The deep shadows cloaking the rear of the compound in semidarkness filled with imagined danger had finally begun shifting into an alternate state, darkness fading before light in a mathematically precise retreat as the sun began climbing over the top of the eastern perimeter wall. Waiting for something to happen, the slightest variation to the daily routine, was part of the punishment I had decided the previous day during the intake process. That the guards would purposely build a long wait into every routine procedure seemed almost fair, but the idea something as immutable as the break of dawn – a cog within the vast turning clockwork of the universe – was delayed until well after sunshine had greeted the rest of world by the shiny
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It didn't seem possible that my attraction for the Land of Smiles had come to this and the only things to blame for the waking nightmare I had unleashed was an aptitude for ignoring the obvious and breathtaking stupidity. The genuine warmth and grace of the Thai people is intoxicating, hard to describe and almost impossible to resist, and I had fallen in love with the country on my initial visit in 1990. Just hours after touching down, I was smitten, determined to someday live in the fairytale land once called the Kingdom of Siam. That had been four years earlier and while it seemed certain that wish was about to be fulfilled, apparently the devil does reside in the details. The dream had never been set inside a maximum security prison reserved for drug addicts. “Same-same faa-rang. Same-same – but different”.
Tethered at the twisted edge bordering the outer limits of human degradation, “Bombat Pisang” is a remand center and rehabilitation prison, part a larger penitentiary complex on the outskirts of Bangkok called Klong Prem Central Prison. At the time Thai penal authorities considered addiction a contagious disease and to ensure the illness didn't spread to thieves and killers, druggies serving a term less than three years in length were kept isolated from the general population in special prisons like Bombat. Over five thousand men were living within its