Readers' Submissions

Negative People

Ouch. Ok, that hurt a little. I mean last week’s opening piece about negative people. Perhaps it wasn’t inspired by my mail to you a few weeks back about the reason we can sometimes be cynical here, but since I have a bit of guilty conscience about it, I guess it doesn’t need to have been. If it was inspired by me, that would be two columns (the other being my Thai date that ordered six meals and didn’t feel like paying or thanking).

So, a few observations, some a little in self defence. There are good and bad people anywhere and everywhere of all nationalities. Some more and some less. In my own estimation, just throwing out numbers, I think it could be said that 99.5% of Bangkok Thai’s are great people, and 99.9% of up-country Thais. So let’s get back to Bangkok…let’s say there are 10 million people. That makes 50,000 not-so good people. Enough that you always need to look over your shoulder. And perhaps some Thais feel the same way? There are sure some loutish farangs here, acting like their skin colour or money make them something special. Maybe sometimes they just feel enough is enough.

Yeah, that email I sent was sure negative and cynical. But that is not my everyday attitude. Aside form getting a “good” girlfriend, I have no problems (and that one is of my own making…if you bottom fish- you get what you look for) Actually, the only thing I really “blame” on Thais is the absurd visa / work permit policies and red-tape. But imagine being one of the unfortunates at Q-bar that night. when it is 5 or 10 baht, I just shrug and walk away. But that’s a 1,000+ baht loss. And as I recall, you weren’t too happy one day at Caltex in Korat, and rightfully so. And your “farang” side came out, raising your voice and swearing, again rightfully so.

For me, a big one is the following:

First of all, I’m embarrassed to tell this story cause I live here and I should know better, but one night with a date, leaving the Sukhumvit area in a taxi, I told the driver to bring us to Ratchada Seafood. He said why not just go to Seafood Palace by Asoke BTS, it’s right here! Of course, I now know he got a commission. (in my defence, I had just been off the plane from Boston for 3 hours – 30 hours of travel leaves a dead brain). Anyway – 3 ordinary, shitty plates of seafood and 2 beers – what would cost 500-600 baht at most places, and I was presented a bill for 1,700 baht. Worse was I only had 1,000 and my date had to loan me money. So that’s a 1,200 baht rip-off. I pieced it all together: no posted prices, and the waiters were evasive when asked about prices. Also, I guarantee they put a finger on the scale when weighing the fish. Anyone would be wise to avoid this place. I know better now. (yes, I let my farang side come out… I VERY politely and smilingly complained and tried to do something, the female Thai manager was VERY quick to get rude with me and insult me (she called me a wanker while I was still extremely polite) didn’t take me long to call her a fat cunt and worse…my intention was to get her farang boyfriend involved, he was sitting next to her in the locked glass booth they have there (gee, I wonder why?). I called her every name in the book and he never moved, even after I invited him outside. He was real Euro Trash, tight leather pants, hadn’t washed or combed his hair in a month, smoking a faggy long brown cigarette, he must have been French. What would you or I do if someone used those names with our S.O.?)

The good though, far outweighs the bad…it’s just that sometimes, it gets a little weary. Last week I got on an air-con bus, the driver and ticket guy both gave me dirty looks, and the ticket guy treated me very rude as I paid. (I was dressed polite, jeans and dress shirt, have a short conservative haircut, no jewelry / piercings / tattoos, said “Kop Khun Krup” when he gave me the ticket). Approaching my stop I rang the bell. The driver refused to stop. As we flew by my stop, I rang again. Flew by the next stop. This time I kept my finger on the button for 5 seconds. The ticket guy finally talked to the driver, who pulled over at the next stop and they both gave me dirty looks as I got out. What did I do here? This is not an isolated incident. On the flip side, I am well aware sometimes I get special treatment because I am farang. At my fitness club, I paid for “Off-peak” before 4pm. About once per month I go at night, knowing they will not say no to a farang, (but they would to a Thai).

As for foreigners in Thailand, what percent is bad? At least 5%, maybe 10? So that’s a considerable amount more than Thai’s. yes, I think the bad ones do travel a little, because many of their scams won’t fly at home. When I lived in Prague, you couldn’t eat anywhere near a tourist area, cause you were going to get cheated, sometimes heavy. And take a cab? Forget it, all thieves.

Lastly, as for up-country Thais – just fantastic people. I am a freelance writer, and I travel up-country frequently. Last trip to Isaan (Yasothon, Mukdahan, and Roi Et). I went to a pub one night in Yasothon, about 2km from city centre and my hotel. About midnight, I felt tired and wanted to go home. I asked the doorman if he could call a tuk-tuk for me. He said they didn’t come until 2am, cause nobody went home before then. He made a phone call and asked me to wait. After 5 minutes a cop came and the doorman pointed me out to the cop. My Bangkok cynicism went on full alert. The cop told me to get in. He then drove me home to my hotel, and wished me “fun dee”. Next night..met a girl working in a drugstore and asked her out to dinner. She brought 2 friends. My Bangkok cynicism dreaded the bill. They ordered reasonable, and we ate everything. When the bill came (I figured it would be about 600-700 and had no problem paying it), I held out a 1,000 baht note for the waiter. One of the girls grabbed the check and paid it. she flatly refused any money from me, despite my pleading. I tried a few times, and she refused, I even offered to split it, no way – she paid it all. Next night in Mukdahan. I am eating at a restaurant (only a couple customers) and the waitress is chatting with me. I tell her I am here to see the sights around the province, and list a few. She asks how I will get there. I tell her, tuk-tuk, songtaew, whatever. She has the next day off, and offers to take me around on her motorcycle. We spend the day together. At the end of the day I take her to dinner, then I tell her I want to take her shopping, buy her some clothes as a thank you. She refuses. I insist, she refuses. I insist, she refuses, just asks me to send her copies of pictures I took that day. I later found out that in the last two examples, this is old-fashioned Thai tradition, that the host must take care of the guest, and I actually insulted them by offering money or to pay for them. Kind of different from Bangkok, eh? On another note, neither of these girls showed ANY interest in sleeping with me, and I just had a feeling it would take me 10-15 dates with each, and showing serious interest, for me to get that far. It was actually a nice feeling, that there are still 100% decent people around (Thai OR farang). And those are just 3 of a dozen similar stories from one – five day trip.

Anyway, as always, you have given us something interesting and relevant to ponder. I sure hope that’s not me, although I know some that think that way often. Keep up the good work.

Stickman's thoughts:

Comments to follow in a few days.