Big Debate Over ‘Big Trouble in Thailand’ (+ the Producer Responds)

Face off in Phuket between British Royal Marine Police Sgt. Tim Wright and jet ski vendor J.J. (Photo: Andrew Chant)

Face off in Phuket between British Royal Marine Police Sgt. Tim Wright and jet ski vendor J.J. (Photo: Andrew Chant)

It nearly derailed Banglamung’s epic yesterday and is basically all that people with an interest in Thailand want to talk about. SideshowBob thinks it’s crap. Others claim it’s staged, I personally think it’s pretty precise, but, no matter how you see it, Big Trouble in Thailand is definitely sparking a lot of discussion and debate.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, Big Trouble is the latest production from British producer/director Gavin Hill (APTV, Al Jezzera & various U.S. television outlets) and comedian Rory Bremner’s Vera Productions for Bravo Channel and filmed with the cooperation of the Thailand Tourist Police. The first episode aired Monday, with seven more weekly episodes to come.

The program tracks the travails of British tourists in both Phuket, Samui and Pattaya, with holidaymakers getting in trouble mostly with drink and drugs, but of course some sex, guns and rock-and-roll thrown in. Episode 1 spotlighted a skint young woman at a Koh Phangan Full Moon Party, who got caught with her boyfriend’s ganja and gets locked up; some British Royal Marines who ignore good advice and rent a jet ski in Phuket only to get ripped off, and (closer to home) the squad of Pattaya foreign police tourist assistants led by Pattaya One News boss and anchor Howard Miller.


Even before the show aired, it incited polarized debate from people claiming it will do everything from ruining British tourism to Thailand to those who think it’s an valuable, sobering lesson to young, thrill-seeking holidaymakers. Being that it had the blessing of the cops, you figure it’s not going to be too damaging to Thailand. I think England’s The Guardian probably has it closest to right, advising people not to take it too seriously:

Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand is about silly Brits who get into trouble in paradise, and end up in prison or paying enormous sums of money to stay out of prison. And all because they smoked a spliff or crashed a jet ski, or didn’t crash a jetski but the jetski man said they crashed a jet ski and now he’s got his heavies in. Awful for the people involved, obviously. But quite entertaining for us – so much more so than those Wish You Were Here-style travel shows. Who cares about people having a nice time?

Others rightly point out the people being highlighted largely have only themselves to blame. Take Mike at Asia Travel Guide Blog, for example:

We often hear of reports how the police are corrupt in Thailand, but in most cases the foreigners involved in the incidents were drunk and out of control and pretty much all of their own doing. The warnings for drug use in Thailand are pretty clear.

Or Billy at Bangkok Diaries

On one level it does seem somewhat sensationalized which is to be expected of anything you watch on television but on another level this stuff does happen. The jetski rental guys are crooks. Dumb ass tourists take drugs in Thailand despite the ample warnings everywhere. Idiot drunks get themselves in trouble and get the crap kicked out of them by locals. So on that level, all of this stuff happens. The big question is whether it happens as frequently as portrayed in the program.

Or this from Brit freelance tabloid journalist Andrew Drummond.

What is amazing is that nobody ever gets it.  The same mistakes happen year in year out. Why do people bother going to ‘Full Moon Parties’ on Koh Phangan?  I gave up 18 years ago!  Here in this series we see how rapes, muggings, druggings and of course arrests occur, every time, not forgetting the drownings and occasional murder. And if you get thrown out of a brothel  for being drunk, why report it to police? It’s amazing how drink begets moral outrage.

That’s certainly not to say the show isn’t sensationalistic and – even though the title is ‒trouble” in Thailand – a bit too negative. Even Drummond, a longtime pal of director Hill, admits his mate pulls a few punches and massages some into over-the-top performances.

There are Pattaya bar girls chasing, now well-outnumbered foreigners down the street shouting ‘You. You. Give me money;’  then the drunken Australian being thrown very roughly out of a brothel. ‒They stomped my head in,” he wails then lunges at Howard.  Then Howard is seen politely asking his father on the boy’s phone to come and collect him, all the while being called a ‘dickhead’ by the son. Gormless foreigners being led by their penises into oblivion.

There are of course lots and lots of drunks actually, and the British seem to score high here, later happily signing their film release forms, I guess as if signing for a medal. There is also titillation as skimpily dressed go-go girls frolic around poles in Pattaya bars. Well that is how it is,  so don’t whinge about it to me.

This is not a film series about fancy spas and lush jungle resorts and so called Hi-So launch parties with twee people.  One can get that sort of  fur coat-and-no knickers production on ‘Destination zzzz Thailand zzzzzz’. But this is still the real stuff that even high rolling tourists must find difficult to avoid.


ssB will chime in early that he thinks it’s fake, but the Pattaya coverage, although hammed up a bit for the camera, seems pretty true-to-life from my years of strolling Walking Street. Miller and I actually chatted by phone just last week and although he takes endless heaps of shit from people who don’t know him and would never do one, let alone both, jobs he does, I think he puts the interests of tourists first. Sure, he even admits Episode 1 is largely about him, but only because he’s been involved with the project for two years.

‒it’s not really an expose of the Tourist Police; more a look at the way foreigners controversially assist them around Thailand,” Miller wrote Aug. 25 on the Pattaya Secrets message board. ‒It is a fast-paced show which will actually promote the sex industry here in Thailand, but will also show some of the consequences of it. It is not done in a seedy way (no hidden cameras in bars and girls with their tits out). It is done in a “funky” way aimed at the audience of Bravo who are predominately men aged between 18 and 35.

I think most people will like it. Some are concerned it is another nail in the coffin for Pattaya. I think many will be surprised how the program pans out over the weeks it is on.

