DTAC International Roaming

If you are planning to visit Japan from Thailand and haven’t been suckered into buying an eSIM yet, I highly recommend buying a roaming package from DTAC/TRUE (AIS also has similar plans, but I haven’t tried them). The main reason is that it’s much cheaper, but also because I saw many travelers struggling with SIM cards/eSIMs purchased from both vending machines in Japan and online. In the space of one week, I saw at least five people complaining about weak coverage or spotty connectivity.

The DTAC package we chose also came with free travel insurance for a week, which is great, but very difficult to actually find on the DTAC site/mobile app. The DTAC site now directs through the TRUE roaming website (because of the merger last year), but I’m leaving this reference here because we have students going to Japan later this month.

This is the package we chose for a ten day trip, which probably has enough data if you’re not addicted to TikTok (hint, hint, daughter):

And this is what you need to click on to begin the process of registration for the free health insurance from Dhipaya Co. The process will include registering your phone number, filling out online forms, and running a special USSD code.

The graphics for the roaming packages also have English translations, but the insurance one does not. I’m not sure if the insurance is intended mainly for Thai nationals or not, but it accepted the ID number from my pink Thai ID card (it did not accept my passport number).

IMPORTANT NOTE #1: One thing to look out for regarding the insurance is that the coverage is only for a week, and it starts on the day you register for it. So you should register it just before you depart from Thailand.

IMPORTANT NOTE #2: You have to apply for the roaming packages within Thailand.

Once you land, the international roaming should activate automatically. If it does not, you can try switching the Roaming setting on your phone on and off. The coverage in Japan is provided by several carriers. In Osaka, it seemed to mostly be the KDDI network. On the train from Nara, I saw it switch to other networks (maybe DoCoMo or SoftBank – I was sleepy and reminiscing on salaryman/bartender train rides between Tenri and Miyakojima).

Raw Liver at ลาบ ลับ ลับ ปรีดี 43

Either Taro or my cousin knew about an awesome Japanese street restaurant in Bangkok that serves raw beef liver – a dish once very popular in Japan that is now very hard to get (where it is available, single portions are apparently given out to customers in a sealed plastic container with origin/tracking information). Everything was excellent, but the liver, served traditionally with rock salt and sesame oil, was outstanding. Taro and I ate too much.

The sashimi was also pretty good:

It was very hot that night, but we had a blast:

Tokyo Sasumata Incident

One of my YouTube vids from six years ago shows police in Maha Sarakham using a sasumata (a nonlethal man-catching staff of samurai-era design) to subdue a knife-wielding suspect at our local bus station. I posted about it at the time and there are a couple links (amazingly still live) about other incidents down at the bottom.

Weapons similar to the sasumata have a long history in many cultures. They were known as “man-catchers” in Europe and used until the 18th century, although their non-lethality may be up for some debate:

The flanges on the top of that are spring-loaded and were designed to open up after it was thrust around someone’s neck!

The Chinese had a similarly-shaped traditional implement called a “monk’s spade,” or “Shaolin spade” that was apparently used as a burial tool (hence “spade”) as well as a weapon. There are several types still sold today.

During the pandemic, a clamping man-catcher shaped like a sasumata was used in Nepal to enforce social distancing.

This inspired police in India to try their own homebrewed clamping device, which they apparently had trouble naming, eventually settling on “social distancing clamp” or a “lockdown-breaker catcher,” although NPR just gave up and just called them “giant tongs.”

In the latest news, an employee at a jewelry shop in Tokyo is being hailed a hero after thwarting an attempted robbery and giving chase with a sasumata after the three suspects fled. There is some cool video of it:

Two of the three suspects have already surrendered to the police.

I love how they instantly deflate when met with resistance. After their scooters are toppled and the mountain smacks it, the weapon in his hands must have looked like:

Hatsukoi Redux: School’s Out in HD

Back in 2006, I became a bit obsessed with a video I found on this newly-purchased video sharing (or was it video dating?) site called YouTube. It was a 2-minute ad shot in Hong Kong for Nintendo featuring a catchy tune with enchanting vocals called Hatsukoi by Mayumi Kojima (小島麻由美). I blogged about it back then, and looking at the comments, it actually led to a meetup in real life that led all the way to Thailand (where are you, bro?).

That video has disappeared and reappeared (only on YT) several times over the years, always in [potato x potato] resolution, and I’ve tried to keep the post for it updated with a live embed… So it was to my great surprise to find an HD link for it today, after I’d updated the low-res version on my blog post, of course.

Those notes she hits in the chorus (after the lululala) still really do it for me, which is sadly not something I can say for all of the music I used to love – I listened to a lot of it way too much and I can’t even sit through a whole song most of the time now.

I’ll paste the JP lyrics to Hatsukoi by Mayumi Kojima below, because most Japanese lyric sites still employ anti-copy technologies from the early 90’s, which are very annoying.

小島麻由美( こじま まゆみ )



わたしを置いて どこへも 行かないと ゆびきりした 夏の日
悲しい気持ちで目が覚めた 少女の頃に戻った夢

ルールララー わたしの心は水色
ルールララー あの頃想えば水色

誰かに似てた 遠い昔 背丈を気にしてた少年
わたしは何に恋してた? その顔さえ白くぼやけて

ルールララー わたしの心は水色
ルールララー あの頃想えば水色
メリーゴーランド まわるよ

ルールララー わたしの心は水色
ルールララー あの頃想えば水色
ルールララー 心はいつでも
ルールララー あなたを想えば水色

Chicano Subculture in Thailand and Japan

There was a resurgence of interest in “Thai Chicanos” last year, resulting in a few articles and videos across the web. The most entertaining video, however, is the one from almost a decade ago, about the “Cholos of Bangkok,” by Coconuts TV.

Also last year, an interesting YouTube video documenting “Japan’s Chicano Culture In LA” was published by Peter Santenello:

However, the true counterpart to the “Cholos of Bangkok” is “Inside Japan’s Chicano Subculture” by the NYT:

From a language and culture standpoint, all of these are enthralling. I’ve watched them all multiple times and pick up on new details every time.

Paperwork Crossfire

Having lived and worked at a large company in Japan for over a decade, I got used to dealing with red tape, idiot bureaucracy, and daunting stacks of interoffice paperwork and documentation. When I moved to Thailand to live a “simpler” life, it never occurred to me that I might find a tangled mess of paperwork to rival that of any developed country. However, today I find myself in the crossfire of two separate government offices that simply cannot agree with each other and hope to silence the other by firing enormous salvos of paperwork at each other.

It seems like every other day I’m getting a new form from one office, demanding that I provide a detailed answer to every request, and then almost immediately afterwards another form from the other office, with significantly different and sometimes contradictory requests. I try to explain the situation and provide the correct answer, but it doesn’t seem to help.

Jiro Inagaki & Soul Media – Funky Stuff (1975)


You may think you are cool… But you will be much cooler after you pour this in your ear and let it seep from your pores and permeate throughout your personal space.

I mean, until you hear homie singing and humming along to the bass line, you really haven’t lived. This is what he looks like:

Our storage room with all my Case Logic gear was flooded in October. So I’ve been going through the absolute mess made of my perfectly organized collection and listening to CDs for the first time in 20 years. There’s some real gems in there.