Archive for February, 2016

Is the media silence on sex tourism the result of financial pressure put on them by advertisers? Is the current blanket dumbing down of the media really a de facto gag order enforced by foreign governments who don’t want the notoriety of the very ill kept secret of a sex industry in their countries made front page news? Are airlines and hotel booking giants applying pressure on the media to not blow the whistle on the sordid details and suffering of women with their power to withhold or conversely ramp up advertising dollars to a media which is suffering from an intense drought in the advertising dollar space?

Ad dollars are scarce today in a long standing recession that has been the cause of the job losses and bankruptcy of thousands of small and large names and journals around the world. Small country markets can withstand the pressure, their populations don’t contribute to tourism in a major way, but large developed markets in the USA and Canada, for example, where professional journalists rely on steady work and union pensions, can be easily corrupted by the withdrawal of support by advertisers if the media is not reading off the advertisers song sheet.

Popular Canadian journalist #Ezra Levant shed light on some of the more menacing ways that government can pervert journalism by sponsoring certain journalists and their parent organizations while withholding funds and accreditation from those it doesn’t like. If governments are actively perverting the truth for electoral reasons, is it not a possibility that the same tactic might be used in the fight for international tourist dollars?

Ezra Levant: The more menacing way that politicians control journalists

I think we have to understand that governments which derive a major portion of their GDP from tourism, like Mexico and Thailand might be willing to ‘ask’ journalists to print certain story lines and not others for the sake of public perception. In Mexico, for example, there is an extremely high murder rate and violent crime rate for foreign visitors, a fact that rarely leaks out unless the murders or violent acts have been so heinous that nothing can hold them secret.

During these instances however, it seems to me that advertising becomes more intensive and more sales are on offer to ‘popular destinations’. These so called popular destinations are usually hotels and resort areas owned by powerful political families…so is the increased advertising a panacea offered to the media in order to ‘forget’ the crimes that have just occurred and not focus on the problem at large? Can advertising dollars make the problem of murder and sex tourism go away? It certainly seems likely that prestidigitation is at work in markets where crimes like sex tourism and violence against visitors is common and pervasive.

being a tourist

being a tourist

If my life was a ship, and my ship had a flag, I would hang it upside down from the yardarm to signal a state of distress and consequently lower it to half mast further indicating a great loss has occurred. Recent inquiries to main stream media outlets about publishing stories relating to the sex exploitation of young and poor in desperate countries have all come back rejected. “We think it’s too controversial” said one editor, as if the morals of the editors at the heart of the industry have shriveled and died.

Hollywood producers, ‘Hangover’ and ‘Hangover 2’ have won the hearts and minds of media pundits everywhere. The word according to the media is that Asia is a place to run wild, fuck everything that walks…or crawls…and go home, hopefully without an incurable drug resistant STD. “What happens in Bangkok…Stays in Bangkok”. Who gives a damn what kind of mess you leave behind? As long as you’ve had a good time…and take lot’s of drunken selfies…right?

A particularily inane reporter from Barrie Ontario asked me to only contact him if I had the name and address of someone from his immediate area who was caught in a child rape or similar heinous holiday crime . None of the other things I ‘d mentioned regarding widespread sexual exploitation of desperate uneducated minors, ( like the horrible oppression my organized Russian gangs, starving children left behind in alleys with the pimps while Moms are blowing tourists or pulling razor blades out of her vagina in the bar) fodder for a massive wave of simultaneously retiring western baby boomers, held any interest to him.

This purposeful ignorance on the issue of sex exploitation by the global media is appalling. When the very famous journalist Bernard Trink was fired his long held position as columnist of twenty years to the Bangkok Post in the 1980’s for warning off people coming to Thailand for sex tourism, it was then a shocking move by the media in Thailand. Who would have ever thought a secretive cabal would want to silence a voice advocating for the betterment of women and how sex tourism is an embarrassment to the nation…not a pillar on which to build an economy. Ah well…what do I know? TIT Bernard always said, …This is Thailand.

its all around us

its all around us

Pensionado perverto, describes a gray wave of western pensioners breaking on the shores of third world communities like Conquistadors. The perverted generation is a generation driven by an unrequited lust as powerfully destructive as the Viking and Spanish. They bring a new destructive technology to the battlefield. The civil service pension and the ATM is no less lethal than the Damascus steel swords the Vikings brought to Britain or the ravaging brass cannon and blunderbuss of the Spanish Invaders to ‘The New World’. These perverted pensioners are harbingers of doom.