Gruppenfuhrer Howard Miller is a lot more relaxed in Pattaya's walking street in a Home Guard sort of way. (Photo: Andrew Chant)

Gruppenfuhrer Howard Miller is a lot more relaxed in Pattaya's walking street in a Home Guard sort of way. (Photo: Andrew Chant)

One surprising thing that has already come out of it is the reaction law enforcement in Phuket has taken. A big chunk of the show is devoted to ‒J.J.” a farnag-looking Thai Mafioso who rips off one British Marine for 35,000 for some small, older damage to a jet ski. The program insinuates J.J. is just one of many thieves scamming tourists on jet skies and, based on what I know of Pattaya, the program would be right. I’ve been told by some very senior guys around town never to rent a jet ski at random; only through a personal friend. Otherwise, you’re ripe for rip-off.

Today Phuket authorities arrested J.J., better known as 28-year-old Winai Naiman. Using only the documentary as evidence police have locked him up without bail for scamming and threatening at gunpoint the young marines.

I’m thinking J.J. now rues the day he signed that release form and played up his gangster side. There are allegations he was paid to set up the scene, but Hill calls those claims ‒hardly credible.”

Big Trouble in Thailand director / producer Gavin Hill

Big Trouble in Thailand director / producer Gavin Hill

‒We had to cut a lot of the footage. I am satisfied that what was presented was the absolutely correct portrayal of the situation,” he told Drummond.  I have not taken any side.”

Meanwhile, Phuket’s Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob, has been urged by the Deputy Prime Minister and senior diplomats from Australia and Britain to crack down on the scams.

According to Phuket Wan:

The governor, who went to the police station in Patong before attending a summit on the jet-ski issue, rejected an appeal from Mr Naiman’s family for bail. He said that although the weapon involved was a BB gun, intimidation of the kind shown on television was unacceptable.

”Jet-skis are allowed to operate as a sport in Patong, not as a business,” he said. ”Unless this kind of activity stops, we will ban them all.”

Drummond says his buddy Hill plans to expose more jet ski scams on Koh Samui in future episodes and that the director is a little surprised at the reaction to just the first show.

This was not designed to be an investigative programme. We just filmed what was going on in front of us.” He said however the next programme in the series probably reflected more on bad British behavior than that of Thais.

‒I am a little surprised at the big reaction now. This seems to have been going on for a long time.”

Pattaya’s Miller also said J.J.’s arrest proves the show’s ‒value,” and too dismissed claims scenes were faked.

‒Some people are suggesting certain cases were staged and scripted and pre-planned. Bottom line is they weren’t,” he wrote today on Pattaya Secrets. ‒It is all real stuff and as they say ‘reality hurts,’ which I think is why some are trying to question the ‘reality’ part of the show as they don’t want people to see this side of Thailand.”

If you’re into downloading torrents, you can grab the full first episode here.

68 thoughts on “Big Debate Over ‘Big Trouble in Thailand’ (+ the Producer Responds)

  1. While I have no particular objection to being called tabloid journalist when the cap fits. But its something I get labelled usually from people in Pattaya when I upset someone. It does tend to detract from the fact that for the last ten years I have been the corr for the Times and before that for the Observer and before that a documentary film maker which takes us back to 86. Of course, unless its order specific at the moment if I write stories tend to end up right across the range of newspapers in the UK even the Sport as does copy from AP/PA.
    Freelance might be more appropriate.

  2. You know what… i have to give Howard some credit regardless.

    He’s got balls. At least he’s tryin’ to make a difference for some shit-head who got himself into trouble and help some twit who can’t read, “DONT DO DRUGS”.

    I’m sure if i was or anyone stuck in the hole, they’d be more than happy to see his face to at least get word back to the homeland that they are in need of assistance.

    As for that guy serving time in Phuket prison… BUDDY… you ran away from home to get away from drugs/ the lifestyle only to come to a place that serves it all on a silver platter.

    The one thing about the documentary is how they depicted Thailand as Sodom & Gomorrah. lol… There are other things they could’ve touched on like the fried rice and chicken.


    PG — Good job but your still a prick and I love you for it:)

  3. One thing I think might be missing from all of the dialogue spent on this issue is that Thais seem to react when business interests are threatened. JJ was arrested. Abhisit went down to the airport to send a message that scams won’t be tolerated. Etc, etc.

    We can all cast a skeptical eye on these actions but I always wonder what the outcome would be if 10,000 expats peacefully marched on the Grand Palace demanding a right to land ownership or some other massively obvious injustice here in Thailand and the BBC, CNN, etc were all covering it.

    For a country so dependent on tourism, foreign trade, and foreign investment how long could they afford to being painted in the world media as xenophobic and hostile to foreigners?

    My guess is that most expats adopt the brainwashing that the local Thais receive in school which is to never question authority. Just get drunk and complain about it knowing that if it gets too bad you can always go to Cambodia or somewhere else.

  4. saw the program i,am sure the thai jet ski operator,would have tried to scam him.he got away with it as well.they look at us as stupid tourist who they can rip off if they get the chance.he should have looked at the jet ski before he took it out.but looking at the program it will show a few silly drunk brits getting caught out to a few scams.the next 6 programs will be similar i believe.
    i think the jet ski operator wished he did not try too scam he,s on film everyone will know his face and do more harm than good now

  5. SSB – still think this is fony?

    As an occasional visitor to Thailand (arriving next week) frankly I don’t know what to expect.

