Land of Sunshine
I haven’t written anything for quite a while, so my contributions to this site was on a freeze. However, the last weekly columns and the latest reader’s submissions pulled a trigger inside me and…here we go. Talking about Thai idiosyncrasies will always be a pleasure. I have solid ideas and solid arguments to take a stance.
When I first arrived in Thailand for a week vacation, namely Phuket, the first impression was “DAMN! Thailand is damn hot!”, meaning hot as in the weather. I was suffocated by the air I was breathing, and the humidity was damn high as well. I remember that late evening taking a taxi to the hotel in Patong and felt a sensation of overwhelming. Everything was new to me. I kept the images of the Buddhist “wats” I saw on internet in my mind, but none were seen in my way to Patong. That time I had a lady I met on Hi5 waiting for me in the hotel lobby (yup, that time there was no TTL or TF and I didn’t know any other site based on Thailand news). That time I never dreamt to go to Thailand either. I was really a newbie. The first time I ate Thai food it tasted so damn good and, again, hot. Hot is a word that followed me every time I went to Thailand: hot babes, hot weather, hot food, hot water, hot sun, in sum hot situations, everything “lon”. The first time I saw a massage parlor and heard the girls calling me I was amused. That first time in Thailand no-one called me “hunsum man”, maybe because I didn’t went to the gogo bars. Not my style, anyway, I don’t mind at all.
What does a newbie do in Thailand? Internet makes the choices for us. Every time I Googled Thailand or Phuket, there it was: young half naked ladies dancing on gogo bars in a chrome pole. Easy pussy I must say. Even before I went to Thailand I already ha preconceived ideas. I was formatted to be a monger even before I arrived. Easy pussy was everywhere. Patong was a place to be and Bangla Road a place to enjoy and have fun with bars, discos and hookers everywhere, some would say it looks like grown up Disneyland. Everything about Phuket looks like it was made to please the tourist. A big mall named Jungceylon is well planted in the middle of the Patong village and offers us a part of the west. Patong beach was astonishing for me, since I didn’t know any other beach in Thailand at that time. Nowadays I really don’t like Patong Beach that much. Since the authorities cleaned up Patong Beach, maybe it could be a place to be again. I had always dreamed of visiting Asia more specifically Thailand and neighbouring countries. The Internet made me feel curious about that particular piece of land called Phuket. Every time I Googled Phuket and beach there it was: Patong beach! Internet has decided where I was going to spend a week of vacations. None of the other beaches in Phuket seemed to appeal my senses. Once again I had my ideas preconceived regarding beach and summer time in Thailand. That time I missed Songkran for only one day. Internet forgot to warn me about that. Some might think from December to March is the best time to go Thailand because it's fresher (if that term can be applied in Thailand), when in fact it's high season and the prices are generally high or even overpriced. April and May are generally medium season and prices are more reasonable despite those being the hottest months in Thailand. Good for a time of pure relaxation at the beach.
Hot water, white sand, pretty girls everywhere, nice smiles, cheap food, sweet ladies and so on and so on. As you can see, it was heaven on earth for a single man like me at that time. It’s really easy to fall in love with the country and people. Not so easy to come back to my home town. People looked so relaxed and easy going and seemed they really cared about my needs. Everything was so cheap that I refused to argue with the sellers. Everything seemed to have a fair price. That time the Euro rates were on an unbelievable 49 baht. Paying 300 baht for a 1.5 km tuktuk ride looked fair to me although my perception of risk was dangerously low that time. Looking back, I was not a newbie. I was simply naïve. This picture painted before is the picture most newbies see arriving for the first time in Thailand.
I also remember when I saw a “katoey” for the first time. I was amazed, because “she” looked strangely beautiful…if you know what I mean. The first night I went out for a drink and the ladyboys looked like real women to me, maybe too much booze because now they all look so manly. My young company looked half amused, half stressed because of that. Half of her didn’t believe me when I can’t distinguish a ladyboy from a woman, half of her felt jealousy and concerned because that small mind thought I was a ladyboy lover (this could take me to another submission). I just started to have a bit of the Thai mindset in that precisely moment. It was like losing the innocence. What followed in the next few days just blew my mind. Looking back I was not yet prepared for the Thai ladies mindset.
Once we went to Phuket Town at night to go party a bit. I was the only “farang” in a disco full of beautiful Thai young ladies. My company (I will call her Tukkie) and her friend (Nong) danced all night long. Nong was a really white-skinned beauty. She was in her early 20’s and looked great. I surely would like to bang her no doubt, or maybe a threesome. We had fun together and that night something strange happened. Before we went to the disco we were at a bar they knew. We drank and talked a bit and the doorman was talking with Tukkie a lot. It seemed like she was paying him too much attention and that looked odd to me. She came back to me and she said something like this, “This guy says he will take care of me. He asks me why I want a “farang” and bla, bla, bla”. To me it sounded like a lot of bullshit, so I didn’t care that much. When we went outside the bar she told me something I will never forget. She told me she was cold iced heart or addicted on ice and they went to that bar to buy some. I really didn’t fully understood. I had had a fair bit of alcohol by then and it didn’t hit me at that time just what she meant. And then off we went to the disco. After a few days together the dramas and the problems started. She kept saying she had her period but there was no sign of it to me. After a couple of days we broke up after she made me cry. That was the first time in many years I had cried because of a woman. That week I didn’t see her many times, but she kept calling me and sending me SMSs. On the last day of my stay she came to my hotel and we took a tour around the south of Phuket. We never had such a good time like those days. It looked like we are getting into it finally, my mistake, of course. Late that night we went to the same disco again but this time only the two of us. We were having fun together and she saw 2 friends and they stayed with us for the night. Tukkie was a very jealous young lady with a bad temper. After another bad mood I said enough is enough and I left the disco to smoke and relax a bit. A few moments later Tukkie and her friends left the disco and they went away. For me it was a relief, but there I was alone in the middle of Phuket Town, 25 km from Patong. Looking back now I see how dangerous it could have been for me. When I looked to my side, there it was … Tukkie’s motorbike. I will have my sweet revenge. I took her flip-flops and her helmet that were inside the motorbike front basket with me. I put her flip-flops in the trash can and kept her helmet with me, than I waved to a Thai guy and his girlfriend on a motorbike and asked for assistance saying my motorbike had broken down. They called for a tuktuk and here I go back to Patong. On my way to Patong who do I saw in her motorbike? Tukkie! She passed me and she was driving home. I think she didn’t saw me. At that time I had her helmet with me. After she passed I sent her helmet to the sidewalk. Farewell, Tukkie’s helmet! The next day I went back to my home town. After a few days she called me on MSN and we chatted but the spark had gone. I know she got married with a Thai guy and she’s living in Chiang Mai for a few years. They just had their second born. She still has the nickname I gave to her on her FB. For all I know I was her first “farang”. Do I believe it or not? It doesn’t really matter, I suppose! Thais are well known for saying what they feel is necessary to save face.
