Can’t go without disclaimers nowadays…
Caveat Emptor! No, this is not the ’empty cave’ spell from Harry Potter, but an old Latin saying that stands for ‘buyer beware!’. It means that once you bought something, the seller couldn’t care less if you later turn out to be unhappy with the stuff. What you see is what you get.
The same could be said about my blogs, some of which are serious, but many are written in a tongue-in-cheek manner – read them at your own risk! Readers having the sense of humor and wit of a dead fish better stay away from these entries. That way they will spare themselves from stomach ulcers, and the rest of us from headaches. So… caveat reador! :p
Onto the real stuff…
Today, after every last drop of floodwater has been personally cleaned up by Thaksin & Co, the city of Chiang Mai returned to its usual hustle and bustle, and yours truly can deliver the blog he promised before Noah’s Ark hit home.
When we explored the restrictions foreigners have to face in Thailand, I left you with the promise that next time I will tell you about some ridiculous restrictions Thais have to face abroad.
A good while ago, being bored at the Thai embassy in Laos, I picked up a small booklet that turned out to be the Thai government’s guide advising its citizens on the correct and absolutely lawful behavior in the country of Hammer and Sickle. As you might imagine, rules under the Red Star are most strict than what the rest of us, dirty spoiled capitalists, have ever seen.
Consider the piece of useful advice I scanned in from the book:
In English, it would go along the following lines:
“Sexual interaction with a Lao citizen who is not your lawful spouse is prohibited; breach of this law carries a $500 fine.”
Okay, after you stopped laughing, let’s look at this thing a bit closer. It seems that Lao citizens lent their rights over their own bodies to the government, no? I guess the Lao PDR tries to maintain a “pure” Lao blood, minimizing the entry of the “inferior” Thai genes only to relationships that carry the government-approved piece of paper. Maybe they would do away with that too, if they could. For now, this law effectively turned nearly all Lao women and men to the likes of pricey prostitutes.
A few more curious questions come to mind. They mentioned only how the Thai side is punished; what about the offending Lao? Will they be publicly stoned to death? Also they don’t mention whether the fine is per ‘sexual act’, or per offending person. It may be a big difference in some cases. 😉
Another gem from the same booklet:
And the English equivalent: “It is prohibited to break in and sleep in the home of a Lao citizen without the owner’s consent.”
A strange crime… should be obvious, but I guess it happens so often, they had to put it into writing. How about the next one:
The English version: “Acting as a guide in the Lao PDR is forbidden. Violators are liable to a $2000 fine.”
Okay, so they REALLY don’t want Thai folks guiding anyone in the glorious Commie-land. Never mind that some kon-isaan visit the country on a nearly daily basis and know the area inside out. I shudder to think what happens with the unlucky guy who is visiting Laos for the first time with his family and friends, but has been there many times by himself… I guess he either has to hire a Lao guide to show the places he probably knows even better – or go with common sense, but risk paying through his teeth.
I grouped the last two rules in the booklet together, because I feel both are reflective of the commie spirit:
The first one (8) basically says that distributing leaflets is forbidden; the second one (9) says that forming groups is against the law and punishable by a $500 fine. What they don’t mention (yet again), is what’s considered a ‘group’? Three people? Four? A dozen? What about families? I guess the interpretation of this law is up to the commissar in charge.
Well, there you go. Stripped from even the most basic human rights, this communist Lao regime is a ‘blessing’ for both visitors and locals. Well, Thai visitors anyway. Farang in Lao are oblivious to these rules, and rightly so, as they are very unlikely to be affected. Your average Backpacker Joe won’t be caught red-handed distributing leaflets, and the package tours surely won’t be considered ‘suspicious group activities’ that need to be busted.
So, next time when you are about to bemoan the fact that you need special permit to mine rocksalt in Thailand, think of the difficulty of the poor Thai chaps who not only have to be careful about going in groups,but also have to be vary about pointing out Lao attractions to their friends. If that’s not enough, they are also liable to the government’s special ‘value-added tax’, if they want to have a little hanky-panky under the Lao paathung.
ps: word-by-word Thai translation has been converted to meaningful English equivalents. There might be better ways of saying it, but please only post a correction if it affects the meaning of the translation. Thank you for reading,
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