Daily Archives: May 19, 2006

It’s all because of ‘faith.’

Last night, I was having a slight headache but I didn’t feel sleepy at all so I lay on the floor watching tv for a long time.
There was nothing to wacth much because it was so late. Music channels were country mostly. Movies on ubc were so old so I turned to channel 7. The show there’s called ‘Rueng Jing Pan Jor’ or ‘Real TV.’ The first video I saw was so violent. One girl hit another girl (younger one). She hit her with hands, a pot and a pan. She even sharlpy pull the younger girl’s hair. I couldn’t understand what the hitter said at all. All I could hear was the young girl’s scream.

I decided not to watch anymore because it was far too cruel and then a preview of a next story came, it was about “Four-faced image.” It’s interesting for me so I kept on watching.

As Thai people know, there had always been the four-faced image at one corner of Ratcha Prasong crossroads. Loads of Thai people and foreigners came to pay respect and ask wishes everyday. People have really strong faith in this image because they always got what they asked for. And that image was there for a long time protecting people (well, crossroads r dangerous, right?) so people felt related to this image so much. Then one day, unexpectedly, one guy, named A-meen, bashed this image real hard. Parts of the image’s were separated everywhere. People who saw screamed shockingly. Two men, govermental cleaning officers, ran after that guy and beated him up until he died. People around there (including others who heard the news later) were satisfied and thought A-meen deserved it. They all believed that because they believed A-meen ruined their ‘faith.’

After a long investigation, now that we know A-meen was lunatic. He had to take medication from one funny farm in Bangkok. The night that this happened, his dad saw him smoking outside of the house like usual and it was already so late, he didn’t think anything would happen so he went to bed. On the other hand, when it was quiet, A-meen grabbed one hammer and walked directly to the image.

Now that A-meen’s dead. The reasons for doing that died with him. After a while, this story is gonna fade away in Thai society and the world. The image’s gonna be repaired and come back again. People are gonna forget about this whole thing and keep on paying respect.

Personally, I respect this image myself. I went to ask for something a couple of times. And I believe having faith in something is a good thing. But I still don’t think this’ going right. Those officers overreacted. He could have caught A-meen and waited until the cops came coz A-meen was going to be arrested and punished anyways. But they didn’t.

He’s got some mental disease. The police said his charge was only “destroying public property.” He didn’t have to die. We don’t even know why he had to do that. Ofcourse, he destroyed our ‘faith.’ But he’s still one human. In this case, was one.

Why is there “Amnesty International?” Because stuff like this happens. Criminals commit crimes. Murderers do slay. They do cruel things. But what if they were one of your loves, your families’ memebers, your friends? It’s true that they might not deserve a second chance. But people, they’re still human. People are not gods. They can make mistakes, big and small. When we do something wrong, we ask for the second chance. Why can’t they?

More than 50% of all criminals (including lunatic ones) commit crimes because of stress; diappointment, sadness and pain. The society is always the cause. The society adores clever people. The society worships rich people. The society does treat paupers as junk. Only two choices for them to react, one, try to be clever and rich to delete society’s insults and another, just act as rubbish coz the society already treats them just like useless junk.

I don’t think that was the result the image wished to see. He must have expected something better since he sacrificed himself to be this ruined. Why don’t we ask ourselves if something we did and felt for this are something right and fair already?

Visit to the Post Office

I wanted to send some magazines to Australia for work, so I headed to the local shopping mall and to the postal company there. I handed over the magazines and explained I wanted to send them to Australia. One of the girls behind the counter took them and found a box they would fit into and then pulled out a knife and started cutting up the box. In the meantime another girl took the magazines and weighed them and after checking on her table, she told me it would cost 1750 Baht. I agreed. The box had now been cut and re-folded and the magazines now snuggly fitted perfectly into it. It was then all taped up. I know that shouldn’t be that exciting, but even that level of craftsmanship (cutting up and folding a cardboard box) nowadays seems beyond the ability of most Australian workers.
The girls weighed the parcel again and discovered that it was only just in the 1750 Baht range, so they cut the box open again and cut out some unnecessary bits of cardboard until it weighed enough that they could charge me 1550 Baht. I didn’t ask for any of that, they just kindly did it themselves. During the whole process they smiled and were pleasant as is generally the way of people here. I paid my discounted money and left a satisfied customer.
Going to the post office in almost any other country in the world is a pretty mundane task, but the Thais have an amazing ability to sometimes make mundane tasks quite enjoyable. I hope Thailand doesn’t change too quickly and I wish the Thais would teach the rest of the world some of their philosophy.

