Nikoley’s Sunday Scribbles (Songkran Edition)

— Anything, not everything, but lots in-between | Pratamnak Hill, Jomtien-Pattaya, Thailand | April 16, 2023

The 1000 kilometer road trip from hell during Songkran Festival, with copious diversions into politics, women, Covidiocy, and pickup trucks

Pattaya, Thailand to Surin; 500 KM

The 1000 kilometer road trip from hell during Songkran Festival

Well, this is about as fresh as you can get a story down on blogs.

I suppose. Could be fresher, but that would have required even more sleep deprivation and fatigue.

At risk of boring you and getting a shutthefuckupaboutitalready, the longish-ass story made briefer is that the final separation with the chick took longer than anticipated. It happened in three stages.

  • After disinviting her to bring the girls and come visit, they showed up anyway
  • After a few days, the obvious no-go had me handing them off to family who were in town
  • Her family left, they showed back up, and after 2 MORE days, enough was enough, so I borrowed a car and ROAD TRIPPED

The theme, of course, is not putting them “out on the street.” They have to be in the care and supervision of other family (or me) so that was the constraint I was under.


To understand how this played out, you’ve got to know a bit about Songkran.

Thai New Year or Songkran (Thai: เทศกาลสงกรานต์, pronounced [tʰêːt.sā.kāːn sǒŋ.krāːn]) is the Thai New Year’s national holiday. Songkran is on 9 April every year, but the holiday period extends from 14 to 15 April. In 2018 the Thai cabinet extended the festival nationwide to seven days, 9–16 April, to enable citizens to travel home for the holiday. In 2019, the holiday was observed 9–16 April as 13 April fell on a Saturday. The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, literally “astrological passage”, meaning transformation or change. It coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart and with the New Year of many calendars of Southeast and South Asia, in keeping with the Buddhist and Hindu Calendar. The New Year takes place at around the same time as the new year celebrations of many countries in South Asia like Bangladesh, China (Dai people of Yunnan Province), India (Baisakhi in Punjab, Bengal Gajan Utsav, Bengal Charak Utsav, Bengali New Year (Poyla Baisakh/Nababarsha) in West Bengal and Tripura, Bihu in Assam,Gudipadva in Maharashtra, Pana or Mahabisuba Sankranti in Odisha, Tamil Puthaandu (Tamil New Year) in Tamil Naadu, Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Vishu in Kerala etc.), Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

In Thailand, New Year is now officially celebrated 1 January. Songkran was the official New Year until 1888, when it was switched to a fixed date of 1 April. Then in 1940, this date was shifted to 1 January. The traditional Thai New Year Songkran was transformed into a national holiday. Celebrations are famous for the public water fights framed as ritual cleansing.

Social scientists believe the origin of the festival lies in celebration of spring or harvest in agrarian community as well as religious. April is a month of very hot sun waves in south east asian countries, to cool body temperature farmers might have enjoyed playing water and applying thanaka powder. Later religious myth were associated with the festival. Thus, harvest or spring festival was evolved into a religious festival.

Okay, y’got that? Quasi-religious / harvest-like festival…new year, new birth, cleansing yada yada. Also, it’s fucking hot—though the heat no longer bothers me…even misery-indexed by added humidity and a lack of any breeze blowing. I’m solid-ass-stoic about it to a level that amazes even Thais, who’re always complaining about the heat.

Here’s the traditional ceremonial part of Songkran, from 2021 when, due to global Covidiocy, all of humanity—along with their core cultural and religious practices and observances—was deemed non-essential…giving essential room for the nouveau despots like Gates, Bezos, et al elite to rake in billions as the replacement essential.

…They might have pulled it off better had Walmart perhaps installed chapels and prayer rooms in their stores. I digress…

So, in keeping with the what-you-think-it-is contrasted with what-it-really-is…

The image of it is not complete, however, without the pickups. Thailand, with its 60% self-employment rate (contrasted with 6% in THE LAND OF THE FREE!!!) is the land of smiling pickup owners and drivers. The stalwart Toyota HILUX deisel reigns supreme, but the Ford Ranger and other mid-size models are picking up and gaining market.

They don’t really need the big-ass Ford F-250s, Dodge RAMs, and the like. They have the far-lower-cost mid-sized trucks that are very reliable, can be worked to death, and are worked to death. 46% of all private vehicles on the road are mid-size pickups, and just about every one of them is used for familial self-employed entrepreneurial work…not to haul around 5th-wheel land yachts and other Me ‘Mercan shows—in the same vein as what I call The 2nders…guns for show…not to keep shit open…like churches during a global sniffle scare…sniffles so bad, they leave ~99.7% of snifflers alive and kicking.

