I suppose the first question that must be asked, is who are Paul Robinson and Philip Whittington?
Paul and Phil, are the two main characters which the book is based on, looking at a four year roller coaster ride in their lives, taking them from a destitute state working and roaming the streets in the North East of England buying and selling rags to make a sometimes humble living, at this time the bright lights of Bangkok was not even dreamt off by the pair.
What people will never understand, even when reading the book, is the hard times they went through trying to make a living in a part of England known for it having the highest unemployment rate in the country, it would be safe to say many a person would have given up trying when they more than often didn’t even have the money for a bottle of beer, one bonus for them was working with second hand clothes, this was where they dressed themselves through the hard times, but over time with pure grit and determination they used their wits and outsmarted the much bigger competition and became exporters of second hand clothes to Eastern Europe on a major scale.
It was their first sale on a mass scale of clothes that landed the pair in Bangkok, after working and struggling for so long, it was a spare of the moment decision to book flights to Thailand, which would be the start of events that spiraled out of their control taking them into situations they would have never imagined in their wildest dreams.
The story then brings together the contacts they built up over the years, with what you could say a host of colorful characters coming into play, with Paul and Phil making more money than they could spend. Over time they had moved from sending not only clothes into Eastern Europe, but were also smuggling cocaine hidden within the clothes across European borders.
It was through the amounts of money passing through their hands and the constant worry of the dangerous game they were playing that gave them the idea of setting up business in Bangkok with an old friend from the past, Dave Rowland’s who was living in Bang Kapi happily married to his Thai wife who he had met while she studied in England, he had no idea what was heading his way meeting up with the pair again in Bangkok, him thinking he had left the dodgy days of working Liverpool nightclub doors behind, was he in for a shock!!!
Things moved quickly between the three of them, with them soon opening their first shop just off Ramkhamhaeng Road, down a decrepit Soi in Bang Kapi, selling second hand clothes to market traders, while concealing bundles of cash in the 100 kilo bales of clothes that they were sending to Thailand, them thinking the best solution without leaving a paper trail in order to hide their money safely outside the UK.
This is where the whole story gets interesting with them using shady shipping agents and bribing officials, they soon had everything in place and had moved to bigger premises, they all worked and played hard over this time, there was the drinking, the wild parties and the girls, in this time they became close to certain people and girls, and through them trying to understand certain ways of Thai people to be successful in business their minds changed to the ways of Thailand, they became aware of the neon lights on Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza and other areas of being only a trap to release you of money, you might say an awakening from the dream world they had been caught up in.
It was during this time, maybe them still thinking they walked on water that things took a turn for the worse, Thailand was took over by martial law, with their plan what they thought was fool proof already into operation, which was laundering their ill gotten gains through the business, it was too late to turn back now, leading to an ending that they had never considered remotely possible.
The People Involved
Now something that should be said about the book and everybody involved in the book. Firstly the book was written by a writer from London who Paul and Phil met one night on a wild night out in Patpong, with him wanting to write their story after listening to them over countless bottles of San Miguel Light, the book was written over a year long period, but when the book was finished it had portrayed them in a light showing them as heartless gangsters. Which they are not. Paul and Phil were, and are still happy go lucky kind of guys who live for the moment and the fun in life, but the biggest thing to them was their working class roots which they wanted to come across in the book, being from the North East of England they also wanted the book to appeal to the working class, basically telling people to follow your dreams.
The book was eventually rewritten in Bangkok while Paul stayed in a condo in the Rachada area, with the help of two friends, Paula and Mike from Manchester who were teaching English at the time at a school in Bangkok.
The name of the book was thought up while Paul, Phil and Dave were drinking in Bar 4 on Soi 4 Nana, the name derives from their backgrounds, as some might say they were cowboys doing whatever they needed to do to make money, the name also giving significance to themselves, as well as their pen name coming from the names of their sons, Alexander being the son of Phil and Lewis being the son of Paul, this giving the name Alexander Lewis as the author.
What must be said at this point is every person in the book is a real person and all events are true, of course yes, the book does have a fictional side to it, but everything in the book is plausible and believable, there are photos showing the events as true as it says in the opening pages of the book, but how much of the book is true is down to the reader to decide.
Check out their website: http://bangkokcowboys.com/