Why Do We Do It?
Live here, I mean, in Thailand. I do now, although having strong doubts. Be forewarned, right now I am a glass-is-half empty guy. First the women, as while that may not be the top draw for everyone, it is in the top 3 for all – work, weather, cost of living, adventure, lifestyle, but women are near the top for all. While they sure are great in the short run, after a while the cons simply outweigh the pros. Try having an intelligent conversation with the average Thai girl. When there is a problem in the relationship – look out. Throw logic, reason and common sense out the window. It doesn’t even matter if her English is good or your Thai is good – you may as well speak Swahili to her, because she only hears what she wants to, and will twist what words she does hear. If a Thai girl has no legitimate reason to be angry, she’ll sure as hell fabricate one. And choose your words very very carefully, as they will be thrown back in your face forever! Then communication is a problem. When things are great, it’s easy to say tiruk and smile in each other’s eyes. But when there is a problem, poor communication is a problem.
Now let’s look at other facets of life here, in no particular order.
The drivers. In Bangkok I think they are actually not bad. But in Isarn, where many a farang live, the drivers may be the worst anywhere. The word I would use is OBLIVIOUS. Kon Isarn drivers are completely oblivious to other drivers, pedestrians, anything in the world other than themselves. There could be 1 car on the road or 100 and they would drive the same. Take a left from the right lane, a right from the left, no use of indicators, drift from lane to lane, change speeds, enter traffic without looking (slow as hell to boot) etc. cars drive on both sides of the road in both directions, cars in the correct lane back up in the lane, motorbikes drive in both directions on both sides as well as both sidewalks. Drive in Isarn and your life is at risk every time. Drive a motorbike and it is triple at risk. Drive a motorbike without a helmet? Well as Trink used to say, anything I say here would be superfluous.
The food. Yup, some of it is great. A lot of it is good. And a lot is crap. Not sure why I ever though it was cool to eat at a dirty, run-down, fly and rat-infested noodle stall (must have been getting laid by a small brown young energetic thing). Does anybody know about Hepatitis A? Spread through food and water, sanitary conditions and hands touching foods? In a country where many unabashedly pick their nose several times per hour. I don’t even want to think about bathroom habits. Who eats Roti? I used to order it fairly often. One night the cart was there but not the roti lady. The woman at the next cart said she went to the toilet and would I wait? The thought of her using a toilet and not washing her hands that would pound my roti flat… I have never had a roti since (2005). How many times a year can you accept a case of the shits? Just a thought.
Thailand is a beautiful country. That’s the popular consensus. Let’s take a look: Some of the most beautiful beaches and ocean I have ever seen. Some of the temples are amazing: Wat Phra Keow, Doi Suthep, Wat Po, and and….after a while, aren’t we all templed out? So once one has lived here a while, temples don’t really add a lot to our quality of life. Bangkok at night is pretty amazing. Palm and banana trees always look nice and remind us of a tropical place. After that? Isarn is one of the ugliest places I have been too. Dry, brown, barren, trash everywhere. Simply everywhere. Cracked decrepit roads and sidewalks. Abandoned buildings in every town. Smog, bad air quality. Did I mention the trash that is roadside throughout the country? No, much of Thailand is actually closer to ugly than beautiful. We just don’t see it because of all the cute little brown lasses.
The law. The police will probably never help the farang. If they do, it’s because you truly have been a victim, like getting beat in the head with a baseball bat (as happened in Phuket recently) or beaten in Pattaya (as has happened often recently) or drugged by a prostitute, or pushed, I mean fell of a balcony. But in many cases they look at farang as a source of income, no seatbelt no helmet, or stopping for no reason. Yeah, in our home countries some segments have some level of fear of police, but here, who feels comfortable when a policeman approaches? Then, if there is ever an accident between Thai and farang, the farang is at fault, regardless of what happened. How much visa bulls**t do you go through. Is a regular trip to a sh*t border town worth the above?
The fact that pretty much every day, someone is going to try to cheat you, on purpose or through stupidity….
Taxi drivers. Worse tuk tuk drivers. In my time here, probably 200 times the restaurant bill has been wrong, and amazingly never in my favor.
Face, Krengjai and the wai are three ridiculous concepts (not so much the wai) that will keep Thailand a backwards country. So many situations are FUBAR because of face and krengh jai. If you don’t know these – investigate.
The service industry sucks. Incompetent stupid lazy employees. If you work here, how many times has your job become more difficult because of Thai colleagues laziness, stupidity or sheer incompetence?
That’s enough for now. Probably another dozen reasons will come to mind tomorrow.
The glass is not half empty….it's been drained of every last drop!
I think your thoughts reflect your current state of mind. (The author is a friend who is going through a very difficult time in his personal life which I think has influenced the way he sees Thailand at this time.) For example, I find the Isaan region pleasant and while it may not look "pretty" in the dry season, after the rainy season when the rice paddies are a lush green and the skies are free of clouds are a deep blue, I find it really beautiful. I also find the people to have a certain charm…ok, they can be frustrating at times, but they are generally warm, hospitable and in the Isaan region they are always DELIGHTED when they come across a foreigner speaks Thai.
I reckon if you were to look back on what you have written here at some time in the future you would be much more measured and not nearly so harsh.