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The week that was in Thailand news: Doom and gloom everywhere: But could Thailand be the hub of straight faces and internal screaming?


The week that was in Thailand news: Doom and gloom everywhere: But could Thailand be the hub of straight faces and internal screaming?

A report on the BBC this week said that a theme park near Tokyo called Fuji-Q.Highland was asking people on its rollercoasters to control themselves.
Selfies were fine, in fact encouraged, but no one should be yelling and screaming and spreading all those Covid-19 droplets all over the place. In fact, everyone was asked to keep a completely straight face and “scream inside your heart”.
Many complied with the request meaning some hilarious deadpan pictures reached social media.
This got Rooster thinking. Maybe Thailand should take a leaf out of the Japanese book and encourage such behavior. Goodness knows it would be hard especially with some of the government’s antics but it could catch on.
Who knows, Thailand could yet be named as the Hub of Straight Faces and Internal Screaming delivering a body blow to the Japanese.
Leading the Looney Tunes way this week was arch-buffoon and billionaire leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, health minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
The DPM has gone from loathsome to idiotic to pathetic to hilarious through the pandemic. That’s laughing at him not with him. He has now added flagrant violation of his own health measures to his disgraceful resume.
Following his outbursts about non-mask wearing, dirty farangs, and his equally nasty comments about his own health personnel, Rooster sincerely believed that Anutin would be sidelined by PM Prayut and quietly forgotten in a cabinet reshuffle.
Not a bit of it. It’s perhaps indicative that Prayut – our father who art in khaki, hollow be his name – has not a single person of merit in his government meaning he has to keep someone like Anutin onboard his rapidly sinking ship.
This week Anutin attended a US July 4th celebration without his mask, an item that back at the start of the pandemic seemed so important to him. This arrogant puppy dismissed reporters’ concerns by resorting to the standard Thai politician’s defense of criticizing the press for making a fuss, or “too much drama” in his words. (It should be noted also that the US ambassador was also flagrantly mask-less when meeting with senior Thai government figures this week).
A belated apology came from Anutin on Friday. Once again this was too little too late and only made everything much worse. 
Yes, it would be impossible to keep a straight face even if Anutin was funny, which he is not. Maybe if he was sacked, never to darken Thai politics again, we could have our facial muscles put to the test.
Also testing us this week was the rest of the Thai government who were forced to abandon their travel bubble plans after the principal countries mooted for the scheme had renewed outbreaks of the deadly lurgy.
A spirit of misplaced and rose-tinted optimism, in both the economy and tourism sector, has now been replaced by a grudging acceptance that 2020 is a complete write-off. Even the TAT have abandoned the rhetoric as figures emerged that Thailand would have less than 2 million more tourists this year.
Previously they would have had that many in a fortnight. It was all part of doom piled upon gloom in a multitude of miserable stories about Thailand this week. This of course is no laughing matter. Curmudgeon comments abounded on the forum from posters in the tourist areas who are thrilled at the lack of visitors. gurgling contentedly into their cut-price Leo.
These folks couldn’t give a monkey’s about the Thais and their hardship. They can’t keep a straight face and always practice external rather than internal screaming. Hopeless for Thailand’s hub plans.
The titter-o-meter was strained this week with the Thai reaction to animal group PETA’s claims that monkeys were being used to gather coconuts that found their way into milk on the shelves of UK supermarkets. None other than recent mum Carrie Symonds – Boris Johnson’s much better half – was behind the campaign to stop simian labour (that’s a monkey, not Sir Keir Starmer).
The Thai reaction was supremely typical. First to deny itthen to admit it, then to obfuscate, then to get tied up in their own lies and knots. All this was slathered in that very Thai of concepts that the customer is always wrong.
The Thais said the monkeys were just for tourists, then that they loved the work and it had been going on for 600 years. 
The commerce ministry demanded an audience with diplomats to put the record straight. This was, of course, no laughing matter as Thailand exports billions in coconut products to Britain and the EU.
But what Thailand has to realize is that there is no sense in the modern world. The customer is in fact right. If they don’t want monkeys climbing trees anymore then you just have to suck it up. In fact, it is part of a much wider and very long standing malaise in Thailand that sees the country circle its wagons when criticized when it should be holding up its hands and getting on with change.
This whole macaque mess of the Thai authorities reminded Rooster of “monkey see monkey do” – an act of mimicry with little knowledge or concern for the consequences.
Yes, the heat is on in Thailand, where it is never cold enough to freeze the two veg off a brass monkey.
Thailand’s continued abuse of tigers, not to mention the archaic practices of cock and buffalo fighting also fall into similar categories. The Thais can bang on about history and culture all they like but they need to realize they are very much part of the modern world and the tourists and tourist dollars that they crave will not be forthcoming if the country insists on being stuck in the past. No matter how glorious and romantic it might have been.
Epitomizing the prevailing, doom and gloom was a picture of the Phoenix ship that sank in Phuket in 2018. Two years on the ship that capsized claiming dozens of mostly Chinese tourist lives, still has not been scrapped. I do hope they are not going to charge for admission for those wanting to gawk (even if they did scrap dual pricing!)
