Half a world apart

Half a world apart - Morning Sentinel, April 1, 2006
...He started teaching English at a junior college in Bangkok, but found the job dull. He looked for opportunities to put his computer graphics and art skills to use. And he found them -- in the Bangkok underground.
Ireland built a business forging documents -- passports, driver licenses, visas.
He defended his choice by saying it not only made him a decent living, but also allowed him to help others.
"I was allowing people -- citizens of Earth -- to go where they wanted, allowing a person to reunite with their family, a poor person to find work abroad, a mother to visit her children, a family to escape religious persecution, a wronged man a chance to start over," Ireland said.
Bangkok, he said, was the perfect place for his kind of business.
"One can do business with the Russians at 9 a.m., the Tamil Tigers at noon and the Chinese around 5 p.m.," Ireland said.
...The guards were rough; each was assigned to work there as punishment for breaking rules at other Thai prisons, Ireland said.
...Klong Prem held about 10,000 prisoners in 10 buildings. Every building had a large yard where prisoners spent the daylight hours.
The prison also had a soccer field, a weight room, TVs in every room, new magazines and newspapers, and three prison bands.
And, the guards at Klong Prem never carried weapons.
"They were mellow and slept a lot," Ireland said.
But the prison rock band was a bright spot for Ireland...