Thailand, some thoughts
May 3, 2012
I have so much to say about Thailand, I have no idea where to start.
There are some thing I wanted to say… you’ll have to bear with me on this post, my thoughts might be a little jumbled and maybe not make sense to you at times.
I could start with superficial things… like the black forest ice creams I ate a lot… WHY do we not get these!?
We spent six weeks travelling around, and to be fair we didn’t get very far! We mostly hung out on islands and beaches and chilled out enjoying our honeymoon.
There is so much to love about the country, but I didn’t love it right away. That might sound ridiculous to those of you who do love it. My Husband has been to Thailand multiple times, he absolutely adores it there, all over, and the food is the kind of food he would eat every day if he had his way.
I wasn’t so sure. I take more time to work things out in my head, how I feel and how to deal with the things that are so different to the life as I know it.
I guess the poverty is what I am talking about. Being a tourist in Thailand is hard for me.
You arrive and compared to most people there you have so much. I have been to places like this before so it wasn’t new, but before it was different I wasn’t a tourist and the biggest thing in Asia that I found really difficult is how the super rich and super poor live side by side. I cried on more than one occasion.
This is the debate I had with my Husband all the time… you could say England, for example, has it right. You could say that is it better when you are walking around, for example London or Bristol that you generally don’t see homeless people. You literally see a handful day to day here. You change London to a small town or village and you see it even less.
What you do not see are the people who are living in poverty, whether they have a home or not. We are much more segregated. We don’t live side by side, we do not eat at the same places, we do not shop in the same places or generally work in the same places.
You could say this is better. In Thailand, for example, there are brand new five star hotels right next to temporary homes made from corrugated iron and whatever materials to hand. You can walk out of a mall of stores like Chanel and Louis Vuitton and there will be beggars with missing limbs, child beggars and market stalls selling fake copies of the bags you just saw in the store. You can drive around Bangkok in your brand new car and eat street food at a certain place next to everyone else because they do the best Pad Thai around. There is more mixing, this is normal.
I am putting this in a clumsy way, I hope you get my meaning.
It’s right there in your face.
Is that a bad thing? In England charity is a whole industry (chuggers anyone?), in Thailand it is just something people do. They are a very religious people and as part of that they look after people.
Problems are so much worse, don’t get me wrong I am not saying it is bad here compared to there, I know that we have a healthcare system for all and a benefit system and help for people and they do not. I am more talking about the attitude, that take it as that is the way life is and get on with theirs. If you watch a homeless person here in Bristol ask for money most people (me included) walk on by. In Thailand most people give something. It is a responsibility, and it gives them good karma.
The other thing I found interesting was the lassiez faire way of life. For example health and safety. It just doesn’t exist in Thailand.
We went to hot pools to swim and there was the most rickety wooden walkway that made me laugh, nails sticking out everywhere. But we were able to explore all around the pools. We looked at the mineral build up and where the stream came from. You can bet if those pools were here, or compare it to attractions here… we would not have been allowed anywhere near. Your safety is your responsibility. It was refreshing.
I imagine this is what life used to be like everywhere when most governments were lassiez faire.
I did grow to adore Thailand as well, it took me time and Bangkok was the place that took the longest. Without the beautiful beaches and mountains and sunsets I did struggle but it is an amazing place and the people make it so. A cliché maybe but so true. You are always welcomed and people smile as a general rule instead of scowling.
People are SO polite they won’t tell you no (which can be annoying… for example a taxi driver would rather drive around for an hour ringing friends than tell you he doesn’t know where th Royal Palace is, or maybe what you meant) and so warm.
They want you to love Thailand so much. I really did, and we hardly saw any of it so I definitely will need to go back one day.
I am simplifying massively, these are just my thoughts and I wanted to record them.
Another thing I learnt, I can drink tonic without gin, and it keeps the mosquitos away.
What are your thoughts?
Have you been to Thailand? Do you stay in your tourist areas, feeling comfortable, or do you challenge yourself? Do you ever get upset by it?