Daily Archives: September 9, 2005

Thai Youth……Just For Starters

Having written about enjoying the boogie-woogie of the country’s discos I thought that for this week I’d turn to a much more scandalous topic and that is the ins-and-outs of the country’s youth. Perhaps it’s the overcast cloudy weather of the rainy season but I thought that, just for a change, I’d try writing a blog of a more serious nature.

Well, teenagers here have a fondness for quite a few things and top of the list may be motorbike racing. Should you wish to join in the action or gather round to watch the starting line-up It’s advised to head for a rabbit-hutch Bangkok slum on a Saturday or Sunday night at around one-thirty in the morning. Sods having to leave Bangkok to race yer buddies, just do it on a public main road which is already littered with hundreds of stray cars and 12-wheel trucks, much more exciting stuff!

If you wish to honestly participate in such a dare-devil event you will need the following. Firstly, your bike has had to have been modified to make it as incredibly noisy as possible thus waking up any neighbourhood folk who have ashamedly not set their alarm clock for the glorious spectacle. Secondly, don’t even bother taking along a crash helmet, ya don’t need to be looking like a right dandy-boy in front of the other macho laddies. Next, if possible find yerself some young teenage girlie with a school uniform on who is as mad as yourself to plonk herself on the back. You want the outlookers to know that speed=brave=girls!

Well, just a few weeks back, the government (once again) asked the ‘brains’ of the country to put forward ideas on how to curtail this obviously dangerous (and illegal) sport. Well, the majority came forward with a plan to set up actual legal venues where the slum dare-devil riders could race their hearts out every weekend under supervision of the local authorities. The idea was hailed in the media as a ‘fantastic idea’ as if they dared killing themselves, at least us motorists or pedestrians wouldn’t be involved. I know I’ve had a right laugh on a few blogs of mine about our country’s leaders but there are times when I do pity them a bit. In fact, this was a pretty soundo idea as these racers have been plaquing the country’s main roads for years now and because the numbers involved are just so huge there is little the local cops can do unless they’ve had a tip-off beforehand.

Well, just when ya thought that a decent idea was actually gonna be implemented for once, mothers and religious groups were up in arms ridiculing such an idea as promoting ‘monstrous behaviour’. Guess, they just prefer turning a blind eye as usual and pretend that such daily activities don’t exist. Ur-hum…

Well, if it’s moto-racing that isn’t yer cuppa tea then don’t despair, just sign up for attendance at a local technical college and you’ll soon be able to enjoy having a decent punch-up with a rival college every other day. As for actual attendance at such an educational institute, no worries, half the administration in charge don’t give a darned, just as long as you’ve paid the fees due. If mini brawls aren’t enough to quench your appetite for a ‘good fight’ then hop along with all your classmates to the nearest concert (with your uniform on) and you’ll soon be sparking a major riot.

Well, ‘stevesuphan’ here used to live in Pathumthani Town which is synonymous for techno college rivalry. There are two such infamous institutes in town called ‘Pathumthani Techno’ and ‘Pathumthani Technical College’( names sound rather similar?) where students have actually lost their lives. Once I was on the bus into town and at a bus stop along the way a gang of uniformed whipper-snappers got onto the bus and just started punching this other so-called ‘rival’ student while all the passengers just looked away as if they didn’t notice ( well..what could they do anyway?). Even though the bus was moving, though relatively slowly, they just kicked the pitiful lad off the bus (the bus had no door). Then on another occasion, while taking the air-con Pathumthani Town-Future Park Rangsit bus I was shocked outta me system when the bus was suddenly pelted by a barrage of stones/rocks which seriously cracked a few of the windows. Guess the rival college didn’t like the fact that a few of their rival’s college where on that bus at the time.

One respected academic not so long ago actually proposed arranging boxing matches etc.. between rival colleges as a way to ‘let loose a little steam’. Would have been interesting to see how that idea would have worked out but again certain groups were once again up in arms at regulating anything. As for the average bus passenger, they are left to fear for their lives every time they pop on the bus.

Well, just when you thought that such preposterous hobbies were only the pastime of the uneducated masses or bunches of thicko hooligan students let’s now go into that other great student tradition ‘The Freshie Party’. When the yobbos are creating havoc on the streets the supposedly ‘smart’ generation are preparing for a life of university at a respectable government university. A lot of the readers here I’m sure will have read about the raunchy goings-on at such parties, as heavily publicized by the press this year. The nation’s mother’s were ( once again) up in arms at such disgustingly ‘un-thai’ behaviour that their little darlings were ‘supposedly’ forced into and ordered severe action to be taken. Guess these folk didn’t notice that all their innocently looking-darling daughters involved in the scenarios were obviously looking as if they were ‘having a grand time’.

