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One of the most commented upon stories of an entertaining week on Thaivisa was one from the ever-giving head of the TAT Yutthsak Suphasorn.
Rereading that first paragraph again it might be a little top heavy in the Finbarr Saunders double entendre stakes. Oh what the heck; I’m in a Viz Comic mood after rereading some old annuals.
Yutthasak – who supplies Thaivisa with almost as many clicks as tourism minister Pipat thanks to his Loony Tunes pronouncements – was this week advocating “Sexy Tours” in Thailand.
Cue a massive click-a-thon with approximately 99.9% of forum and Facebook respondents taking this to mean that the hapless governor was proposing what the British used to refer to as “slap and tickle” before the F word became so prevalent.
(Rooster remembers watching live that watershed moment when Bill Grundy interviewed the Sex Pistols….Google it for a treat)
Incredulity was piled on incredulity after Yuttasak’s pronouncements with the sensible native speakers taking a back seat while the fun continued. What can you expect screamed the posters, coming from a man whose second language is English and who has been through the Thai education system…blah blah blah.
Actually this was a rather good use of English from the TAT #1. Like all journalists he must know that getting anything related to sex in the headline is bound to get one noticed and combine it with Thailand and tourism and you can make the Google search engine go Goggled Eyed with overheating.
Of course here he was using the term “sexy” with a “Y” not that filthy subject the Victorians imagined only happened in Brighton (and then under the cover of thick darkness). More like how world champion cueist Judd Trump referred to his brand of snooker as “sexy Snooker”.
Yutthasak, being Thai with all their love of snooker, must have heard of Judd even though he probably thought he was related to the former incumbent of the White House (all those farangs DO look alike don’t they).
Judd meant snooker that was exciting to watch, the furthest thing from his mind was mounting the green baize and potting the brown in off the pink.
Yutthasak wants to inspire a new, quality tourist (whatever that is) who is excited by things to do in the daytime that are related to saving the environment.
Win-Win; rather like the dotty tourists who used to come and look after abused elephants and buy them mountains of bananas to satisfy their altruistic yearnings (and thus save the Thais money), the tourists of tomorrow will arrive in Thailand and clean up the beach while the locals toss half eaten som tam in styrofoam onto the sands.
A stereotype more damning than a dodgy Dolby I hear you say, but read on…..
The Brit’s Longman dictionary famously got into hot water in 1993 when they suggested that Bangkok was “a city of prostitutes”. The result was outrage that, had there been such a thing as Netizens in those days, they would have got their knickers in a irate twist.
The “dic” (as my Thai Scrabble buddies refer to it) was banned and the Thai Foreign Ministry demanded an apology for offending an entire country and its people.
Putting aside the fact that not a single soul would have noticed had the Thais not drawn attention to it, Abhisit Vejajjiva, who would later become prime minister, said defining Bangkok by its prostitution problem was like defining London by its soccer hooliganism and IRA attacks.
Going to school at Eton and supporting Newcastle United one would have thought that Abhisit would have known that London was indeed a center of footy violence and Irish bombs – Rooster grew up with that and we all readily admitted it. It was almost a badge of honor.
Just as when I came to Bangkok in the 1980s and ventured out after dusk, one couldn’t fail to notice that some streets were lined three deep in totty all asking if they could come home with you, handsome man.
The head of a prostitutes’ rights group at the time called Chantawipa said: “The government should take action instead of just being ashamed of the international image of the country”.
Nearly three decades later, the same criticism could be leveled at the authorities on an almost daily basis.
Apropos, down in Hua Hin the story of “Nong View” – the sixth former forced to study outside under an umbrella because her internet was rubbish for online lessons – became something of a cause celebre.
Every official from the education department to local government to a hospital (go figure) turned up with every electrical engineer south of Bangkok to install a router and, of course, get their mug in the news.
Poor View, who only wanted to complete her assignments and become a doctor, looked embarassed at all the attention.
Meanwhile millions of others must have looked on and thought, or heavens above actually voiced: “Er…what about us?”
Those in charge in any country, especially politicians, know the value of a photo opportunity. But here in Thailand they seem to have elevated it from “state of the art” to the “Art of the State”.
Thailand was recently praised for having some of the fastest home internet. Pity so few out in the sticks actually have it. And don’t get me started on online learning. It’s a great relief for us parents that schools in Bangkok and 28 provinces will be back in session on Monday.
Mrs Rooster has taken the brunt of the problems as stand-in teacher and had to be soothed this week by my suggestion that I would cross her dainty palm with a little silver…..the expected rebate from the school fees.
How much this will be remains to be seen – it’ll probably just be lunch and homework club rebates – but at the mention of money Mrs R came over all misty eyed and romantic.
Then she bashed some more papaya with renewed vigor for dinner while Rooster thought of checking if Pornhub was back online…a friend had asked.
Fallout from the huge number of hotels and the public who connived to rip off the state in the “We Travel Together” and “Let’s Go Halves” stimulus schemes continued. Plod is promising action though they will doubtless find that some of their own were involved.
Thai print media came up with a nice headline for a change: “We Embezzle Together”.
In virus news, Uncle Too said that 19 million would get the vaccine in the first phase. Which vaccine and a timescale was kept a little vague; you could almost see his mind whirring “don’t tell the troops too much they’ll only get restless before going over the top”.
Several different kinds of business – especially massage – was being opened in many areas. It’s natural given the makeup of the forum that Thaivisa should bang on about the masseuses and their plight.
