Written by @Lan (Photos by curiostraveller.com team members)
Thought of the day-“The simplicity of the good man is hard to follow. The simplicity of the evil man is easy to follow.”-Buddhist Quote at Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai.
In 1995, with some friends, we braved ourselves to board the train all the way from Butterworth to Hat Yai en route to Bangkok. It was more than 18 hours journey and the ride experience was full of challenges. I stood for almost two hours after seeing a man managed to grab my seat when I was in the toilet. The idea to confront him seemed to be a big NO NO thing as he had a gun with him, tucked in his jacket but clearly visible. He smiled when he disembarked at a small station and I hurriedly but cautiously reclaimed my seat. That made our group glued to our seats until we reached Hua Lamphong Railway Station. Welcome to Thailand, The Land of Smiles. The reviews from seasoned travellers listed all possible pros and cons, creating that sort of conundrums for newbies, at least.
Did you know Bangkok’s official name in full?
It’s Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.
A year later, in 1996, I lived in Bangkok for almost a year, that’s 2 semesters to be exact; as I was following that Thai Language and Culture course. Many great things and some unfortunate incidents occurred during my stay. I remember having to ‘sit’ for an oral test done by the Thai Language Teacher in one big market.
I had to communicate with a seller, showing my ability to converse in Thai Language. It was an awkward moment, persuading the seller to reduce the price of an item, done fully in a language that was so difficult to master (in the beginning) but I obtained ‘flying colors’ for that course.
Having to understand the language, in both spoken and written, gives me that great advantage whenever I meet Thai people or whenever I visit Thailand. It’s interesting to read some articles (Click this LINK) from many foreigners about how they dislike Thailand so much, some even explicitly explained in details, the scams they encountered, vowing to not coming back.
They complaint about so many things, endless list of that. Some western travellers and expats were pretty much annoyed when they were referred as ‘Farang’ (pronounced as Falang) which literally refers to the white foreigners. Some regard this as an act of Racism.
Interestingly enough, no westerners argued the use of Bule phrase applied by the Indonesians. To make things more interesting, the Asians living in the western countries are labelled as Asians, and no one really make noise about that. It’s just a simple word, describing the origin or region for a particular group of people.
Farang means guava fruit as well, and its a well known joke among the Thais when they say, “Farang buying and eating Farang”. That’s just a joke. Not a racist remark, not even close. Some people took it so seriously that they wrote lengthy articles about how they were poorly treated in Thailand.
There’s one interesting article written by two bloggers (LINK) describing why they wouldn’t be coming back to Thailand. There’s also a section where readers listed all their pros and cons as well. Some even listed the ridiculous price quoted by the local private Hospitals. To those who started the issue, well all that I have to say is “as if the Private Hospitals in developed countries are giving lower prices“.
You want the best treatment then be ready to pay more otherwise do line-up at any of the Government’s Hospitals. Period. It is so not fair to think and expect that the private Hospitals in Asean Countries, in Thailand particularly, should be offering lower admission fees for patients, especially if they come from the west!
The locals are paying higher fees at Private Hospitals as well and it is so not ethical to think that visitors from developed countries should be paying lesser than the locals. Some visitors complaint about the inefficient pricing system.
Well, let me explain here, those who are whining are the actual losers and showing their inefficiency. Those who complaint about this particular problem always wanted lower prices, the cheapest, free if possible, just because they are more educated and originates from developed countries.
They come to Thailand to see everything should be priced at USD1 or lower. Put it higher and they will start making noise. When the Thais wander around New York City or spending their money in Sydney, Australia, none will write about the high cost of living that they are experiencing.
They anticipated that. They know about that before coming. They are always ready for that otherwise they will not be travelling. Now, these educated travellers and expats from the developed countries, expect everything to be super cheap, tailored to their needs.
Common sense will tell one to avoid certain things. Ask before indulging. Ask before buying or coming into a restaurant. Observe how things are done. Learn. Still couldn’t understand or fail to digest the local culture? Is that the Thais fault? You can’t read or speak Thai? Again, is that the Thais fault?
There are so many expats living in Thailand already and in Bangkok especially. Some of them mastered the language, having themselves comfortably living with the locals. They love what they experience, every single day, even the bad ones as it teach them some useful lessons.
Amazingly, some will tell people how they horrifically dealt with prostitutes. Their unique complaint already showed how low their dignity is. Were they coming for the prostitutes? Or were the prostitutes who forced them to come to Thailand? Why would, in the first place that they braved themselves passing that ‘unique alleys’ in some red districts?
Were they curious? And for their curiosity, they were ‘forced’ to pay big amount of money. Tell me, who’s looking for who in the first place? Thailand is not all about the sex industry. There are more beneficial things to do other than dealing with the prostitutes, but still some ventured and came home whining, poorer than the moment they came into the country.
Apart from Buddhism, The Royal Institution is another important part in Thais daily life. It’s their core and their responsibility to upheld the tradition and beliefs. Yet, some foreigners found that this ‘absolute loyalty’ is ridiculous. How is that possible? How come some travellers and expats from developed countries dared to question such loyalty?
Why were they troubled with that Institution? Were they forced to oblige? Did the Thais tell the westerners that their loyalty towards ‘modern thinking’ is wrong? One big advise for the said educated travellers, you are just being visitors, no more than that. Not your right to tell the world what you think about someone’s else loyalty.
Some will regard the Night Markets in Bangkok are full of scammers. But they keep coming back and go home, whining and come back again. Are the Markets in the western world totally clean of scammers? Cheaters and scammers are everywhere. They are just everywhere in this world. It’s totally unfair to think that Thailand is a dangerous place for its markets are full of scammers.
