Dazzling the Thais
Have you ever noticed that Thais are very much like magpies? By that I mean that no Thai can resist anything that is bright, shiny and above all colorful. Even a modest Thai temple is festooned with bits of colored glass and mirrors, not to mention scenes from the life of the Buddha painted in neon hues and lots and lots of gold leaf. Wow! Thai silk comes in every color in the rainbow. There is hardly a lovelier sight than a beautiful Thai girl dressed in Thai silk. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking! A beautiful Thai girl au natural is a pretty breathtaking sight also!) No one can ever accuse the Thai people of settling for anything dull and uninteresting. Nope, their philosophy is, the brighter and gaudier, the better. They love to pimp up their cars and motorcycles, especially with lights.
Thais can be pretty full of themselves at times, and extremely hard to impress. They can be like the cat that has just swallowed the canary. Recently though I’ve managed to “raise the bar” when it comes the shiniest, most colorful ride in town!
If you took a quick look at my bicycle during the day, you wouldn’t bother to take a second glance. When it was time to purchase a new bike, I didn’t go for some snazzy high-performance mountain bike. No titanium or graphite composite wonder for old Sawadee. Nope. Instead I chose an ordinary Raleigh. 10 gears? How about no gears? No fancy extras. I did get the shop I bought it from to throw in a couple of mirrors. Unlike the Thais, I actually use mirrors! Life on two wheels, especially ones that you pedal, is dangerous enough without checking who is coming up on you! Lights, both front and rear are a necessity as well. These don’t ensure that Thai drivers will see you any better, except as a possible target, but oh well, you need to do what you can. I have two flashing lights; a white one mounted on the front, and a red one in the rear. While entirely functional, my bike wasn’t about to get anyone’s attention…until I got myself some Monkey Lights. Now I turn so many heads, that Lampang better get itself a chiropractor…soon!
What the hell are Monkey Lights? Well my friends, these little high tech gadgets turn your wheels into a light show extraordinaire! It was my good friend Mike over at TS who turned me on to them. You may (or may not) remember a piece I wrote last year called Midnight Ride, in which I described a rather hairy night time bike ride through the streets of Lampang. Well Mike remembered, because he sent me this. He also kindly offered to pick me up a couple of sets on a recent trip to America.
Pretty nifty eh? Well, I thought so! Like a kid waiting for Santa to show up on Christmas Eve, I kept checking the mail box. Eventually the Thai Postal Service came through and I found a notice to pick up a package at the post office. Given that these folks have lost more than few of my pieces of important mail that was a great relief! Considering the “great delicacy” that Thai postal workers handle mail from overseas, having the contents of my package arrive intact was a nice bonus.
Although possessing some high degree of skill with sharp kitchen implements, I must confess that your humble narrator was born with 10 thumbs…all of them left-handed. I am a complete klutz when it comes to assembling anything. Everyone has heard that old expression “It’s so easy, an eight year old child can do it.” That may be true, but why is there never an eight year old child around when you need one! That being said, even I was able to install these things. Lo and behold, I switched them on, and they actually worked! Naturally I went to fetch my Thai wife, who is always amazed when I’m actually able to figure out anything technical. I was expecting all sorts of oohs and ahs. “Look darling! Look at all the gaily colored lights spinning around! Aren’t they gorgeous?” Alas, my tee-rak, being a typical Issan farmer’s daughter had only one comment. “How much money did you spend on these?” Talk about khee niaao! (stingy) I swear sometimes she has as much poetry in her soul as a brick! Oh well, old Sawadee was happy anyway.
It was time to take my little two-wheeled kaleidoscope for a spin through town. The effect was immediate. I had heads turning left and right, and fingers pointing in wonder. Little kids ran out shouting, “Look at the Farang’s bicycle!” Old men and women smiled and chortled. Better yet, pretty young girls smiled and giggled when they pulled up next to me at intersections. Hmmm. If I were young and single, these would be a great “Babe Magnet”! Being married and approaching 60, I’m content that I am more visible on the road once the sun goes down. That’s not to say that some idiot on a motorcycle won’t still take me out some evening…undoubtedly while talking on her cell phone while driving on the wrong side of the road…with her headlights turned off.
If there is anyone out there with the right kind of business experience, there is a potentially huge market for these things here in Thailand. Currently there is no sales representative for them in Southeast Asia. An e-mail to the company might be in order. There are thousands of Thais out there waiting to out dazzle each other!
The Thais are big on things that look "suay" so they are going to love these! You'll be the talk of the neighbourhood for a while!