Readers' Submissions

No Illusions

  • Written by Crass
  • August 7th, 2009
  • 6 min read


After being an avid reader of this site for quite some time, I finally have decided to drop a submission. I enjoy all of the submissions, regardless of the context. Many are much like myself, newbies to Thailand and are seeking advice, and many are seasoned old salts spreading words of wisdom. I find humanity in almost every post.

Although many of these postings seem to turn into almost personal attacks, I certainly do not intend my ramblings to be offensive. These are simply my perspectives.

Thailand is certainly not an “Illusion”. Although my experiences in SEA are limited compared to many on here. I have lived abroad for over 20 years and am neither naive nor inexperienced.

Thailand is a human experience unlike no other. If a person takes the time to understand his environment, he quickly realizes that few places are as “real” as Thailand. Nowhere will people’s motives shine through so clearly.

The metric of value is most often described in a monetary sense. It is most fitting. Your value as a person is directly linked to your financial capacity. This is not a Thailand phenomena, this is worldwide. Only in Thailand (and neighbors) is the context of “self” removed.

In our cultures we are repulsed by the idea of a person's worth equals money. Yet it is what we use to measure almost all success by. Movies, songs, and talk shows that tell us, that our “goodness” is what is really important, confuse us. Do you think my boss keeps me because I am a “good guy”? No. I am an earner for him. The moment I am no longer an earner for him. I am gone. Sound familiar?

Gen Macarthur warned us to never get involved in a land war in Asia. It is because Asians use human capital in a business sense, and we can never comprehend this, nor should we. We are simply completely different types of humans.

This is the experience that I love and crave. Thailand is raw. Thailand is in a lot of ways similar to combat. I have multiple combat tours, and currently work as an independent so I know a little bit about gun fighting.

When you step out the door in Thailand, you better be wired tight or you are in a bind. I am never more alive than when I am here. It has little to do with sexual conquests. It has everything to do with senses and instincts. Every single encounter is a potential scam, shakedown. Every time you spot a cop, you start planning contingencies. Every financial transaction with a vendor is a test. If your mind cannot compute change quickly, you're done. The propensity for violence is underlying everywhere. The fact that we ingest alcohol, take our clothes off, and bare our hearts to strangers we can barely speak to, only adds to the excitement. I feel hunted everyday. Combat is the only other environment that stimulates the mind and senses more than Thailand.

When I am in America, I am so bored. America is designed to make you weak mentally. There is no edge in suburbia. Are there scams? Oh yes. I read how many people are disillusioned by Thailand and the never-ending scams. Brother, in America it is called Capitalism, and we broke the ride. The scams in Thailand are petty compared to some financial instruments Americans designed. America is the illusion, my friends. It is a veneer of success built on the premise of debt.

I understand, what is meant by the “illusion of Thailand”, the lovely Siam girls who claim to love you, the smiles etc, etc… Brother that is no illusion. They truly love you as long as you have means to provide, and that is no illusion. We simply try to put a western perspective of what people have told us love is, and try to cut-and-paste it on these lovely ladies. Although I over simplify things it is a simple equation. In Thailand, money=security, and security=love. Security is always a temporary condition, so accordingly so is love. This is how mankind lived for thousands of years. Why did we mess with it, and try to inject guilt and monogamy into the equation? Oh yeah, religion, the oldest and easily the most profitable scam ever invented.

Another complaint. The Thai smile. Thai people smile at you to put you at ease. When you are at ease you are susceptible. That is sales 101; every car dealer in the world learns that day one. In Thailand he is some little brown dude trying to scam you. In America he is a white guy selling you an over-priced car you can’t afford.

Thais are racist. How is this shocking? Only in the Caucasian world is this condemned. Which is odd coming from a demographic of the world’s greatest racists. The fact that the majority of the world is racist and does not apologize for it is baffling to us. American perspective. I am conditioned to feel guilty about slavery; therefore everyone else on the planet should adopt my ideas. Hmmm. That sounds like Dick Cheney thinking out loud. Thais want Farangs to succeed and be prosperous. We can begin as soon as the last Thai is set for life. To desire that your people succeed above all others is sound business.

This should raise some eyebrows with readers. Thais expect personal accountability; certainly not from themselves of course, but from us. If we are stupid and get scammed, their perspective is “you should have known” Guess what? Their right. Now I am guilty as the next guy, I date bar girls exclusively. However, I expect the scam. For me it is the excitement and the disappointment of the human experience. I never feel more connected to who I am, than when experiencing the thrill and disappointments of impossible love.

I shall conclude, that I have over-generalized the experience. I have painted Thais as being greedy scam artists, and westerners as overly naive moralists. This was not my intent. I apologize. I love this place because like many others I have failed the first half of my life. Depression and sorrow drove me here. The kill-or-be-killed environment quickly brought me out of depression. My life was saved by the apathy of Bangkok. How odd.

It isn’t an illusion. The illusion in our lives is that we will never be disappointed, hurt, or ashamed. That I have a value to others not based upon their needs. That I am not being used in some shape or form by every encounter. That I am not a “user” of others, and I am somehow above this. That is the illusion.


Addendum: During my proofread I realized that this post is somewhat of a buzz kill. I really am a nice guy who looks for the best in everyone, just expects the worst. I am fun and generally I am not a downer. I think I was just in a self-reflecting mood today. Whisky and Springsteen will do that from time-to-time.

Stickman's thoughts:

I liked the comparisons between Thailand and combat. Sometimes life in Thailand can seem like a battle.