The week that was in Thailand news: Drivers stopping at zebra crossings? – Where am I??
The blinding sun made me look up from my afternoon rummage through the newspaper. Yet another bus crash – did the driver nod off at the wheel or was it a heart attack. Enough.
I went walking and was attracted by the bright colors of an unusual shop window. An e-cigarette shop with aromatic vaping fluids named red melon and lemon tart? How do these vendors get away with breaking those strict junta laws?
But as I stumbled on I realized something was seriously wrong. Cars were stopping at a zebra crossing, urging me to move to the other side. This was plain weird.
Had I just slipped through a wormhole into some alternative Thai universe far in some more reasonable future? No.
It had just totally slipped my mind that I had stepped on a plane and crossed the world swapping the suburbs of Bangkok for London for my annual sojourn in Blighty.
I put my confusion down not so much to an absence of mind having entered my dotage but to a determined willingness to try to forget the horrors of my departure from Thailand.
Not the terror of missing it for three weeks but the horror of those queues at Suvarnabhumi airport. Had it really taken that long?
The journey from Ratchayothin to the airport was predictable. A friendly taxi driver, meter on and a great price. He even apologized for driving a bit fast!
But inside the terminal it was what Londoners of a certain age are apt to call Clapham Junction. Or perhaps Shanghai junction with all those shoving tourists.
The immigration officers present were doing their best but their bosses had overlooked that half of China needed to go home and had not got their colleagues out of bed. Or had sent them to paper over the cracks at Don Muang perhaps….
The debacle of the “urination on the concourse” at Bangkok’s second airport last week was followed up with more chaos this week as those arriving and departing the kingdom were met with delays. Journalists tweeted, Joe Soap moaned as Thailand’s dirty washing was hung out for the world to see on social media.
Chief Of police (COP) Chakthip suggested heads would roll. Pity none of his underlings had reminded him that in Thailand the police are in charge of immigration.
But at least Tourism minister Khun Kobkarn was in the wings keeping the flag flying as it emerged she intended to try to add to the chaos by bringing Bangalore to Bangkok with her plan to use Bollywood stars to promote Thailand to the Indians.
Seeing as many of my best friends are Indian I thought this was a great idea. Only to see the racist attitudes so prevalent online shoot the notion down in flames.
Yes, not every Indian beggar can afford three weeks in Phuket but the days of seeing India as a place in need of Oxfam are over. Thaivisa told us that soon Air Asia were planning to bring 20,000 more Indians to Thailand per week.
Khun Kobkarn will be rolling in rupees – but I just hope she gets together with Chakthip to put another person or two on the welcoming committee.
Air Asia were also in the news this week as they confirmed their plans to connect Hua Hin and Kuala Lumpur. What with the resort now connected by sea to Pattaya it will soon be unnecessary for anyone to need to add to the traffic woes in my beloved Bangkok.
Bliss! Though Rooster has never been a great fan of Tony Fernandez’s once called “budget airline”. It may have something to do with naively replying to an add for a “One Baht” trip to Malaysia only to realize that if you wanted a seat and fuselage to go with that it would be 9,900, plus local taxes of course.
So here I type in peaceful England on a sunny Saturday. Far removed from the rigors of Ratchayothin and, as tourists are wont to do, comparing everything from whence I came. Though critical of many aspects of the country of my birth I feel less inclined to bash it than have a go at my adopted homeland.
A case of familiarity breeding contempt perhaps but it did strike me as irksome that one forum poster described me as having “gone native” for finding the teacher who put the shoes on the boys head last week repulsive. No mate, my comments in the Midweek Rant came from the heart of someone who has paid attention to the Thai’s aversion to feet.
Feet that were using the new walkway at Siam Square in their droves as the authorities asked us to name the new “Artistic Marvel”. It’s tricky….what DO you call a state-of-the- art 300 million baht lump of concrete covered in mushrooms and green things.
