Rarely have I enjoyed such an amusing and enlightening week following
the news on Thaivisa. While the great and the good stories inevitably
still rubbed shoulders with the grisly and the grotesque there was
much to both ponder and wonder in the land I am proud to call home.
Here was a microcosm of media mayhem containing many of the reasons
why I love to live here. Though those self-same reasons may be why
critics of the kingdom prefer not to!
To those who find Thailand a frustrating morass of problems,
difficulties and bewilderment I would say lighten up and don’t take it
For the Thais don’t.
Even when serious issues come to the fore they manage to either find
the funny side or at the very worst file it away under R for Rubbish
and perhaps deal with it later after mealtimes.
Rooster has fallen in and out of love with many a local lady but one
constant remains – an abiding respect for the nation and an
appreciation of, and focus on, all the good things that have made life
here such an interesting and fulfilling one.
Of course, “khii” happens – but accentuating the positives has become
my mantra, especially in the absence of any help from Buddhism, or
even religion, that I always filed under my own secret R following the
advice of my late father.
One of the principal tenets of my private existence is not to compare
Thailand to the “West”, wherever that is, but to enjoy the antics of
the denizens of my adoptive homeland rather like a free sideshow. Only
comparing a Thai with another Thai.
In this way I compare like with like and invariable find something to
like – and less to grumble about. Then it is easier to focus on the
improvements that have been made in the country rather than be drawn
into the nonsensical notion that it is going to the dogs.
Call me naïve and I will listen to you with a smile – but that is a
Thai smile and it doesn’t mean I agree with you…..
For me the abiding memory of the week came early Monday as a Thai
policeman talked a knife out of a man’s hand using Southern dialect,
then threw the weapon away before giving the stressed out chap a bear
The cop had invited him to “kin khaaw duay gan” and offered to replace
his stolen guitar. So what if the promises were not kept – the
situation was calmed Thai style and I felt warm and fuzzy.
Later in the week came the story about a cop in Hat Yai paying a
student’s clamping fine because he didn’t have enough money.
Don’t worry – Rooster hasn’t gone soft on the force, it’s just that I
don’t agree with some on the forum that claim there is some conspiracy
to present police – and taxi drivers even – in a good light following
stories that present them as sinners.
Thaivisa mirrors Thai news and it is to the credit of the local media
that they are not stifled as much as many foreigners believe what with
a military regime at the helm and the cops ruling many roosts.
So why not accentuate the positives occasionally because they do
plenty of the reverse.
Show me a farang Thai basher and I’ll show you a local that does the
same. The difference being they have another of those smiles….
Foreign indignation came to the fore when locals in Samui blamed an
American for insulting the spirits leading to him tumbling to his
death at a waterfall. But do the negative posters really believe that
most Thais accept this as truth?
While some do, there is no denying, many do not. The Thai news media
is kind of honor bound to report such views. So we see snakes and
lottery numbers. Discover that people are lady boys or toms. Are told
about skin color in a major headline…..
The last of these caused a Facebook furor in the news of the Nigerian
gang arrested for paying Thai women 5,000 baht to marry their
compatriots for visas. The translator to English – for that is what
Thaivisa use in many of their best stories – was just opening a window
If you want to know more try learning Thai writing yourself. As
mentioned later in the article, the “dark skinned gang” was actually
referred to as the “nasty dark skinned gang” – many cry racism or
xenophobia but Thais use such terms more to refer to themselves than
In fact look no further than the story about the woman called Praiya,
condemned online for her video about how to catch a rich farang
husband after admitting to dating 5,000 foreigners.
All the stereotypes came out from the Thais but very few were farang
bashing – they were bashing their own.
Rooster hated her video introduction that mocked one of my favorite
Thai songs. Inevitably missed by most non-Thai speakers she was lip
syncing the classic “Ngern mee mai” (Do you have money?) of the late,
great Phumpuang Duangjan who tragically died so young.
I wouldn’t give that “crumpet strumpet” the time of day just for that!
