To Educated Thai Woman
I agree with Stick that it is always interesting to read submissions from Thai readers. I personally welcome more of these.
The one sent in by "Educated Thai Woman" contains some points that I wish to perform a bit of rambling about.
First, I totally agree that there are honest, intelligent and hardworking people in Thailand. I have previously held a management level position in a company in Bangkok, and we had little problems with any of our employees. To the contrary, I met there some of the smartest people I ever had the pleasure to work with, and I also became a personal friend with a division manager of whom I to this day can count among my very best friends in this good country.
In my Bangkok time I had opportunity to relate to a number of Thai people hailing from the upper echelons of Thai society. This through business, chamber of commerce meetings, the odd party at some ambassador's residence and so forth. Social occasions, dinners, whatnot.
On more my more private time I have had occasion to interact with people that represent the vast majority of the population. Be it a Nongkhai samlor driver, Chiang Mai school teacher, a southern fisherman and, I readily admit, the folks who tends to tourists in mentioned Nana, Patpong and Soi Cowboy.
Now, our "Educated Thai Woman" says she is unfamiliar with certain parts of Bangkok. This is likely the truth, as she describes the working lasses as "just plain ugly". A preposterous statement. Sure, there are a few working girls out there that are ugly. Many are plain looking, but there is also a fair amount of sheer stunners. After all, the prostitution business is one where beauty equals better income potential.
Whether or not the working girls are disgusting is more a matter of opinion and definition of morals. They are obviously not disgusting to the many customers they attract. But probably quite disgusting to those who see them as a face-losing phenomenon to the Thai nation.
There are indeed old and ugly farangs out there shopping for company. But there are also all other sorts. Should "Educated Thai Woman" care to investigate she would be surprised, I am sure. She will see that the farangs that frequent Patpong, Nana and Cowboy includes younger and quite handsome specimens. She will, if she can recognize them, see farangs from the highest circles. There are ordinary tourists simply curious about the infamous red light districts as well as regulars who through decades have had these areas as their recreational playgrounds.
I do not agree to the statement that the readers submissions on the Stick website comes out as describing a "large majority of Thai girls are willing to sleep with any “farang” and ready to rip them off." Rip offs happens, but clearly not very often. Consider the amount of "transactions" on any given night in Thailand and then how relative to that very few bad incidents are reported. We all know this. Stories of rip-offs are useful in the sense that they serve as warnings to others about certain situations one wants to avoid, perhaps specific places one should steer clear of and so on. But it is known that the chance of being ripped off by a bar girl is small. (Unless we go into longer term relationships that tends to include all those sick buffalos and other costly factors). And I think rip-offs are actually more prevalent in businesses other than farang related prostitution in Thailand. Gem scams, tailor shops, taxi and tuk tuk drivers, real estate. And what about the part of the prostitution businesses closed to farangs? Girls being held against payment made to their families in one form or another is all too usual. That is a right rip off for you, where a girl and her family receives a compensation that is a mere trifle compared to the actual revenue gained.
While on the subject of prostitution in Thailand, it would be interesting to hear "Educated Thai Woman’s opinion on the approximately 74% of her countrymen that regularly uses the services of prostitutes. And perhaps a few words on the fine tradition of boys paying together to send a fellow mate to have his first intimate moment with a "working" girl. (This info from the reports of a survey made a few years ago. Printed in the Nation, Bangkok Post or both?).
I would not surround myself with a bunch of low-class, un-educated, rude and bad people in my own country, and neither do I when in Thailand. Lower class and less education does not necessarily equal rude and bad. Just as rude and bad does not equal lower class and lack of schooling.
The worst cases of downright rudeness, lack of manners and what people coming from 'western' cultures would consider childish whims in inconsiderate actions I have found among those supposed to have been groomed by good schools and established
families. The ugly side of the Thai system of higher person / lower person has to me manifested itself through how I have seen people in position take advantage of, use and humiliate, belittle, their fellow Thai man and woman. The absolutely rudest
and meanest people I have met in Thailand have come from "higher" classes, period.