I shall have to go with “overhead walkway” until I can be bothered to think of a better name…
Airports were also in the news this week as a so called “top online lawyer” took massive umbrage at being asked to follow the rules concerning liquids on planes. Our brief at Don Muang was not being brief in his rant at security for prohibiting his gels on a flight to Chiang Rai even suggesting that the officers look after his face cream until he came back to Krung Thep.
Was this – and the well-known fact that confiscated items in Bangkok find their way onto the embarrassment of eBay – behind the airports authority reminding the public not to smuggle “naam” in their carry on?
Perhaps, though it must be noted that the inspectors for the International Civil Aviation Authority have been in Thailand in recent weeks. Though I am sure the ICAO teams, having got though immigration successfully, needed to come up with a few “recommendations” to justify their junket.
Here in the UK it was nice to see the British had learnt from the Thais regarding how to conduct a fiasco at a football draw. Following last month’s balls up in bangkers when they got the draw for the English League Cup first round the wrong way the Londoners repeated the dose with a similar farce for round two.
The only difference was that the Thais blamed technology and the British said there had been “confusion”.
There are certainly times when I think there is hardly any difference between the world I left behind and the one that envelopes me for around forty nine weeks of the year.
Of course the Thai world increasingly turns to its nutty netizens for news as online video reminded us of the nasty side to life. The perennial problem of street gang violence was highlighted in Phuttamonthon as warring teens got out their swords on the way to school for the umpteenth year in succession.
No change there. But then along came a video of a ranting and mad Thai woman. Having twice tied the knot in Thailand I was tempted to say no change there too, but I must confess to being shocked to the core at what this one offered.
Irked by a husband who had committed the cardinal sin of not picking up his phone when demanded by her who must be obeyed, she proceeded to take out her frustrations on a little boy by hanging him by a rope in a grotesque selfie video before hurling the screaming child to the floor after nearly strangling him to death.
Thankfully the Lat Krabang cops were soon on the scene and carted her off. However, can I go on record that I may not be responsible for my actions is she is dealt with a purple note fine and not a year or two of thick bars and rice gruel for breakfast.
Recognizing mental health issues, as some on the forum did, is one thing. Premeditated and essentially public attempted murder against a little child, quite another.
Thank goodness we can always rely on the light hearted stories emanating from Thai life to help us through the week. And once again we could all have a Schadenfreudian snigger at the antics of Pattaya.
While a campaign was started to save their dolphins a “tunnel” spokesman had now been gagged.
The first story confused me as not unreasonably I doubted that any dolphin in its right mind would go anywhere near Pattaya.
No, it referred to an iconic roundabout that the nasty local authority are trying to do away with in the name of progress. In fact it all sounded very British, people who have a national obsession with roundabouts that they even install in places where people drive straight over them.
The Pattaya authority say it will help improve the traffic though the spokesman hardly did much to improve their image by saying he was refusing to listen to the public who were going online to sign a petition to save flipper.
The gagging order referred to another spokesman who had been told to keep mum about the much anticipated event of the year down at QUOTES (the Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard) namely the opening of the Central Pattaya Tunnel, ninth wonder of the modern world. Don’t forget the walkway at Siam Square folks that came in ahead at number eight.
To absolutely no one’s surprise it seems like there may be a further delay – maybe the authorities should announce an online competition to name it too – at least that would act as a smokescreen and give us yet more laughs.
I shall leave those unfortunate enough to reside in QUOTES to come up with the name as most of us struggling with the perpetual digging up of Bangkok have our own concerns.
Finally, as the kingdom celebrated Mother’s Day with the auspicious birthday celebrations of Her Majesty it was lovely to see the story of the institute award given to “Top Mum” Phongsri Changkhit.
Phongsri, from Lopburi, was not overwhelmed by the death of her husband from cancer many years ago as she was left with two young sons to bring up. Determinedly, she thought about the future of her boys and unusually for a woman took to wheel of a Bankgok cab day and night to pay for their school and college fees.
A reminder of all that is good in the fairer sex no matter on which continent one may reside.
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