First off I want to thank everyone who posted a comment on my first blog that was very cool of you all. Now when I lived in Bangkok Ilived near the Victory Monument. It would have been faster if I had taken a motorcyle to the BTS station but I always enjoyed the walk and being from New York walking is an enjoyable experience. Everyday on my way to work are anywhere actually, I had to walk acrooss the semi-circular walkway to the station and everyday I’d pass beggars on the street. When I first got there evryone warned me not to give and some of them work as gangs collecting thousands of baht each day. Now beggars and homelessness is nothing new for me, if you live in an urban city you this on a daily basis. What I wasn’t ready for were the children. Now I’d rather err on the side of righteousness so no matter who it was begging I’d give money. Usually before I hit the BTS station at the Victory Monument I’d be out of a hundred baht. Usually there was an old woman and old man with a really bad back condition, looks like the Hunchback of Notre Dame type deal. Anyways, I’d go on my way and call it day right? Wrong. The level of poverty in Thailand is staggering especially when I see the little hypocrisies there. I was sitting at a Starbucks at Central Lap Phrao when a small girl, 8 maybe 9 came in wearing a dirty school uniform. This was 1 in the afternoon she should be in school, but instead this small girl was selling stickers to make money. I sat and watched the people in this Starbucks ignore her, including this rather large man about my age with a Tag Heuer watch and really bad shoes shoo her off with a wave of his hand, needless to say I gave her 50 baht for a five baht sticker. I’m not a saint by any stretch of the imagination but there’s something about kids begging, ya know? My Thai friends have said that they’re so use to it that it doesn’t faze them anymore. Poverty Thailand is normal, once again Western eyes and values start kicking in and indignation of Thai society became a daily rant for myself.
My usual hangout wasn’t a bar, it was a Starbucks on Convent Street in the Silom district. For some reason I’d love going there to write and would spend hours writing there, every night around 7 or 8 I’d go out for a cigerette and a man comes by with a baby elephant, Nong Ploy so tourists can feed and take pictures of this baby Dumbo. It was these daily occurences that made me fall in love with Thailand. But also around this time an old woman around 60 or 70 sat infront of this Starbucks to beg, not for money but for food. So here I am in front of a place that charges 100 baht for a venti mocha and the poeple who can afford it walk by her, as if she wasn’t there. She could have been my grandmother if not for the grace of God. So it really annoyed me when PM Taksin announced that he was considering that Thailand should buy a piece of the Liverpool Football Club, now aside from being a Man United fan, Go Devils, this was an absolutely absurd idea. Would it kill them to build homes? Imporve, wait, revamp the educational system, provide better healthcare and his so called 30 baht plan which is a joke by the way. One cannot erdicate poverty, maybe in an ideal utopia perhaps then, but in reality the world is made of the haves and have nots. It is an insult to any country to have shopping centers like the lavish and grotesque Emporium and less that a few city blocks away you have a shanty town. Its a stain on humanity when children are up at 12 or 1 selling flowers to cars parked at a red light. Its a stain on humanity when the socio-economic conditions promote the sex trade because of the sheer desperation that their lives have become. Its an insult to everyone’s intelligence when a former Interior Minister states that the tourist who come to Thailand come for the natural resources and not the sex trade. Poverty breeds desperation and desperation leads society down a slippery slope of cynicism. Its that kind of apathy which leads people to turn a blind eye to the beggars on the streets and why everyday I go to work I give.