This can’t end well. A one sided war is being waged with impossible odds stacked against the victims. The paid monthly western taxpayer subsidized union guaranteed pension cheques and the ATM are the siege engines of the modern era. Genghis Khan might have thrown severed heads saturated with plague over the walls of besieged cities using trebuchet to cow populations into submission, but throwing buckets of money at desperately poor people has the same effect, an eventual capitulation to the invader and the death of any cultural or moral leadership that may have existed within the countries that are being overwhelmed.

The Pensionado Perverto is a demographic phenomenon, a sub-species of the Baby Boomer Generation. They are the lusty and repressed civil servants and aging professionals, aged 50 to 70 years old, fortunate enough to have been placed in employment positions allowing them to suckle off the teat of society, and through little effort of their own, and become entrenched in the global government pension schemes of bureaucratic heavy countries as far flung as the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Finland, Norway and the United Kingdom. Good fortune has come so easily to this generation, they have come to think of themselves as ‘The Entitled Generation’.

A large segment of this population considers itself ‘unfulfilled’. They seek to relive the youth and opportunity they perceive to have missed while amassing fortunes from the public purse jobs they held down. Entire multi-industry wide advertising campaigns exhort these people to invest in a future of glossy hedonism. The television spots show happy couples at the helm of sleek yachts or walking hand in hand down some sandy beach in paradise.

In my eye it’s pathetic to watch a bald and bandy legged sixty eight year old man cock strutting through whore bars crowing, as if he’s found his groove in the hands of a new crop of jungle whores who’ve been enticed out of starvation into the sex industry, and the lady pimps who keep their children and spare clothing for ransom. He’s thinking he’s finally popular…and attractive…. excuse me while I puke.

The reality is that a large proportion of these persons have lost their opportunity to couple normally because they were too busy working to have a relationship or family, they were too focused on themselves to share a life with anyone, but many are psychologically unfit to enter into a ‘normal’ relationship with a member of the opposite sex, even for pay, in the context of a western life. Normally, this would be nature’s way, through evolution, of weeding the bad genes out of the breeding pool. This is where it gets ugly.

Millions of men and women in western countries are retiring almost simultaneously. Millions will retire within a decade of one another. A large percentage of them are comfortably paired off, with grown children launching out of the basement suite, after a decade in university, expecting grandchildren, happy to redecorate a new home, enjoy weekend golfing, lease a new Cadillac every two years and retire with dignity.

A significant percentage of this demographic have no attachments to western norms such as described. These ‘outcasts’ seek the far-flung pleasures of the flesh, because they feel they’ve been slighted because of career commitments…. and the way ‘western women are not nice to them’. They’ll tell you they ‘deserve’ sex.

change your mind, change your life

change your mind, change your life

Robots scare the crap out of Stephen Hawking. “Humans are evolving so slowly that artificial intelligence will walk all over us”, he says. Personally, I’m more afraid of humans who switch their moral and ethical compass off when they leave for a ‘third world vacation’. Artificially enhanced intelligent robots of the future might be frightening in theory, but in practice human beings who conveniently forget to be human while on vacation do a lot more damage in the here and now. I don’t know about you…but I live in the present.

I was scouting competing travel video the other day and I wasn’t impressed. There’s a social algorithm popular with a certain alphabet demographic… that accessible hedonism is available at the end of every commercial flight, like unicorns are attracted rainbows,  that it is ‘a right and an entitlement’ to express oneself without morals or ethics in every imaginable way, while on vacation in the third world, where apparently…’everything goes’. Wow….I am not a person to be throwing ‘isms and ‘ists’ around…but the idea that ‘everything goes’ when you cross an international boundary’ is crazy weird.

One of the You Tube video’s I watched was a popular travel blog, plenty of views, with two passably blonde girls tittering excitedly about whether ‘ to go or no’. The topic du jour was whether watching a woman/girl pull razor blades out of her vagina in a Bangkok bar was a ‘go or no’. They enthusiastically doubled pumped one another to the affirmative…’GO’. OK… I’m choking back a little puke here… is it possible that two women can get excited about a razor blade vagina ‘show’ knowing the depths of depravity the performer must have plumbed to get to that state where pulling razor blades out of her vagina was her last option? Isn’t that on the moral level of ‘snuff porn’?