In 2022, 388 thousand pickups were sold. There’s nearly a million on the road. I’ll bet that you who consider this a “poor country” didn’t know that. Nope, they seem “poor” to Westerners—I have determined—because their conservative patriarchal (male dominated) politics resists both high taxes and lavish social systems.

“Social security” in Thailand is about 20 bucks per month (600 baht). There’s no FICA “withholding” TAXES (a euphemism and contradiction in terms all in one) for either employee or employer, so there’s 15% of national production right there, off the top, not sucked up by the various parasite, non-productive, and no-longer productive classes. … Come to think of it, there’s nearly no withholding taxes on paychecks at all, unless the person is making big bucks.

Even though women can vote and hold office, there are few women in politics; and as voters, they just don’t seem to have the destructive effect that American women do. Thai women got the vote in national elections in 1932 (probably on international urging and pressure to ‘Westernize;’ but importantly, were permitted to vote in village elections from 1897, which makes a great deal more sense to me. Village life is familial life, and homemakers are suited to “politics” at that level. In Yui’s village, it was a woman who was administratively “in charge” until recently, and now it’s her uncle who lives next door, and she campaigned for him.

It’s a way bigger deal for rural Thais—the village elders and administration—and way more meaningful to their lives than what Thailand’s foreign, trade, economic, and social policies are on a national and international level…FFS.

It’s fucking stupid for child-bearers, nurturers, and homemakers to be involved in all that nasty shit as some imperative. The closer to home, the better, and they’ll be far happier.

Mark my words.

Thai Women generally have pretty high status. They retain property rights and can own land. They have freedom of movement and work in many fields, enjoying many of the same rights as men. Article 38 of the Thai constitution states that all citizens should enjoy equal protection under the law regardless of origin, sex or religion. An expression still heard in Thailand refers to women as “The hind legs of an elephant”—meaning they play a big role behind the scenes supporting men and being productive members of the economy.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Asia in general works and works well and is, and will, solidly overtake the West as the economic (and eventually, moral) leaders of the world. That includes Eurasian Russia. And take a close look, if you can look past your Ukrainian flag for just a moment. In public speeches by heads of State, who is the only one whose speeches aren’t just not woke…they are profoundly and unequivocally anti-woke.

Vladimir Putin, that’s who (see my post Has Putin-Lead Russia Eclipsed America and The West as the Moral Conscience of the World?).

I’m not fucking joking and once again, I’m right and almost everyone else was wrong, and most are still intransigently wrong in spite of mounting evidence. I called the West’s moronic, American-led support of Ukraine, along with the world’s dumbest-ever set of US-led economic sanctions—that have served only to expose and illustrate America’s economic impotence—fucktarded from day one, and history is guaranteed-certain to have my back.

Mark my words.

China overtakes the USA as the largest global economy next year and the US Dollar as the global reserve currency is on its way out, being hastened by the [fucking stupid] “US-Led Sanctions.” Yep, throw your weight around long enough and eventually, you’re going to face the natural consequence. Americans aren’t going to know what hit them when the US can no longer print money at will, with far fewer consequence than other nations face.

Asia has male-dominated (patriarchal) conservative cultures. It’s a force of nature, as the West will one day come to understand. Women—outside their caretaker roles of home and family—are simply socially destructive, because it doesn’t matter whom, but someone must furnish the safety and security they need as the bearers and nurturers of children (it’s baked into their head-cake). And if they can’t find a suitable man after being skanks and sleeping around and getting abortions, then they’ll just vote for more “safety and security” from “society.” That means they’ll try to live at everyone else’s expense whilst they do as they please.

Because, “I Am Woman,” or something something something…

In 1968, she married Jeff Wald, a native of the Bronx. She converted to Judaism before marrying Wald, with whom she had a son, Jordan, born in 1972.

In a 1975 People interview, Reddy admitted that her relationship with then-husband and manager Wald was volatile, with the couple having “huge, healthy fights”, but that she owed her success (she was then the world’s biggest-selling female vocalist for two consecutive years) to Wald: “He runs it all. Naturally, when the moment of performance comes I have to deliver – but everything else is him. It’s not my career; it’s our career.”

Huh. Mystifying. Weird. She’s WOMAN!!!

…Oh, right… I was talking about pickups in Thailand and what they have to do with Songkran and, more specifically, my road trip.

Well, the first thing you might notice in Thailand is that Safety-Nazi-America’s [now] near general prohibition of riding in the back of a pickup just wouldn’t fly around here. How do rural Thais decide between the family car and the self-employed work vehicle?

