No Flies in Thailand! You’re Having a Laugh!
I read you column most weeks and sometimes I agree and sometimes I disagree and other times I couldn't care less. That's the way it goes I suppose. Of all the things to actually make me write in to you I can't believe it's about flies
and not something more interesting but for some reason I'm doing this.
Basically I can't believe you said that there aren't many flies in Thailand. I admit that in Bangkok you don't seem to get many kind of flies. Even the houseflies that you do see are a bit small as well compared to their English equivalent that I would be used to. What really got me though was when you said that they don't seem to be anywhere else in Thailand either. You obviously don't spend much time in the countryside. I have a house in the countryside in Isaan that I go to on holiday sometimes and no matter what time of year I go there one of the main things that pisses me off is the fucking flies. They aren't big (in Thai they're called meleng wee) but they are so annoying. From ten in the morning until five in the afternoon they are out. You only have to sit outside and they are there. Trying to get up your nose, in you eyes, and in your ear. The noise as well.
If that makes sense but it is this really high pitched buzzing that drives me mad. I've done a few days work in the fields here and there and I can tell you that one of the reasons Thais cover themselves up so much isn't just because of the sun but because of the flies as well. How they put up with those things getting everywhere and the noise for eight hours is beyond me. True torture !!!
I lived in this village in Isaan for two years although fortunately I've now escaped to the fly-free (but not mosquito free) zone of Nonthaburi where I have been for the past three years. I was lucky or unlucky enough, whichever way you look at it to have been invited to many Thai weddings whilst I was there. The food and drink always followed the same pattern. On each table there would be a bottle of Lao Khao, three bottles of Chang, a basket of sticky rice, a plate of balah infested som tam and some raw buffalo laab. Taking into account that it gets really fucking hot up there sometimes or that it is really fucking hot most of the time I can tell you from first hand experience that each plate of meat would be covered with a good fifty or so big flies. Housefly size !
You move your hand over the plate, they all fly off, two seconds later they are all back again. I don't know which is worst for you, the fly infested meat or the lao khao. Still after three Chang at seven in the morning who can tell anyway. Why do they all start so early, I remember my MIL at 7:05 going to me " come on, we're going to be late and you haven't had a shower yet, you're not even ready" I was giving her a lift and sure enough it was packed with drunk people at 7:30. Don't want to miss the fun now do we !!
On a side note at one of the weddings or it might have been a party at the village chiefs house I seem to remember my uncle going round with an actual pig's bladder in a plastic bag and squeezing a bit out into everyone's lao khao as some kind of good for virility thing. Nudge nudge wink wink ! Yes. I tried some but who can tell if it works because after a load of lao khao and beer and raw buffalo there is only one thing I will be doing in bed and that is sleeping !
Back to the flies though. I lived in Ranong for a while on a small island on the border with Burma, probably not a good example of a normal place but yet again a fly-infested place except this time it was sandflies, and the little fuckers bit you as well. There wasn't much in the way of facilities on this island at the time, no government electricity, no running water no cars etc, there probably still isn't. I knew Thais who moved there with their partners (who were looking for some Robinson Crusoe type of existence) who could put up with everything but the sandflies. Non stop from morning to night they were out along the beach making the place hell. Any cut and there would be loads of them in there trying to get a good meal of some tasty human flesh.
That goes for Koh Phangan as well. Lived there for about five years and there were a lot of flies. Big ones along the high tide mark going through all the dead wood and then the flesh eating ones that even though they were so small you could feel it hurting when they were tucking in. Bastards.
Like I said, I live in Nonthaburi now which is full of mosquitoes but if I had to choose between flies like the "meleng wee" that were up in Isaan and the mosquitoes in Nonthaburi I would take the mosquitoes every time. At least you can kill them and you can pretty much stop them getting in your house. And you don't have a hundred of them swarming around your head at any one time all day long.
Sometimes up in Isaan I would sit in the house inside a mosquito tent just for some respite but there would always be one or two that would get in. I only go there twice a year now, one of the main reasons being the flies. My wife told me that it gets worse when all the mangoes are ripe because they go for the fruit on the trees. Guess what we have on the edge of our plot? A huge mango tree. I don't think it makes much difference though, those things are just everywhere.
Anyway, got that off my chest. Sorry for the rant but you need to get out and about more if you think there aren't many flies in Thailand. Try doing a bit of cassava uprooting (torn man) for a few days in Isaan and then tell me that .
STAY LUCKY AND FLY-FREE
Hand on my heart, wherever I have been in Thailand I have not seen flies. Ants, yes. Unidentifiable insects, yes. But flies? Nope! That's not to say that they're not there, but I have never seen them, at least never more than the odd rogue fly.