Where do stolen Japanese bikes go? ????????????????

Well, many of them end up in Thailand:
One of two bicycle stores in town selling only stolen bikes from Japan that we visited this week (we’re looking for a Japanese-style child seat). This shop is the bigger one and has perhaps 50 bikes in stock. They park the merch on the dirt in front of the shop (a townhouse across from Big C Mahasarakham) during the day.
Anybody in Japan want to call Mr. Makino and tell him where his mountain bike is? He can have it back for 3,500 Baht plus shipping. I should get an award from the police or something for doing their jobs.
It’s been a long trip from Yamazaki.
A Saitama mama(chari).
Another defector from Saitama.
From what I could see, the majority of bicycles were from Saitama, Aichi, and Osaka, but seeing the registration stickers (sorry – officially they’re known as “Anti-theft Registration Decals”; LOLZR) is a bit like reading all the passing license plates when on a road trip in Nippon – a smattering of place names that either bring back memories or inspire further wanderings.
I saved the best for last; this bike has an intact warning issued by the bicycle parking enforcers that this bike is parked illegally and will be taken away… It doesn’t specifically say that Osaka city workers will load it on a flatbed and that it will eventually end up for sale (2,500 Baht) in Northeast Thailand, but hey – times are tough all over and at least someone got something out of it.
This is by no means a new trend overall, but it’s interesting that there’s such a number of these stolen bikes here now for there to be ample supply even hundreds (thousands?) of miles away from their port of entry. It’s also the same for motorcycles here. Sometimes you come across these shops where they sell big rice burners that all start with a screwdriver because their ignitions have been pulled.
I apologize for my photos being so blurry. I was holding squirming baby and trying to take photos discreetly. I actually really want to find out where these bikes are sourced from, but somewhere down the supply chain the answer is “bad people,” so I’ll perhaps go ask sometime with a savvy Thai pal.


A classic Kids in the Hall sketch. Alouette is actually a pretty morbid song by modern standards:
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai
Je te plumerai…

Little skylark, lovely little skylark
Little lark, I will pluck your feathers off
I’ll pluck the feathers off your…

At least there’s no equivalent song about the ortolan.

Cooling down period

I had to be extra careful for the past day or so because little problems started popping up in the same 24 hour period, and I took them as signs from James Brown in the sky that I had to be careful not to freak the funk. There were four signs in total:

  1. Yesterday, I noticed a wasp’s nest on a sapling in our front yard when I got home and immediately thought to spray it with insecticide, but decided to be nice and refrained from doing so. Later, when I was watering the yard with the hose in one hand and Max on the other arm, I must have sprayed the nest when we were standing next to the sapling in question. I saw a quick flash of yellow and black, and reflexively batted it out of my face, but not before the little bastard stung me on the bridge of my nose. I tried to ignore the quickly spreading pain as I tried to determine whether Max was crying because I ‘d swung him around to ward off any wasps on him or because he’d been stung. It took me a minute to take him inside the house and inspect the exposed parts of his body and by that time he had stopped crying. The intensity of the pain on my nose was getting worrisome and I readied my phone so that I could call Nam (who was coming home a bit late from work) with the push of the send button in case I blacked out or something… But then the pain peaked and I knew I would be OK. Max was playing with toys inside so I took the opportunity to run outside with a can of mosquito spray and completely soak the nest and chase off the angry guardians. Then I set it on fire with a can of WD-40. Then I knocked it off the branch and ground it into the driveway, crushing all the gross little green larvae into paste. Then I set the crushed remains on fire with a splash of gasoline. I would have finished by pissing on the smoking remains, but there were people passing by on the street… PAYBACK’S A BITCH, BUGS!
  2. After getting stung on the nose, I hung out with the baby and waited until mommy got home. I took Max to the shower, and he took a huge dump in his plastic bathtub while playing with every single toothbrush in the house. So I found out about it by noticing brown lumps floating next to all the pretty red, blue, and other brilliantly colored toothbrushes. OK this is standard baby protocol – clean him first, call mommy to get him out. Now I’m left with a tub filled with tepid water, ten toothbrushes, and huge lumps of dookie, some of them of the floating variety, but some solid sinkers as well. It occurred to me that this cleanup was going to require getting my hands dirty when conveying poopie into the toilet. So yes, for the first time in my life (that I can remember at least), I held dookie in my bare hand. Since it was already there and disgusting (but somehow not so disgusting since he’s still a baby – baby’s make everything better), I decided I would give it a squeeze between my fingers. All I can say is, he needs more fiber. Oh and also, I’m really happy he didn’t have corn for breakfast.
  3. Today I woke up an hour early to get to school early so I could prepare for my first class. Instead, that hour was spent getting two more signs from JB in the sky. First up, my rear left tire was totally flat. Not much to say there because I buy used tires for my old car and stuff like this just happens all the time – and I actually enjoy changing flats. But this sign led me to believe it would be prudent to watch for a more serious happening so I decided that an ounce of prevention…
  4. Would end up with me immediately receiving another sign. I decided to check fluid levels after changing to the spare tire and popped the hood… As I touched the radiator cap, the screw holding my glasses’ frames together came loose and the frames popped apart, ejecting my right lens on to the driveway. The tiny screw was just gone. I had to run inside and find my back up pair of glasses, which has chipped lenses (baby accident).