They don’t.

You’ll see pickup beds jammed with people every hour of every day on every road in the country.

Isn’t that dangerous!!!???

Sure is.

But, not permitting themselves the delusion that everyone really can live at the expense of everyone else in an euphefantasy called “the safety net” (gilded cage), they have to do what humans are supposed to do, and that’s cost-benefit assessment, risk-benefit, necessity-of-life shit…all of that encompassing how much freedom do you want to trade away for a false sense of safety and security?

… And keep in mind, the female imperative isn’t really actual safety and security, though of course it’s going to become evident soon enough if there’s none. More importantly, it’s the feeling of safety and security. That’s what the whole of the feminized West is preoccupied with, now. And it’s easy enough for influential actors across the whole spectrum—from politicians to media to entertainment—to spend all their time scaring the shit out of everyone.

Much money and power to be gleaned from it.

“In Defense of Women,” ironically enough

So if you look at the lede image again, see the 500 km route we took from Pattaya to Surin. It’s a route I’ve driven a dozen times or more, both ways. The little red circle is the homestead, now an hour southeast because of the new 4-lane most of the way. But the family was in Surin for Songkran, so that’s where I dropped them. The first 2/3rds of the trip was not only uneventful, but looked like we were going to make record time. There’s new 4-lane construction (the entirety of Thailand is under road construction like nothing I’ve ever seen, and this has persisted throughout my 3 years here).

Then everything changed.

The latter 100 km or so, prior to getting to route 24, is 2-lane through rural and country don’t-blink villages, and every one of them were in fête complète. The entire town is out; half of them on both sides of the roadway, the other half driving their water tanks (pickups with personnel warriors in the bed).

It’s a joy to behold, even if it’s delaying your trip. In those three days, the whole country forgot about their problems, turning their aggression to dousing everyone else they could with as much water as they could.

Nobody is safe, clothing and makeup be dammed. There are no time-outs.

You have entered the Songkran Zone.

You will be assimilated.

Resistance is futile.

The demand for this national release was pet up, as I said, over Covidiocy. Apparently, no country was immune, pun intended/not intended.

…So, it ended up taking 8 hours to the dropoff. 10.30 to 18.30 and I turned right around for the drive back, not even passing Go. The sun is just setting and I figured, Okay, should be a relatively uneventful journey back. Sun is down, it’s not scorching hot, people are exhausted and wet.

“They’ll need their rest for the drives back home tomorrow (Sunday) all across the country, so they’ll be fresh, bright-eyed, and bushy tailed when seriousness and work resumes on Monday.


Oh, how little I know, sometimes.

Yep. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (during daylight) was just the warm-up for the grand finale.

When’s the Grand Finale!?

Uh, when am I driving the 500 km from Surin to Pattaya on the heels of driving the 500 km from Pattaya to Surin?

… Having a slight suspicion—and being nothing if not clever—I turned on my Google maps navigation though I know the way like the back of my hand. It’ll route you around “congestion.”

And sure enough. “There’s congestion on your intended route. Would you like to take an alternate route that will save you 16 minutes,” it inquires.

“Do I look stupid?” I think to myself as I confidently wonder which is more important…pressing “Yes, accept” on the phone screen, or patting myself on the back.

I have no way of doing any forensic analysis, but here’s what Google Maps did to me.

So you see the route I’ve highlighted in red. That’s the alternative route from the point I’d have continued into “congestion” (the encircled in orange route).

It’s hard to imagine what congestion that’s slower than 1 km/hr is, which turns out to be about the average “speed” over the route encircled in red. I suppose it could be slower.

In other words, the “Driving” log could read “6 mi – 26 min; 0.7 mi 1 hr.”

I tend to doubt it’s anything but a fuckup on Google Maps’ part. Why, because that road circled read is one of the several in Surin that goes right along a canal.

Get it?

… Well, in addition to lots of pickup trucks, Thais also have a lot of various equipment in order to do non-tech, but nonetheless life-sustaining things like farm, pour concrete, lay concrete block, weld metal roofs and studs together, plumb piping…and given Thailand is tropical…pump out water accumulation.

Now do you get it. Canal? Pumps…?

So I found myself amongst the very elite water-warriors of Songkran.

Guys with pickups and gas-powered pumps with suction heads that can deliver an important head of water through a 4″ diameter pipe. Firemen have nuthin’ on these guys.

So, anyway, after bearing witness to all of that and finally getting clear, filling up, noticing traffic was still rather heavy, I made my way and decided to take the longer route in gray in the lede image.

