Some Thoughts on “About Mongering” by Mac BKK
It’s quite peculiar that I find myself commenting on a submission titled “About Mongering” as I really don’t know too much about that particular subject matter. Well, actually I’d like to think that I know a few bits here and there from years of reading, listening, and observing. However, as a guy who has never actively participated in the bar scene on my frequent sojourns to Thailand I certainly don’t claim to know much. To quote John Locke: “No man’s knowledge goes beyond his experience.”
Mac BKK has raised some excellent points. The one that has somewhat stuck in my mind and has compelled me to write this submission is what he wrote about the consequences of getting involved with the nightlife. He wrote: “So, if you have never got involved in the nightlife in Thailand and are toying with the idea of it, by all means, go ahead. You'll have a blast for sure. But know that it will change you. To become a monger has consequences. It has consequences on many levels both while being on holiday and when at home.”
I’m sure it does, but I’d also like to suggest that it’s not only the nightlife in Thailand in particular that can have such a profound effect on people. Basically any kind of experience you go through that more or less sets you apart from the majority of all other people in your community can have that kind of effect. The more acyclical a life you lead, the greater the resulting paradigm shift is likely to be. The more your interests and experiences differ from what is commonly considered the norm, the less likely you are going to fit the mould. Personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that at all. However, thinking outside the box and trying to live a little differently to spice up your life is often neither understood very well nor appreciated by society as a whole.
I have often noticed people commenting on how Thailand is a haven for misfits. A place for people who maybe have little to show for in their lives back home and are trying to compensate for this in a place where their money and perceived status affords
them better chances, especially with women. I certainly don’t doubt this. To me the interesting thing is that also people who initially don’t fall into this category often seem to end up in a similar position. Suddenly they are
not fitting in anymore back home as well as they used to. It seems to me that this happens, to a smaller or larger degree, to quite a number of people, and Mac BKK’s experiences seem to confirm my observations. Having said this much
I’d like to state that to me the term “misfit” doesn’t necessarily carry a negative connotation. From my point of view quite the contrary can be true. Let’s take a brief look at a part of the definition of
the word misfit…
n [mis, fit]
1. a person not suited in behaviour or attitude to a particular social environment.
Personally I’d be quite happy to be called a misfit for not agreeing with some of the notions in my society that take political correctness to the extreme, no matter what the circumstances. This is just one example out of many. Fitting in certainly doesn’t always result in personal happiness.
I’ve been very lucky to lead a lifestyle that has afforded me a wealth of opportunities that very few people at my age have had, especially when it comes to travelling and experiencing life in places away from my native home. For this I am most grateful and I have always considered it a great privilege. However, it would be naïve to presume that this hasn’t shaped my way of thinking and changed my entire outlook on life significantly. Most people would think only for the better, but it’s not necessarily as simple as that. There’s absolutely no denying that the experiences I have made have also set me apart in more than a few ways from many of my peers, for better or worse. In short, they have slowly, and at first unknowingly, turned me into a misfit of sorts.
Just like Mac BKK has experienced one of many consequences is that I’m simply not prepared to put up with a lot of crap anymore that is considered the norm where I live but I have seen dealt with in a better way elsewhere. The problem is that usually only you and relatively few others amongst your peers know this, while the majority probably hasn’t got the slightest clue what you are having issues with in the first place. As Mac BKK has so aptly stated, preaching about it certainly doesn’t help either. If anything it mostly only widens that invisible gap between you and everyone else. In my experience this can be uncomfortable to downright frustrating.
At times I have looked at some of my friends who have never really had a chance to experience anything much different to what’s considered the norm here and almost felt envious of their ignorance. Seeing and knowing alternative and seemingly better ways of going about things has sometimes deprived me of the ability to enjoy what I used to like or at least was prepared to put up with in the past. This is not a good thing but difficult to ignore once you have reached a certain stage. By the time you really notice you are likely to have slowly disconnected already without first realizing it.
Mac BKK writes: “I thought about all the places I'd been and all the people (bargirls mostly) I'd met and I felt I just had to come back. I could not accept not to. And right there I made the decision that I would return as long as I feel like it.”
“I go there primarily for the girls, or rather for the bar scene including the girls. It would take a real effort to break this pattern now.”
I’m glad for Mac BKK that he is enjoying his forays in Thailand and I hope that the fun he has been having for quite a while already is going to last. It may well do, but even if right now he feels as if it would take a real effort to break this pattern, eventually that too might change. There’s always the risk of getting jaded, and even if you wouldn’t want to trade all those experiences for anything, you risk ending up feeling trapped between two worlds. In some ways not fitting in very well anymore with your peers on the one hand, but suddenly also failing to draw strength and happiness from what has set you apart in the first place. It’s not a pleasant situation to find yourself in. Obviously not everybody is bound to walk down that lane. I guess it depends to a significant extent on how well you are able to balance your life and keep things in perspective. Whenever I hear or read from a guy who is contemplating a permanent move to Thailand in the pursuit of happiness, thinking his fascination and love affair with the country and everything it has to offer is going to last, I feel as if he is potentially setting himself up for quite a rude awakening.
Your last paragraph touches on a really sensitive issue. A lot of people move to Thailand enjoy it for a while but eventually come to realise that it is not perfect. They perhaps reach a point where they no longer want to stay in Thailand. The problem may be that they don't really like or perhaps don't fir into their own country. That is a real issue and one many long-termers in Thailand seem to face at some point.