Readers' Submissions

Being a “Privateer”

  • Written by Ishiro
  • December 22nd, 2014
  • 7 min read




When we talk or write about Thailand, I wonder how real the subject actually is in our minds. It appears to me that perhaps we may really be playing out a part in a stage production – such as a Shakesperian epic or, perhaps, some imaginary scenario that has appeared in our minds. Sure, we are there, certainly, or have been there – but has it been real to us or have we just gone through the motions and taken advantage of opportunities that were presented to us? Did we make things happen – or just go along for the ride?

At this point, I am going through a stage – a final stage – where I would like to state a few truths because I believe I will write very few new subs for Stick's readers' submissions because I feel empty. I really am tired. Also, as Stick keeps reminding us, Q1 2015 is just around the corner.

I will never be a "legend" like Dana – he is a person whom I have never met – but we have exchanged the occasional brief e-mail or two. But go back to read the quantity and quality of what this man has written over many years – and please take the trouble to check out his interview with Bangkok Steve (Dana Unplugged – the interview) on Stick's pages – and perhaps you will gain the high esteem that I have for this person.

Right now I would like to give you all the definition of the word "Privateer": A Privateer or "Corsair" was a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign vessels during wartime. As I write these words, I feel like I am part of a line from one of the songs by Stan Rogers "… I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier – the last of Barrett's Privateers …". That describes how I feel, fairly accurately. In this city, I'm even denied the pretence of going and standing on an old wooden pier where the sailing ships would tie up. Everything to do with ships is now relocated to the transfer ports at the mouth of the river and the loading and unloading of containers is fully automated.

Probably, many of us have been "Privateers" in Thailand in an abstruse reference as applied to our interaction with Thai women or girls. Many have taken a lot from them and only given money in return (not that Privateers would normally give anything back) – and I wonder if that is a fair situation. Although I have loved Thailand for a long time, I will possibly not return there – I cannot even face the thought of 9½ hrs on an aircraft (each way). The thought of that makes me shudder now – I am, right now, not up to it. I think the reason is that, like Stick, I am burnt out – but not with Thailand – for me, it is more about burnt-out dreams that failed to come to fruition. All of us need to believe in something or we become lost or, worse, disillusioned because the dreams crumbled away.

Some of you are lucky in that you have established a home and a family – some choosing a remote part of Thailand. I would just like to say that I am pleased that there are some expats who find pleasure in the place wherever they are living. Although I love the big cities, I think I would even be able to adapt to country life in Thailand – Lord knows, it would certainly be better than living in a large city in Farangland – my present fate.

The readers' submissions has long been a forum to share experiences and opinions on Thailand and related Asian states – and I have abided by that edict from the time when I first started writing for Stick, in early 2011. More recently, although I still write about Thailand, primarily, I am delving into the underlying reasons for my own actions there and also for the possible reasons behind the actions of others who write of experiences in Thailand. This is not criticism – it is meant to be a method of trying to understand why we do certain things that we do – with the hope that it may be helpful to somebody – at least one person, who may gain benefit. I know, for sure, it does help me.

I had a long session talking with my GP recently – we've been friends as Doctor / Patient for more than 18 years – and we had a lot of laughs today about situations in Thailand. When I told him of The Pattaya Flying Club, he could not believe that Farang men actually dive off high balconies to do themselves in over bar girls. Now this man is an Asian doctor and visits Thailand occasionally (sometimes offering me his surplus Thai Baht at a good price) – but he had never heard of this practice. I told him it was not confined to Pattaya – it was now present in Phuket, Chiang Mai and even in Bangkok.

We all need to believe in something – and if that belief fails to become reality, the chances are that some of us will turn to booze or hard drugs (or both) – or even, perhaps, mind-altering medications such as Prozac, or any of the similar range of SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) or perhaps SNRIs (Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) that include Effexor. All of these agents will induce different effects in different people – most commonly experienced being a type of euphoria that possibly only masks the problem. I guess the positive is that it gives the mind a chance to stabilize and have a rest from the former state of confusion. Early in the piece, Korski and I exchanged e-mails about why men fall in love with Thai bar girls – or anyone – and he seemed to believe it was a mental aberration that caused this to happen. Falling in love is a mental sickness for many people. Perhaps he may be right. Regardless, sometimes it's OK to be a little "sick" – at least it feels good at the time – and who knows for sure, perhaps it is what we need at a particular time. All I can say is that I will never come to depend on a mind-altering agent. From what I can see, the problem lies in refusing to face up to the root of the problem and taking responsibility and ownership of it. It certainly is not worth taking a swan-dive off a high-rise.

Easier said than done, to avoid medication. I went down that road from 1992 until 1999 – experiencing a wide range of Tricyclic or SSRI/SNRI agents together with either Temazepam, Oxazepam or Diazepam. Did they work? I don't know – all I do know is that I decided it was a dead-end road and weaned myself off all of them. It took me more than a year to do it, gradually.

Bangkok 2000 brought along another cluster of pressure issues and it was easy to buy Valium 10 mg (remember the blue ones?) over the counter (no prescription) at many small pharmacies – 10 mg are not available any more. They were pretty good with a few Bia Singha – sure settled one down for a while.

My point in mentioning antidepressants and Valium is to say that you do not need them – the use of them merely hides the things that you must face to break the cycle. Working in the newspaper industry for years – and as a musician – I associated with many who used hard or "recreational" drugs – but I have never used any of them. The thought that some are idiot enough to use them in Thailand amazes me at their carelessness and indifference to the likelihood of being caught and serving serious time in a Thai monkey house.

Returning to the metaphor "Privateer" – I really do not concern myself with the foolishness of others – there are those who will carry on regardless. However, I do find it very unfair that many of us have acted like Privateers in our interactions with Thai women and girls – and it makes me feel happy that the tide may be turning and that Thai women and girls in the industry are gaining the upper hand. Good luck to them is my only comment – it may be that Thailand is finally becoming of age and is, hopefully, throwing off the labels of "a developing country" and "A Sex Capital".