Saturday, January 05, 2008

Hanging by a thread


Hanging by a thread

E-mail: / Snail mail: 136 Na Ranong Road, Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110, Thailand

I guess the people can speak by putting the PPP in power, but it seems that the Democrats do not want to listen to them.

I have a bad feeling about this. Good luck, Thailand, I am leaving.



Amulet madness

The problem in the South has been solved: all soldiers will be safe as long as they are wearing the Luang Poo Jiam amulet.

Presumably, the government will also be safe from the soldiers - no more coups - as long as the prime minister wears the Luang Poo Jiam amulet.

And the world can be relieved that Thailand is now stable.



Superstition is alive and well in Thailand

It was with total disbelief that I read about the order, issued by Maj-Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn, for 4,000 men under his command to adorn themselves with special amulets to protect them from harm.

However, what was even more unbelievable was that if they failed to do so, they faced a few days in the slammer. All this because a few men travelling on a bus that was attacked in the South were not wearing similar protective devices.

What did not escape my notice was that these men and their commander were from the Northeast, where superstition, lucky talismens, lucky numbers, signs from the heavens and other voodoo practices are still rife amongst the poor and ill-educated members of this region.

Along with the African child soldiers involved in the various conflicts in that region and who have been brutalised and drugged into believing that they are "bulletproof", we now have the comment that "this amulet makes me feel safe even if I don't have a bulletproof vest", from one of the soldiers involved.

Perhaps an investigation into the victims of this New Year's road toll would be useful in establishing just how many of them had cars full of lucky charms or, indeed, how many unfortunate victims of all man-made and natural disasters that afflict Thailand have relied on amulets to protect them from their fate.

The age of superstition and fear must be put behind us and this can only be achieved, especially in the Northeast, by a vast improvement in the resources, both capital and human, into "enlightened" education. Finally, it might be of more value to the soldiers under the command of Maj-Gen Thawatchai, to ask him to invest in real bulletproof vests for those under his command.



First World airport, Third World hassles

Could someone please explain to me the taxi situation out at Suvarnabhumi Airport? Why, pray tell, must I get in line for a taxi and then pay a surcharge of 50 baht for the luxury of having someone write down a destination on a slip of paper?

I could just as easily go to the departure level and catch one that has just dropped off passengers coming from the city. Just as easily, that is, if it were not for the Taxi Nazis preventing the drivers from doing this.

This is for my protection, I'm told, because a record of my trip is kept at the airport. But in six years of riding taxis in Bangkok, I can't remember a single time that I have been robbed, raped or murdered. And anyway, that record shows "a destination", not necessarily the one that I am actually going to, because the people at the taxi stand can't speak English well enough to understand where you want to go if it isn't one of about six destinations that they are familiar with. They just write down some hotel and send you off. You're left to work out with the driver where you really want to go.

Then there is the question of the phalanx of limousine touts that are free to hassle and cajole and annoy every pale-face coming out of the arrivals hall, for trips at roughly three times the meter rate. Why am I not "protected" from these people like I'm protected from drivers who could pick me up at departures?

And what else do you get for your 50 baht and long wait in line? You get put into whatever car is next. So if it's one of those old, cramped, filthy, bone-jarring wrecks that still rattle through the streets of Krung Thep, then that's what you get.

If it breaks down in the No-Man's Land between the airport and town, well, that's just your tough luck. Because if you protest back at the taxi stand and demand a new taxi, they give you a ration of grief and tell you that you must take that taxi because it's next in line, and if you don't like it you can go back to the touts and pay 900 baht for your ride into town.

First World airport, Third World hassles.


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