  6. i can’t wait to see episode 2. awasome!

    that brit chick from samui is fooking cute. what did she say? she was standing around and someone gave “them” (us) some marihuana but she didn’t take any? yes, drugs are free in thailand and passed around by the red cross. and if u take them they are not yours. damn, that chick is sooo cute. i would do her. marriage material (is she 18 already?)

    english marine. he ran? did he say he ran away? if you run, make sure nobody catches you or you have a gun or 20 friends to cover your back.

    hellboy once started to throw insults at a bar and left (for a reason, of course). was followed by dickhead. hellboy pulled a knife and walked towards dickhead. dickhead ran. smart dickhead.

    moral of the story? don’t know. once saw a jet-ski thai in patong screaming is lungs out at a farang. cos he screamed (for 10 minutes at least) i knew it was a scam. that simple. thais don’t scream their lungs out when they are mad. they do other nasty things. but that farang didn’t run. marine 0 points, farang i saw, 1 point.

  7. This doco doesn’t give Thailand a bad name, if the people watching it have half a brain or more… unfortunately the majority of the modern world is severely lacking in the intelligence department.

    All the doco shows is that if you are a fucking retard and go to a FOREIGN COUNTRY and BREAK THEIR LAWS .. there are consequences.

    I loved the scene with the poor little Brit girl saying, “if you get caught with drugs in England its three strikes before you’re out” …. reality check .. you’re not in England ..

    If you are going to a foreign country, learn their culture and at the very least their laws. The ignorance of tourists shits me when I travel, especially in Thailand…. your laws do not over-rule the country you are visiting’s laws.. (with the exception of international law of course)
    To surmise…

    If you plan to be a fuckhead in Thailand, have some baht on hand at all times and learn how to negotiate.
    Running is not wise when someone is scamming you as it gives THEM the upper-hand if you get caught…

    Considering you can buy your way out of anything for peanuts in Thailand, all these people getting caught or scammed… som nam nah 55555+

  8. Andrew Drummond
    September 10, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    “Of course, unless its order specific at the moment if I write stories tend to end up right across the range of newspapers in the UK even the Sport as does copy from AP/PA.
    Freelance might be more appropriate.”

    sorry cos i’m a bit of a dumb redtop reader, but i’m sure that sentence makes no sense at all???? Must be some hi-so journo shit us dumb fuckers don’t understand. Or are ya drummy’ing up some new customers for ya site?

  9. the JJ bit looks staged to me …
    how come this Brits end up in JJ backyard … they rent the jet Ski on the beach and then if there is a problem they deal with it on the beach … i dont see how they will end up at his house to deal with the problem …
    Plus the Sergent scene and the way is shot seem too neat for me … specially the switch from the “lets look at the damages” shot and the “its an old damage” shot … two different angles for something that should have happened if real in one shot… Hope JJ got some money for this staged performance cos his business is dead 😉

  10. You wont catch me peacefully marching for farang rights. I’m sure the billy clubs and rubber bullets would start flying just on natural reflex! If there was a farang protest what color shirts should we wear? How about Singha wifebeaters and flip flops? Sounds like a question for CWB.

  11. Is this airing yet in the USA, and if so, what is it called? I can’t find it.

    I’ll probably like it because my favorite show right now is Locked Up Abroad (called “Banged Up Abroad” in the UK).

  12. @gavin: It’s a different kind of beast. Cut to be much more sensationalist and for salacious thrills. No docudrama reconstructions as per “Banged Up Abroad”. Agree with PG’s view that The Guardian assessment is about right.

    If you have bittorrent you can download it from UK Nova really quickly.

  13. I’m the producer/director of ‘Big Trouble In Thailand’ or ‘Thai Cops’ as it was known during production. I came up with the idea and shot it mostly myself, with the help of a Thai cameraman. And with the full co-operation of the authorities concerned in Thailand whom I cannot thank enough for their kind co-operation and trust.

    Thanks for the write-up, by the way – a solid summary.

    The sequence with JJ was NOT staged and I hope he is not in jail based solely on his contribution to the series. JJ was a willing participant and at the very least I am grateful for his contribution to the programme. JJ was not paid to take part in the filming. In fact. he invited us along. Nor were the Royal Marines paid as I’m sure they would be happy to confirm. Nobody was paid. These days I’M lucky to be paid in TV – as the self-shooting P/D.

    You want to see an email from my boss complaining how much the shoot was costing. That would shatter some illusions, believe you me.

    I am grateful for the comments about the camerawork – someone on a forum somewhere called it “too good”. Please pass that onto Vera Productions and Bravo, my employers.

    I have had very little involvement and influence in the editing of the series – my job was to provide the content from the field, on the ground in Thailand.

    We(my Assistant Producer, our Thai fixer and I) filmed JJ over a few days in Phuket. I met him in the lobby of the Patong Beach Resort where he was trying to get an Indian family to pay up for the damage he said their son had caused to a jet ski and a parasail tow rope he’d severed.

    I had heard of jet ski scams – a fight that took place and was captured on camera in Chaweng, Samui – and I asked JJ if he would take part in our filming to tell his side of the story. I explained that we wanted to show both sides, that undoubtedly in my view foreign tourists must damage jet skis, there must be genuine cases. Based on this understanding JJ agreed to take part in our programme. He also understood that our primary focus was British tourists in Thailand. JJ agreed to call us when he had a case which would illustrate that not all jet ski hire outfits are scam artists. That case turned out to be the Royal Marines who we’d also been following around Phuket during the visit of their ship HMS Bulwark. And when the call came JJ even sent a motorcycle and sidecar to pick us up. I have the photo of me in transit. We had a good working relationship with both the Royal Marines Military Police and JJ. In the end – when JJ called our fixer with the case – the two parties ended up coming together, and the rest is, well, all over Bravo and the internet. I simply filmed what unfolded (albeit with flair and agility

    If anyone is still of the opinion that the scene with JJ is faked then I will today provide links to the raw, uncut footage from the events of that day and our full interviews with JJ – before and after. If JJ must face trial by TV then at least let it be as fair as possible. For those who seem to profess a knowledge of the reality of ‘reality’ TV production – and I’ve lectured at university in it – comparing the unedited material with the broadcast version will be illustrative.

