Respect for the Law
From the age of just two and half months, toddler Tui can enjoy the thrills and sprills of being sat on his father’s motorbike and admire the awesome way his father manages to fit the entire family on the back of his motorbike and do amazing left-handed u-turns at all the red lights, before instantly snatching out a crash helmet from the front basket and stick it on his head before arriving at a traffic police check point. Superb feats. No respect for the law whatsoever but toddler Tui is in awe. A lot of English folk on reading something like this may think “Absolutely disgraceful, such awfully terrible things would not happen in my country”.
Yeah, I doubt much of this does go on, but a lot of English folk, both expats and tourists in Thailand, can’t wait to Do as the Romans do and try and break every law under the sun here. Even though they bombard English language Thai related forums about the decadence of corruption in Thailand, John Smith here in the likes of Pattaya drives around intoxicated with no license and on being pulled over by the cops grabs out his wallet and sticks a 500baht note under the traffic cop’s hat; trying to get away with an offense which may have landed him in prison back in England. Later in the day, John can next be found wobbling around a shop and bar area carrying and swigging away at his big bottle of Singha and shouting saucy come-ons to a group of local ladies having dinner; again trying to pull off something he wouldn’t dare do in downtown Newcastle.
(Thais just love their uniforms)
Getting out of bed on a cold wet Monday morning is one of the most tedious routines known in the Land of Fish & Chips & Mushy Peas. Then, on the way to work there is nothing to look at but droopy dour faces and baggy dull raincoats. For men however, and especially in Bangkok, they can get out of beds and look forward to admiring troupes of office and young student ladies also on their way to their destined places smiling away while wearing the hottest skimpiest uniforms east of an American based cheerleader team. Call the country what you wish, but this is certainly the Land of Uniforms & I love Mine. Unlike in England, uniforms are part and parcel of society here and most Thais not only like them, but feel very proud indeed wearing one.
Unlike in English towns, urban Thais here work far longer hours. Often to a ‘What the heck, a 10 hour shift, 6 days a week lark!” reply by an English woman when she finds out. Yet, rather different to back home, urban working ladies here can spend half their days in the office or department store outlets munching on different snacks and fruit, while applying their make-up and chatting away on their mobiles about their latest handsome work colleague.
As for dad on the construction site, he can spend half his day sitting around looking at the work to be done while enjoying the office ladies walking by outside. Generally speaking (unless you’re a farmer or factory slave) working life in Thailand is much more laid back.
Unlike back in England, gambling here is illegal (besides the government lottery and some boxing and horse racing venues). That doesn’t however, stop the local Thais betting more money on the last World Cup than the English – and I’m not joking! No bookies in Thailand, but no probs, if you wanna place a bet on Arsenal or Juventus, ask any young whippersnapper watching the footie too, and I’m sure he’ll have you on the phone placing a bet in no time.
(Monks being fined for playing cards for money)
If you are a lady and gambling on the footie ain’t your cup-of-tea, go Thai lady style and find a house playing the card game pok-daeng or dice game ‘hi-lo’. Houses gambling are usually quite easy to spot, look out for the dealer’s son stood outside who is ordered to run and bang the front door three times each time he sees two police on a motorbike patrolling nearby. If you are in the front room betting while the police are thudding on the door to be let in, again do it Thai-style and jump out the kitchen window and just leg it. If you are caught, then never mind, the maximum fine for gambling on cards is like 700Baht.
The Religious Order
Besides the odd glass of brandy and a flutter on the fruit machine, life for your average Mr Priesty in England isn’t supposed to be one of the most exciting ones. Yes, the same goes for in Thailand, but that is only on paper. According to one of Paknamweb’s founders our very own Panrit (Gor) a former town monk “Life as a monk isn’t very different to lay people, besides chanting, wearing robes and doing an alms round in morning, we still watch DVDs, listen to our headphones, read cartoon books and chat about girls”. Just when you may have thought that Thai monks don’t making a living then you are wrong, there a variety of ways; chant at some wedding, funeral or house-warming party or bless a new motorbike, car or shop. Rest-assured, pink envelopes with hundred baht notes in them are name of the day. Or as Gor put it “I got about 10,000Baht a month being a monk, not bad”.
For some monks however, that kind of salary just isn’t enough to survive on and go on to make lots more money by telling fortunes, selling blessed amulets or even claiming that a temple tree brought great luck to a townsperson who recently won a fortune on the lottery after seeing the lucky jackpot number shining in the bark. For those interested in trying their luck too with the miracle tree, a 50baht donation to the tree’s monk upkeeper is more than appreciated.
(Beats a pic of Gordon Brown or Thaksin. Let’s post a pic of former ladyboy beauty queen Nong Poy instead)
Unlike the MPs back in England who are dumb enough to get caught claiming expenditures on porno movies, lawnmowers, spray-paint, salt & vinegar crisps and pillow cases before having their names and faces embarrassingly headlining every newspaper in town, Thai MPs are a lot smarter when in comes to money. One of the most-favored strategies is the 10% Commission Deal. It goes something like this – as soon as you win your place as MP, arrange that a couple of new roads need to be built (nearer a plot of your countryside land the better – as its value will soar on completion). Next, find a construction firm who is owned by a friend of a friend’s and advise him to over-charge 10% for the construction fee. Before he wins the deal however, ensure that that extra 10% charge be transferred to your housekeeper’s bank account. Or if you want to get even greedier than that, plan with party colleagues in Bangkok to loan out 4,000 over-priced buses and 1,500 fire engines at a total price of 3 Billion US dollars.
Should you as a voter, get pished off with such money-making enterprises, take to the streets, block off a few roads and if that is to no avail, take over the nearest international airport. After that succeeds however, a few months later you’ll be left feeling bewildered that the ‘moral’ folk you fought for were no different to the ones you helped kicked out. For the average politically disappointed voter in the Land of Wellington Boots and Susan Boyle though, he can brighten up his spirits by knocking on his former MP’s door and ask to borrow a copy of his Lusty Emmanuele in Paris DVD.
(Click here for part one)