Bangkok Hard Time by Jon Cole
Published by Monsoon Books
The surreal true story of how a Western teenager came of age in 1960s Bangkok, turned international drug smuggler and walked the prison yards of Thailand’s notorious “Bangkok Hilton”
It is 1967 Bangkok, the Summer of Love, and for teenager Jon Cole, son of a US Green Beret colonel serving in the Vietnam War, life as a young Westerner in the City of Angels is sweeter than mangoes on sticky rice with coconut milk … until he is introduced to the infamous House of Lek. Drawn to the underbelly of Bangkok, the International School Bangkok pupil soon discovers ganja, opium and the two-dollar bordellos. What follows is a surreal but true story of one Westerner’s relationship with Thailand spanning four decades. A drug habit picked up at the House of Lek with schoolmates and GIs on R&R from Vietnam leads to a career as a drug smuggler, a nasty smack habit and, ultimately, a long stretch inside Bangkok’s notorious prison, the “Bangkok Hilton”. At the heart of Jon’s account of his misspent youth in Thailand and his subsequent life inside Klong Prem prison is a Thai-style acceptance of the consequences of his own karma and a desire to expose the fallacy that Westerners are mistreated in Thai prisons.
“Bangkok Hard Time” is not your usual prison book written by a foreigner in a strange land. Jon Cole was for a time a student at the International School of Bangkok in the 1960’s. He knew the culture and some of the language too. When he was arrested some years later and sent to prison, he already had an idea of what to expect and how to keep out of trouble. Not once in the book does Jon seek your sympathy. Nor does he try to dramatize prison conditions. In fact, he has a go at fellow inmate Warren Fellows who is the author of the bestselling book “4,000 Days: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison”. Jon Cole describes Warren’s book as “a whiny, mendacious account of Thai prison life, in which he claimed to have been beaten by guards and forced to eat cockroaches and rats in order to survive”. If you want a more realistic look at life in prison during that time, then you should read Jon Cole’s “Bangkok Hard Time” book instead.
COMPETITION: We have two copies of the book “Bangkok Hard Time” to give away. To enter is very simple. All you have to do is come up with a question that you would like to ask Jon if you met him today. Maybe ask him about his life as a teenager in 1960’s Bangkok. Or something about his time in prison. The two people who ask the most interesting question will each be sent a copy of “Bangkok Hard Time”. We will then ask Jon to answer your questions in an upcoming interview that will be posted here.
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. The winners were: Mona Salce and Trudy van der Hoeven.