    I set out to make ‘Thai Cops’ – a Thai version of the sorts of shows you see all the time in the U.S. and the U.K. – on a shoestring. If you were expecting “insight” as one poster on a forum observed the programme lacked then you’re unlikely to find it on Bravo I’m afraid – certainly as I define the word. These days you are also extremely unlikely to find insight anywhere on TV. So, as an old favourite UK TV show of mine used to say: “Go out and do something less boring instead”.

    Not to put too fine a point on it if Bravo were a pub in Pattaya it would be ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’. Or ‘The Lazy Pig’ where we popped in for a few drinks. See lads of ‘The Lazy Pig’? I had no intention of “tripping you up”.

    I simply wanted to make an engaging – entertaining even – series about the work of the Thai police, the Brits who assist them and the tourists, preferably Brits, who unfortunately get into trouble in what can be a very foreign and culturally challenging country indeed. I will say that of all the countries I’ve been to Thailand is my favourite – by far. And that this series was even possible is for me why Thailand is so amazing and magical. I would urge people to travel to Thailand. Even the prisoners we interviewed in Thai jails aren’t keen to return to the UK – either to serve the remaining periods of their sentence or when they’re released.

    Years ago I used to work on a U.S. series called ‘Real TV’ in Los Angeles – probably the first caught-on-camera show which sold around the world making Paramount Domestic TV who produced it $25 million USD a year. I never heard anyone say it would damage America’s reputation or put Brits off traveling to Disneyworld. Same goes for Hill Street Blues, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, America’s Scariest Police Chases and The Wire.

    And in the UK better not watch the nightly news – it’s horrendous and would put off even the most hardy Korean from booking a fortnight for two there. But enough of Gordon Brown.

    If you have any questions about the making of Thai Cops I believe in absolute transparency – so ask away.

    And gird your loins for today’s first online TV ‘tutorial’!

    Thanks everyone for your interest,


    Also published as a separate post here.

    • A very unexpected reply Gavin and thank you so much for taking the time to do so.

      You’ve obviously been reading some of the forums, which is somethng I’d never adivse any professional to really do. They’re little more than shark tanks or, if you will, sandboxes where a few hardened keyboard warriors throw sand on everyone not in agreement with them. Anonymity spawn idiocracy and while blogs get some of that message boards are far worse.

      I’m curious to see how Pattaya is shown in coming episodes. The jet ski scams are certainly here as well. I’m also curious about some fleeting footage shot inside the go-go bars. How’d you manage that?

      In all, hard to watch if you own a business here. No entrepreneur ever likes bad press but, me personally, I found it not too far off the mark.

  14. My first trip to Thailand 5 years ago I met an expat-Brit in the smoking cubicle at the old airport and he talked me into sharing a taxi down to Pattaya. On my 2nd night in Pattaya, I met an 18 year old waitress from Nakon Sawan and I took her away from her aunts restaurant for the remaining 2 weeks of my time in Thailand. Lucky for me because if I didnt have a Thai speaking girl to keep me away from trouble and away from the crazy pay for play scene, I can imagine some drunken nights where I was not surrounded by people looking out for me. One scene that comes to mind: about 2 am along beach road a wasted farang being pulled along by 2 ladyboys at least as tall as him with a small parade of thais walking along just waiting to see what happened.

  15. As if it is possible to make Pattaya or the tourist areas of Phuket look worse than they actually are. From the ragged, low-class hookers; to the legions of drunken, moronic tourists; to the parasitic local “businesspeople” feeding like maggots off the scum that surrounds them; to the overpriced tasteless seafood; to the insipid go-go bars; to the littered sand and dirty waters; to the feudal command of a virtually criminal police force–these places are Thailand at its absolute worst. A cheap TV tabloid show just gets absorbed into it.

  16. Pingback: From the Producer/Director of Big Trouble in Thailand « The FARANG Speaks 2 Much (tfs2m)

  17. Yo gavin – Bollocks.

    How come you kept switching camera angles at JJ’s but yet you couldn’t see any others in shot? Ahhh you kept asking them to “hold on” on the confrontation while you changed angles/lenses? Bullshit. Program was rubbish – sensationalist shite and i hope you enjoy spending the fee with someone like simon cowell.

    Proper Bollocks.

  18. ever think maybe 2 cameras….

    I work in the film editing/ post production. With editing you can control the hearts and minds.

    All comes down to editing baby…

    Get your self an Avid Symphony system/ editing bay and you can work wonders.

  19. Canadian Boy.

    “I work in the film editing/ post production”

    Now why does that not surprise me.

    Listen mate. I have no doubt (As I’ve seen it many times) that Thais will go to a level of violence most farang can’t comprehend over a very minor issue. I also know how skanking thai’s operate and that tourists are like lambs to the (financial) slaughter in some parts of the country.

    I’m simply saying that the scene we’re on about in this piece of shit-umentary was as made up as a 45 year old white ho. get it now?

  20. On my one and only visit to Pattaya, I had a jet-ski incident. A particularly obnoxious guy had decided to drive his jet-ski in a perfect straight line from an outcrop to the beach. He did not want to give way and inevitably a collision occurred with another jet-ski being driven by a teenage son of my friend. The jet-ski guy sought some recompense for the damage and in the end we we all carted off to the local cop shop. The other party was protesting loudly that he refused to pay a cent, that the American justice system was the finest in the world and that all Thai police were corrupt… yes, he actually was stupid enough to stand in the police station and bellow all this out at the top of his voice.
    Despite this provocation (when, let’s face it, Western cops may well have taken him aside for a bit of a beating) the police were placatory and very pleasant – I gave 1000 Baht to the jet-ski man – he, me and the police shook hands, waied each other to the point of sycophancy and we departed leaving the other guy blagging on about corruption – I wonder what happened to him?