The first time I saw a Muay Thai training camp I felt a mix of daze and was overwhelmed. They were the smallest tough guys I had ever seen. Same when I saw them on the top of a “songtaew” promoting Muay Thai fights at Bangla Road stadium. I was so surprised. Now when I think about those first days in Thailand I feel a bit of nostalgia. I will not feel that first impression ever, but like drug addicts, I will pursue that feeling again, maybe, who knows, going to another place in South-East Asia that gives me that same feeling again. This is just a maybe.
The smell in the air is unique and is all over Thailand but is more intense in Bangkok. It’s a mix of curry with fish sauce, palm oil and dirt. That smell is really unique. Back then it felt a bit strange. Now, sometimes, it makes me sick. It makes me feel homesick, missing my food, the cleaning of the streets in my hometown. Everything in Thailand looked special back then, even a simple “wai” had a lot more meaning than it has now. Now it all looks normal, and doesn’t have the spark it once did. That first time I went to Thailand I wasn’t particularly happy. My female company was strange and she did not have the same way of thinking I was used to. Thai ladies usually don’t think the way we do in the west. Some act like psychopaths. That first experience was emotionally painful but enriching. That was my first emotional antibiotic I took in Thailand. I already had my defenses in the west, and in Thailand everything was new and I had no defenses up at all. What makes a newcomer so undefended and unprotected is the fact you don’t know the dialect. You think because they smile at you, they are good to you. Sometimes they aren’t and you don’t know because you can’t read their body language. In my hometown I can read the reaction from someone talking with me and take the correct measures. In Thailand I simply can’t. It’s hard to read their smiles and the sweet way of talking. Even if they are telling you to fxxx yourself, it sounds sweet. That’s why you feel so overwhelmed and undefended. You keep your guard dangerously low and feel relaxed in this kind of environment. It's like you’ve been doped, and in some cases you might have been ().
So, we are in a close circle and no way out at your range. Most “farang” think we are still living the colonial era when we were welcomed with a big smile to make us believe we have the power over them. They are doing this for centuries and that’s why they were never colonized. They were occupied by Japan in WWII, but hey, where wasn't? I think the Thai smile should be considered World Heritage by UNESCO. It seems to be disappearing, but I keep in mind the many smiles I had in my trips to Thailand. The way I think is we “farang” are not so welcome anymore. Many factors have contributed to this: a weak dollar, a strong baht, high level of unemployment in some countries in Europe and America, low levels of unemployment in Thailand. They really don’t need the white trash they receive year after year. Immigration is getting tougher. New rules are applied – like it or not, they are fair. Who wants the foreign whoremongers, drunks, hooligans and some shady characters I have seen there? Even me, “farang”, I don’t feel comfortable with them. They are the worst Thailand can get. The random (maybe not so random) bag searches in the Asoke area might sound illegal, and I think it really is, but they have their own rules in their own country. Live with that or leave the country. Simple. Stop whining and man up. We westerners are not saints either. Many of us go to their country for the women, explore their natural beauty and so on. Show respect and you’ll be respected. The Thai authorities has been very relaxed until now with some “farang” behaviour. If some of these characters made such a mess in Canada, for example, like some have in Thailand, they would surely have been kicked out already. It’s completely inappropriate when you live in a foreign country not to behave and show respect to their culture.
I will make a challenge to who it may concern. All of you, readers, could write a small piece of a submission with this topic: “What were your first impressions when you first arrived in Thailand”. Tell us your thoughts on the Thai idiosyncrasies from that first week in Thailand, when you were a newbie. I think everyone remembers a funny story or a dramatic one. Looking back a few years brings a sense of nostalgia. How would it be now that you are more experienced? Would you do the same things and make the same mistakes? Would you solely be interested in gogo bars? Would you get more fun and more ladies? Simply … would you?
With regards to that lady you met who was in to drugs, it's best to get away from women like that quickly. Drugs is a really serious issue in Thailand and it's best not to have anything to do with anyone in to drugs.
Yeah, Thailand is changing and I agree that foreign visitors do not receive the same welcome these days. I also agree that many who have visited Thailand habitually for years are looking elsewhere and other countries in the region are benefiting. One of my predictions for the future is that where Thailand used to attract visitors who returned year after year after year, that this is going to be come less common and while people will (and certainly should) put Thailand on their list of places that are a must visit, it might not have the same regular visitors who come back year after year.