Readers' Submissions

Lots of Negativity



Wow. Lots of negativity directed towards Thailand these days from submitters. My contention is street level scamming, or any scamming certainly isn't unique to Thailand. This goes on in any third world country. Experienced travelers should know this and how to avoid being scammed out of a dollar here and a dollar there. The old adage, “Don’t invest any more money than you’re prepared to lose” is true for everything from buying a beer to buying a condo. I chuckled to myself when the writer, Bertie Spud, author of submission “Thailand, a crap place to be” talked about how he's staying in Europe for his vacation to avoid the scams in Thailand. I ever tell you about the check-bin stuffing scam I caught the barmaid doing to my bill at a Holiday Inn hotel bar….in Germany? Or, try taking a walk down La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain sometime and watch the scammers and con artists work on the tourists. A workmate of mine about 10 years ago was stabbed to death on a beach at a popular resort in Spain by some deranged nut.

No question, overall, a vacation in Europe will likely be scam free because you’re in the West and the West isn’t the third world. The West isn’t the third world. Try to get that ingrained into your brain travelers before you embark on your trip to Thailand.

Personally, I’ve never had any problem in Thailand with any sort scamming. Sure, touts, beggars and others looking for an easy baht have approached me but I just wave them off and keep walking or a stern “no thanks” will get the message across. I don’t think I look like an easy target either knowing how to conduct myself in third world countries. I mean, simple things like keeping close tabs on your check-bin, telling the taxi driver to turn on the meter or negotiate a price before leaving and don’t pay a 150 baht bill with a 1000 baht note.

The level of service can be maddening sometimes or it can be excellent. It’s hit and miss but again, you have to lower the bar of your expectations. You’re not in San Francisco, you’re in Thailand. This reminds me of a story. I went to a travel agency to buy an e-ticket to fly a lady friend from Chiang Mai to BKK for a visit. I walk in and the two staff were busy on the phone. There were a couple of couches for customers to sit and wait but were occupied by what I surmised as lazy relatives of the staff. These people looked like they could not afford a plate of grasshoppers let alone use the services of a travel agency.. Surely they realized I was a customer and would get up off the couch and let me sit and wait. Of course they did not but I wasn’t expecting them to. Mai pen rai. I patiently stood there waiting to be assisted. Finally, one of the staff, a lady with good English gets off the phone and assists me. I explain I want to purchase an e-ticket on Thai Airways to fly my lady friend from Chiang Mai to BKK. I give her the dates and passenger information and the lady makes the reservation. She then explains to me I need to fax a copy of the reservation to my friend in Chiang Mai. Huh? Okay, here we go. I explain to her that your average Thai bird doesn’t have a fax machine in her home and the whole purpose of an e-ticket is to eliminate any paperwork. It took some talking to finally get her educated on how e-tickets work and she finally got the message. What would take about 10 minutes to get done in the US took close an hour in Bangkok. Patience and low expectations were two key elements in this scenario. I got it done and walked out with a smile on my face.

" I note that many foreigners who are in favour of Thailand at present are into the nightlife – and that is fair enough." – Stick

This point you made in your comments to Bertie Spud is spot on. Where else is an average 50-something divorced Western male going to go for cheap and easy sex with little stunners half his age? And doesn't necessarily have to pay for it. Certainly not in his home country! I know a lot of guys in Thailand and the Philippines who weren't poor saps in their home country who can only get pussy in Asia. They do because they can and want to, not because they have to. Big difference. Only two ways the said 50-something guy in the West is going to get pussy half his age. 1) He's a millionaire driving a Lamborghini or 2) pays for it and pays hundreds of dollars for it. Mr. Average isn't driving a Lamborghini and a night with a stunner hooker from an escort service in the States and going to cost more than a plane ticket to Bangkok.

Ok, so you get called "farang." Big deal. I never found that offensive. I view being called farang the same as being called a Yank. No big deal. You always have to be on the lookout when doing any sort of business to make sure you don’ tripped off. So you didn't get all your 100 baht change back. Sure, a bit irritating, however, if you're going to visit or live in a third world country, you must shed all expectations that everyday life is going to work the same as in your home country. If you can't, stay home. The visa requirements are a pain in the ass but not insurmountable. I guess you have to decide if the "perks" of living in Thailand outweigh the inconveniences of having to do visa runs. Some writers talk about the other options in Asia. Philippines, Cambodia etc. Each option is going to have its pros and cons so people are going to have to decide what will work best for them.

I can attest, there are other places in this world to go on a mongering holiday. Brazil comes to mind. The women there are nothing less than beautiful and there’s loads of action to be had. There are no a-go-gos per se but the freelancer action is plentiful. There are whorehouses loosely disguised as discos. If you go to Moscow to check out the Kremlin, be sure to visit the Blue Bird club. The place is chock full of beautiful Russian freelancers. And Russia, being the gateway to Asia, the woman are a mix of lovely white girls to Asian looking women to satisfy those with yellow fever, like me. I could easily go on and on about the action in countries all over the world but that might be a submission for another day.

For myself, a 53 year old guy, I too will be retiring to Asia soon when my affairs here in the US are all tidied up. I've been all over Asia and Thailand still remains my #1 choice for a number of reasons despite all the recent negativity . And let's be real here. A single guy looking to retire in Thailand isn’t doing so to look at the wats. It’s all about the women. I have zero interest in shagging a sow here in the US at or near my age. I don't worry about being called "farang" or not getting all my change back or a padded check-bin. All that stuff is small potatoes. Doesn’t bother me. I'm not worried about the visa requirements either. I easily meet all the requirements for a retirement visa.

I will say, the red shirt, yellow shirt thing and the airport closure is a real fly in the ointment. No one wants to live in a country seemingly on the brink of political chaos. That is truly scary and far outweighs worrying about being chumped for a 100 baht or not getting your meal in a timely manner. Because of this, the Philippines, a country I'm quite comfortable in remains a bright spot on my radar. I will go to Thailand first but would not tie myself to the country by buying a house or condo. The reason is simple. You never know when you will need to do a runner. This is true no matter what third world country you decide to live in.

Stickman's thoughts:

The next couple of years in Thailand might be interesting. Once we get past a few of the hiccups in the road we'll have a better idea of where things are going…