Following the Thai news on a site like Thaivisa means going through a whole gamut of weekly emotions.
For many old timers who have been in the kingdom for decades there is the standard reaction to stories we’ve seen a thousand times before. But there is always the frisson of excited incredulity at something we’ve never encountered.
The tales of the unexpected as well as those of the utterly predictable keep us baying for more!
Since beginning a job translating stories from the Thai media into English in 2016 I have been through all these emotions thousands of times; Sadness. Happiness. Anger. What the netizens call ROTFLOL (rolling on the floor laughing out loud). Head shaking until your teeth threaten to become dislodged (a common Thai expression). You name it.
Barefaced lies from Thai officialdom and the constabulary rub shoulders with the idiocy of locals and foreigners alike. It is a maelstrom of madness that is nearly always interesting, rarely boring.
While many writers look forward to April 1st to unleash the shackles of respectable journalism on a gullible section of the public, it is not necessary to wait in Thailand. It’s here every day – some true and some fake! Take your pick!
Some journos worldwide even turn to producing 100% fake news – they sit behind keyboards trolling and making up stories to monetize their sites. Some do it just for cash – others do it to expose those with idiotic political opinions through the use of satire.
Rarely is it necessary to embellish what one gets from the Thai news – though sometimes it is the hidden angle that really propels a story from mainstream Thai appreciation into the farang online media stratosphere.
For Rooster the challenge is first and foremost to inform and entertain. By creating click-a-thons and comment-fests WITHOUT resorting to making anything up. It’s really not that hard for as my English editor frequently says in his charming northern accent:
You just couldn’t make it up!
Leading the way on Thaivisa this week were all those fanciful Thai souls who claim to know the figures relating to tourism. They started by expecting us to believe that offering free visas had resulted in a stampede to the Land of Smiles. They ended it by saying that they had extended the privilege to the lucky denizens of Nauru (pop. 13,000).
If the Nauruans each come a dozen times we can expect tourist numbers to go through the roof. Well at least through the wooden roof at the new Swampy terminal…
Those lucky enough not to get trampled underfoot in the rush to Thailand would be fed, yes fed, by the authorities. No, not via a mother of all troughs filled with BBQ prawns for Mr and Mrs Woo – but a slap up feast of five tonnes of sticky rice and wait for it….500 mangoes for the 10,000 tourists expected.
Methinks someone at the TAT had, not surprisingly given recent debacles, got their figures slightly skewed…. again. Unless their cunning plan was to double…yes DOUBLE….the biblical feeding of the five thousand with a handful of fruit no doubt blessed by the monkhood to ensure there was enough to go round.
“Hello Mr Guinness?,”Yes, this is the Thai tourism minister….no don’t laugh….it really is….we’ve got a great idea to break all records. No not the death on the roads, we’ve done that. It’s mangoes. Mr Guinness? Mr Guinness, are you still there?”
Finally on tourism the chief of ATTA (the Thai travel agents’ association) gave the welcome news that said Mr Woo would soon be usurped by Mr Singh. Ten million Indians are expected to come to Thailand in 2028.
Having a soft spot for Indians I am fine with that just so long as plenty of them overstay and open up Chicken Tikka Masala shops in my neighborhood in Ratchayothin. I promise I won’t dob you in, baba, but please introduce free home delivery.
As the laughs subsided I made the mistake of looking over at the BBC in an idle, unguarded moment. Wow, Mrs May had got the best Brexit deal possible for Britain. Having most of my money in baht I must send her a Christmas card as the exchange rate to pounds dipped well below 42 on announcement of the news.
Yes, kids there will be presents this year but not from your poor Uncle Bob who thought voting to leave the EU would keep the foreigners out and return sovereignty and wealth to the UK. Yes kids, I know you’re five and understand it would have been better to let the Germans tell the British how to run the economy but Uncle Bob knows best.
Being a pensioner – and especially a British one, is of course no laughing matter at the moment. Cue – sadness. This was the case for a 74 year old man in Chiang Mai who went to find his boyfriend who had gone out to the SUV in the drive after an argument.
He found the Honda full of smoke and his 39 year old pal sitting up very much dead in the back seat in a blanket – he had lit a charcoal stove inside. It’s always a bit disconcerting when these grisly stories come from “Sanook”, though at least they stopped short of saying there was irreparable damage to the interior.
Meanwhile Stephen Prosser – just tosser to many Thaivisa curmudgeons – got not a single penny out of British Airways after claiming that an obese passenger in the next seat stole his airspace. A court decided that the claimant deserved nothing as he could have moved to another seat.
Next time that happens to me I’m marching up to First Class though the chance of Rooster travelling on British Airways again is unlikely. The last time I complained that the TV monitor on my emergency aisle seat would not lock into position. The purser was very helpful but being a nervous flier I was slightly perturbed when he started complaining loudly about “bloomin’ Boeing”….and used duct tape to make the repairs.
Once in America I was obliged to breathe in for an entire six hour flight wedged in between two Minnesota porkers, so I know how Prosser feels. I always respected a former Maths teacher at my school who was horizontally challenged – but always bought two seats in economy whenever she traveled. Respect!