  21. Saw the trailer for this at the weekend…………

    Watched it and what an awful piece of journalism, does nothing for Thailand as you could have filmed it in any holiday location around the World to show off this sort of behaviour by unlucky or retarded Brits abroad. The programme actually could have been set in Ibiza for what it was worth. Strange though as it did hold a certain amount of resonance because of a strange coincedence for myself personally.

    May 2008 Phi Phi Island
    Location – A bar somewhere………..

    Upon arrival we wanted to find a British bar with proper pool tables serving proper English fare. I always get in a mood like this after 2 weeks in Thailand and this place is ideal for that. Run by a decent set of Farang boys but with Thai girl staff, we’ve both been through the bar in that sense, a couple of times including the Farang owners Mrs…. Legend.

    Well there was this guy who hung around there, a real scary bastard, was a Welsh boxer who didn’t mind intimidating everyone on the Island. I’d seen him fight two thai guys in the ring a couple of nights prior and he kicked ass. One of those times the Police (who were betting on their colleague) kept throwing a half unconcious man back in the ring as he was continually getting battered by the Welsh lad. Crazy as although it was Muay Thai, ‘Darkie’ didn’t throw one kick.

    One night he came and sat down opposite me, looked me in the eye, didn’t say a word and then took my drink and cigs right infront of my face. I just slid them back but chucked him a cig as he was a scary mofo and that was my weak attempt to say your not completely taking the piss out of me. In all fairness he could have kept the whole packet, i wasn’t gonna do sh%t. He owed tabs everywhere but no-one was man enough to call in the debts. Anyway, this dude wanted to gamble and I was sick of him, so were all the Thais too. I bet him 2000 baht that my friend (i’m awful but love gambling) would kick his ass at pool. Money handed in to the bar staff and the game was on. The place was rammed and everyone was watching the match hoping this asshole would lose and just leave the bar. My friend won after a heated 10 minute argument about a foul shot that this dude was claiming not to have taken although the whole bar saw it. Tense. We took the money and he went home pissed off. Asshole.

    Well to my delight, who do I see wearing the prison garms on Bravo’s awesome programme? You got it, ‘Darkie’ the Welshman with a pathetic sob story about how his life spiralled out of control. This guy was a criminal in this country and didn’t change in Thailand. A complete arse to other people who grassed him up eventually for drug dealing. 8 years man in that shit hole. Som Nam Na……………………………………….

  22. Ya… an’ all I said was maybe 2 cameras?

    I wasn’t being smart in any way. Just asking a simple question. Also, I am in agreement with how every thing regarding thailand was depicted… Sure they focused on the dark side of Thailand but that was mainly the content they we’re striving for.

    The dramatically cued music and b&w freeze frame editing is over the top. Sure its contrived. Then again you gotta think of the editor. He must’ve been splurging all over himself with the daily’s. Any editor would’ve loved to cut a project like this together.

  23. Serves that silly bitch in the video right
    Who in their right mind would accept FREE DRUGS off of someone?

    Not saying she DESERVED it, but a little common sense please

    I get stupidly drunk, find myself in big fights with big groups of big angry men and wake up places I shouldn’t with people I definately shouldn’t, but I’d never never be dumb enough to fall for that shit. Makes you wonder how these dipshits get dressed in the morning

  24. I just want a seat at the front left hand side of the Morning Night Bar,2.30 in the arvo,getting patted down with a cold towel-shove the rest up ya ass!! Chohk Deeeeeeee…

  25. Anyone want to take some Yabba and knock off a 7/11 so I can say didn’t know the other person wanted to do that… i was just there when it happened.

    Chooohhhhh Deee DAT BITCH!!

  26. Did anybody see this story run on the Thai Channel 3 today? A friend noticed the orange banner of the tfs2m web page as he was watching the news this morning. He says they did a story where they brought up on a computer screen and clicked on the video embedded in this Post. Anybody else see this?

  27. The Director is indeed reflecting what happened in Thailand, but at the same time, over exaggerated it to a new level.
    It’s the nature of a film director.

    As an expat myself, sure I have my fellow Japanese and Taiwanese who complained the same, but standing there and listening to JJ’s insult instead of calling the local Tourist Police is foolish.

    Furthermore, why drug in a fullmoon party? I personally thing someone who’s caught drugging ganja should be dealt harshly.

    The problem doesnt lie on the government themselves, but also on the tourists themselves. Where’s the movie where tourists abused Thai girls and sex-slaved them?

    This documentation is far too one sided to be called documentation. It’s a film.

  28. @YP: the cannabis the girl was holding had actually been given to her by her boyfriend! He admits this in the film and chuckles about it, nervous like.

    What a pair of numpties! But I’m not sure why she deserves 4 months in jail when a Thai would get of with a 2000 baht fine. Plus it was proably sold to them by a spotter for the cops.

    @Lemon: ‘Darkie’ certainly seemed to be taking prison in his stride. He looked like he could do the time standing on his head.

    @Seizhin: What sex slavery are you referring to? This type of actvitity is the territory of professional gangsters (Thai, Chinese, Russian, Dutch or otherwise), not tourists.

    • comb – i dont think the drug bust is a thai/not thai thing. U have to be smart enough to know that if u get busted u immediately start offering to pay. thai or not – once u let it get to the police station u are in trouble. once they start processing paperwork they cant easily let u off since others see it. pay early is the key. they blew it.

