No one in their right mind would take Thailand at face value. The
Thais certainly don’t.
Anyone who believes the “mai pen rai”, grengjai , lovey-dovey land of
smiles” rhetoric need only be in the kingdom a few days to realize
that rose tinted specs require rebar reinforcement in Rattanakosin.
Thais, in my experience, are almost honor bound to expound the virtues
of their race and culture especially to outsiders. They don’t really
believe this unless they are simple – and I have never thought the
people in Thailand are simple.
Many thousands of defeats to Thais at English language Scrabble have
seen to that.
Many foreigners haven’t grasped that the Thais are constantly
analyzing themselves. And plenty really hate their own country with a
The xenophobes – and there are plenty on a site like Thaivisa –
imagine that the Thais believe everything is hunky dory and foreigners
are to blame for their woes.
Twaddle. The great majority of Thais – albeit lawless and often highly
irresponsible – are no fools. They distrust their politicians and
their police with a fanatical zeal, and for very good reason. In their
heart of hearts they shake their heads at the injustice, lawlessness
and mayhem that abounds.
Then tell the tourists and anyone gullible enough who will listen
about all the good things from yummy food to mountains, golden beaches
to kindness. You name it, it’s all good….
The trick to understanding Thailand a little better is to sort the
wheat from the chaff. There really is so much good here but denying
the dark underbelly does not help with that realization.
On the contrary, it is the comparing of the bad with the good that
makes life in the kingdom worthwhile and gives one a proper
perspective on which to base a life.
Thailand may be a house of cards but such a structure has attractive
bits that are still standing when the wind from an open door has
knocked down some of its parts.
This week the Thai news was full to bursting with outrageous acts,
crazy behavior both heinous and hilarious – so why do I feel at its
end that I could never live anywhere else?
Yes, I may be barking – at the least, infatuated; but I do know I am
not alone in loving Thailand.
Neighborly love was the last thing on the mind of a family in Bangkok
caught on CCTV murdering their “pheuan baan” on Friday. The violence
was shocking as mum, dad, son and daughter-in-law held Somchai down
and beat him to death with a baseball bat and knives.
It was over the smell of the Mama noodles that, as my wife pointed
out, don’t smell.
The week had begun with something smelling far more fishy. The reek of
“pla ra” emanating from a factory that even the locals couldn’t
The fermented fish factory was ordered to solve the problem – I would
suggest not cleaning the drains or not pressing the flush for a few
weeks, that could tone it down a bit.
Pla Ra is one of a small number of foods that I have never tried and
never will. While I admonish my four year old daughter for saying she
doesn’t like something she has never tried I don’t mind being
decidedly two faced about the issue myself.
I fit in well in Thailand.
Rooster prefers Indian food over Thai. One of the reasons for this was
that I taught Thai cooking at international school and on some days I
was obliged to sample up to 80 Green Curries or Tom Yam Kung that the
Year 8 children had made for their homework and brought in for me to
taste and grade.
Try it if you want to go off something.
At home Mrs Rooster eats Loei and me and the kids feast on Branston
and Shreddies. Even on the same plate that would be better than some
of the things she puts in her elegant bouche.
Top Road Rage of the week – yes, contrary to the tourist manuals they
do get angry occasionally – was the taxi driver emerging with a sword
to threaten TV presenter Pa Ngem just around the corner from my
While appreciating why the traffic in my area would make anyone lose
it, it still beggared belief that my local cops could only fine the
driver 100 baht for the knife. Pa Ngem deserved at least that for
being dressed as a Flower Pot Man.
I passed Pahonyothin police station on my bike doing a cheeky shortcut
as the news media and TV crews were all there for a briefing. You had
to laugh – the cops had set up a police memorabilia stand to sell
knick-knacks to reporters.
Hardly a crime – but certainly opportunistic!
Another road rage incident from February has resulted in Suthep the
engineer being charged with murder in the death of a menacing teen.
Like taking Thailand at face value, to do the same with Suthep, as
many posters did believing him to be defending his family, is wide of
It reminds me of Tony Martin the farmer in the UK who shot an intruder
and received much public sympathy when he was convicted.
Until it emerged that tooled up Tony had laid in wait at the top of
the stairs for the opportunity to blast away a young, though
admittedly thieving, life.