These were women talking…about another woman… having to pull razor blades out of her vagina..in order to make a living…for the sake of a few petulant, bored tourists amusement. How is it possible for anyone from any level of society to become so jaded and obvious awareness of the depravity they were watching…that they could laugh… not cry. It’s robotic…moral brain death…depraved to an nth degree of evil, it’s mind numbing. You shouldn’t be laughing when you see a woman have to sink to that level.

You should want to tell the bar owner to fuck himself with the business end of a garden rake and walk out..at the very least. Would you want that happening to any woman in ‘Your Town USA’? Why would you ‘rescue’ a dog at home and yet sit through a ‘show’ where a woman is pulling razor blades out of her vagina? Is it because the dog won’t bore you with his life story or need an education to find a better future ?

The depravity we see isn’t a ‘white/ brown’ thing. Tourists on holiday strictly for sex related purposes come in all colours and are of every nationality and social strata. They are equal opportunity exploiters. Today’s sicko social media is extolling us it’s OK to compete on experiences, where no limit of exploitation or depravity should hold us back from having ‘the best time ever’.

The travel video blogs are replete with solicitations to get the drunkest, the wildest…the most depraved regardless of the consequences to your moral being and the nasty crap you leave behind. Are today’s tourists just dehumanized robots on holiday, hyped by social media to ‘go one better’…to leave their humanity behind for the sake of a ‘good time’? Stephen Hawking has more immediate reasons to fear for the future of humanity.

robot holiday

robot holiday

Two thumbs up from us to the folks at #Air B&B for inventing a service that has freed us from restrictive, expensive hotels and greedy landlords. Another thing I like is where many of the properties are located….away from the sterile tourist frenzy environment of downtown cores. In the past there was no choice, there was hotels or nothing. Traditional hostels aren’t much better, always located near some transportation hub where tourists congregate like flies.

The experience of travel has improved with break out technologies like Air B&B. I don’t want to stay where T-shirts all seem to carry the same message…”Hi, I’m boring”. I like the fact that Air B&B properties are primarily located in average neighborhoods where travelers can rub shoulders with ordinary people. With Air B&B you are dealing with average people. The process is much more flexible. In my experience the owner of the suite you’ll occupy is more of a host.

As opposed to short term rentals where a landlord or property manager won’t supply anything except a bare bones flat…and you’ll be responsible to hook up your own electricity, internet and TV…plus buy all the sheets, pillows, dishes etc that you’ll need for your stay…the Air B&B comes with everything included…nice…very convenient.

Unlike hotels, the Air B&B flats are competitively priced and always come with full kitchens. Unlike property managed condo’s there is no restrictive “last month, first month and two month security deposit” to pay before you move in. BTW….good luck getting those security deposits back from a landlord or property manager. I know dozens of people who have fought without success to get their money back. Some have lost thousands of dollars. I’ve had a property manager try to rip me off in the same way…I fought to get the money back….very unpleasant experience…which I don’t want to ever repeat. With Air B&B there’s none of that.

In addition…it’s all paid on Visa….it’s guaranteed…you get travel points or cash back…depending on your card. We always take the travel points option….they add up fast this way. I know I’m paying a bit of an upfront premium by going Air B&B when long term rental would be 20% cheaper. But…I sign no contracts, no leases, no deposits, pay only for the time I’m using the flat, have every thing supplied….so….it’s up to you. I like the ‘no stress option’ of having nothing hanging over my head and no monthly bills to pay, sign up for…or be responsible for.

We ‘LIKE’ Air B&B for the freedom and no stress aspects of the service.

feeling free with Air B&B

feeling free with Air B&B

What would happen if your city was invaded by an army of viagra crazed sexpat zombies. If as many gray haired pot bellied perverts arrived on your shores in comparable numbers to the current wave of refugee’s washing up on the beaches of Europe, wouldn’t it be cause for alarm? Because that is exactly what is happening in Thailand right now.

In recent years the numbers of sex tourists to Thailand has exploded exponentially. The arrivals curve has gone parabolic. You’d think this would be an issue of concern for the government, but so far there has been no reaction. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad. I can’t state categorically that I am any kind of expert, or even have an opinion, on what is good or bad for the Thai government or it’s people. I’m sure if this was happening in my country it would considered a national catastrophe.