But massage leaves me cold rather than hot. I can’t stand it at all especially after going with my first wife to a place where a young lady trampled all over my back and pulled my feet so violently that I couldn’t sit and read on the loo from Songkran to Loy Krathong.
Posters harped on about “happy endings” almost as much as “brown envelopes”. To me a happy ending is when Tottenham Hotspur win the EPL and I smile and peg out in the same breath. (Yes, I think I’ll need to be about 250 years old before that is likely to happen after another humbling at the hands of Liverpool this week).
Comment was also rife on stories that those with a “vaccine passport” would be welcome in Thailand and that one million more were expected to lose their jobs in tourism in the first quarter.
The now familiar “deserted and no customers” bandwagon moved to the “world famous” market that is Chatuchak in northern Bangkok. Some posters gleefully expounded their ignorance by saying they had never heard of it.
Some of us were around when the moving of the market from Sanam Luang to Chatuchak was a staple in the news. I occasionally enjoy a tour of the labyrinths of the weekend market especially as it is near to my Ratchayothin roost.
The trick is to know where to go to buy what you need and to realize it is zoned so you’re going to find many of the same things in one area. If you’ve never been take a trip and get your bargaining hat on, for though the traders are desperate for custom they know what everyone is likely to pay and will probably put up their prices now they are selling so little, a curious Thai logic.
The forum also got into a Schadenfreudian lather with news that Elite card holders were getting notifications not to slip up and overstay as they could face jail. Rooster, perhaps naively following suit, failed to see any difference between the well-heeled and us mortals when it comes to obeying the law.
Then came a story from the Immigration Bureau about a Norwegian who faked his Certificate of Entry. It looked fine to me ; could it be that the 2 billion baht biometrics system and all those smart BMWs are finally paying off?
Much comment centered on the hitherto unblemished record of honesty of Scandinavians in general and Norwegians in particular especially when compared to the usual suspects from Britain, the US and…er….everywhere else on earth.
The Thais meanwhile basked in the glory of being honest once again after a Chinese businessman got 180,000 baht back after an employee transferred a payment for coconuts to the wrong account.
In reality it turned out to be the ‘right’ account because the Thai man who received it – a former councillor no less – hotfooted it to plod’s door to report the matter and ask for their help.
The honesty stories – translated by yours truly – often come with a slathering of Roosterisms and while “true” should not be taken too seriously. It is debatable whether the same could also be said of Thailand’s place of 4th on the Lowy Institute’s scale of countries who have done well in the pandemic.
Thailand has not been placed quite so well on the latest corruption or vaccine rollout indices. Let’s hope that the 20 year plan for the resolution of the former sees a little more expediency in the latter.
In international news Joe Biden called Putin for their first chat though it is doubtful whether he made any jokes about poisoning political opponents. The new POTUS also overturned the ban on transgender troops in the US military.
As the virus death toll in the UK sailed slightly less than serenely past 100,000 stiffs, news media were asking what went wrong. My favorite grilling came from Sky’s Niall Paterson who really got his teeth into housing secretary Robert Jenrick.
Personally I just wish one of these conservative jokers would just start lisping like Basil Fawlty famously did on Fawlty Towers with his “I’m so sorry I made a mistake” jig. We could all have a laugh and move on. We all know that the response to the pandemic has been ever changing and a fly by the seat of your pants job. We’ve all been right and we’ve all been wrong – get over yourselves.
A new visa route that comes in today (Sunday) will allow what is expected to be 300,000 Hong Kongers to perhaps settle in the UK.
China won’t be too happy about that and they are also none too thrilled about Taiwan going further down the independence route. Military exercises were upscaled with threats of war.
Back in Thailand several very old pensioners received notice they would have to pay back their pensions after errors. The only error was the authorities cocking up in the first place then scaring these unfortunate people who have no money.
Fortunately later in the week some sense prevailed after a public outcry – an increasingly powerful weapon in Thailand where the power of social media has meant a sea change.
Down in QUOTES – The Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard – the rebranding of the resort into a daytime activity center for Thai families continued much to the chagrin of the curmudgeons. Walking Street is now undergoing a makeover with the burying of the cables.
I’d suggest a bulldozer might be quicker and cheaper.
But then I’m a cultured, highly educated Thai speaking elite Bangkokian, not a Singha (ugh) singlet and grubby shorts wearing Pattayan from some ungodly place I see from online forums is called “The Dark Side”, innit?
Answers on a post card to “Rooster, Unbearable Snob, Reality Street, Ratchayothin”.
Top videos of the week showed a pick-up loaded with veg doing a kind of wheelie, an unpleasant accident as a truck flew backwards down a hill in Songkhla, a water monitor on a power pole who spooked the residents and a charming clip of a policeman stopping the traffic for two soi dogs to cross the road.
The issue about the appalling amount of unnecessary photocopying that continues in Thailand also made the news with many posters having their favorite “reinventing the wheel” anecdote in this regard.
Despite official claims to the contrary about Thailand 4.0, much officialdom remains in a pre-internet, pre-digital time warp.
Or could it just be that senior politicians own photocopier businesses. Yes, that must be it.
Finally in many stories this week emanating from the Thai press, it seemed that the penny had finally dropped about the chance of foreign tourists coming back any time soon.
Sure Pipat and Yutthasak still cling to the rose tinted idea they will get 10 million visitors in the second half of the year. But most stories just spoke of getting domestic tourism running first.
The acceptance of reality, just like in that story of yesteryear about the ladies of the night in Bangkok, is the best way to move on.
Rather than trying to save face and simply losing more as a result.