Gimme a break, at least their exploits weren’t life-threatening. One story which co-incidently occurred at the same time but which hardly got a mention two days after it was initially reported was of a ‘freshie’ student forced into doing an acrobatic cheerleader’s stunt. However, since the girl in action had had no experience whatsoever in doing any such stunt before, soon died that day after she was accidently dropped on her head too many times. The only folks making a protest about that were the student unions after they were informed by the Education Ministry to postpone any cheerleader stuff for a while.

I can recall a couple of these deathly freshie parties off the top of my head and one vividly was of one a couple of years back in Rayong. Even though these student seniors were supposedly the ‘brains of the future’ their idea of ‘great fun’ at one freshie party was to get a few of the new girls drunk and have them swim out in the sea at two in the morning. I don’t even need to tell you what happened next.

At the end of day however, youths are youths, wherever they may be in this world and on many an occasion we can’t just sit back and put all the blame on the kiddies involved be they Thai, Indian, American or Brazilian. As a teacher cum civilian, I am often perplexed as to why the directors of these Techno Colleges hardly ever get into trouble with the authorities in charge. What i mean is, in actual regards to never being bothered to promote goodwill between colleges or re-inforcing school regulations. As for the moto-racers, since half the squallid scum kids have a petty criminal record it’s impossible for them to get a decent job as their backgrounds would be checked by any decent prospective employee. As for sordid or life-threatening freshie parties, the administrations involved are also partly to blame as they enjoy turning a blind eye to such happenings.

Finally pulled that blog outta the bag. Have surprised even meself there with that one, kinda feels weird. Hope you found it… well….a thought provoking read.

Tadika Teachers -Trip to Penang

Being the project manager for the “Manpower Training 2005”of Betong Municipality, I had the opportunity to lead a troupe of nearly one hundred Tadika (muslim religious school) teachers to have a two days one night visit and seminar in Penang, Malaysia. Though Penang is just an hour and half away, the trip was a first time experience for most of them. Besides having two sessions of seminar, we also visited a Malay Kampung (village), state mosque, state museum and Malay Heritage center.

Qucik & simple lunch before praying and briefing about the kampung

During the trip, the women and men had no interaction at all. They moved about separately and sat separately during the seminar session. The women hardly smiled, even if there was a funny joke. A teacher told me that they were supposed to display dignified behavior which includes not talking to men freely, not laughing loudly, no close contact with men and so on. (However, I was also told that they were more reserved with men around. Without the men around, they would be more playful! )

The serious men
The happy women without men around! 🙂

When I called for group photo, only the men came forward. At first I was puzzled but then I realized that women and men do not take a group photo together. And when it came to buffet, there is no such thing as “ladies first”, usually ladies were the followers. I also need to assure them that all hotel foods in Malaysia are halal (something permissible and lawful in the Islamic faith).

Basically, all aspects of muslim life are ritually prescribed. Their days are punctuated by five distinct prayers, their foods must be ritually prepared and their education must follow a strict religious guidelines in order for them to perform religious duties, and to behave correctly. If outsiders do not understand or appreciate these unique features of Islam, there will be more misunderstandings and violence…

Seminars conducted in Bahasa Melayu (Malay Language).

The Sea Almonds of Jomtien Beach

By the time Pattaya Beach had been crowded by the late 1980s, close by, Jomtien Beach was being developed in to a fashionable resort. Most of the buildings near the beach were new. By the marine road on the sands, sea almonds had been planted which were growing very fast.

When it is time for the dark green sea almond leaves to shed, these turn into colours of cream, yellow, gold and maroon and then waft on to the ground. Each leaf, so to say is a painters’ delight. The tree grows majestic and tall and branches spread out horizontal to the ground.

Here are some common names of the tree: tropical almond, Java almond, amandier de Cayenne, wild almond, myrobalan, Singapore almond, ketapang, Huu kwang, kobateishi, West Indian almond, amandel huu kwang, badamier.

Because the leaves are broad, the tree spreads its branches like a cool canopy. In 1989, the trees were small, but when I visited the Jomtien beach in 2002, most of the trees had grown majestic. One had to continue hiring relaxing chairs, but the umbrellas were not necessary. One could now surrender to the trees’ shade.

But by now Jomtien beach had also become quite crowded. Who knows, some where near by a new beach would develop, and we would get one more beautiful name?