Wherever expatriates live in Thailand they are likely to promote that part of the country as the best place to be. It is the nature of the beast…
Rooster makes no secret of the fact that he has spent most of his adult life in Krung Thep and couldn’t possibly imagine living anywhere else. But I took umbrage when accused last week of being a north/south snob who never reports anything about Chiang Mai.
That is nonsense – I once caught a very bad cold there and I was even crowned Chiang Mai Scrabble champion once….beat that!
Seriously, Rooster has occasionally been known to get out of Bangkok having visited upwards of 70 of the country’s 77 known provinces.
I once had a job in which it was my stated aim to promote travel all over the kingdom. While I was always happy to get home to the safety, sanctity and, yes, quiet of my Bangkok home it was always good to see how the other half lived.
Some places had a lot of nice trees and, until recently, even clean beaches.
But one place I have always felt a special affinity for is the north east. I first visited in the 1980s and was always struck by the special friendliness of the people there and the time they had for me. I married a woman from Loei in 2004 that cemented my good feelings about Isan.
When I produced a detailed curriculum for international students to appreciate Thai culture I based many of the topics on experiences I had had while travelling and sometimes residing in Thailand’s least visited of regions.
The benefit of this was twofold – it helped to teach the many Thai children who were nearly all Bangkok residents that there was another side to Thailand. And it meant that their parents could also be educated about the customs of the Isan people enabling them to more easily accept an Englishman as the head of the Thai department.
That was a tightrope walk at the best of times but having more knowledge than most of them did about the north east gave me a slight edge!
So this week on Thaivisa it was interesting – and pleasurable – to read that CNN had named the region as one of the top tourist destinations in the world in 2017.
Later in the week we were told that Bangkok remains the second most visited city on the planet after Hong Kong. It was good to see three of my top ten best places in the world mentioned virtually in the same breath.
But while the tourism authorities tell us nothing but good news about Thailand, a whole host of negative stories gave ample grist to the mill for the forum Thai bashers who seem determined to claim that everything from pedophilia to gun violence to errant clergy is not only worse in Thailand but somehow exclusive to these shores.
At least the police this week seemed to be doing their job with a string of high profile and quick arrests, some by luck and some by a skill they don’t frequently teach at Police Academy….judgment.
It was wonderful to see the arrest of the ex-beauty queen in the 2012 slaying of the 16 year old maid Jariya Srisak. Yes, five years have passed but the rozzers got their woman quickly when new evidence came to light.
For a minute before Krisana Suwanpitak’s name was announced I thought we were going to see another misdemeanor attributed to Lady Kai who languishes in clink after being unkind to her young servants who bravely named and shamed.
Also arrested this week was alleged serial pedophile Reinhold Klunder from the Netherlands whose nabbing was accompanied by statistics for such arrests over the last few years.
The Brits were named as chiefly responsible followed by US nationals while the baying crowd wanting to “hang ‘em high” cared little that the stats added up to 107%.
A later story on the same subject about Thai/FBI cooperation in the field of internet based crime against children gave balance by speaking of the prevalence of Thais involved in this most ghastly of crimes.
I will always remember a key message from a visiting former UK policeman who came to my school to talk about child abuse.
Everyone – Thais and expatriates alike – was forced to confront his main message that child abuse crosses over all cultural and national boundaries.
It is prevalent to the same degree everywhere, he said.
Many treated this notion with skepticism while others found it alarming. For me it was almost cathartic to hear what I have always believed from one so calm and knowledgeable.
Parents need to be vigilant with their children everywhere and remember that the pedophile’s technique is to gain trust and respectability – like Mr Klunder’s front as a church organ player revealed by Thaivisa.
This week’s obligatory “Monk Behaving Badly” story featured an abbot’s assistant kicking his underling in the head for the way he was counting the Loy Krathong takings. The police soon had him at the station but unfortunately he was not defrocked just “slapped” with a 1,000 baht fine.
Tickled, more like.
As bad as these latest crimes were they seemed to be overshadowed by a particularly horrific case that came from a high rise condo in Pattaya where a mother who had just given birth to a baby boy, then put the helpless infant in a plastic bag and hurled him from the 17th floor to his inevitable death.
As if the crime itself were not abhorrent enough I was left to pity the local police chief Apichai Krobpetch who had to stomach the mother telling him matter-of-factly that she did it to spite her South Korean boyfriend who had deserted her.
At least the translators and readers of such distressing news can be a shade removed – unlike the police who face such horrors and such behavior as a matter of routine.
QUOTES – the Queen of the Eastern Seaboard, Pattaya – continued to be the source of what seemed like half of Thaivisa’s weekly fare. Though fortunately the other stories had some elements of light relief compared to the condo tragedy.
Among these were the Korean with a knife self-harming himself because a Thai woman at the resort had conned him – “This is news?” many asked! But the hounds of Facebook were out in force to mock a Saudi man who was the victim of a 50,000 baht theft from a bar girl.
OK the guy brought much of the ridicule on himself by claiming that the girl came to “visit his friends” and “took the money while he was sleeping”. Frankly, he may have been better advised to take the theft on his chin rather than have his name permanently linked with Pattaya when he returns to his relos in Riyadh.
‘Also from the resort’ – a term used by Bangkok legend Bernard Trink – was the story of the young Thai man found with a veritable arsenal in his boot. The cops seemed to accept his story about being a BB gun enthusiast.
But what about the Samurai sword and the real bullets found in the dash? I guess the fuzz just put it down to preparedness for road rage – I mean, you can’t be too careful these days!
To wit, once again we were treated to our favorite Facebook armchair seat as a man threatened a defenseless woman with a machete for blocking his path on HER side of the road and a motorcyclist up north menaced the wrong car who had cut in front of him with both the now standard machete AND a gun.
The road-ragers are clearly stepping things up a notch making the antics of “Nott Graap My Rot” look like a pussy of the first water.
While QUOTES did her best to entertain and shock us the award for story of the week had to go to another staple, “Brits Behaving Badly” down in Phuket. A former army man told police there that he had been the victim of a savage mugging resulting in broken legs. He and his wife initiated a tear jerking crowd funding scheme.
In next to no time he appeared to have got wind of the fact that the police in Phuket had discovered that he had been injured falling out of a hotel while apparently trying to rob people in a room. His missus clearly helped him to “crawl out of Dodge” and escape on a plane back to the relative safety of Europe.
A ten year ban from reentering the kingdom would be about 50 years too short in their case.
Another story that caught Rooster’s beady eye was the suggestion that foreigners were not entirely able to decide about the merits of Thai food. This was in relation to the upcoming awarding of Michelin stars.
Personally I have always preferred a combination of pies, chips, Branston and HP sauce. While my efforts at judging Thai food – and probably my main reason for disliking most of it – was having to grade my Year 8 students’ Thai cooking homework when they brought samples of it into class for ‘teacher tasting’.
Believe me, when you have had to try up to 60 Thai Green Curries cooked by experimenting 12 and 13 year olds you would probably give such dishes a wide berth too!
Beaches might also be avoided now! The smoking ban this week went further than farce as the authorities in Pattaya ostensibly decided not to fine anyone until February while in Phuket even vapers were warned not to light up. Talk about badly bungled……
Finally, kudos to the Thai government for their “stimulus” package in giving us all tax breaks for purchases over the next three weeks starting November 11th. Though I am not sure that the wife agreed with the idea that extending tax relief to soapy massage and karaoke was altogether the right encouragement.
‘Stimulating’ the economy with the purchase of goods and services is one thing.
Expecting a Thai wife to accept the notion that going to a massage parlor is doing your bit for the good of the country……
Is quite another.