Again, did the scammers invited you to come to Thailand? And you purposely acted like morons, taking no precautions? Smart travellers will do their homework before coming to any country. They read. They will learn many things from the lengthy lists of pros and cons.
The ‘Me No Ingrish‘ problem seemed to make some travellers in sort of ‘deadly situation’! They expect everyone to speak good English when they come to Thailand. They want to be treated almost equally as how they are being well treated in their own so called developed countries. This is Thailand. The land where the locals speak their own language.
I am pretty much annoyed when no foreigners complaint how they had to take Spanish Lesson before coming to Spain. No one complaint why the French keep speaking in French in France. Yet, some educated travellers thinks that the Thais are the one who should learn English, simply because the English speaking, educated travellers are coming in!
A comment from Roch Young, a reader of an article (LINK–7 reasons why we won’t be returning to Thailand) stated;
I was nearly murdered on September 26, 2013 in front of the Dongdaemoon Hotel that’s on or near Walking Street that’s, in turn, connected to Khaosan Road in Bangkok. At least 4 Thai males and 1 Cambodian female walked up to me at about 8:25pm and demanded my clothes, telephone, watch, wallet, shoes -everything. The area there was a bit dim from a lack of proper lighting. I tried to walk away but was set upon by the gang who were armed with bamboo clubs, a machete, and Chang soda water bottles. I was nearly hacked to death and lost almost all of my blood. Two heart attacks, 2 comas, 1 brain surgery, and 250 thousands in Bumrungrad International Hospital bills later, I was sent to hospital in San Francisco broken in body, spirit, mind, and finances. (www.inafarawayland.com-LINK)
Why did Roch Young chose to be in place that lacked of proper lighting? Common sense will tell me not to walk in the dark alleys in New York City, never been there, but my brain will tell me to take precautions. Is the country that Roch Young currently living is 100% safer, none criminals in existence?
Come on, bad people are just everywhere, from the U.S.A right to Zimbabwe. There is no place safer 100%. What certainly will make you far away from those bad people, none other than your own thinking, using your brain. Why chose a Hotel in dark area? Why didn’t you move to another Hotel in the first place? Lack of fund? Is that the Thais fault?
Another reader, added his comment;
Spot on but you can add a few dozen more, everything is chaos here. Traffic, road rules (lack of), noise, pollution and trash everywhere in the touristy spots and big cities. (www.inafarawayland.com-LINK)
So, are the western countries are totally free of Traffic, noise, pollution and trash? Oh maybe, because all of them are ‘educated’ not as the Thais. Well, I hope to visit New York City soon and I expect to see the roads are totally free of Traffic, noise, pollution and trash.
Smart travellers knows their risks when they travel. They are taking great steps to avoid such discomfort, bad people, scammers, cheaters and so on. If one expect Thailand to have 100% intelligent and honest prostitutes, cheaper bills in Private Hospitals, free food or at least are of USD1 lower,bright alleys with such efficient lighting, everyone speaks English and gives free Happy Ending Massage, then please cancel your trip.
Forget Thailand and forget the rest of the world. Tour your own developed country as your country are full of honest prostitutes, English Speaking people, cheap food and hotels and so on. Most importantly, your country has no bad people, it’s heaven your place is where all angels are singing to your tune.
If you still want to come to Thailand, live like a local. Respect the locals and they will respect you. Do your homework, learn some useful Thai phrases as you would do in learning Spanish before coming to Spain or Mexico. Expect things to be differently than what you anticipated, people live by their own ways and not according to your instructions and needs.
I learned these valuable lessons when I lived in Bangkok for a year, 20 years ago. I still do visit Thailand regularly. I never start complaining if someone try to cheat me, I will know as I speak their language, they don’t know about my language ability.
If I sense something not good about to happen, I will walk away and overcome my curiosity as my safety is more important than finding out what’s behind that mind boggling things. I don’t expect people to keep up with my expectations, it’s me who have to be wary of their expectations, as I am in their land, their country, not mine.
Deep inside, I know that there is no such country that can guarantee my safety and satisfactions. There is no country in this world that are full of Honest and Respecting Prostitutes. Private Hospitals are expensive as in my own country. I do not expect the Private Hospitals in Thailand to be a lot cheaper than those in my countries.
So, if ever you are planning to visit Thailand, do your homework, read and learn. Please don’t come home whining about your unfortunate events in Thailand. You ask for it as you did not do your homework. You come as you please and expect everyone to bow at you, pleasing you at all times, but you fail to realize that you have no financial ability to stay in 5-star resort/hotel for full 5 weeks, that’s why you choose a budget hotel.
That budget hotel is lacked of safety features, dark alleys around and for that you blamed the Thais, the bad people, the scammers, the prostitutes, the cheaters and even the government as they did not adequately teach the Thais, proper English.
I am comfortable enough with what I had to write in this article. While I do admit that there are some inefficiencies in certain things in Thailand, especially in Bangkok, I have to clearly state that there’s no such place in this world that is so ideal and safe for travellers. Risks are just to be found everywhere.
Educated people should have known this much better and not keep whining about the ‘so called inefficiencies’ they encountered in another countries. Whining about your unfortunate events in Thailand does not imply that your own developed country is way, totally perfect. Learn something from bad experiences of other travellers, take precautions. If you do repeat others mistakes, it means you are the one who is stupid, not the Thais.
“The Greatest Gift you can give to this world is to make the mind still.”-Ajahn Chah
“Understanding is the heartwood of well-spoken words.”-The Buddha
“A mind of gratitude is one that sees the good things in life, that values things, and that relishes even the difficult parts of life. Such a mind tends to grow in freedom, happiness and energy.”-Ajahn Brahm