Rib tickling this week was the story of the Cambodian at the ATM near
the border with more than 100 cards and a bag full of 3 million baht
in cash. It reminded me of something I will never do – join a queue at
a Thai ATM.
I have long since appreciated that it is better to have no money than
to grow old in this way.
Besides it always gives me an excuse to press the ATM when out at
night which allays Mrs Rooster’s concerns when she “happens to
stumble” on the withdrawal slip when de-griming my dungarees.
The Cambodian was similarly armed with an excuse though it seemed far
more flimsy than anything I would dare to proffer. But at least it
kept him out of jail though the cops kindly relieved him of his
millions…..for evidential purposes, you understand.
Someone who didn’t have enough excuses was Johan the Dutchman who must
still do 20 years for money laundering. Though many believe he was
just spending legally earned guilders– illegal in Thai eyes because it
was connected to ganja cafes – there is obviously more to the story
He clearly upset too many people – one thing to be avoided in Thailand
– and will just have to be happy that his sentence has come down from
103 years and he may only have to do ten more.
As was noted before, accentuate the positive.
Smiling and enjoying the rice gruel is a prospect that awaits former
PM Yingluck. While she may well have been naughty, off her own bat or
that of her brother, Rooster will always have a smidgen of sympathy.
In a previous life Rooster was a teacher of Thai culture and I had the
pleasure of Yingluck’s son in my class – I always ascribed to the view
that lovely children came from nice parents so, at the very least,
that counts as a redeeming feature for Ms Shinawatra.
Grisly this week were two revolting crimes against those very children
that Rooster holds dear. Two parents had to endure the agony of seeing
a trusted “friend” on CCTV spiriting their ten year old daughter away
from school on a motorcycle. She was later found naked and murdered.
While in Chonburi a teacher read evidence of rape in a primary child’s
homework assignment. And worse – the callous so called mother had sold
her to an old man on the council giving her daughter 500 baht sweet
money from the proceeds.
While in the first case the tragedy is that the mother will never see
the child again, it is to be hoped that in the second she is never
Meanwhile, following last week’s refusal to believe an international
survey when Suwannaphum was named one of the worst airports, Thais
rushed to agree with one this week when THAI was praised for its
economy class cabin service.
Mind you I have no beef with THAI and that is not because I don’t eat
beef but due to an unforgettable experience years ago when travelling
across the pacific with a well-respected Thai school director next to
me in coach.
One of his alumni – none other than the pilot – came out of the
cockpit to kneel on the floor and give him the deepest wai I have even
seen. We were then both invited to the flight-deck for a wonderful
night view over Hawaii.
What a pity that Mohammad Atta and his pals put an end to that
particular avenue of pleasure when they sought to meet all those
virgins in New York City.
And so to this week’s Rooster awards. Post of the week goes once again
to forum wag “canuckamuck” who commented on the US tourist who fell
after insulting the spirits in Samui saying:
“The spirit who was offended has now been identified as gravity”.
While the “AC:DC” (arch cretin: district chief) award goes to Bang
Lamung boss Naris who thought it would be a good idea to engage the
bargirls of Walking Street in the political process by asking them Big
Too’s four leading questions about the country’s future.
I don’t mean to be disparaging about their education but I do recall
asking one of their ilk when I first came to Thailand in 1982 if they
knew the nationality of the first man on the moon.
“Don’t be silly,” she laughed dismissing the very notion. “How could
anybody get there?”
Finally it was great to see Britney Spears arriving in Bangkok this
week – hopefully the general PM will put his twerking crusade on hold
as we could do without another embarrassing international gyratory
Her visit inspired the comely lovelies of Nok Air to put together
their own “Toxic” music video that reminded nervous Rooster about my
love for Thailand but also the dangers of flying.
For I recalled the time when, travelling Nok Air to Chiang Mai with
the missus, I was physically unable to keep my beady eyes off the
passing trolley dollies, incurring the silent but wide-eyed wrath of
said Mrs Rooster.
Not a question of IF but WHEN looks could kill.