In the past, the pattern for sex tourists coming to Thailand was predictable and simple…the pervs would arrive, hidden among the hordes of average beach and culture seeking tourists, then slither to the flesh pots of Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket to wallow in their disgrace….and then leave with as many STD’s as they could for the wives girlfriends and prostitutes to contract at home to spread among the local populations. I’m sorry to say that things have changed for the worse. Tourists are still coming in droves, but they’re leaving the perverts behind when they leave.

A demographic tidal wave of epic tsunami proportions has lifted a stinking tide of simultaneously retiring gray haired potbellied ‘Baby Boomer’ civil servants, and others of that generation; the jet fueled wave is breaking on the shores of Thailand, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of 55 to 65 year old flotsam and jetsam ‘men’ of the western world, high and dry, to rot on the humid streets of Thai cities. They have tax payer subsidized pensions to draw on. They want to stay and fuck and drink away their last deluded years, out of the moral trench they’ve dug for themselves.

These born again hedonists likely failed at everything in their personal lives, aside from union card status and the ability to wake up at the same time to make it to work every morning for forty years. Some have obviously thrown off the yoke of normalcy, which I assume may have included a similarly aged wife who no longer satisfies their fantasy. I doubt any children left behind are proud of Dad’s decision to throw Mom to the curb and take up with a twenty something village girl who speaks a total of fifteen words of Pigeon English. Yes, there are female sex tourists, but the numbers are minuscule by comparison.

These aging western sex tourists…who once left after two weeks of filthy frolic in the dark alleys of Bangkok’s skin pits, are choosing Thailand to retire. They’re not leaving any more. Instead they’re staying on in greater numbers than ever before. There has been an explosion of high rise condo towers purpose built to house this wave of perverts and the new love they’ve found in the arms of the mosquito bitten jungle honey who knows the location of every ATM along the neon streets of Sin City.

BTW, I’ve got a good view on all of all this. The area of East Bangkok I live in, is on the front lines of the new battle against aging with dignity, once far flung and bucolic has been invaded by elderly sex pat tourists zombies and their steely eyed gals. The sexpat disease is spreading through the western retiree population like AIDS and gays . Where once it was confined to two small streets in downtown Bangkok, and a few beach shacks along the coast, he pervs have put down roots.

My neighborhood was never that classy, but with the pervasive moving in and slithering of the ‘Perv Tribe’, the place has lost it’s poverty chic cache. This isn’t gentrification…it’s weird and twisted. I hate this invasion of losers, burn outs, rejects, flakes, wacko’s and perverts. I might have to move.

End of Part Five

I can't watch what I don't want to see

I can’t watch what I don’t want to see

Twenty year old travelers’ coming to Bangkok in 2015 can’t imagine a time before guidebooks, when there were no tourist hotels, beach resorts and not one local speaking English. There was no internet, no smart phones, one long distance call box at the main post office on Charoen Krung Road, a single lonely American clerk in the American Express Office, and telex for emergencies. From the 1920’s well into the 1960’s there were few English voices to be heard in Bangkok.

The only foreigners in town were found at the bar of the Oriental Hotel on the banks of the dirt red Chaophraya River, pool side at the grotty Malaysia Hotel on Rama IV Road where war corespondents and political spies hung out during the Vietnam War, or the deeply depressing Mississippi Queen bar on Patpong Road where disabled veterans retold stories about the time “they’d fallen out of a helicopter”. There were no newspapers or western television by satellite. If you’d made it to Thailand, you were the type of person who’d worked hard at escaping to the fringes of the civilized world.

Into this void was born the now defunct Bangkok World newspaper, precursor to the modern Bangkok Post, once South East Asia’s only English language newspaper. In the mid 1960’s a young columnist named Bernard Trink arrived in Bangkok and took up the task of chronicling the night life that grew like a cancer out of the train wreck of Vietnam and with it the deluge of war crazed soldiers and dissolute bureaucrats. The sex scene in Vietnam, where flesh was traded for a day away from poverty, was transported to Thailand with the NGO’s and political wonks.

For travelers like myself Bernard Trink was a prince and a fountain of information. In his columns he disparaged the perversions he saw among those of the ‘farang’ community. He took it upon himself to expose the seedier side of foreigners, which had given rise to child prostitution. Trink championed women’s rights when he witnessed the degradation of poor country women forced into prostitution through poverty or force. Trink made famous the now infamous expression…”TIT”…..’This is Thailand’. A phrase oft used when no rationale explanation can be found for what goes on here in the Land of Smiles.