The parallels with Suthep – armed in his car as all too many are in
Thailand – are too obvious to ignore.
Fortunately Yingluck took a back seat in whatever vehicle she is
escaping in this week leaving her charming son to do his compulsory
ror-dor military service back in Bangkok. The irony was missed on no
one, least of all, I suspect, intelligent Pike.
I once asked him in class how many provinces there were in Thailand –
a question his mum had got wrong after Bung Karn was added. He
demurred – clearly a future politician in the making there!
To wit if not twits, Prayuth and his sidekick Prawit both told us in
recent days to “get over” their various Shin adversaries. His
Generalness was tetchy that the press were more interested in Taksin
than his dodgy diplomacy.
Big Too was having tea and muffins with Hun Sen, that paragon of
Cambodian neighborly virtue, while His Blandness Prawit was enraged
when the press started asking those tiresome and highly irregular
things called searching questions about younger sis.
As Catherine Tate would say “How very Dare you!” – insubordination in
the reporting ranks.
Secretly, Prayuth was irked that Taksin had a higher in-office
approval rating while no one really cared about Prawit who bravely
suffers the highest ugliness rating since recently acquitted PM
Veritable clamor competed for top “drama” of the week. Among the
spirited contenders were Porn who married fourteen Thai men and
scarpered with the dowries, the man in the pick-up that had a barnie
with his missus then went the wrong way round a bend killing a baby
and the taxi driver who was convinced that his passenger was a witch
causing him to drive badly.
No, mate, that is not the occult – it is called lack of training.
All had their merits but I preferred the story of the Lao guy visited
American called Zachary multiple times – while he was out – to pinch
his electrical appliances, guzzle his beer and grab a further 40
baht’s worth of winks in the Yank’s bed.
The Lao was call Pek Penguin, not Goldilocks, and his disguise of puce
green t-shirt and jolly roger multicolored pants had the forum in
So much so that the keyboard warriors almost completely forgot to
demand that another man, worthy of the term Septic, who had been
caught with a load of indecent images of children on his computer, be
hanged immediately from the nearest Bo tree.
Despite an admittedly flimsy sounding denial, the Chiang Mai yank was
deemed guilty and condemned to enjoy the attentions of the sex starved
Thai men who the hang ‘em high brigade believe are always waiting
inside for what the Americans might call “fresh farang fanny”.
However, winner of the best story of the week had to be the Khon Kaen
monk who decided to drop charges against two cops who were clearly in
league with a woman who gave him drugged orange juice in Maha Sarakham
some months earlier.
It emerged that many people didn’t want said monk to become the next
abbot so he was taken to a short time hotel for a bit of impromptu
defrocking and photography with the naked woman to use for blackmail
Of course, not a soul asked any awkward questions about the morality
of all these shenanigans and no one will be in the least surprised
that the chapel at the temple will soon have a new roof.
And so to this week’s Rooster awards. My “Comment of the Week” prize
goes to LotusBoy who was remarking on the story about the locals in
the tiny village in Pangnga who expressed surprise that tourists no
longer wanted to visit after around half the male population were
accused of raping a 14 year old:
“That’s like Susan Boyle coming out of Gregg’s and the next customer
saying – who ate all the pies?”
While my “Entrepreneur Without a Business Plan” is awarded jointly.
Firstly, to the myriad forum posters who thought it would be a great
idea to dob their neighbors into the authorities to claim half the
10,000 baht fine for illegally placing objects on the road to reserve
You’d more likely get away with poisoning their dogs – something that
some public spirited soul has been doing to dozens of mutts outside an
institute in Chumporn since term began.
Secondly, the entrepreneur that would make the Dragons delirious, was
the teen who gratefully received his mater’s generous handouts via her
foreign husband. He invested mum’s cash in the drugs trade having a
girl sell the Ya Ba because “no one would suspect a woman”.
They were all swiftly arrested.
Finally, my thanks to several posters who tried to convince detractors
that my “Midweek Rant”, which on the face of it seemed not to be a
rant, was in fact just that.
Of course, my intention was to rant between the lines at all those
posters who seem to find nothing but fault with everything they see,
hear and do in this land many of us call home.
Those detractors need to remember one thing.
All is not what it might seem in the Land of Smiles.