  29. What a scene,I like all of these comment’S, the only trouble is facing the truth and see what is really going on in the Land of smile, would rip somebodys heart out,and so we better take a look to a smooth version,and even that they cant swallow.

    What is the matter with those which living in Thailand, fear of being rejected when saying the truth, that Mr.Miller need to say not real version of the T.T well not surprise me,in reality he shit in his Uniform when it comes to say the truth,oh I forgot we have to live in Thailand,good, so lets make it easy,look to the otherside when it crack down.

    JJ,wrong ,right, does it matter,what matter is nobody knows what Gun it was, when you stood at the time in front,could be real or not,or maybe reconstructed ,it looks real,or you want to find the different out by shooting,lets take the bullet first then we know what is real and what not.

    This country cant be normal anymore,it is soooo constructed in the lies that it cant be correct in total anymore,jet ski there or not ,there is always a way to make scams worthy ,and when it becomes to Brits, well they behave sometime like total junky s and some from other country too.

    But here we go, culture barrier or general scams what is the better version to settle such conflict,what we have to understand
    with education comes quality not with guns,and where we have education,somewhere,but we as well know how MBA runs,you dont make it,pay the Teacher off,that all can be easy settle,

    You just have to think you travel back in time approx 50 Years when you arrive in Thailand,and implement the technology then you have your spot.But crook is crook regardless how you turned.

    But Robinson Cruiso had thought as well a Island living would be like a Paradise, until he realized,that not all Humans are Human being,rather then be transparent with rats behaviour.

    We are the animals,we kill for a paper and fun,they kill for food.
    We fear in reality,we taking our Uniform like Mr.Hiller and feeling now strong and we are somebody.Believe me we all have a dark side,we just did not discover it for now,but just for now.

    JJ,he is a Life hunter,but the different between him and others who say we dont have this in Thailand is ,he know he is a crook, we just pissing in our underwear to speak out the truth,we called not smart,well when the would hit your child or wife,how you called then,Starbuck accident by icecoffee,,idiots

      • pg – I think he loosely means to say thailand is stuck in a time warp. kind of like robinson’s department store – the jewelry section – the area with all the manwomen

        I mean I think that is what he meant to say but it also could be the director of cops trying to pump up the new series –

        cops in mukdahan – mekong miseries…

  30. So I just finished watching the first 3 parts of Episode 2 available on YouTube and gotta say, it’s a lot less electrifying than episode 1. Drug girl goes to court, drunks get beat up at full-moon party, dopey guy on ATM fraud thinks prison ain’t that bad and a Pattaya sex tourist in football shirt pisses on a songthaew, gets beat up and pleads “please don’t kill me” as cops haul him away.

    • pg – if u put time codes on it I wont even have to watch it


      a reality TV show about guys living there normal lives would be way more interesting IMHO

      entourage set in bkk

  31. Pattaya Ghost – a lot less electrifying suits me just fine! And so I hope it will continue – there does not appear to be much merit in Thailand for exposing anything that is harmful to tourism. Shoot the messenger appears to be the creed. ‘Thai Cops’ aka ‘Big Trouble in Thailand’ was meant to be a pro-police series, along the lines of Bravo series: ‘Brit Cops: Zero Tolerance’ but set in Thailand, and the reality pioneer American series ‘Cops’ devised by Bertram Van Munster. It was not supposed to upset any (rotten) apple carts or lift any rocks that are better left un-lifted. I can’t begin to tell you what high hopes I had for ‘Thai Cops’ as a returning series and how I genuinely thought it could PROMOTE tourism to Thailand, and at the very least encourage some visitors to behave better here. The whole idea was a Cops show – in part also inspired by an incredible ob doc series I watched years back: ‘Shanghai Vice’. These days in order to get anything commissioned in the UK there MUST be British involvement. This series was EVENTUALLY commissioned because it had lots of that – Brits traveling further than ever to wreak havoc (well, some of them), blundering into difficulty in a very foreign culture without any real understanding or appreciation for where they are, Brits assisting the Thai police as go-betweens (where does that happen anywhere else in the world?) and a police force that I wouldn’t mess with, personally, and all against a wonderfully exotic and sunny back-drop. Even though it appears – inadvertently – that I have upset the Thai police. To think I could have made a Western-style ‘Cops’ series in Thailand … well, I must have been bonkers. I can’t begin to tell you what a challenge it was making this series for someone especially concerned – to the point of going out of his way – NOT to harm Thailand’s image.
    Actually, I think ‘Thai Cops’ was an excellent opportunity for the Thai police to promote themselves to foreign visitors, but an opportunity partially missed. The over-reaction to the series is sad. It was simply a pro ‘Cops’ type show with an Eastern flavour. Alas, that ‘Eastern flavour’ has left a nasty taste in my mouth. I realise now I should have applied for a job with TAT instead and churned out those soft-focused, dreamy ads. Now, there’s nothing fake or set-up about those, is there? That’s the REAL Thailand. There are certain things that should be left ‘unseen’ in Thailand as I have learned. So, roll on a less electrifying Episode 3 which, I will admit, is fake – because I actively only included content which would NOT damage Thailand’s reputation abroad. And with regard to money this series has made, there is very little money in this kind of TV and that’s the truth. Certainly less money than JJ makes. It’s a small, low budget show airing on a channel few people watch. The viewing figures for Episode 1 were 113,000 in the UK – out of a country of 60-odd million. Now, Thailand’s reaction and the help of You Tube/internet etc have certainly boosted the show’s reach, but we are all Thai-centric. This isn’t ‘Survivor’ or ‘American Idol’ so I won’t be getting rich quick. And nor would I want to if there is a perception that showing reality (not in the TV sense) isn’t good for Thailand as I love this country. Someone made a comment about Michael Moore. I agree wholheartedly – he has done terrible damage to America’s image abroad and should be arrested and imprisoned immediately. A sure case of waterboarding if ever there was one. Meanwhile, JJ should be awarded a medal for services to Thai tourism while I’m put in stocks and pelted with coconuts.

