I have been an avid reader of the column for many years and learned many things before, during and after many excursions to the Kingdom. I feel it necessary to “do my part” and give a little perspective of the LOS and all the wonderful people that live there.
As I sit here in the heart of BKK I return to the value lessons I have learned from Stick and many submissions:
– Do not fall in love with a bar girl!
– The LOS has a dark side.
– Always check the price before you buy.
– Do not fall in love with a bar girl!
I start to look deeper into the night. I see British flag earnings on a massage girl, plastic rattling from the trash bags, the numbers of Coyote drawing in the flies. Then out of nowhere – a street sweeper. It was a full meal deal shooting water and drawing trash into its belly. Of course, it had to drive around the piles of trash piled on the curb feasted upon by rats bigger than my dog. As light breaks, I see seemingly the same lady in local garb walking the gutters of the town with nothing more than a long stemmed broom and a hand fashioned pan. Thousands of cars avoiding her with more care than a traffic cone for fear anything happening to her the whole city would crumble – it would.
There are absolutes in BKK – “happy hour” and the street sweeper – neither of which can keep up with the filth that is BKK. There are many references of this land and paradise. I used to marvel at the sheer crazy talk by men of the world describing anything of the LOS other than beauty and perfection. How can it be so bad? Peel back the curtain.
Now, I am not going to rail on the “terrible” Thai and the Kingdom. In fact, they are both wonderful in their own right. A developing county that seems to jump ahead in skyscrapers and 4G connectivity, but you can’t drink the water!
Everyone has a uniform – always clean. From the bar girl to the security guard, a click of the boots and snappy salute, never sure where the loyalties lie with the many places they work. The bank worker, the student, the manager, the market clerk – everyone has a place – a constant reminder of your position in the Kingdom.
Peel back the curtain and you will find the foundation of a growing young society. Give it another five years and this society with find its way, but at what cost? Is it the country and the Thai themselves responsible for this disparity of beauty and beast? No. The Western and European influences are overwhelming – almost to the point of destruction of this culture and society. Sadly in the matter of only a year, I can see the degradation of seemingly simple things – the bar girl is getting fatter, the trash is getting smellier, and the smiles are getting farther and farther away! All that Western meat and pineapple on a stick!
All of the trials and tribulations of the LOS can be marked back to the conquests and exploits of the Western and European influences. As the West continues to invade this simple god fearing place, I wonder how much destruction will be had at the hands of the west. To the heart of what makes this country wonderful. In our quest (for some) to make Thailand more like us, does it lose its individuality?
I see the power of the world was slow to reach this enchanted land, but now the economy is fast forwarding the end of an era. Everything is getting tidy when it comes to spending and making money. Sex, drugs and rock and roll…yet, you still can’t drink the water. Do the girls work for the money or for the family? Sure, some money goes to the family. But, they sure do have the best phone, the best dress and in the end the best food (think about it). Just like the city. The best buildings, the best services, the best opportunities…yet, you still can’t drink the water.
Food carts and late night bars pushing you into the street as you move from place to place. Each spot a coveted and paid position regulated by government brown shirts – remember everyone has a uniform. Bar fines, drink prices and the labor of love all steadily increasing with the power. But, you still can’t drink the water.
Now, some may think that I have rambled about on this missive. In some parts that is true. But in my never ending attempt to see past the lights, glitter and glory that is Thailand, I hope we have not ruined a great treasure. We will know in a few short years. By the way…don't drink the water.