Stickman Readers' Submissions August 11th, 2009

Why I Have Stopped Visiting Thailand

Being semi-retired and living in North Asia, I used to go to Thailand a couple of weeks almost every month in order to chill out. At the beginning I was really fascinated by the country, its people, the food, their mai pen rai attitude
and many other aspects. Before visiting, I did my homework and Stickman’s site provided me with a heap of useful information in order to avoid pitfalls. I took the time to study the language, which contributed to make my visits there more
pleasant and profitable. I hooked up after a certain time with a decent Thai girl, visited her family, traveled with her to many places, well! I enjoyed myself a lot. This way of life continued for over five years. (I will not bore you with details).
However gradually I began to uncover the “underbelly” of the country (I mean the ugly and dark sides). Allow me to elaborate.

I experienced oftentimes double pricing, especially in a number of restaurants (unless I was accompanied by a local). I was short-changed many times when making purchases. Even the hotel on Suk Soi 11/1 where I used to put up for many years
tried to charge me one day for an additional night and for drinks I never consumed. Well, they lost a good customer. I have endless of examples to illustrate my grunts.

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But what really has upset me is the horrible scam on innocent tourists at the King Power duty free shops in Swampy airport. This is unbelievable and frightening. I find this practice just disgusting. A few years back, I had bought something from them
and I paid with a 1,000 baht note. I got my change which included a 500 baht banknote and when I went back later to Bangers, I bought something with this 500 baht note, and the shopkeeper told me it was a fake note. I apologized and explained
how I got this note. Luckily enough, the shopkeeper did not call a copper. Wow! That was a close one! If I had been questioned by the police, how could I have explained what had happened in the duty free shop in the airport. No one would have
believed me. In the same vein, later I changed money in the airport when entering Thailand. I found later that one of the 500 baht note was cut a little bit on one side, so the numbers were not visible and I could not use that note. On another
occasion, I changed money and had found that a 100 baht note had been placed instead of a 500 baht note. (I was stupid not to count my money). Still in the airport on another occasion, I almost had my suitcase snatched in front of my eyes by an
Asian girl, who did not look like a traveler. In fact I walked belatedly to the baggage turntable, since processing by immigration had been unusually slow, and there was almost no one at the baggage turntable when I arrived there. I learned later
that gangs were operating inside of the airport and stole suitcases. That was also a close one.

Well, what used to be pleasant trips to Thailand turned progressively into a loss of trust in these people and this situation made me very tense at times. I am well informed about what has been going on of late years in that country, since I read a lot
about it and I have experienced first hand various rather unpleasant situations there. I am not paranoid, but each time I visited the country, I was increasingly worried about being at the wrong place at the wrong time. If you are in trouble there,
the men in brown will not help you and on the contrary they will probably try to get the upper hand and extort money from you. The Tourist Police seems to be also a big joke. This has really spoiled my holidays. Of course, there are also bright
sides. Not all Thais are bad. I have met so far really charming (or so they looked) people. But before returning home, will I be able to fly back home safely has always been in the back of my head. So instead of visiting Thailand, I have been
going recently to Malaysia, Indonesia and other nearby countries. There are of course various problems but fewer hassles in those countries. There is some corruption too, I assume, but probably not systemized as it is in Thailand. One other fact
also to emphasize is the mugging of tourists in broad daylight in busy districts of Bangers.

I read on Stickman’s site that more and more people have similar opinions regarding the degrading situation in Thailand. Thailand’s reputation abroad has been tarnished and the authorities are doing almost nothing to remedy
the situation except lip service. After several visits to Thailand, I had vaguely planned to quit my part time job in the country where I live and to move on to Thailand. I had found a nice and well paid (by Thai standards) job in Bangers and
was about to sign a contract. But all my friends told me I had better continue to work in my country and chill out in Thailand once in a while. Well, upon reflection, I decided to continue my job and visit Thailand almost every month. But as mentioned
above, I became aware of all the tricks and scams rampant there and I do not regret my decision.

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Anyway I have a lot of good memories of my previous visits to Thailand and I still keep in touch with a few girl friends there (explaining them what is going on in my mind is almost impossible, because they would say “Kae, you think
too mutt,” and maybe this is what is happening in fact.).

Chok dee krap!

Stickman's thoughts:

The number of Westerners becoming disillusioned or even completely put off Thailand is growing. It's sad. I just wish the problems would be acknowledged and then addressed. It would be good for everyone – apart from those who are scamming or cheating others.

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