Seeing the rusting hull of the ship reminded Rooster of the gas tanker explosion on Petchaburi Road in Bangkok. Around 150 people were incinerated in cars and on motorbikes after the tanker driver raced off the expressway and overturned one unforgettable night in 1990.
Dozens of cars caught up in the almighty fire were left on the road by the Makkasan railway yard for what seemed like years. It was a constant reminder of that terrible tragedy. Thais talked of ghosts, I just found it ghoulish.
From Pattaya to Chiang Mai misery reigned, if the Thai press were to be believed. In the north suggesting the Night Bazaar was worth a visit was just…er…. bizarre. It was all shut. Even a well known shop was desperate offering an all-in price for that form of Thai torture known as massage. You could now put your back out for 299 baht reduced from 900. Whoopee!
In QUOTES every Thai media under the hot sun went to say it was dire. There were no foreign tourists in Pattaya at all and even the few Thais daring to venture out post-pandemic were only opening their wallets to show off the fake designer label.
Cha-Am and Hua Hin seemed to have fared a little better during the four day long holiday weekend that ushered in Buddhist Lent. And residents there might have been heartened by news that Air Asia plan to start flying from Hua Hin to Chiang Mai and Udon Thani over the next few months. 
Air Asia is also moving into Suwannaphum (my spelling). They clearly think that rather than going bust they will take the Thai buffalo by the horns and expand.
Good luck with that.
Also in Pattaya was a horrendous story about a Russian woman who beat her one year old’s head against the toilet then covered the little girl with the fragments. She then jumped from the third floor and survived. Plod only found the child hours later. The mother said she heard voices from her husband telling her to do it. She’d had that terrible drug ganja, you see.
Despite the horror it was amusing to see the Thai press get the mother’s name wrong. She was Anna and not Ahha. Thai reporters must think that Cyrillic is a kind of clay pottery.
Popular blogger Richard Barrow was in the news again; he might be careful about that bearing in mind what happened to Andrew Biggs who criticized the queues at the airport and lost his column at the Bangkok Post not long after. Mr Barrow advised visitors to stay away from Bang Saen after huge swathes of trash blew in off the sea. He found an ally in local mayor “Tui” Khunpluem who said it was a perennial problem.
He’s right but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be sorted if people would stop throwing their trash in the klongs, rivers and estuaries that empty into the Gulf. I organized many school trips to Mae Phim Cape where we got the teenagers to clean up the beach.
Us teachers knew it was futile but it was a good learning experience for the children to understand why the beach was just as filthy the day after they had tidied it.
Mayor Tui later published a picture of a dead female turtle that would have laid 200 eggs on his beach but for the nylon rope and plastics strangling its innards to death.
People like the mayor and Mr Barrow are doing a good job saying it like it is. 
In Nakhon Sawan (heavenly city as Rooster quipped) there was a story of a young man who plastered pictures of his even younger girlfriend’s tattooed butt all over social media. Predictably, the forum was more interested in the state of undress rather than the Thai shock horror that the snaps were taken at a holy shrine where the Chao Praya river begins.
Many posters just can’t grasp the cultural nuances of Thailand. They laugh at the country, or shake their heads with nary a clue about why the Thais behave the way they do. They’d be hopeless keeping a straight face; wearing their ignorance firmly on their sleeves is the best they can muster.
Australia was at the forefront of international news. Melbourne’s five million residents face another lockdown of 6 weeks after more Covid-19 cases. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro came down with coronavirus. Sadly he was getting better again crediting hydroxychloroquine, Trump’s unproven tipple. The US had a record 65,000 new cases in a single day. Disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said some states reopened too fast. Great understatement there doc!
Schools in Hong Kong were set to shut again after a spike in locally transmitted cases. All this grief could have been avoided if the Chinese government had just banned the virus in the first place…..
With our nippers finally back at school after four months at home in lockdown the Hong Kong story sent a shiver through the collective spines of Mr and Mrs R.
In a snippet of Scrabble news that may be of interest to my readers, the North American association that runs the game are keen to remove slurs from the dictionary as part of the Black Lives Matter debate. There are dozens of targets but what they call the “N-word” is top of their hit list. Not a proponent of dictionary meddling, Rooster pointed out if they were to take out this slur then they should also remove its anagram.
For obvious reasons, GINGER was a very unpleasant term of abuse when I was at school.
Finally, it was hard not to snigger when drug suspect Theerapat ran out of the police station in Nong Khai onto his girlfriend’s Honda Wave and disappeared. Plod didn’t think it was necessary to cuff him for the short walk from the cells to the interview room.
The caption on the picture of the fleeing fugitive was “Pay Loei Thee Rak” (Let’s go honey).
This expression is a favorite quip of mine when Rooster and the wife head off to her northeast hometown as it also means “Let’s go to Loei, darling”.
It made me think what a strange year this has been. If you’d told me back in January that my wife would still not have taken the children to visit her mum by July I would have called you more barking than a soi dog.
Yes, this year has been no laughing matter.

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