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The week that was in Thailand news: Embrace Thai culture – and give Thais the benefit of the doubt!


The week that was in Thailand news: Embrace Thai culture – and give Thais the benefit of the doubt!

It is comforting to know that no matter how long you have lived in Thailand there is always something new to learn. Especially of a cultural and/or superstitious nature.

While the prevalence of phallic symbols in Thai culture and religion is quite widely appreciated, they do not er….rear their ugly head in the middle of the road.

That is what happened this week in one of the most amusing stories of the year on Thaivisa.

Locals in Chachoengsao were worried about the salinity of their water for crops so had turned to the Water Goddess for rainfall assistance.

And what better way to get a woman’s attention than with a decent endowment of the solid kind.

Why they decided to put the five foot six, painted clay todger in the middle of the road was less clear. Rooster’s Thai pals were equally confused by that showing that it was not just foreign cultural bemusement!

Perhaps they were worried that Percy, who normally points at the porcelain and not in vain at the heavens, would topple over.

Anyway, it seems to have done the trick. My spies on the eastern seaboard suggested that some precipitation had ensued and maybe motorcyclists in the area could ride free once more without being downed by a dong.

The notion that such an object could inspire rain was pooh-poohed by a Singaporean buddy of mine who studied at Cambridge, so he should know. He said that the only way to ensure rain was to wash the car. Failing that, go out without an umbrella.

He called the Thai idea a fallacy though I pointed out I think he meant phallacy, clearly a new Scrabble word in the making.

Another friend pointed out a T-shirt from the Taj Mahal in Agra, India that said: “Come Via Agra – You’ll see man’s greatest erection for a woman”.

Thai superstitions have fascinated this writer since well before the year While it was disconcerting that one of my first Thai girlfriends wore a dozen penises around her waist (on the inside) they were only about an inch long so for the first time in my life I felt reasonably well-endowed.

This lady – a Klong Toei slum dweller who plied her gyratory trade at the Pink Panther in Patpong – introduced me to Tarot readings or “phai yipsy” and a rather strange experience with a monk’s hands at Wat Pho.

Glad to say I remained a skeptical Englishman, despite this “education”, that contributed to the relationship foundering!

I’ve always erred on the side of caution when it comes to religion though. I’m a devout atheist but button my lip when Buddhism is mentioned, smiling inanely when the “graaping” and the offerings are made for good health and lottery winnings.

But I once appeared in court and made the mistake of answering “none” when the judge asked my religion ahead of oath swearing.

Consequently the lawyers went into a huddle and I was obliged to tell the truth and nothing but the truth lest my wife and children boil in hot oil (an experience based on Thai hell).

I told no porkies, especially as I didn’t wish that on my kids……

Teaching Thai culture at international school I always told my students to have a thirst for knowledge if they were Thais or visitors to the kingdom. Most bought into my quirky lessons appreciating that learning about culture should be a fun journey and not a constant “us and them” critique.

I would take them to festivals like “Bun Bang Fai” in Isaan, the Rocket festival, another appeal for rain in May. Or “Phi Taa Khon” in Dan Sai of Loei where everyone wears elaborate masks made from coconut trees. It brought Thai culture to life for both teacher and student!

In related news this week a huge sex toy (I mean there were a lot of them) haul was busted by the cops. Many posters on TV Facebook remarked on the apparent double standards!

Maybe this is where propriety and Priapus collide, as it were. Or more likely the classic Thai sensibility that when it comes to sex – if you can’t see it it’s alright. But if it’s thrust in your face we could have a problem Houston. Hence sidestreets full of prostitution but police claiming it doesn’t exist!

My final observation on the matter is that many Thais don’t believe their cultural superstitions. But they go along with them to please others and achieve a kind of sabai jai through acceptance.

Try giving the benefit of the doubt if you ever get too frustrated with the madness of Thailand’s wacky culture!

The pandemic continued with a steady stream of about 2,500 cases daily and a few dozen deaths.

Sorry to say I’ve become rather inured. I must agree with the poster last week who said they turn off at the merest mention of Covid.