  32. @Gavin: Interested to know more about your statement that you have upset the Thai police. Specifically what are they upset about and what public/private statements have they made on the subject?

  33. Combover – only media reports of threat of arrest or imprisonment for faking/setting up the scene with JJ. There was an alarming report in the Bangkok Post yesterday and a Thai newspaper – Daily News – the day before yesterday. Channel 3 reported that Phuket police wanted to round up the programme-makers. I have had no contact with the police, nor have they contacted me, though members of my Thai team have been liaising with them. The Bangkok Post article seemed to suggest police were not best pleased.

    • gavin – no offense would u be pleased if u were thailand or the police? doubtful

      even cops in america does not show the dirty cops – no one would allow it but we all know they are there

      personally I think the show is far removed from the “reality” of thailand

  34. No offence sideshow Bob, but I think you are entirely wrong.

    Thanks for making the effort to put this documentary together.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the first two episodes and have no reason to question the veracity of the footage.

    It’s a real shame that you feel obliged to flavour the coming episodes with vanilla.

    I’ll not be watching them.

    • mg – u are free to voice your opinions. no offense taken at all

      he has to make it vanilla – in fact he can’t show u the truth. if he did he would get kicked out of thailand or worse

      we all know the reality of things is in some sense much worse but at the same time the reality of things is sometimes brought on by the foreigner. not the locals

      for the 4 years of biz here – if I wrote a book about it I would have to leave 90% of it out. or change my name and leave the country

      think a few good men – “u can’t handle the truth.”


  35. Here’s the Bangkok Post article. Blame the messenger response from the Thais… anyone surprised by this?

    Writer: Supapong Chaolan
    Position: Reporter
    Published: 16/09/2009 at 12:00 AM
    Newspaper section:
    News: Widely distributed video recordings of foreign tourists reputedly being ripped off over damage to jet skis on Phuket and other incidents have been made to damage Thailand’s tourism reputation, authorities say.

    The producers of the video clips – shown on British cable television and YouTube – and the victims of the alleged scams have denied the accusation.

    Pol Lt Gen Santhan Chayanont, chief of Provincial Police Region 8 which covers the upper South, yesterday said efforts to tarnish Thailand’s image might be coordinated.

    The video clips show a female British tourist being arrested for marijuana possession at a full moon party on Koh Phangan and a British marine and a US marine being threatened to pay exorbitant compensation for damage to rented jet skis on Phuket in separate incidents.

    The footage, in which Thai police appear, were broadcast as part of the series Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand on Britain’s Bravo cable TV station and then spread to the internet.

    Pol Lt Gen Santhan said the arrest of the British woman was real. She was found with marijuana in her possession. In her testimony through a translator, she confessed.

    In the video clip she claimed she had to pay 80,000 baht to local police to be released on bail.

    The other clips feature a Phuket jet ski operator, Vinai Naiman, also known as “JJ”, demanding compensation from British and American clients, both marines on rest and recreation leave.

    In the clip of the British marine, Mr Vinai was seen to go to a storeroom and return with a gun which he dangled by his side. Pol Lt Gen Santhan said the way clips had been made suggested a set up.

    They had been edited to tarnish the image of both Thai tourism and the police force and presented only the negative side of the story through narrators, he said.

    Pol Lt Gen Santhan ordered police investigators to find out if any Thai individuals were involved in the making of the footage.They could face criminal charges.

    He also ordered his subordinates to run a check on the production of the clips and report the findings to him as soon as possible.

    The producer of the video clips, Gavin Hill, and some of those involved told British freelance journalist Andrew Drummond the footage was not faked or stage-managed and there was no intention to damage Thailand.

    They insisted they were prepared, if necessary, to make the incidents a diplomatic issue.

    Phuket governor Wichai Praisa-ngob yesterday said the clips might have been produced by someone who stood to benefit from Thailand tourism losing its competitive edge.

    Mr Vinai said he had demanded compensation for damaged jet skis from his foreign clients. But the compensation had been settled before the filming.

    He said he had been tricked into appearing in the clip as the producers claimed they wanted to do a positive documentary about tourism in Phuket.

    The gun he was seen holding was only an air gun, he insisted.

    Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa said he did not think the controversy would have a far-reaching effect on the tourism industry.

    Anusorn Salay, head of a club of jet ski operators on Phuket, yesterday said the club would establish procedures to prevent disputes over jet skis.

    It would set rates for compensation based on where and how bad the damage was to a ski.

    • 24 – they have to deny. I find it hilarious that people thing thailand would put their stamp of approval on this

      this is thailand for god’s sake

      why doesn’t someone do a reality series on the boiler rooms in thailand. let me know how that goes

      more foreigners are hurt from that, foreigner inflicted as well, than any of the “normal stuff” that goes on in thailand

      on this subject I am sure the thai authorities would be very cooperative

  36. The ferang that held up a store on an island last year using a kiddies toy gun recently went down for 7.5 years. JJ (using a gun that actually works & for a much bigger prize) gets 20 mins on primetime national TV to “blame the Jew”?

    Amazing Thailand!

