My Last Visit To The Land of Smiles
I have been coming to Thailand since 82, although more recently in the last 3 years, spending months here at the time. I try and get away in winter and like South-East Asia because of the weather, food, affordability and the beaches. I am not really into the sex tourism thing but like the bar life and whatever goes with it.
I battle with the heavy tourist areas and enjoyed living in the suburbs of Bangkok a few years ago for a short while…finding Thai bars and eateries and the friendliness that went with that. I love to be near the sea and recently spent all my time on holiday up and down the coast.
These last 3 months have been ok but not great. I suppose I am a bit sensitive but it seems there is an element of rudeness from the Thais I have not seen or felt before. I never usually do visa runs as I spend a month in Thailand and then a month elsewhere in South-East Asia and then fly back in, but this time a miscalculation left me a week short on the visa before leaving so I decided to go to Sadao and cross over and return as advised by travelers. On trying to re-enter I was told I had to spend a night in Malaysia, which no-one had ever mentioned (and apparently still don't know about). I tried to ask for help as I had not much money, had a to catch a train the next day and had the tickets, and also had to be out my hotel room and was hoping they would let me exit. After being shunted back to the Malaysian border and told to void my exit and entry stamps there (the officials said it was not possible), I went back to the Thai border and explained the Malaysian officials would not void the stamps, and was sent to the exit office where I started explaining to the officer in charge. He exploded and threatened me with "soldiers to take me away", threatened me with making sure I would never re-enter Thailand at all again etc and marched me out of the office and pointed down the road to the Malaysian border, where I sat on a bench for the next 18 hrs, bitten to hell that night.
Now perhaps this soured my attitude and biased my opinions, but now by the end of my journey I am noticing the rudeness more and more which never before got me. In non-touristic Songkhla, young guys on motorbikes shouting at me and turning round and driving back at me, sitting at tables eating on the street where Thai men look at me and then speak using the "Farang" word and laughing, having people shout at me while running in Hua Hin from their scooters and just so many other little instances. Strangely almost all the rudeness is from Thai men.
I am loathe to label all Thais as rude (and expect a backlash from all the Thai-loving people out there) as they are obviously not but I have seen on the internet others are also mentioning this. When I have travelled to India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia I have often come into contact with the male population just on a friendly chat basis. Beers with many guys in Sri Lanka, a guy actually phoned ahead and had his mate deliver a beer to the train. He is still on my Facebook! Men chatting to me in India all the time. This happens so seldom in Thailand now.
In Thailand I genuinely now am suspicious of any friendly Thai man. Where is the catch? What does he want? All the greetings come from the motorbike taxi guys and similar and men who ultimately just want money for something. I suppose this has twisted me a little in a bad way. I passed a beggar at the 7 Eleven and he was so nice and friendly, and my mind said "bet you wouldn't give a damn or have that smile if you were not cripple" and I walked on, and realized it is time to leave before I resent too many things and possibly, unfairly see things that are not there.
I just think I need to look elsewhere next year. It is a pity, but it seems the Thais increasingly feel (obviously the local population does not travel internationally much) that Thailand must be the only place on earth for the desperate Farang, and that we need them desperately. Short memories… It was not that long ago that they needed us and the tourism. It is a pity. Maybe I just need a break for a while and to come back and try again in a few years.
I am off home in a week and just passing time and I can't wait to get back home to Cape Town with summer having started where the good times keep rolling on!
Sadly, I can relate to this. Attitudes are changing in Thailand and the smiles aren't as easy as I remember them to be. Even Thais are now commenting on this. The bit where you had me nodding in strong agreement was comparing the people you can meet in Thailand to the people you meet in India. What a delight the locals in India are – friendly, engaging and always with something interesting to say. NEVER do you get the feeling they want anything from you, other than to extend the hand of friendship and a little conversation. One thing I personally really don't like in Thailand is the way you walk past someone who offers you a product or service with a big cheesy grin and you either shake your head or simple say no thanks and then they give you a really nasty look, as if you're a piece sxxt. That sort of thing is way too common these days.