Nope. Where Highway 24 is normally a pretty swift go, it was awful too, and I soon just took the first left I could, eventually joining up with Route 304, which eventually joins up with Route 359 for the home stretch.

… The thing lasted all damn night long. Passing through some small towns, people were still at the water fighting past 02.00, lining the roadways, spraying down any cars whose occupants had already pussied out on the whole affair.

In all, it was 500 km of heavy traffic, often bumper-to-bumper, and it was still heavy as I rolled into my place at 07.30.

That’s right.

I managed to do a 7 hr trip in only 13 hours.

Total time on the road door-to-door and back to door?

21 hours.

Yea, I was tired. I did stop one hell of a lot at the marvelous PTT Stations, each one complete with a 7-Eleven and an Amazon (Starbucks), plus a number of independent mom & pops, and food stands. Every single one was jammed, few if any places to park and as the night wore on, increasingly it was people catching Zs in their cars.

The whole scene became reminiscent of a large airport where a ton of flight cancellations have left thousands of people stranded in a place meant for hundreds at a time.

Being so wired from a liter or so of sugar-caffeine juice throughout the night, I only managed 3 hours of “sleep” upon returning. It caught up with me at 17.00 in the afternoon, and so I took a nap.

An 11-hr nap, arising at 04.00 to draft this little scribble and here I sit just wrapping it up 7 1/2 hours later.

I did a video along the way, which includes some footage of the aftermath carnage.

Wrap Up

Well, I had several sections in mind to write up—as is now customary for the Sunday release—but I kinda got into this and allowed the diversions to flow.

… I hope none of you are left not offended in some way. If you’re not offended about at least one little thing, I sincerely apologize, and I’ll try to think of something for next time. Please let me know what you can’t tolerate and I’ll do my best.

I’ve been following Richard for about 10 years, from his initial journey into Paleo/low carb to now, with a gap of a few years (not his fault).

I gravitate to unique and honest voices, based in reason, and this is Richard to a tee. Do I agree with all he says? No, especially not his views on women. They make me uncomfortable, sometimes quite viscerally. That said, he is a man’s man, and I think this is a vanishing species that sorely needs to make a comeback.

So why do I persist, and why did I become a paying member?

Because it amazes me how often he says what I’ve been thinking, and equally as often shows me a different way to view something. Whether I agree or not, this is what I seek in all the voices I allow into my life.

Lastly, he called the fiasco that was the pandemic response very early on and was right. He was one of the folks who helped me through the insanity that ensued. While I shed my so-called friends and increasingly felt isolated, his voice helped me remain grounded, holding out for a saner time. It was this that ultimately led me to pay.

Niki from Canada

Richard doesn’t muck around, he’s not here for the lolz or to blow smoke up your arse, but to tell you how things really are. Whether it’s diet, exercise, health, crazy fucked up geopolitics or any other matter that grabs his fancy, he’ll dig deep and pull out the truth you need to hear, even if you don’t want to hear it. He’s been connecting the dots for years and got the track record to prove his cred; it’s why I’ve kept coming back not only to be enlightened and educated, but also to be entertained.

Edster from Down Under

I’m a paying member.  I love reading Richard’s writing because he has a great writing style and writes about interesting stuff.  Some of his stuff I may not agree with, but at least I can be educated from another point of view.  Sometimes his writing ‘offends me’.  That’s the writing I like best because I can do a true self evaluation of why.  I can question my own self about whether I’m just being a little bitch, not fully educated on the subject, or have a more extensive knowledge and accept that it’s okay that it ‘offends me’.  That’s what smart people do.

Troy from Planet Earth

More testimonials if you care. Most people pay a subscription in order to access a comfort zone where they’re told everything they already know but want to hear it again and again for the sake of confirming their biases and, by implication, the knowledge of how super-smart they are.

My paying subscribers are diametrically the opposite. My subscribers pay me to tell them the shit that makes them squirm. Only smart, courageous, self-confident people can do that. Most people are simply unable to even do it, much less pay for it.

Stuff that’s coming for members.

On the left is my new routine that has zero to do with what time it is on the clock, and everything to do with how much time is spent, regardless of the time. On the right is the 1st page of my posts drafts, which now total 21 in some stage of draft.

… Wait! 500g protein? WTF?

… By members, I mean paying members.

… Finally, just a [hopefully] final word about the girl. It turns out to be tough to end a gig when kids are involved.

When packing up and Yui asked me to tell them why, because they don’t understand, I simply told the truth.

“It’s because your mother doesn’t like me and I don’t like her.”

