A Simple Bar Of Soap
It's a plain fact that of the huge numbers of foreign tourists coming to Thailand, a large proportion of arrivals here are single males, many of whom travel here with the express purpose of finding themselves a life partner.
This is the modern version of the 70's, when northern European families would holiday in Spain and teenage daughters would fall madly in love with their hotel's table waiter. 30 years later, the same father who talked his lovesick daughter out of what he knew would be a futile and disastrous relationship with 'Manuel', now finds himself in a Bangkok a-go-go or Pattaya beer bar lusting after Manuel's female, oriental counterpart . . though this time, who is going to be there for 'dad' to rescue him from his hopeless self as he did for his poor daughter those many years ago?
Even if you really believe that you are one of those here 'just for the sex', you'll sooner or later find yourself struck by that special someone who you just can't let go of quite so easily. You'll fall in love – or think you have . . . and you too will then become a man who, though he ought to know better, is acting exactly like a hopeless school-girl.
Oh for the ability to see ourselves as others do . . . but we don't want to see the truth, do we?
No matter that Nok, Nit or Noi has about as little education, experience or competence as Manuel (Fawlty Towers) and the English skills to boot, we are in love! It's the real thing, she's different, and the folks back home don't understand . . .
Never learn, do we . . . ? (I apologised to any Heidi, Jane or Sandra reading this who has spent the last 30 years in wedded bliss living in Malaga or Barcelona with her childhood sweetheart (though he's rather old, fat and podgy now)
Look at it another way. Imagine that one night back in your own country you had a few more beers than usual and ended up bagging that sex-bomb in the low-cut red dress, the floozie on the dance floor with the body built for sex and that come-on look. How did that one work out? Well you took her home, but it turned out she lived in the wrong side of town . . .
And so what? Well, you'd look at the family background and education of a western woman, wouldn't you? You'd have to, if it was going to work. Her job, her qualifications, her interests, politics, even! What does her father do? What kind of woman is her mother? You'd expect to see similar values and attitudes there. You know damned well you would!
It's not the girl's fault . . . some individuals from poor backgrounds are worthy (who am I to act as judge?), but for most of us our families would be horrified if we associated with the kind of women in our own countries as we do here. And we know it wouldn't work out anyway! Father unskilled, unemployed and broke – and a heavy drinker to boot! The mother, old before her time, spending most of her days sleeping or gossiping with neighbours, while the family home rots. Brothers not working, sponging off their sisters . . who work the bars and massage parlours.
But we think nothing of familiarising and associating ourselves here with these kind of people. We really do leave our brains and common-sense at the airport – it's OK! It's Thailand! It's not their fault! It's the 3rd world! It's the way it is!
Yeah, right. It's one thing to be poor. In my parents' day, many, including themselves, were brought up that way. But there is poor and there is proud. There is acceptance and there is industry and determination to do better. There is lack of money and there is thrift.
Yes, it confuses me too . . . wouldn't it be great to turn back the clock and re-discover that sweetheart of your younger days – or the one you dreamed of but never found?
But can we really come here and expect that to happen?
Fact is, and we have been told this by folk back home, we're really just fooling ourselves. Sure, there is always the exception, but in most cases and in the long run a Thai girl will never be a good match for us. OK, so she looks good, cooks well and is easily satisfied . . . but that bridge is just too wide to cross – as many have already found out to their cost! Thais are lacking in just about everything else that creates character and makes a person interesting. Thais are obsessed with the minor issues in life (appearances and cellphones) because that's all they have, all they want and all they'll ever be.
You are not seeing that yet, but you will . . . !!
I got to thinking about these things as I am now holidaying in Australia. It occurred to me just this morning whilst driving . . . this country has just few hundred years of history behind it yet in such a short time it has built itself to be one of the finest countries in the world. All the Australians I have met have been kind, friendly and helpful. They can be truly be proud of their achievements. They have a wonderful lifestyle, the towns and cities are clean and modern. Some of the housing is absolutely wonderful, but practically all properties – big and small – are neat and well maintained. They have a respect that extends to caring for their environment, even down to providing emergency assistance to wildlife that might be injured on the roads! That's right, no mangy, injured or diseased stray dogs roaming the streets here! Can you imagine that?
In that sleepy corner of the world called Thailand . . . after more than a thousand years of inhabiting the country – what have they achieved? Infrastructure? The US built it for them during the Vietnam war. Bangkok? It sprang into life fuelled by the influx of the foreign money and foreign ideas that followed. The resorts? You know full well where that money came from!
In almost every developed country in the world, entrepreneurs, capital and qualifications are welcomed with open arms into dynamic and forward looking economies. Here? Huh, look through some of the other subs to find out. You are not accepted, your skills are not appreciated and your investments are always at risk. For the rest: spend your money – and leave!
Sitting-on-beach-other-day-surrounded-by-seagull: "Australia-not-eat-bird?" she ask "Not wild one" I reply. "Thai-eat-EVERYthing" she say.
