One of the capital’s most infamous ‘Gem Scam Shops’
(Photo Courtesy of 2Bangkok.com)
(The following blog was published 27 Jan at ‘The Nation’. Here below, however, is the originally submitted un-edited version)
Well, it truly appears that the respected ‘Golden-Oldies’ in power are working as quickly as their age allows. The lawful procedures against the country’s most-wanted, a few former politicians, have been moving at such a snail’s pace that if they continue like this then the suspects will soon be too old and frail to even stand, let alone walk into a courtroom.
With due respect though, the speedy awesome arrests of the supposed Bangkok Bombers last week caught everyone by complete surprise. We have read though, a myriad of theories concerning the actual masterminds behind the bombings. It has been laughed, that perhaps the bombers were in fact working for some dodgy close-circuit camera firm which will soon be in the bidding for the mega Big-Bangkok-Brother project. Another theory goes that they were even employed by a company producing transparent rubbish bins. Or howabout this one – that ridding the city center of all the bins is just a ploy by some inscrupulous law enforcers to make stacks of cash from the average unsuspecting tourist. When the newly arrived is unable to find a rubbish bin to toss his cigarette butt, he’ll be forced to just flick the thing onto the sidewalk. A serious violation of the land’s litter law. And since the offender is a rich tourist, it will be only right that his fine is ten-times that of the locals’.
So, the government with their groovy Big-Brother project will soon be able to save the capital from any more bombs and catch the culprits on camera. In fact, when the camera are up and running the officials will actually be able to witness the antics of a whole variety of nasty elements operating on the streets. We have been informed that overhead-walkways will be near the top of the ‘urgency list’. Now, what splendid places those are for criminal gangs. Instead of catching any bozo bombers in action, I think the authorities will instead, be witnessing another kind of bozo business, and that is the ‘beggar gangs’.
Shouldyou wish to witness such amazing innovation, it is advised to turn up at a place like Victory Monument just before dawn to see a bunch of supposed legless lepers leaping out the back of a pick-up. Following behind are a few so-called mothers carrying imported Khmer babies. The poor toddler next has to suffer a day of hunger as the fake mother, needing to have him look more pitiable by wailing all day, refrains from sticking any milk in his mouth. Later in the day, the illegally imported beggars are on their way back to their boss’ garage and courtesy of him, they are all a hundred baht better off.
Perhaps too, with the cameras posted on pedestrian overhead-walkways in the Sukhumvit area they will also be able to catch red-handed, drunk Farang tourists, whom in desperate need of a leak, feel the instant urge – to urinate over the side.
Now, another gang out there in the same areas faking their daily living, coaxing well-earned cash out of unsuspecting pedestrians are those carrying brochures and dodgy IDs, claiming to be charity workers for some make-believe foundation for the underpriviliged. After mingling amongst other – verified volunteers, they can be later seen at a nearby open-air restaurant, scoffing on a big fancy steamed fish, chugging down the whiskey while chatting to their minor wives on the phone.
Besides crossings to get the cameras first, the city parks are also right up there in terms of priority. Now, I don’t know about you, but I doubt many bozo bombers are gonna be caught in the Sanam Luang area. But who knows, if the elderly government wants to witness peculiar goings-on at night they will certainly enjoy another sort of toothless bombshell. Those are of course the women, very often around the same age as the government, trying to sell their personal services to quite obviously desperate customers.
While on the subject of ‘ladies of the night’, there are packs of indesirable criminals plaqueing the areas of Sukhumvit’s early sois and Pattaya’s beach road in the wee hours – and those are the infamous pick-pocketing big buxom transgenders. Quite easy to spot, the camera officials will be seeing with their very own eyes, transgenders – standing 6 foot four in high-heels, usually stood in pairs, confronting single male tourists. Approaching with the likes of “Oh, you so handsome man”., the tourist believes that the so-called girls are only being friendly. Next however, after thinking that the naughty girls were only pinching his behind, he is horrified to find that his dollar-packed wallet, is missing. In the meantime however, the thiefs have disappeared down some dark alley, never to be seen again.
Now, another platoon of cheats that could soon be framed on candid-camera, are the tuk-tuk drivers who can be found lingering outside of the capital’s tourists attractions. There are two kinds, those who charge a small fortune for a twenty minute ride and others who charge un unbelievably cheap – 10 baht! Cheap-charlie backpackers thinking that they are getting one heck of a bargain, are soon fuming at the ears, when they learn that they are being escorted to some jewelry store knocking off immitation gem stones. Should they refuse to go in, the tuk-tuk guy soons
pleads poverty with tales of his milkless children and admits that he was only doing it for the commission. Getting their sympathy with such a sob story, he next asks them to help him out and explains that if they pop into an Indian tailor’s shop for 10 minutes he gets free petrol coupons. What another quack-wack story and tourists just lap it up. Of course, the drivers don’t get petrol vouchers at all, but actually – 200 baht in cash.
And how about those other crooks who prey on gullible tourists in the Sanam Luang area with the likes of “Today, the Emerald Buddha temple closed, is the holiday”. Soon, the tourists are meeting up with the above tuk-tuk driver and his banana-shake backpackers.
Hopefully, the government will soon have the evidence to clampdown too on those taxi-drivers who semi-illegally park outside of nightspots all night hoping to score a few generous tourists. Dare argue with one of the guys along the lines of “Hey this is this against the law, you must turn on the meter” and he’ll be whistling over a pack of cronie buddies who are going to threaten you with a serious beating. Without a doubt, the worst violent species in this respects, just have to be Pattaya’s very own songthaew drivers. Once I had my very own unpleasant experience. Hopping out of the back, I quickly slipped the driver the correct ‘local fare’. Furious with a cheeky Farang trying to get away with paying the Thai price, storms out of his vehicle while throwing his arms in the air like some wild monkey. After trying to explain that I worked and lived in the country, snatches out a big plank of wood from under his seat and threatens to plonk me over the head with it.
And finally, the camera-officials expecting to perform a serious job trying to catch wanna-be bombers fleeing the scene, may instead be in fits of laughter when they see daily scenarios of the ‘stash and dash’. At a typical sidewalk in front of some popular market, the capital’s unofficial vendors love nothing more than planting their goods on the ground in complete violation of the municipality police regulations. The boys arriving in droves to seize all their stock, are instantly spotted by the vendors – who next, frantically stash up all their stuff in a couple of big flimsy plastic bags.
Next, there you have it, the classic everyday Bangkok scene of vendors with stock-in-arms and their sarongs flapping the air, running for dear life while big-bellied overweight cops give chase in hot pursuit.