Bernard Trink was like a friend to isolated travelers of the time. His voice was distinct and many times the only voice in written English that could be found. Often western magazines could only be found after being left behind by airline crews on layover. Bernard Trink and his Nite Owl column was the definitive ‘Guide to Bangkok’ a decade before guide books would be invented.

End of Part One

life could be a lot worse

life could be a lot worse

Sex tourism to Thailand was once limited to a few seedy bars for war crazed soldiers on R&R from Vietnam, and foreign service workers cheating on their wives. In the mid 1970’s there were never more than a thousand foreigners in Thailand at any one time. Some of the American soldiers would never return ‘to the world’…due to battle fatigue, and they stayed on in Thailand under a government policy of compassion. The foreign service workers took antibiotic resistant strains of gonorrhea back to their wives upon returning home to Denmark and France. Mass tourism hadn’t been invented yet. Thailand was still a secret destination, hidden away from rest of the world.

You would never imagine then how three sordid bars on Patpong Road in downtown Bangkok and a dirt road naval base with two grass shack beer bars in Pattaya run by disabled veterans, housing six to ten splay-foot girls from the jungle, could have morphed into the industrial sized weeping anal fistula that sex tourism in Thailand has become today. If truth be told, it’s getting worse every year.

Pattaya has become a perverted Disneyland where Russian mothers stroll the sidewalks with babies in the pram while Dad is guzzling beer and stuffing rubles down a strippers bikini in an open titty bar, naked girls grinding in full view of the kiddies, showing off their wares to passersby…bizarro-world. The tourists in Pattaya obviously have very different moral standards than some of the rest of us where children are concerned. There are direct flights into Pattaya for sex tourists from Siberia, Shanghai, Tokyo, Helsinki and Seoul. There is no longer any pretense of tourists arriving for anything other than sex tourism.

I have watched as this scene unfolds for decades, with incredulity, as if in a satanic cinema where ‘sex-pats’ arrive in waves like Vikings to Britain, to rape, pillage and plunder. Of course the answer is overarching moral corruption from all sides and now being hyper-exacerbated by a grey wave of simultaneously retiring civil servants with monthly union pensions in pounds and dollars fueling the release of the long frustrated sex drive of hundreds of thousands of aging perverts from western democracies onto the exotic shores of Thailand. Hidden among this horny viagra fueled stampede are thousands of pedophiles who purposefully hunt for children, and hide more successfully than ever behind the curtain of fellow ‘sex-pats’.

Demographics and the western phenomena of a’ Baby Boomer’ generation population retiring simultaneously in huge numbers is behind the tsunami of the 50+ age group of grey, bald and sloppy fat ex school teachers, civil service workers, city workers, plumbers and electricians etc., that have hit the wall in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Scandinavia and ‘The West’. Ridiculous as they look, as they waddle oblivious down the aisles of Big C and Tesco with a ‘rice paddy princess’ half their age, they pretend to be immune to criticism, despite the chuckles and outright ridicule from local Thai’s.

Lest we forget, ‘Baby Boomers’ are also known as ‘The Entitlement Generation’. And so, they come in hordes to Thailand to play-act out a twisted-pervert voodoo Lolita fantasy of what they never achieved at home…faux-domesticity with a younger girl who never talks back, who likely speaks no more than twenty words of English. She looks downcast and sheepish under the gaze of the Thai people because she’s an indigenous tribal person.

She’s very uncomfortable in her first pair of closed toed shoes, a lifetime spent barefoot in the muddy terraced rice patties surrounding her hamlet…and after moving from a medieval jungle village when the crop failed, to the pathetic anonymous life of a prostitute in Mega Metropolis of Bangkok, where anything goes, because her family was starving.

The one life saving thing she can do for her brothers and sisters is have sex with an aging western Lothario in order to keep her family alive on the pittance she receives for her services. The grey wave has become an industry in itself……end of Part Four

a work in progress

a work in progress

Ask any ex-pat professional and they’ve got a story about the ex co-worker who had a sudden uncharacteristic thermonuclear meltdown while on a foreign posting, and either left in an unannounced mysterious huff or had to be physically extracted due to ‘a situation’. There’s no telling who might go ballistic over some trivial event while in Shanghai, Bangkok or Riyadh. It’s as predictable as vulcanism. The clashing of civilizations is too great for certain personalities. In the traveling world, business or otherwise, is well described as ‘culture shock’.

