. I couldn't get a fucking beer anywhere.

The government had banned alcohol and my life went into an out of control spin, also like a Red Bulk heir.

A few weeks had passed and Lek, fed up of my newfound straight edge lifestyle and joy for sober life, had arranged for me to pick up some boxes of illicit beer from someone her brother knows.

It wasn't until the policeman stepped out of the shadows and waved my car down on the end of Soi LaSalle that I knew I had been set up.

I was hurriedly pushed into a back of a truck, my cries of "gin alai Ka" fell on deaf ears. Not even my Thai language skills could save me now.

I prayed for the first time since the last time I fucked up.

I spent 2 days in a disgusting, damp cell. Lek wasn't answering her phone and incredibly they'd never heard of my uncle-in-law who was a high up policeman just outside of Bangkok.


It was a typical sunny morning when I heard I was going to El Chang.

I didn't cry because I'm a double hard bastard but if I was soft, like you, I would have done. I would have cried a lot because El Chang is the last place you want to find yourself.


Loosely translated, El Chang means Big Buffalo. I was off to the Big Buffalo for 30 years.




Chapter 2: Wellcome to El Chang

I was pushed and shoved through the gates of El Chang. The jeers and cries of the inmates deafening. The only noise louder than the working class racket was the sound of my heart beating and my deep, asthmatic breathing (because I was scared).

Walking into the packed jail cell. Full of society's hardest criminals eyeing up the latest piece of meat, I don't mind admitting, I was a bit nervous.

Silently, I cursed myself for my boyish good looks and for not taking the nail varnish off when I had the chance.


They have fucking rice for breakfast, lunch and tea.

Fucking animals.

You see these Hollywood prison movies on the TV and they say to fight the biggest, baddest guy you see so that the rest respect you. Let me tell you this. This is Hollywood bollocks. He's going to hit you, very fucking hard and it's going to hurt.

After finding a small spot on the grimy, dirty floor I took a deep breath and picked out the smallest, easiest guy to beat up. I wasn't going to be everyone's bitch.

He was cowering over near the toilets, skinny like something really thin and with tears in his eyes. Now was my chance.

The 1st was straight on the nose, the 2nd and 3rd were hooks to the temples before he carried on the beating and kicked me repeatedly in the stomach.

At least I had a space near the toilet now.  Which was handy because I had shit myself during the beating.

Every morning the guards would blow a whistle really loudly to wake you up. Not that you got much sleep. After 3 days of sleeping next to an overweight, sweaty thug who farted in his sleep, I had almost completely forgiven Lek for setting me up. Besides I had found love in the darkest of places. Her name was Nok, one of Thailand's famous ladyboys.

Her long black hair swaying every time the fan blew past, and her perfectly round, heaving, plastic breasts taking your eyes off the 5 o clock shadow from her muscular chin.

She had the legs of an Olympic bike rider, and unfortunately the attitude to match.

I was head over heels in love, absolutely infatuated by her tits and by some miracle, she felt the same. It wasn't the money she wanted, because I only gave her 5000 Thai Baht a week. It was love. True love

My world caved in when she left me. Two weeks after my parents stopped sending money (totally unrelated) we had a small misunderstanding and she dumped me. I fell into a dark, dangerous place.

I was depressed, skinny and riddled with disease. I'd barely eat two spoons of putrid rice every day. You could see my bones. They were everywhere. All over my body. My ribs, arms, even my feet had bones.


Then one day 'Big Mafia' came up to me and asked me to join their Muay Thai gym.

Muay Thai is the ancient Thai art of kicking the shit out of someone. It literally translates as Muay = 'kicking the living shit' and Thai = 'Someone'.

After training with the Muay Thai lads I started to feel better and ate more. I soon got my natural strength back, and not because I'm weak or anything.

It felt like the Thai inmates had finally accepted me. I'd proved I was a survivor and I'd moved up the prison pecking order.

Unfortunately, this made some of the other farang (farang means Strong White Man in Thai) prisoners jealous. They'd mock me by saying I was only invited to the gym because the Thais liked kicking the shit out of me and seeing me cry (which never happened and you can't prove it).

But I didn't let it bother me, and to be honest I didn't much like them anyway. The cunts.

The rest of my time passed slowly and without incident. It was terrible, obviously. My book contract states I have to make that clear. Very harrowing. Awful.

I remember it perfectly clearly. It was May the 5th, or 6th. Actually, it might have been April. About 9 am, or 6 pm, something like that. When news came in about a King's Pardon. There was a buzz around the prison, and it wasn't just the mosquitos. Some of us might get out of here.

In the words of the great Ska Punk Philosophers, Sublime.

"April 26th, 1992

There was a riot on the streets

Tell me where were you?

You were sittin' home watchin' your TV

While I was participating in some anarchy".

Taking into consideration time differences and such, as American musician Bradley Knowell penned those very lyrics I was walking out of El Chang as a free man.

And it wasn't 1992 I was released because I think I was imprisoned in 2020. I can't remember what I said now.

Now, 10 years later (ignore these time inconsistencies, we can tidy them up before I publish), I'm sat here in my house in Samut Prakan with a beautiful wife and a 13-year-old kid. I'm back teaching again, mostly thanks to laxidasical background checks.

Would I change anything if I had my time again? Of course, I made mistakes but you have to live with no regrets.

Otherwise, as the old Thai saying goes. "you're just a buffalo in a somtam stall".



Submitted: September 28, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Somchai the Dog. All rights reserved.

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