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The week that was in Thailand news: Describing Thailand to a T


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The week that was in Thailand news: Describing Thailand to a T




My Thai students who had a problem with upper case letters were always asked in culture classes what the capital of Thailand was.

Bangkok they would proudly announce. “No, it’s T” I would say. They proved they had got the minor ruse when answering correctly the next question about the capital of Bangkok being a B.

But in a week of Thai news where the left hand seemed to be having a great deal of difficulty with what the right was up to I was left thinking it was a pity I never got the chance to teach many in the current government.

For they certainly came up with their own version of the spelling trick though in this case it seemed to describe Thailand to a T.

The main issue at hand this week was what can only be described as the Street Food Fiasco.

As the BMA were scurrying to assure anyone who would listen that sidewalk nosh in Bangkok would be off the menu by year’s end, the TAT were announcing that a festival celebrating the excellence of roadside fodder would be held in June.

Then the own goals kept flowing as the Commerce Ministry chipped in with plans to make Thailand a “Paradise of Street Food”.

A bit like the Garden of Eden without temptation.

Of course it was all CNN’s fault in the first place for naming the nation as the best on earth but if this was an example of coordinated planning then I suggest that those who might claim to govern us do not try to organize a drinks party in a distillery.

What the PM must have made of all of it was not reported – I imagine he must have thought it to be the kind of unhealthy “joke” that is a world away from its homonym street-side snack.

While those at Commerce were trumpeting words like “quality, clean and delicious” the bods at the BMA were spouting “unhygienic and clutter”.

It all left those on the Thaivisa forum who want to see the pavements returned to pedestrians more confused than ever. Of course, this kind of mess is nothing new to Thailand – coordination of departments is a distant dream but one thing they ultimately do well is find a compromise.

Street food – as much like riding in the back of pick-ups - is not going to disappear any time soon for the people will just not allow it.

And despite all the nonsense that is written by those who say the Thais are a kowtowing breed I prefer to believe that their penchant for a two, or even one finger salute to their leaders is alive and kicking, especially kicking…

The spirit of compromise and adjustment was similarly to the fore in several cases that entered the later stages of resolution this week.

“Praewa” the hi-so strumpet who drove a minivan, not her own more’s the pity, off the tollway a few years back had her compensation responsibilities lowered by eleven million.

Barely enough for a second hand Porsche but I am sure she was happy and had a good inner smirk at the memory of her nine innocent victims.

While the family of the woman tragically electrocuted at the “foam party” were not fobbed off by some local bigwig who sat and bargained for the life of the lady with her parents while the corpse lay in the next room.

This unseemly bargaining may well keep matters out of the courts and indeed resolve cases more quickly but I tend to believe that justice for the downtrodden is rarely served. In a society where the word feudal continues to knock how could we ever be surprised by that.

Compromise was of little succor to the defendants in the Nataree “soapy massage” human trafficking case. They may have had their hefty sentences reduced by half on admission of guilt but it will be the 2030s before they have a soapy bath that is not behind bars.

The thirteen year terms were handed down to two managers of the Huay Kwang establishment.

They will rue the day they employed a Burmese teen as well as contemplate that their bosses, the owners of Nataree, remain at large and seemingly out of reach of the tentacles of both plod and the military.

This case reminded me of a student in a Year 9 class I once taught. The children had to come up with an item beginning with each letter of the alphabet that was “iconic” for Thailand then compile a written project. The boy in question announced a tad cheekily that he was writing on “P for Poseidon”.

I confirmed that he meant the rather large “Ap Ob Nuat” facility on Ratchada Pisek Road and questioned whether that was appropriate for a school project.

To which he replied that of course it was, “my dad is the owner”.

There was not a lot I could say to that, except remark that I didn’t expect an invite, until I had retired from teaching that is….

My old pal Buddha was never far from the news this week as two stories made a change from the standard booze and drugs parties we have become accustomed to for His saffron clad disciples.

