Free To Live
In response to your recent reader submission (Larry Cameron in BKK), and kinda following on from articles that I have written before. I write this piece.
I have just been watching YouTube videos of the opening of Terminal 21 in Pattaya. My first thought was, “I wish I could show this to all the people who think Thailand / Pattaya are such exploitive sleazy places”. Those feminazis and unbelievers would get such a shock. All I saw in the videos were regular people going about their daily shopping. People of mixed races / religions and lifestyles visiting the latest addition to the ever growing city of Pattaya. What I viewed seemed pretty normal to me. The human race going about its daily life, freely as they choose.
I noticed mostly families, and young people eager to see their newest shopping centre. Only noticed a few farangs with their Thai girls, and a few on their own. Yes granted this is a shopping centre and not a beer bar / gogo bar etc. So obviously you are not going to see much of that scene in such a location.
I totally agree with Larry’s first submission “A Good Country for Older Men”. Only I would change the title to, “A Good Country for ANY Man”. As I have written before, I have lived in 3 different countries of Europe, 3 different states of Australia, and have travelled Australia by road extensively. The attitudes that he mentioned are prevalent almost everywhere. Yes, Australia is a great country to travel. Safe, clean, orderly and generally well run. But on another level it’s not much fun. No bars on the beach, alcohol is strictly controlled, police are quick to pull you over and generally have an arrogant nature. You have to be careful what you say, what you do and it’s all so boringly correct / PC. I remember the glory days of Bay 13 at the MCG.
It’s so refreshing to arrive in Thailand. The rules are same same but sooooo different. I remember getting a fine for not wearing a helmet (couldn’t open seat lock). I paid the fine, the policeman had a good joke with me when I returned with my payment receipt. I can have a good laugh with just about anyone in Thailand. I speak freely without the fear of saying something non-PC. I catch the train in Bangkok, people smile at me and I smile back. I talk to people, and they talk back. It’s so nice. Not the cold western attitude that I almost always get here back in Australia.
I enjoy the fact that Thais are fiercely nationalistic. I know where I stand. I know I am not Thai, and never will be. But that’s great, the rules are clear. I know I will always pay tourist prices. I know if I marry a Thai, or live in the country, or somehow gain citizenship, I will always be seen as farang. That’s fine. To me that’s liberating.
In the west you never know what’s going to happen. It’s like you live on edge all the time. The PC culture is destroying our freedoms. We are slowly and surely putting ourselves in a straightjacket. Stick has realised this now that he is back in New Zealand. The ridiculous regulations. The expense of daily living. The constant surveillance, and intrusions in our daily lives. It’s so annoying. And you don’t realise how restricted we are until one has spent time in South-East Asia.
Yes I know those countries are far from perfect. Garbage everywhere, dirty oceans, crazy power lines, chaotic traffic etc etc. But on the whole, you are free to live how you want. I know I do when I am there. I go to the nightclubs, speak with girls (no, they’re not all freelancers) and have fun. Sometimes I pinch their bums, and they love it. They joke and laugh, and do likewise with me. I could never imagine that here. Wouldn’t even try. People are so serious here. So brainwashed. I guess the best example is when I go to watch the cricket. For those of you that remember, bay 13 at the MCG was just wild. It was awesome. As a kid, I just loved the crowd’s chants, the way they used to taunt the police. And the roar when someone got thrown out. Now, OMG. Going to the cricket is like watching an opera at Royal Albert Hall. Slowly but surely things got banned, no more Mexican waves, no more horns, no yelling. The fun of spectatorship has gone, everyone is so polite and reserved and PC zzzzzzzzzzzzz
Sometimes I think that maybe I’m getting cynical and grumpy in my advancing years, but no, I realise I am not. I have seen the other side, and for me it’s so much better. I just wish I was a bit younger and better qualified, so I could live in Bangkok for a few years. It’s the only place recently that has held my attention long enough to make me want to stay. But I know that will never happen. I envy people who have had the chance to spend a good amount of time in Thailand. And I sense that you do enjoy going back Stick, and that maybe you would like to stay longer than a couple of weeks? <Actually, a couple of weeks is about perfect, and enough time to catch up with friends, visit old haunts and then get back to where I am happy – Stick> Bangkok really does have a strong pulse. The blood flows freely there.
As I mentioned in articles before, reading early submissions of doom and gloom of the bar industry, have been totally unfounded. The only thing that will happen is that it will evolve. There will always be high and low season. There will always good years, bad years and golden years. The best time, is always the time that you are there enjoying what Thailand has to offer. Whatever that is for you. For me, it’s the ability to live freely, immersed in a totally different narrative.
Regards, and thank you for reading my article.