I quietly thought to myself "Yeah, that just about sums it up. If a Thai could harvest enough badgers, he'd live off the contents of his nose . . and think he was smart in doing so. He'd nibble his fingers for lunch and save his arm for dinner (keeping the right one for cooking with). Anthony Hopkins style, he wouldn't miss it if he ripped off his skull and sautéed his frontal cortex. He'd then have a handy place to keep his ciggies and hand-gun. By and large they have scavenged off the land and not put anything back. Food for free: wildlife, insects and leaves from the trees. Why work? And it's still going on to this day.
I just don't get this: I'm driving through the Aussie outback – yet the grass verges are cut and the hedgerows cropped. I've not seen litter or a blade of overgrown or untidy grass anywhere. Aussies who hold down full time jobs also find the time to keep their gardens neat, houses painted and communities in picture-book condition. Hourly rates are probably 10 times those of Asia yet the roads are swept and public lavatories are SPOTLESS!
Compare that to Asia; Thai labour is cheap yet under-employed locals hang around or sleep all day (I recall the sub 'My Isaan' – that writer must be insane!) . . . waiting for someone (read FOREIGNERS) to give them a job. And we're worried that Asia is going to take all our jobs and overtake us?? . . . hey, why does a Thai motorcycle have wing mirrors? To stop him falling off when he parks up to sleep on it all day.
I've been more than critical in 90% of my subs over the last few years (some signed in a different name) but the feedback from you lot tells me that I'm not the only one feeling somewhat disillusioned with 'paradise'.
Whatever the reason we came here, this country invites us on the one hand and, as Dana said, gets pissed when we show up.
I realised long ago that the bridge really is too wide. Unless we are prepared to take a huge step backward – even leaving the massive acceptance and 'rights' issues to one side for a moment – this will never be a comfortable home for us.
On the other hand, in my travels throughout the country I have met some foreigners who claim to have adapted and are comfortable living here – though financial issues and a large daily intake of alcohol have certainly facilitated this process. I have also noticed their lives are always 'managed' by a 'carer' who is manipulating the poor sod for personal financial benefit behind the scene. It's a tough life for those who want it easy, and living off 'farang' is better than living off ants eggs and fish sauce.
If someone out there can offer other reasons why the 'West' got there while the rest of the world still lives in the stone age then please do. I'm waiting to hear from you. And save the 'exploitation by international companies or the US' stuff, I've read all that and used to believe it. Not now. As my dad used to say, everyone can afford a bar of soap!
I'd say, before you go wai-ing and smiling to all and sundry, making excuses for impoliteness and bad service, being discriminated against or ignored, then leaving notes (not small coins) as tips, have a think about the red dress and wrong side of town.
Wise up, guys. We can do a lot better than this.
Many English contributors to this site write negatively about the way the UK is going, it's government, over-regulation and punitive tax regime. The changes in the law against fathers and men in general are often quoted, and I have to agree with all of that. In spite of the many positives, it's difficult to understand why certain changes have been made with the results all to clear for all to see. It's criminal what's going on, to my mind it can all be traced to 'big brother' government. We need government, certainly.
But not this monstrous, intrusive, tax devouring, paper money printing regime we now have.
However, when one travels to so many parts of the world, the influence of Great Britain and the old British Empire is still there to see to this day. It is both inspiring and humbling to realise what a great history our country has (OK, I know we can be criticised for it, to!)
There is still a lot of Commonwealth out there (not sure nowadays who is still in or out!) but besides the obvious English speaking countries (Aussie, NZ, Canada, South Africa, and the US!) there are so many countries right here in SE Asia (not to mention Asia and the middle east) whose histories are mixed with and have been heavily influenced by the British. Here is just a few:
I was in Burma recently – Rangoon now looks like a decayed Manchester city centre – the whole country is steeped in British history. Then there is Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, where the history – and present day connections – with the British will immediately hit you in the face.
Of course Britain was trading with the Chinese centuries ago. HSBC – the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation – is a British bank. And there's so much more, check it out.
Re- Thailand. The Brits used to mine tin in Phuket, and the whole southern region was controlled by the British and only handed over to (then) Siam as part of the Anglo/Siam agreement in 1904. Note how Burma has a spine that runs down the west side, right to the south of Thailand?? That whole area in the south was never part of Thailand and is populated by Malays, not Thais. Different language, culture . . . and they want OUT! Hence the current problems in the south . . .
Add the fact that Buddhism comes from India, most Thai culture is of Khmer (Cambodian) origin, a lot of the north-east is former Laotian territory and that business in Thailand has always been dominated by the Chinese . . . and you are starting to realise why 'nationalism' and 'racism' are so prevalent in Thailand. There is little that's actually 'Thai' in Thailand to hold together! The emperor has no clothes!
Back to what I was saying: I've heard (and read here) so many English people dragging down their country, the women, the weather (agree totally!) and all things UK. Please take a minute to reflect on the above, because when you travel to so many
places then you'll understand what a great nation we used to be. All men are born equal, yet we define ourselves by our actions and through taking personal responsibility in our lives.
OK, this has gone on enough, and I've ended up trying to fit too much in. Like she said "It's up to you'