First it was discovered that there was a genuine Buddha footprint on a limestone rock in Surat. Only one, he appeared to have been hopping.

However, I was left to doubt the veracity of this claim as they announced it was a paltry 10-12 inches long. Aren’t the real one’s about four feet long like the one near Lopburi?

Then it was announced that a monk had been stolen –  a purloined Phra no less.

He was dead, you see, and was being held in a refrigerated glass case for some upcoming ceremony. Apart from the absurdity of feeling the need to steal a stiff member of the clergy I was again left pooh-poohing the idea of theft.

Surely it was much more likely that the dead monk had simply come back to life and let himself out.

Sometimes the Thais miss the most obvious solution though why anyone would want to escape from air-conditioning in this heat was a little beyond Rooster’s normally exceptional powers of deduction.

Meanwhile “mystery surrounds”,as journalists like to often relate in a tongue-in-cheek manner,  the disappearance of a plaque celebrating democracy that was embedded in the road at Bangkok’s Royal Plaza.

It seems terrifically unlucky that all eleven CCTV cameras had been removed just at the time the dinner plate size object was removed by “persons unknown”. I mean what are the odds of that!

Just to make sure nothing comes to light the press and public were asked not to make a song and dance about it.

Anyway, I’m sure it must be for everyone’s benefit that the inscription on the new plaque that has now “mysteriously” replaced the old rebellious 1932 one, has been updated with a groveling motto more applicable to the times.

Helpful, literally to the last, this week were the dear chaps at the British Embassy who have issued an advisory for anyone contemplating dying in Thailand.

“While a simple “don’t” could have saved on paper they went into some laborious detail about what to do if death does us part. Of course, the forum posters had the proverbial British field day at the expense of the hapless embassy staff who rarely seem to be of any use in a crisis.

Apropos, I had attended a media briefing in the as yet unsold “Lion’s Den” on Wireless Road last month after which I had emailed the embassy press officer to confirm the name of a visa officer who had spoken at the gathering.

“We would rather you didn’t quote us” came the reply. A case of “you couldn’t make it up” and one which made me think that the Thais may have learnt some of their PR skills from Her Majesty’s decidedly uncivil servants.

Which brings me on to this week’s Rooster awards and the “Picture of the Week” that was none other than a trussed up Brit in PattayaApparently said Blighty chap had been doing a spot of rampaging at the resort clambering over some roofs semi-naked and was now pictured entangled in rope.

That behavior is probably just Normal in Northampton but it did make me think that the time has come to provide items such as rope on every street corner like fire extinguishers as they could come in very handy for the public to do fuzz’s dirty work for them when tourists, Brits or otherwise, let the good old image of Pattaya down as they are invariably wont to do.

Meanwhile the “Survival Award” goes to the over 50s living in Thailand, many of them British or American, who are still with us after Songrkran as they wisely stayed home or left the country during the midsummer mayhem.

It emerged in a Thaivisa survey that about 80% of the aging expat community said “bah humbug” to water splashing. Many forum posters yelled “boring old farts” but we’re still alive so put that in your shisha and smoke it, if you dare.

While the “What’s the Point of Spinning the Figures” award went to the Thai authorities for hardly making any serious effort to claim that the slight lessening in the road carnage toll was anything less than that – slight.

Sadly you could almost hear the proposals and policies for ending the appalling death on the roads being shuffled to the back of the draw from which they will doubtless reemerge come December 31st for a few more “deadly days”.

Finally, the biggest laugh of the week had to be the hapless Thai boxer fighting under international rules who made it to YouTube after being banned in Japan for “incompetence and wasting spectators’ money”.

Aekkhachai came out of his corner with his arms flailing like someone drowning in sake and he was soon spark out on the canvas.

It had all happened on April 1st and you really had to take a second look just to make sure it was not some cunning Japanese ruse.

Aekkhachai would be well advised not to try Muay Thai next.





-- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-23
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