That’s literally all I said about it. Not another word, nor will there be, and them’s the honest essentials. That’s enough and all else is waffling, lying bullshit. Why we don’t like each other is irrelevant. It’s a diversion that breeds false hope that there’s a solution to be found, somewhere.

There is no solution. I’ve already gone overboard exploring every possibility, and it has only made things worse (thankfully, if you know what I mean).

… I explain in the road-trip video that it’s unseemly for a man to complain about the stupid shits chicks dish out and put you through. Makes you sound like a pussy. Unless she shot you, stabbed you, or cut off your dick, then just shut up. Even if she takes all your money and/or leaves you a wage-slave paying alimony and child-support through upwards of 75% wage garnishment, nobody fucking cares.

You’re the man. Equality, see?

White male privilege. Now, go fuck off to war and/or otherwise get yourself killed some other way. Have you looked into logging or crab-fishing jobs?

So, how I tell it in the video, is that there’s a reason for the saying death by a thousand cuts.

There was an email or message somewhere from someone the very morning this all went down. Who sent it is irrelevant.

Men always lie, but really we WANT to tell the truth. Lying is a pain.

We simply have endless daily battles and can’t handle another one.

If there’s a strong chance we can get away with a lie, to avoid a fight – we lie.

You’d have the truth, if you could HANDLE the truth.

I think a number of my hardships in life are that I don’t lie much, and especially things of import.

“Hey, how’s it going?”

“Great!” I lie, automatically.

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Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More


  1. DrC on April 20, 2023 at 19:49

    Richard, you are an animal, a beast unconstrained and “wild” (untamed). That is all good, of course, but difficult for us ordinary “cultured” (like yogurt) people. Harsh, difficult but honest – as you see it. That’s why we subscribe. It can also be quite entertaining and creative. Keep ’em coming.

    I am new to your blog. I became aware when Mike Eades gave you a shout out. Decided it was worth the small fee to see what would develop.

    The stories of Yui and her kids are impressive. No doubt other folks have different “descriptors” but you confront whatever directly. Holly STUFF!
    “It’s because your mother doesn’t like me and I don’t like her.” Wow! That is true. I’m sure that is where it stands right now. but wow. I won’t go on about that.

    I expect that you realize that most kids age 5 to puberty “worship” mom, dad, caretakers, teachers and people who are good to them. That is one reason it is so important to protect them from “nice predators.” As Dan Siegel explains in Brainstorm, as puberty begins the adolescent brain begins reconstruction. Myelinating circuits that are used, trimming off those that are not, etc. It goes on until about age 25. Very difficult times for everyone. That is the time that “Kids” need the most support from parents and adults. You are choosing to withdraw at the time they will need you most. I know, it’s impossible with Yui. You have done everything you “can” (are willing to) do. That’s your difficult, very painful choice.

    I hope that you will continue to follow and as necessary intervene in the lives of both of these young girls. If things go south for them in future, you are likely to suffer as much as they.

    Kind regards,


    • Richard Nikoley on April 21, 2023 at 08:21

      Yea, I know, Doc. And coincidentally, I saw this from Dave Asprey just yesterday that NAILs that puberty to young adulthood thing.

      Basically, from puberty to 24 or so, kids think their parents are stupid, so they seek guidance elsewhere, then their parents get smart again.

      I’m keeping tabs on the girls, still a little needed money here and there, but not so much that their 30-yr old mom and 27 yr-old aunt (with a 7 yr old son) don’t get off their asses and work. Their mother (grandmother) handles the day-to-day with the kids, which is very good.

      Great to know I’ve got a subscriber from the Eades realm. I’ll let him know. I believe it’s a mutual thing. And I note that his Arrow #120 just hit my inbox.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 21, 2023 at 18:46

      Hey Doc, a follow-up. Had an email exchange with Mike, and he says you made him laugh over your comment being held for moderation (by a guy who’s as immoderate as you can get). LOL, or 555 as they write here in Thailand (hahaha).

      But you got me to thinkin’. Years ago I enabled 1st comment moderation. That is, once your very first comment is approved, you’re whitelisted from then on and the only thing that can kick you into the moderation-by-an-immoderate queue is more than 3 links in a comment. Anyway, that has been remarkably effective in cutting down on trolling and spamming, back when a single post could get hundreds of comments.

      Then I realized hey, some time ago I required commenters to be logged in, and the only way you can log in is to have purchased a subscription. So, effectively, only paying members can comment and thus, the 1st comment moderation is superfluous, as is the link limit.

      So, all that to say thanks for streamlining things for us both, and everyone else. Sometimes it’s hours before I notice a comment is in the mod queue.

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