The on average best people, in my opinion, that I have come across in Thailand, are those of the "working" and lower middle classes. Genuine hospitality, honesty, generosity and good feeling have in my about 8 years of Thailand travels here been offered from those of more modest means – much more so than from the 'better off's'.
There are indeed plenty of nice, hard working poor Thai people. They are probably the majority of the population. I am pleased to read that "Educated Thai Woman" respect them as much as she respects anybody.
A lot of Thai people are ashamed of the red light districts of Bangkok. "Where there is a demand there is a supply" is indeed the truth. Perhaps a small consolation can be found in the fact that the red-light districts of Bangkok is considered nicer, safer, more fun and better value for money that other such places in western countries. And a good chunk of much needed foreign currency is flowing in through them. Apart for fees for services rendered, there is all the money that goes to buy gold, cure disease ridden farm animals and other members of up-country families. Honda Thailand should be smiling, and so should Siam Cement and Thai Air and a few others.
When "Educated Thai Woman" writes that she never had, until visiting London, "seen a drunken person up close and personal before" I am wondering. Even if she has lived an extremely isolated life before, this is somewhat hard to believe. Bangkok is not really divided into areas with exclusively rich people having monopoly on certain parts. The homeless and lost mingles in the streets with the rest of the population, and squatters can be observed in the great many abandoned building projects citywide. Some slum areas can be seen along the railway tracks, there for all and sundry to peruse. Trash and filth and utter poverty is not really hidden, is it? And as far as consumption of alcohol as well as illegal drugs go Bangkok has a more than fare share of drunks and addicts. Growing up in the city and not ever once encountering even one of the thousands of unfortunates must be quite an accomplishment. Ranging higher than being accepted to attend Oxford or U of M in my book.
And why am I summing all this up? Because it indicates that "Educated Thai Woman" may want to do a bit more investigative work before she pens any critics on other people and places.
"Educated Thai Woman" has benefited from the luxury of being educated in private schools. Good for her, and all honour to her for taking good advantage of her education, getting good jobs and likely making her family proud. However, the presence of better private schools does not help much for the majority that is stuck with the government run tuition system. Please. We all know about this. Farangs can be quite bothersome, I suppose, from time to time. We tend not to accept at face value statements like "the Thai schooling system has been reformed", "there is no AIDS in Thailand" and "software piracy in Thailand is a problem concerning foreigners, not Thai people".
(The Minister of Trade, or whatever, smiling on the BBC news for all the world to see last year insisting that software and other copyright violations rarely concerns Thai citizens in Thailand was a show that might work well enough on local channel 3 or 5. Presented by the globally respected BBC to the world community, the poor fellow did more damage to the "face" of Thailand in a single minute than ten thousand "dirty" bargirls could manage in a year. Incredibly embarrassing it was.)
It is good that "Educated Thai Woman" and the rest of her modest family is fairing well. Though we all know that 4 star generals' sons and daughters does not face higher obstacles, really, in their life than does the offspring of rice farming, uneducated Isaan people. And it is uplifting to read that many of "Educated Thai Woman’s classmates manage to speak English really well. With 75% of them holding a masters degree from Chula and all.
The other side of "Bangkok life many westerners never experience" is not one that I really care much for, myself. I have peeked through that door, and found a menagerie of arrogant people that is often unbelievably out of touch with reality. A scary lack of knowledge and interest in everything behind their border of wealth and position is common in the higher Thai society. The lack of sympathy and respect for those of lower class is disturbing to behold.
I think "Educated Thai Woman" would find it interesting to venture out, unescorted, among the punters of the red light districts. If she can set aside her disgust for a night or two. She could approach some of the quieter farangs and interview them, and talk to some of the girls about their lives. Their backgrounds, their family responsibilities and everything. Get the story from the "other side".
And then send us another reader's submission.
At last, I am submitting this anonymously. I simply do not want to find myself identified as someone criticising anyone hailing from a family with (possibly) power in this country. Call me a coward, possibly I am.
Will Educated Thai woman respond?