Things that give me the creeps in Thailand
Or, five things that make me doubt humanity whilst in Thailand.
Location: Pub / Club / Beer garden area
Dilemma: Drunken tattoed english tourist (28-35yrs) talking aggressively & friendly at the same time, loudly.
I used to take these folks in my stride, through slight naiivety I suppose, then one day this guy in Titanium Club snapped at me for not listening, and security knocked him to the floor outside with one punch. As he lay moaning on the sidewalk, I felt no remorse for him at all.
It's easy to just say ''don't go to tourist areas'' but I shouldn't have to worry about such distractions. And it's the english in particular who get on my nerves the most. Their instant superiority complex and sense of their own importance are apparent straight away. You are supposed to believe stories which usually end with him the hero and you'll struggle to get a word in edgeways.
Location: Airport lounge during long 7 hour stopover en route to Bangkok
Dilemma: Fat, 30-something Northern english guy who's returning to meet his 'teerak' that he met four months earlier. He has spent the time in between servicing sick buffaloes and believing she's back in the village chopping chillies.
Try not to get trapped in this guys domain, especially in a small airport like Abu Dhabi, where there's just one pub. If your eyes do meet in an amicable way, you're in trouble. He'll be over to ask for a light in the smoking area and then take the seat next to you.
His penultimate ice-breaker is normally ''Been to Thailand before?'' and whatever answer then gives route to several conversation possibilities. Of which most will be about himself and his ambition to relocate from Walsall to a Thai village in Isaan with a girl he met on a Pattaya barstool during his first trip. In my mind, I am wishing him luck as I nod to his story about Thai culture, but inside I know this is another potential suicide nutjob.
Location: Farang owned restaurant, Bangkok
Dilemma: Friendliness seems to evoke expectations of a free drink or meal
People can criticize the pompous nature of many restauranteurs, and it is usually warranted. These particular locations particularly irked me because I was a regular at them, twice a week on average at one, and at least the sunday roast in the other. I had no problem with the food, but it must have been my own kindness that engineered the first problem. The owner was sick of the Thai music the staff played and wanted some popular 80s music in their computer to choose from.
Step forward yours truely, who was kind enough to lend the owner a 64 CD booklet of 80s compilations. He kept the CDs a few days and then returned them, saying he'd had to mark them to show the staff which CDs were to be loaded to his database as MP3s.
Mark them? How? When I looked he'd make 1cm circles next to each CD in the folder, with Tippex. No respect for my belongings or even something in return. Even my bill for food that day was still the same. Those circles are still marked in that CD booklet, as I often still need it.
So next time I ate there, I ordered well over the top, went out for a cigarette and walked off.
As for the other place, similar scenario. I'd been a regular since day one. Then one day a couple of years later, they had a 'friends of _______' day where all the regulars who'd patronised the place were invited. I assumed it included me. I am in some of their party pictures on their wall.
Anyway I turn up and have to watch as all those with invites help themselves to the free buffet and drink on offer where I had to pay for my burger and chips. The owner is laughing and joking, surrounded by his cronies for general backslapping. He looked up and raised his glass to me, but still didn't gesture me to the freebies. Needless to say, I just left without paying. I was disgusted.
Location: English language school
Dilemma: Other teacher who knows the ins and outs of visas, apparently.
''Call me anytime'' he said, and I thought, nice guy, could be useful for advice. I had a friend who was a new teacher and wanted all the work permit advice etc etc. Anyway this guy sends him to some place in Chaeng Wattana Road and tells him they'll just stamp his passport page with a permit for 2000Baht. Wrong. It took him about 2 months and thousands of Baht in travel and other 'experts' to get what he wanted.
I didn't go up to the guy and say ''I thought you knew'' because I could see he was squirming about it each time I saw him. I should have told him, but by that time I was starting to realise a familiar pattern emerging amongst fellow farangs with similar non-existent knowledge. Moral of the story? Don't be a know all, and don't be so gullible.
Location: Kao San Road
Dilemma: Gesticulating backpackers putting the world to rights
This is where a group of freshly arrived travellers judge the entire country on their first 4 hours in Bangkok. Unfortunately I made the mistake of nodding to a friendly enough guy at the next table. He asks the usual ''where are you from'' stuff, and within 5 minutes I have learnt that the best way to explore the country is on the cheapest transport living out of a backpack in the scantest of accomadation.
His friends join at the table, five of them in all. Three are female, with one or two piercings. Age? Around 23 to 25 I'd say. I get introduced as a long termer to the group and they start to grill me about the immoral, paedophilic female trafficking-riddled sex industry.
''They should stamp it out'' Is the most educated solution they offer, and then the next subject is fat western men with younger looking slim Thai females.
''That's vile'' spouts one, ''Yeah they should be arrested when they get back to their own countries'' while another thinks that all pimps should be castrated.
The final subject before I fucked off was about how damaged the beaches were on the islands, due to the locals dumping sewage deliberately where a lot of westerners went to swim, particularly on Koh Phangan, at Had Rin. Before I slunk off I advised them to visit Banglampoo police station and sign the petition on ending prostitution.