Dealing With Some Thais: And The World Suffers Many More Falsehoods Than Truth
My first any only submission to Stick’s most educational website was made about six years ago, under the title, “Bay Monster” I believe. I have returned here a few times since then with the intention of adding a few words of my own, but haven’t gotten around to it until now. The submission “Middle Easterners Are From Asia” (19/1/2011) inspired me to dip my quill once again and see what I might come up with.
As any place, Thailand offers ample opportunity for lessons, which can be perceived as good, bad, downright wicked, or in strong contrast to the latter, sublime.
As an example of the latter, the last time I was in Bangkok was 2006, the year of the Kings’ 60th anniversary, I believe. I witnessed the procession on the river, and even caught a glimpse of his Majesty one night as he was limo’ing it along a wide boulevard, whose name I don’t recall. Not only for that experience, but the 2006 visit to LOS was the most memorable of all the previous five trips because that’s when Stick’s words came home to me hard: “When dealing with Thais, trust can be an issue,” (or something to that effect).
In the US and England, and Germany and France, where I’ve spent time, I can count on middle-class people to deal with me on the square—for the most part. If I deal with street people, the probability of getting ripped of is fairly high. However, in Thailand, I have found that the class didn’t matter much. As a generalization, I found the middle-class only marginally more reliable, in turns of keeping schedules and meaning exactly what they said.
One reason for the apparent trust issue, I believe, is that when dealing with people whom they perceived to be outsiders, human beings from Austria to Swaziland tend to favor those within their “in-group” over those outside that group. I won’t belabor the point, but will get on with one of the several things involving dishonesty that happened to me in ’06.
I went to a town a short piece outside of BKK. In the hotel’s parking lot, two young women (not particularly attractive) on a moped accosted me and though their English wasn’t any better than my Thai, we had conversation. Within a minute, I mean a minute, of meeting the two, one of them “K” told me, “I love you.” Girl, please! Secretly, I humored her, but it turns out, she had the last laugh.
A few hours later, I ended up going with K to some place away from the hotel. I found her interesting because she was a bit darker skinned than I (I’m black American with a Native American great-grandmother). We did our business for that evening, after which I wined and dined her and her two friends, a man and the girl who was operating the moped. At that point, I took photos, which came in handy later. The next two days, the same scenario played out: they took me places in the tiny town, and I responded by making sure my credit cards were handy. Curiously, I could have sworn that I was missing five twenty dollar bills from my wallet, but couldn’t be sure, so rather than chance falsely accusing my new “friends,” I chalked it up to a bad memory on my part.
I returned to BKK, and after daily calls from K, the next week went to this small town again, and hooked up with her and her two buddies. This time she asked me to come to her place for ‘Non’. (Sleep). I didn’t feel right about going there, so she begged and pleaded with me to let her come to my hotel. Dumb ass me, feeling pity, let her have her way (Guys always remember that you have the $$, thus, the upper hand). While I was doing business on my computer, she was spending most of the night on my cell phone, most likely talking to her Thai beau. The next morning we got around to exploring the finer mysteries of life (Bad attempt to sound poetry, I apologize): eventually, I fell asleep (dumb!). When I awoke, my 40.00 throw-away watch was gone; 120.00 USD was gone, about 4,000 Thai baht, and 2000.00 in American traveler’s cheques were gone; and oh yes, almost forgot: she was gone. I ran downstairs to report the theft. While I was talking with the hotel staff about the rip off, a well-dressed lady visiting the hotel kept hitting on me for a date. Please!
I ended up at the local police station (where a lady not as well-heeled was giving me the eye). The captain listened to my story, and then said. “You are my friend. Take my phone number and the next time you come to Thailand, I will show you around! Mind you, I was waiting for him to ask me what did the girl looked like; how tall, how skinny, whatever. So I said, “I have pictures of her and her two friends. Don’t you want to see them?”
I showed them the photos, and they at least pretended some interest, but since there is only one bus station, and one train station, both less than three blocks away, in the town, I was wondering why they didn’t go there and check to see if she had tried to get outta Dodge. Okay, to give the girl some credit, she did leave me 120 baht (to get back to BKK;-)) You can’t say some thieves don’t have some honor.
I was scheduled to fly to Hong Kong the very next day, and went there almost penniless. I was in HK for three days, and on my return, I got a call from K. My translation follows: “I’m in Chiang Mai, and I’m pregnant by you” (A lie) “Come to Chiang Mai because I need some money.” (She needed me to cash the traveler’s cheques) I might have done a couple of dumb things with her, but wasn’t going to be that dumb.
“Where’s my stuff,” I asked her.
I got no suitable answer.
For the next week, until I changed my phone, she called me several times a day at least.
Over the next two weeks, I and a police sergeant I know in BKK, made several calls to the police sergeant in that small town. His story was always the same: “We can’t find her, or the two friends.”
After two weeks, I returned to this small town, and as I was walking to the hotel, I ran into K’s two friends! Speaking only Thai, the girl indicated she wanted to spend some time with me. Well, I was a bit smarter by then, so I just mosied on
to my hotel which was about a hundred feet away. But my thoughts were: if I can find these two by accident, why can’t the cops find them in two weeks? Silly question, I guess. But the icing on the cake was that within a few minutes of entering
my hotel room, I got a call from K, who told me how much she loved and missed me, and wanted to know if I would like to see her! Boy, the girl had some balls!
Guys to put things in the perspective that many of you have been pushing all along: many of these gals, and guys, in the LOS, are out to make a living—off us, and it’s all about their survival in a land that doesn’t have social programs comparable to those in the West; therefore, I can’t fault them long for trying to make a living however they can—even though much of what they get from us may go towards partying. Give up a few baht, here and there, but don’t give them the opportunity to take you to the cleaners. Some will not, but a few others most definitely will. Over all, Thailand has been wonderful, and I admire the Thai way (not necessarily the Chinese Thai) of letting water roll off their backs, and their way of looking out for each other.
My Thai language teacher told me that in 2006 many Thais got into gambling debt after losing tons of baht on betting on the World Cup, and that debt forced many of them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. That year, '06, I had several other instances of trust with the locals, and this turned me off from going there. But I have friends there who are Thai and Chinese, with whom I went through my doctoral program with. When I return to LOS, I’ll be sure to hang out with only them or their referrals.
And to my brother, who is apparently trying to dissociate himself from Africa by claiming the Middle East (a political construct) is in Asia, please pull out a map; only parts of the Middle lie in Asia. If you are in the western part of the ME, you’re likely to be much closer to the heart of Africa than to Thailand; e.g. the distance between Egypt and the Congo is approximately 2200 miles; from Egypt to Bangkok it is approximately 4600.00 miles.
A huge majority of the ME is on the African Continent, the birthplace of humankind. The proof is in our DNA, absolutely. I majored in Biology with an emphasis in genetics. There’re many falsehoods in life, and fewer truths. Dealing with people worldwide has proven that to me.
You have a cop friend in Bangkok, yet he could not help find the girl either? The Thai cops are actually remarkably good at finding people but for whatever reason in this case they did not want to find them…