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Rawai News And Views




I enjoy Thailand and have been very happy here for the past twelve years. Of course strange things happen but it all comes with the territory.

One does have to stop and wonder now and then. The robberies and break-ins have become so bad in Phuket that the local Thais have barricaded a street in protest and say the next step is to picket the Karon police station.

Now this means that there is a good deal of Thai on Thai crime, not just against expatriates living here. The main concern of the police is to stop tourists at the Chalong circle and give them a two-hundred baht fine for not wearing a helmet while motorcycles scream past me at a hundred K on both sides of my car. Ever read the Phuket Gazette online? Almost as many horror stories as the New York Post. Teenage thieves victimize blind masseuse are today’s headlines in the Gazette.

Last month two teenagers slit the throat of a seventy-one year old woman for a piece of gold jewelry and there’s plenty more news like this.

A visitor from, I think it was from Denmark, was sliced in the face so hard with a machete it knocked out four of his teeth, the authorities of his country have just put up a fifty thousand baht reward for the capture of the perpetrator. Is there a chance of catching this guy? I doubt it.

A friendly police officer, yes there are some here, told me that after midnight I should be safely home in bed and not riding around some where as many Thais are out drunk and one may have tribulation visited upon them at any time. <This has been my policy in Bangkok for some time now, home by midnightStick>

There is still, despite the poor economy, plenty of houses, shop houses and apartment buildings going up here. Who will rent all of these places is a mystery to me. A huge house is going up across the street from me, being built by Thais and poor Burmese people just trying to make a living. Unfortunately this does present a possible danger as some people want to walk into your house in the middle of the night and take your mobile phone for a few bucks which is what happened to a friend of mine. Actually he lost two phones that were in his living room. It could have been in his bedroom and presented even more of a threat. Many people I know keep their doors locked all day and night even when they are at home.

Happily I have a triple alarm system in my house. Three dogs, one is a Springer Spaniel, very alert, who sounds the alarm first. You cough a block away and he is at my front gate already. My poodle comes second, harmless but raising a racket and then the big dog sounds off, a German shepherd who sounds like a bear when aroused and is enough to scare anyone I would think. My main concern is that someone may hop the fence while my dogs are inside sleeping and get themselves hurt so I have a sign on my front gate, ‘Dog Bite You’ in Thai and English and for those that can’t read a picture of a fierce dog’s head.

Every time some poor expat or Thai gets robbed and or murdered here in Rawai the police send out night patrols for a week and then forget about it, although one police car helped two separate people who were knocked off their motorcycles and robbed on the same street within minutes of each other. I have to say not many bad guys are apprehended.

It seems like every day someone writes to Stickman or the Bangkok Post and complains about being robbed by the katoeys on Sukhumvit Road.

I usually feel quite safe when I visit Bangkok as I never walk more than a block or two on Sukhumvit; the cabs are cheap enough and never ever if I have had a few drinks, in fact going out late at night in Bangkok, like anywhere else, and having a few too many is certainly putting yourself at risk.

But what about the ever present pickpockets and katoeys on Sukhumvit robbing everyone they can? What can be done about these people?

I was thinking about this as I have just returned from Spain and saw an amazing thing. I visit Madrid every year and last year my friend was pick-pocketed in the Plaza Mayor which was so rife with gypsies, tramps and thieves that this information is in every guide book that you pick up.

He had his wallet tucked deep inside of his front pocket, so much for that safety precaution. This year we both wore money belts inside of our shirts; however we did not see a single Gypsy, sticky fingered street urchin or any other likely thieves. Why? There were two-man police foot patrolmen all over. I doubt a single tourist is robbed there now. This is not rocket science. Can’t this be done on Sukhumvit? Of course it can and the gem scams that all the tourist guide books warn about can be stopped dead in their tracks with jail sentences handed out to the culprits.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the Tourist Authority of Thailand spends all this money enticing people to visit Amazing Thailand or Hidden Thailand and when they do come here they are scammed, at least here in Phuket, by every single tuktuk driver, motorbike rental guy and jet ski renter. One is also besieged by timeshare touts who are Caucasian, Thai and god knows what else.

One still can not get a bus from Phuket or even from Karon to Patong or a bus from Patong to Surin or Kamala because the tuktuk drivers are The Transportation Authority of Phuket and their word, of course, is law.

Speaking of the law, which is loosely defined here, can’t there be a law that tailors have to stay inside their shops? None of these people are Thai anyway. Don’t bother having a shirt, suit or anything else made in Phuket; every tailor shop and by god there must be a thousand of them here, have their clothes stitched together in the same warehouse in Karon by semi-skilled sewing machine operators.

You want a good cotton shirt made? Go to Bangkok. I have my shirts made at Majestic Tailors around the corner from Nana for 1250 baht each that’s about 36$ American. Hell, I was buying shirts off the rack back home in 1985 for fifty bucks, so this to me is a very good deal on a quality shirt and you may quote me on that. While I am throwing around free advice may I recommend Majestic Suites Hotel, also around the corner from Nana. Reserve ahead, it’s always busy, clean and safe with a very pleasant and helpful staff. Since I have been complaining unbridled from the start, let me say one more nice thing. I recently ate dinner at the German Beer Garden on Soi Eleven, Sukhumvit and it was the best German food that I have had in Thailand and the service was superior. Actually the street is busy, bustling and interesting with many nice eating places. Please notice I said Soi Eleven and not that other street which will go unmentioned here.

Stickman's thoughts:

There is a crime explosion here and some of the crimes have been really nasty. Add that to the fact that the Thais seem to do little to actually prevent crime – even when it is clear that there is a trend and it is is not an isolated incident – and you have to wonder. They really need to take the idea protecting tourists more seriously.