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Stranger Than Fiction – 2




Living in Thailand is ….. different. No matter how much you try, it is simply impossible to understand Thai thinking, Thai logic. And the stupidity of people sometimes takes the breath away. Okay, we all know about the lack of education that many Thais receive, and the pathetic standard of teaching, so at least they have an excuse. In how many countries would you find a girl with a university degree who doesn’t know which side of America New York is on? I have a relative here who matches that description. And now she’s teaching others. But it’s not just that. It’s the utter lack of common sense you find that is simply mind-boggling. I’ve been collecting stories and incidents from various newspapers and forums for some time, and I’ll share them with you.

There was the story of someone who wanted to buy some stamps at the post office. Should be simple, but TIT. The postal clerk said they were out of stamps, but there they were, right in front of him. “There are some stamps right in front of you," the guy said, feeling rather perplexed. But there was, of course, an explanation. “Those are the only stamps we have. If we sell them to you, we won't have any stamps. And the post office has to have stamps," said the clerk.

Then there was the guy with a girlfriend from Korat whose mother came to stay in their apartment in Bangkok. One day they sent her out to get some food and wondered what was taking her so long. When they went to investigate they found her still standing by the lift doors waiting for the lift to come and get her. She hadn't worked out that you had to press a button. Whoa.

Or what about the chap who tried to buy a hat. One cost 25 baht. Very cheap, but when you’ve been here a while you’ll haggle for anything and he tried to make a deal on buying three. How much? 85 baht, he was told. No matter what he said, the price was 85 baht for 3 hats, 10 baht more then if he’d bought them separately. So he tried buying one hat at a time, but that was too much for the salesperson, who thought the customer was trying to cheat him and refused to sell.

We’ve all been here, haven’t we? There was a guy who took his Thai girl to a restaurant, and when the bill came he knew it was too high. Of course, the explanation was simple – if you are Thai. The girlfriend made inquiries, and the staff explained to her that the prices on the menu were last year's prices and what they had been charged was this year's. No, there was no copy available of this year's menu.

There’s more. You might remember that a chief reporter at the Bangkok Post was fired for reporting the cracks in the runway at Suvarnabhumi airport. Well, he sued the paper for unfair dismissal, saying the termination of his employment was wrong and unprecedented, since no Post reporter had ever faced dismissal for inaccurate reporting. Wonderful. Of course, when the cracks were found to exist after all the court ordered he be given his job back. Strange no-one wandered out to the runway to check if his story was true in the first place. Too simple.

And did you know that the government once proposed exchanging Thai chickens for Russian fighter jets? The government was a bit short of the readies, and got CP Foods in on a deal. "This barter trade is a good concept to push our farm exports,'' said Adirek Sripratak, the president and CEO of Charoen Pokphand Foods at the time. "It is not necessary to trade the jets only with chicken. Other farm products like rice, rubber and shrimp should be considered."
Talking of odd Government thinking, there was concern in some quarters that the images on Google Earth would show Thailand’s security areas. Their solution? Blot out the places. So, if terrorists wanted to plan an attack on Thailand, they would just have to look at the maps and search for the blots to find their targets.

But one of my favourite stories concerns an agent that was trying to sell a condo. The potential customer was impressed as the apartment was massive. But then he noticed something rather odd. The huge lounge had two staircases, and there were two identical bathrooms and bedrooms upstairs. There were also two kitchens. When asked about this oddity, the agent revealed that the previous owners had been a couple who had removed the dividing wall between their two apartments to make one big one.

Very nice. Except aren’t walls there for a purpose, like holding the building up? But that wasn’t all. The couple had split up, and only one of them was selling their half. So, in theory, the owner of the other half could just walk in at any time through the second door and live in ‘your’ living room.

Truly, only in Thailand.

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Stickman's thoughts:

A great collection of only in Thailand stories!