I Heart Thailand
What’s all this whining about Thailand I’ve been reading of late? It certainly seems to be reaching unprecedented levels at the moment.
It is definitely true that whining about their adopted country has always been one of the ‘expatriates’ favourite pastimes, but it seems to me, that recent events have resulted in a near frenzy of whining.
Well I’m here to tell you that all those complaints and difficulties are what make Thailand great for the non-Thai.
All right, stop shouting and think for a moment about the reasons why most of you are here, or at least, came here in the first place, either for a holiday or to live: The low cost of living, right? The hordes of young ladies looking to make some easy money to send home to their impoverished families, yes?
Why do you think that the economy is so poor and the cost of living so low in the first place?
“Dire effects” for whom, exactly?
Let’s have a look at some of the more popular complaints:
The Foreign Business Act: This, we read, is reducing foreign investor confidence and making it difficult for foreign companies to come to Thailand. Great! We don’t want foreign investors coming here and pumping up the economy, creating more jobs for Thai nationals and doing silly stuff like reducing poverty. How is that going to keep the cost of living down and keep us in the manner to which we are accustomed? <That is just crass – Stick>
The housing market is in a slump you say? It’s increasingly difficult for foreigners to buy a house and it’s uncertain whether condo purchases will be affected at some point in the near future?
Fantastic! I rent.
Empty apartment buildings mean lower rent. Lower rent means more money to blow on beer and broads.
The ‘Restive South’ and bombs going off in Bangkok is affecting tourism. What can I say? Fewer tourists mean less money coming into Thailand. Less money means more Thais on the bread line, which means more fathers encouraging their daughters to go work in Nana Plaza (“oh, please go on the game”). Hoo haa! More bombs please!
Oh, and cracked runways and tales of woe from the new Airport all do their bit to keep those tourist dollars out of the country too.
Don’t even start me on dual pricing! Tell the world! Discourage those cash-rich tourists from even thinking about buying a ticket to come here.
The state of the pavements (sidewalks) is just atrocious – “you have to walk around with your eyes down all the time to be sure you don’t trip up”. Come on! Who hasn’t drunkenly tried to balance their way, arms outstretched, along the ‘thin blue line’ at two in the morning? You know, the ‘thin blue line’. That really badly laid plastic water pipe that runs along the odd-numbered side of Sukhumvit.
Update – June 2007 : Since writing the bulk of this submission I note to my consternation that, in what seems to be a very discouraging show of progress from the Thai authorities that the ‘Thin blue line’ now seems to have been repaired – thereby removing another little source of adventure from our lives. Booooo.
So I say let's keep pedestrianism interesting. Anyway, repairing all the pavements would just encourage motorcycle taxis and pizza delivery bikes to use them more. And that’s not what we want is it?
Low paid, corrupt officials? Well if they were paid more they wouldn’t be so willing to take bribes. And I like being able to bribe cops.
How many countries in the world can you drive up the bus lane with a police motorbike escort to get to your destination quickly for the meager sum of 300 baht? Nah, keep those wages down I say!
To all the teachers out there banging their heads against the wall with unruly students who pay no attention in class, spending more time on their mobile phones or giggling with their friends because they know they will not be failed at the end of term, I say let them act out, learn nothing and give them good grades anyway. The little darlings. These children may well go on to govern the country – heaven forbid they might actually be really educated. They will help maintain the status quo of graft-loving underachievers, and keep this country just how we like it. Good work teachers!
Brainless TV shows getting you down? It has been said that these TV shows are deliberately dumbed-down for the populace to keep them all happy and subservient. Good idea. The last thing we want is an educated population that actually asks questions. That just wouldn’t do. They might start trying to change things.
A weak economy means my money goes further. Hell, for me, the Asian financial crisis was like getting a 100% pay rise – I went out and bought a computer, a car and two motorcycles!
If things were to improve, and the economy was to grow accordingly, the cost of goods and services would also increase. This could have disastrous results: I might have to cut back the number of times I go out per week from six to five (I don’t currently go out seven nights a week as I don’t believe in overdoing things).
I might have to cut back on the number of visits per week to (and / or the number of girls I take each visit) the Eden club. I might even have to resort to using public transport instead of taking taxis everywhere. It might be time to consider a move elsewhere – Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines anyone?
Talking on mobile phones in cinemas, crap service in restaurants? Well, I hate those too. But that’s the whole point. In order to change the little annoying things you have to change the mindset of an entire nation and if you do that, a lot of big things will get changed too and the reason that most of us are here is because Thailand is like it is. If it were to change for what some people would believe to be the better, then it wouldn’t be the place we all love. It would be somewhere else.
Sure the future doesn’t look too rosy for the Thai people but having said that, the past wasn’t too rosy for the majority of Thai people either was it?
Anyhow, all the above is really just so many words because Thailand will never change and do you know why? Apart from very few exceptions, everybody I ever hear complaining about Thailand is not a Thai. The vast majority of Thai people do not look ahead any further than lunch and do not see these things as problems. And, apart from the odd newspaper article, I have rarely ever read, or heard, from one Thai who has a bad word to say about (or who won’t take offence if you try to suggest that there might be a problem with) any aspect of Thai society. Or public amenities. Or restaurants. Or litter on beaches. Or Robinsons counter clerks. Or Cinemas. Or inane TV shows. Or schools. Or the FB bleedin’ A.
Hands up who loves Thailand?
Me. I do.
That’s why I don’t want it to change.
Sometimes I feel pangs of guilt for writing about where people can get a cheap meal, or where the prettiest girls can be found. But for sure, I would never ever begrudge Thai people from developing, from upping their skills and increasing their employability. Thailand is already very cheap. Too cheap some would say. I hope the country develops and a lot of the nonsense goes away. Sure, while I avail myself of cheap prices and the bargains around, but I do want to see the country progress and the people prosper.
I appreciate your honesty but I find it horribly disconcerting at the same time.