Though when I suggested that this was because of the extra weight allowance she would get enabling her to import more donuts in her luggage she attempted to cause me a nasty injury. Some people just can’t take a joke from those of us who suffer from slimness.
The titter-o-meter hit record levels when it was revealed that his Omnipresence Big Joke – AKA Maj-Gen Surachate Hakparn – may not have come up with the stunning innovation of issuing SMS warnings to visitors about to overstay their Thai welcome.
The IB website trumpeted BJ’s name and put his moniker in vinyl while the Thai public gushed in admiration. But Thaivisa explained that the chief of Prajuab immigration had had the “bright” idea weeks ago.
Almost as much fun was looking at the slow, but steady video progress of the “mother of overloaded pick-ups” turning onto a main road. The story featured on a site called “Hia Khap Rot”, a play on words for “hia” meaning a water monitor or a respected and wealthy businessman depending on the Thai spelling and tone.
If you have a Thai wife or girlfriend practice saying the two words – I can guarantee a few laughs. Here they are without saying which is which….เฮีย…..เหี้ย.
Enough of harking back to the days when I scraped a living teaching Thai. But one can never forget being a teacher, almost as unpopular on Thaivisa as being a lawyer.
Angry memories came flooding back as Thaivisa told us that Sarot Meepai – the teacher at all boys’ school Suan Kularb who had sex with underage students and boasted about it online – was said to be still at the chalk face.
And not just anywhere. Deputy rector Amnuay Chanhom said he’d been transferred to Suan Kularb’s co-ed branch in Thonburi presumably as he’d be 50% less likely to re-offend. In Rooster’s top quote of the week the rector (read disgrace) said: “He can’t return to our school. That would be inappropriate” but he was still a teacher after all is said and done.
Very little has been either said or done in the case that has dragged on for two years. According to the story charges were dropped after none of the boys testified against sir.
Any idea why that might be Amnuay? No surprise that the administrator’s name is part of fancy Thai language meaning “for the sake of convenience”.
The counter corruption commission – yes Thailand does have one located in a broom cupboard under the expressway – gave the cops and other (oxymoron alert) civil servants a slap on the back for refusing to accept New Year gifts last year. The ACT hoped this would be expanded in 2018 though they stopped short of suggesting that politicians should refuse prezzies. They wouldn’t want to see a cut in funding, would they!
Anyway, I hope no one remembers this when it comes to the cop who directs the traffic at the end of my soi. The hard working chap always has a pile of presents come December 31st and does a great job when he turns a blind eye to me nipping briefly along the footpath between Tops and paak soi on my 250cc. He even salutes!
Admitting even a smidgen of pavement riding this week is tantamount to heresy. The righteous pedestrians of Bangkok were joined by the news media in clamorous condemnation of one motorcyclist who knocked down a 16 year old student. We became public enemy number one!
Of course this is terrible; pedestrians deserve the right of way and safety on the sidewalks. But my little 20 meter long infraction saves me a round trip of around three kilometers…..think of the saving in carbon footprints and lessening in spluttering fumes for all my fellow Bangkokians?
Sanook published a long article describing all the ways the outraged public could report us and make money sharing fines. But do pedestrians really need all that room and has any one of them paid a “foot tax”?
In political news it has emerged that Pheu Thai’s Sudarat is more popular than Prayut. This must be a devastating blow to Big Too whose Thai media nickname is only half true. “Too” means to have taken by force….so far so good….but “Big” means, well, big.
The pint-sized PM who believes he’s at least a liter is unlikely to have been mollified by news that a bunch of airhead pretties were lending their not inconsiderable looks to the pro-junta Palang Pracharat Party. But really it matters not.
Virtually all the new political parties have variations on the same words beginning with “P”. So come February or May or whenever the election is held the public will just get a pin and plump for the pretty P of their choice.
This whole election business is just taking the P if you ask me. Thank goodness I can’t vote.
And so to a few Rooster awards. The “Good Job” award goes to the lady boy waitress in Ayuthaya who stood up to the “top civil servant” who slapped her for having the temerity to insist that he didn’t smoke in the restaurant. The little Napoleon had to cough up 40,000 baht to the waitress (or is it waiter…) who then kindly donated it to a hospital. Respect #2.
While the “Entrepreneurial Endeavor” award goes to the Thai masseur who the media said was experiencing a massive upturn in Line business after his “erotic” massage for ladies featured a happy ending via tongue. Men of all persuasions please note….it may keep ‘er indoors from straying any more online.
Finally Saturday was World Aids Day and a chance for people worldwide – and in Thailand – to take stock of developments in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In the lead up to the weekend TNP+, an activist group, were complaining about the Intellectual Property Department over the issuing of patents that meant some people in Thailand were being denied access to life saving drugs.
The competence of such groups acting in the public interest compliments many Thai government initiatives that have helped to turn the humanitarian crisis of the late 1980s and 1990s on its head. Former government minister Mechai became synonymous with condom use and the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation has succeeded in producing affordable drugs to help the hundreds of thousands of HIV+ people in Thailand enjoy relatively normal, productive and long lives.
Many still do not know they have the virus, stigma abounds in sections of society including the workplace and the country must not rest on its laurels. But great strides have been made principally because Thailand accepted there was a problem and did something, dare I say, “positive” about it.
I hope the people at the TAT are reading.