But it’s my job so……

The flip-flopping over Phuket Sandbox was amusing, so long as you’re not thinking of holidaying on the southern island. The CCSA wanted a 14 day quarantine back on the table, tourism minister Pipat rumbled that it all looked a non-starter at least for a month, while the folks from the Surat Thani islands wanted to join in with something that wasn’t happening.

No wonder a Pheu Thai MP for Nan told Prayut to get real. Uncle actually apologized this week (for a vaccine shortage) though he looked as contrite as DPM Prawit gazing at his latest chronometer.

Prawit – never shy when it comes to porkies or pies – is now overseeing the drainage improvements in Pattaya.

I can see it now; huge billboards in Pattaya with Prawit’s grimacing face ecstatically proclaiming the flood-free resort of our dreams – proudly sponsored by Rolex.

Not to be left behind in the madness, Phuket said that entertainment and bars (there is a difference?) would be shut on July 1st for the big reopening.

Bless, double bless and triple bless.

It’s now looking like the dampest of squibs since Nero lit the first Roman Candle. And is unlikely to begin until at least August 1st.

At least the much heralded start of the mass vaccine rollout got off to a reasonably bright start on Monday with 306,000 jabs nationwide. Other days the press seemed, suspiciously, to stop reporting exact numbers.

The private hospitals’ association announced Moderna would cost 3,800 baht come October and the government gazette said wear a mask or face up to 20,000 baht in fines for repeat offences.

The gazette gave plenty of leeway in the structure of fines – just what Plod relishes.

The constabulary were also adamant that they would fine or jail people caught gambling on the delayed Euro 2020 football tournament that started Friday.

After a tycoon stepped in and we can now view the tournament on free TV at NBT2HD, I suggest the probation and corrections departments start building prisons.

While it was said that two Irishmen would bet on flies crawling up a window, two Thais would devise a way to make it a handicap and wager on the winning distance.

Thaivisa continued to make hay with the story about the four groups of “well-heeled” foreigners being given privileges for spending and working in Thailand.

It’s not ridiculous to suggest that Thailand could do far better when it comes to attracting foreigners and foreign investment and quite right that they should try.

But please don’t expect me to believe foreigners will have land buying rights or pay less tax. That would mean turning against social mores about independence, in place in the Thai psyche since the days of “The Fifth Reign”. That’s not about to be undone by the TAT or a government with the credentials of Uncle Too and his cronies.

Prayut – in a busy week for our father who art in khaki, hollow be thy name – also started rattling his saber about the miscreants who criticize him on websites and social media. He thought what they do in India was worth studying.

Attempts by the ministry responsible for media to rein in the un-reinable

have been amusing. Poor old Uncle’s only recourse is to completely pull the plug on Facebook. Do that and Bangkokians – the most Facebook-ized population on earth – would take to the streets. Lose, lose – so expect him to back down, bluster and moan. He’s very good at the last two in particular.

Also big news was the continuing investigation into the death of the billionaire couple on Koh Tao. I’d be prepared to believe that the lady drowned and the man died trying to save her. Contrary to many conspiracy theorists it’s not an uncommon occurrence and drowning is a very quiet death.

But the son’s movements were interesting and the change of hotel because they wanted a “bigger pool” was hardly going to quieten the mob that thinks anything that happens on Koh Tao is suspicious. Toxicology reports may shed some extra light on the darkness.

On the plus side it was good that local plod was obliged to watch as outside forces were brought in.

Though Thai watchers may remember the time Big Joke went there to find out about a foreign woman’s rape. He had a quick chat with someone then declared there was no case to answer. Not one of Surachate Hakpan’s finest hours.

On nearby Koh Phangan a marijuana plantation was found intermingled with other bushes by a coconut orchard. Rooster couldn’t resist that the Department of Provincial Administration was responsible for the bust.

Yes, DOPA found the DOPE.

Finally my last comment also harps back to Prayut. The PM’s brother – who has more medals than George S. Patton – has been charged with “graft”.

Big deal, I thought, remembering the meaning of the world I learned as a child.

At least someone was doing an honest day’s work.


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