So after all of these signs, I decided to play it cool today and not go anywhere unnecessarily. We made dinner at home and didn’t go out shopping… Just had a nice, quiet evening. Tomorrow is a new day.

Sunday Drive

Last Sunday we took a family drive around the outskirts of town and ended up at some sluice gates we always see from the highway. They are adjacent to the parking lot of what may still be a popular outdoor live house called Amazon Park. The sky was perfect and Max fell asleep as I coaxed our trusty sedan over muddy back roads usually used only by gravel trucks and water buffalo.

Thai funerals are chill

I went to a funeral over the weekend; a coworker lost her father.
I always find it remarkable at funerals here because they’re such pleasant affairs. Is this a Theravada thing, or a uniquely Thai thing? I suspect Laos is much the same but I’m not sure about Cambodia, Myanmar, or Sri Lanka…
At a typical Thai funeral (I’ve actually been to around fifteen and driven by hundreds), blue canvas pavilions are rented and placed in the street in front of the house for guests to sit under. Monks come from a local temple and their amplified chants fill the streets for all to hear. This is one social occasion when people generally arrive on time, so they can be there to offer prayers and light joss sticks in front of the coffin and photos of the deceased inside the house.
The family of the deceased doesn’t cry or even seem overly distressed. It’s the strangest thing coming from countries where people cry at funerals to one where they don’t. At first it feels like something’s missing. Then people sit down at tables, food and booze is served, and the transition from funeral to wake transitions so smoothly they can hardly be classified as separate functions (and indeed, they aren’t here).
A man at my university lost his son to the Nam Chi (river) a few months ago. The boy had been gathering shellfish on the banks with his friends, but got swept out in the strong currrent. His friend tried to save him and they both drowned. Tragic, right? It made me really sad just hearing about it at the funeral from the father, but I noticed how matter-of-factly everyone around me accepted this information, so I acted the same way. My normal reaction would be to try and console, or express regret, or…. I realized at that moment that it’s kind of better this way. I mean, the situation is obvious. Everybody feels crappy that it happened, but no lamenting or carrying on at the funeral is going to change a thing. If you don’t need the release of crying and being patted on the back being told its going to be alright, there’s really no reason for it, is there?
I don’t know if I’ve done the wonderfully natural and sincere atmosphere at Thai funerals any justice here; it’s quite hard to describe. I feel that a lot of what people attach to death back home is, quite frankly, bullshit. I’m just saying it’s nice to attend a funeral where all of that is absent.