Koh Samet in Thailand

Koh samet

Hat Sai Kaew (Diamond Beach) on Koh Samet

Last week I went to Koh Samet for the very first time. So many people have been telling me to go that I thought I should make an effort. Everyone said it is a tropical paradise and one of the best islands in Thailand. Before I caught the boat to the island, I decided to stay on the mainland for a couple of days. The island is only 40 minutes away by regular boat (much faster in a speedboat) and I wanted to compare beaches on the mainland to the ones on the island. (You can read my Rayong beach reviews at Thai Travel Blogs.) I think one of the reasons I was hesitating to go was the fact that Koh Samet is now a popular island destination. It can get very crowded, particularly during long weekends. Plus, I like beach holidays where I can turn up in the car with everything including the kitchen sink. To catch a boat to an island you can only take as much as you can carry.

If you are driving to Rayong and Koh Samet from Bangkok it will take you just over two hours. It is a good highway most of the way and even though it is further than Pattaya, it can be almost as quick. You also have the added advantage that the beaches in Rayong are a lot cleaner and there is no sleazy nightlife. For people who don’t have their own transport, you can catch a bus from Bangkok (Ekamai) that goes direct to Ban Phe. This is the pier for boats to the island. That tells you straight away how popular the island is. There are regular buses throughout the day. You can also catch minibuses from Khao San Road area. It will take you from two and a half hours to as much as four hours to get there! The cost is from 50 baht to 250 baht depending on what service you take. If you cannot get a bus to Ban Phe, then take a bus to Rayong and then a songtaew from there to the pier.

Speedboats to the island cost from 1,000 baht and take 15 minutes

When you arrive at the waterfront in Ban Phe you will be faced with a number of different piers advertising boat trips to Koh Samet. Most guidebooks suggest Nuanthip Pier is the best (if not only) pier there. That is not really true. We visited six different piers during our research for this blog. For most travellers it doesn’t matter which boat you take. It seems very hit and miss even at the same pier whether you get a big two decker boat with life jackets or a rickety fishing boat. The price for a ticket is the same at each pier. One way is 50 baht and a return ticket 100 baht. We bought a return ticket though on reflection we decided it would have been better to buy a single. This is because when you come back you cannot catch the first boat to return. You need to wait for the boat going to your pier. Also, if you buy a single you can return from a different part of the island.

As I had to leave my car on the mainland, I made sure that I found a pier that had a good shaded area and people that would look after my car. The fee for this is 40 baht for the day or 80–100 baht per day. The pier we chose to go with was Choak Kritsada. Parking was only 80 baht per day and the boat looked safe! The departure times varied depending on time of week and the season. As it was mid-week, the first boat was due to leave at 9 a.m. They then left hourly until about 5 p.m. The other piers had similar hours. I had been told before that if you turn up at the island at noon that you might find it difficult to find a hotel room. So, we decided we would catch the first boat in the morning. If you arrive at the pier outside these hours, or just want to get to the island quicker (15 minutes), you can hire your own speedboat. This will cost you about 1,000–3,000 baht depending on your destination. This is advertised as a 24 hour service.

Swimming in the crystal clear water

Before you depart from Ban Phe you really need to think about your destination. Most people go to Na Darn Pier which is a ten minute walk to the famous Sai Kaew beach. From here you can walk down to quieter beaches. An alternative is to catch a boat to Wongduan Beach further down the coastline. This area has quieter beaches though there are not so many boats going this far. On the west coast there is only one main beach called Ao Phrao. However, there are mainly upmarket resorts there and the cost of accommodation include a trip to the island on their private boat. I will talk more about the different beaches in a another blog. For this trip I headed to Na Darn Pier as this was where most people were going. Not that I like crowds, it is just it was important for the sake of our research.

Our boat left the pier nearly on time. As we departed the small harbour we passed many fishing boats. The fishermen had returned early in the morning and had already offloaded their fish and cleaned their boats. The only boats were tourist ones heading towards the island. And we weren’t alone. We were neck and neck with another ferry boat for much of the trip with a bigger boat just in front of us. It looked like we were all racing to get to the island first. If you consider that each boat had people all wanting the same few rooms available then really it was a race. First come first served. The 40 minutes passed quite quickly. As we were pulling into the pier at Na Darn I looked back and saw three more boat hot on our tails! I wasn’t really worried about not finding any rooms, but seeing so many people racing towards the island made the old heart pump a bit faster.

From the pier my friend suggested I should walk to Diamond Beach. You can catch a shared songtaew from the pier if you like. A sign said that our beach was only 10 baht each and Wongduan was 30 baht. However, if you come back on the songtaew by yourself then you would have to pay the charter rate which is 300–400 baht! Walking has one big advantage which I wanted to test out. Koh Samet is in a national park, and if you have ever travelled in Thailand you would know that it costs 200 baht for foreigners and 20 baht for Thais. It doesn’t make any difference whether it is a small waterfall or a big forest. The island is no exception. Just over halfway to the beach there is a forestry guard box by the side of the road. I was told that they stop the songtaews to collect the entrance fee from the passengers. However, if you walk down the road (preferably on the righthandside) you can avoid the fee. It worked for us.

I will continue this blog later with a review of beaches and a list of activities you can do on this beautiful island in Thailand.