    • rb – sure – u can make a simple comparison like that but in the way u make it then u dont get thailand

      its all about face, corruption is rampant. everyone knows it. thats how the place works. don’t like it – don’t deal with it

      usually tourism is sheltered from it but not always – look at the aiport mess

      not saying tourists don’t scammed, they do, just like in any SE asian country. in my experience indonesia is way worse

      the farang did admit to bashing it so he should pay right?

      jj will probably live to regret being on the show since if the thais want to skewer someone now it will be him

      my initial point I never made is I HIGHLY DOUBT that jetski situation would have gone down the way it was setup to be – and I mean setup

      usually when any of the military guys get in scraps the military police or attaches will call in the local military for aid

      I know some guys who are the liaisons for these situations – so before they have problems usually they go in heavy and the locals back down

      so in this case had it been handled properly, not setup for a “show”, JJ would have been forced to talk to thai military guys.

      tell me how that would have turned out. chances are, since the kid lied, jj would have been put down gently and the military guys would have skated off scott free

      so in that scenario the thais are getting screwed due to the close relationship of the two militarys.

      that is the “reality” of the situation rather than it being portrayed that the thais are screwing the military boys

      many times the military boys are running around causing trouble and usually get away with it

      sure no one will admit this and I am sure others will deny it but that it is the truth – or the reality so to speak

  37. “Amongst the exotic entertainment and excitement danger lurks. Last year 288 British tourists were killed…” Intro Voice-Over

    This is INTENDED to make viewers think that, well, 288 tourists were killed – by venal Thais I suppose. But 288 were not “killed”, 288 DIED in Thailand. Quite the difference really, and I presume that it’s partly that difference that’s pissing off some (Thai) people. When agency was illegitimately added in that intro so that it could be said that 288 were “killed” rather than 288 having died, does it show that there was an intention to misrepresent and misrepresent in way that portrays the country poorly? I suppose you have to say that it does – particularly since it’s that intro that ‘frames’ the documentary.

    I wonder how many British tourists were “killed” in the U.S. or Spain in the last year?

    • f – yup. sensationalist crap

      andrew biggs from bkk post debunked that number

      it also includes old guys who died of natural causes

  38. Pingback: Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand (part 2) - Page 2 - - The Thailand Forum

  39. @ssb – You are exactly right about the boiler room scams. Despite all the publicity, kidnapping, deportations and blacklisting that surrounded the last big boiler room scandal in Bangkok about 10 years ago, they still exist here. And as you pointed out it is farang on farang. Serious money scammed too, in the tens of millions of dollars.

    In fact I saw an ad in the Bangkok Post this week for aggressive salesmen, no experience needed… send us an email telling us in 100 words or less why we should hire you, lol…

    As to cooperation from the Thais, well, not only the farang operators benefitted, so there would still be issues.

    Would make a great series… Wall Street in the tropics… scammers laughing all the way to The Bank…

    • 24 – u see them working craigslist all the time. And these are huge scams. fake officea, fake factories and so on. sure the thais are involved in the payoffs but in sheer numbers the farangs using thailand to rip of other farangs, your grandparents, would in one month eclipse the total amount of dollars scammed for all the tourists in thailand for a year.

      no one talks about this cause it is not glamorous enough and is not as easy as the low hanging fruit – like showing thais scamming someone in phuket

  40. @Combover: good link – and even though there is a lot of controversy I think that the program has been the catalyst for a lot of positive things.

    SSB – when is the latest Mango Weekly going to go up? I’m struggling in the office this afternoon needing something to bide me over til I can get out and start drinking…

    • naki – do tell what positive could possibly come out of this? unless you count gavin getting blacklisted from coming to thailand ever again

  41. With a different voice-over, changed mood enhancing music (from foreboding dirge to Benny Hill levity) and a few new ‘framing’ sequences I think you could turn the raw footage into something like “Nutty Tourists in Thailand – Drunk, Horny and Out of Control!” Add in some slapstick sound effects of the sort found on Thai variety shows and everyone could have a right old laugh.

  42. I have never had anything to do with the ‘boiler room’ scams, but a friend of mine did it for about 3 weeks then gave up.

    He responded to one of those ‘aggressive salesmen, no experience needed’ adds in the BKK post, met a guy at the airport, and was flown down to Penang to work there.

    For the first 2 weeks he got a ‘draw’ of 150USD a week, plus free accomodation, then after 2 weeks he was commish only, and it was working 4pm-Midnight

    I got introduced to 1 guy in particular, who made 450,000 GBP on commission alone from 1 scam alone.

    Imagine how many runs you could do at Nataree with that kind of green?

  43. @ Fanta: I totally agree with the Benny Hill reference. End the program with a typical sex tourist running after buxom Thais aka Benny Hill style. There could be the occasional lady boy to pop out from behind a bush to clout him one as he passes by whilst simultaneously snatching his wallet.

    The only question that remains is, what does a a typical sex tourist look like?

    Looking forward to the weekly pmmp.

  44. I still have to point out that according to my opinion, in every aspect and the scenes do show that there’s a set up here.

    I do not work in the filming industry, but it’s just common sense of how everything is. This film is for entertainment.

    A recent news had me assured that something was amiss, and it seems that Bravo hired a professional Thai cable company to do the shooting.

    I dont know how true it is, but from the quality of your ‘documentation’, it seems almost too good to be taken ‘live’ at the actual scene.

    Regardless, I do understand Gavin Hill’s intention as my fellow Japanese and Taiwanese friends themselves suffered from the same incident.

  45. Seizhin — Check back later tonight fo rmore on the fallout, but the company you’re referring to — Black Sheep Productions — is a video production company that worked for/with Hill to shoot on location. In any sort of filming operation like this a foreigner will always have a local company helping. Hill referred to a “fixer” and this is likely part of hat. You can’t easily as a freelance film-maker, but come in with your own crew. You hire a crew on the ground.

    Having internviewed Hill, I’m confident all the right paperwork is in place, all the episodes will air and what you’re seeing now is the Thais backtracking to save face.

    More after 10 p.m. Thai time.

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