Relocating to a foreign country, where language, extremes in weather, officialdom, expectations, going to the bathroom, the cuisine, walking down the street, banking, post offices, shopping, and social interaction are often the opposite of normal in ones home country can either be stressful…or entertaining, depending on personality. In some cases, you’ll either love…or hate your new home, and either might have consequences….for better or worse. You can usually tell who’s heading for a short stay by how much that person bitches and kvetches about local conditions. Some people adapt and thrive, others…not so much.

This is part of the reason there is always a significant ‘turnover’ in satellite offices. Human resource officers go to great lengths to attract and vet the right people for these postings, but there’s no way of telling how an individual will adapt to the local conditions. It isn’t always possible to attract the right skill set from the finite pool of experienced ex pats willing to relocate, in spite of offering lucrative compensation packages, signing bonuses, relocation allowances and RSU’s in a low tax country.

In spite of all that vetting, despite the beneficial financial offerings, newbie hirelings still bail in surprising numbers after short periods of time. It comes down to the effects of #culturetainment….you either like a challenge…or you don’t. In the case of foreign government workers and NGO assignments, these people are often fit into a compound type environment where they live entirely separate lives from the local population. To my observation this often leads to a neocolonialist attitude where the ex pats become entrenched in a game of ‘us and them’. In that case I have to ask, “Why leave home at all if you’re going to live in a sterilized bubble?”

#Culturetainment, as I call it, is to develop the right frame of mind to enjoy your new home, and find the good, rather than the bad, in the culture you have decided to co-exist with . The world as we know has gone western, or haven’t you noticed? No one traveling on business lives in a grass hut surrounded by half naked servants. The economic miracle of the past forty years has brought millions of people, in countries like Thailand where I reside, into the modern age.

Without exception it is possible to live a very satisfactory lifestyle here in the ‘third world’, often with more mod-cons than we have in the west. Thailand for example has embraced technology and provides internet services far in advance of those offered in Canada, my home country, at far lower price points. There are more fast food franchises than ever before. I’ll fess up and freely admit to making the KFC soft ice cream cone part of  every day.

Yes, the street life scene can seem a little weird at times. Society isn’t as stratified here as in a western city. You’ll get everything, across the spectrum, on any city sidewalk. There always seems to be a million people around you, and you have to get used to the idea that personal space rules are not in effect. Sensory stimulation is on overload, it’s never quiet, there’s always so much going on. Asians use loud music to block out the traffic noise. Trish and I appreciate the excitement, versus the sedate predictability of a western city.

I can guarantee you’ll feel alive in an environment like this, and when you’ve had enough, you can always go back to your modern little high rise apartment and stream Netflix. But…to go ‘ballistic’ because the ‘foods too spicy’ or some other excuse, don’t be absurd. Enjoy the free #culturetainment’ and remember, you can sleep when your dead.

sleep when you're dead

sleep when you’re dead

When I first started traveling there were only seats in travel agents offices, telex machines, long distance trunk call boxes located in a cities largest central post offices, no tourist hotels, guest houses or hostels to speak of, and no guide books. In the decades since there has been the introduction of an avalanche of disruptor technologies like cellular smart phones, email, the internet, Face Book, Instagram and GPS location, and lets not forget the backpacker guide book industry that lists every aspect of what another set of travelers has seen a thousand times before you, etc etc etc. When none of these things existed, travel was difficult, arduous, painful, scary, exciting as hell, dangerous. The world has become a much easier place to travel.

Since all of the things I just listed are taken for granted we seldom talk of their existence, unless you’re unlucky enough to be with a old school traveler like myself. I make traveling historically sound like I rode around on the back of a dinosaur. But, I try to adapt, even though I sometimes catch myself grousing over the numbers of tourists and the negative effects I see are the result of mass tourism on once pristine gems.

There are things I love about the latest disruptor technologies and systems that have evolved to make the travel life so much less hassle than it used to be. A few of these ‘agents of change’ have been very useful to me recently. I’ll focus on Grab Car, Grab Taxi, Uber and Air B&B. Let me start with the fantastic new car transport services that were in the past a horror for travelers to use. Everyone, of a certain age, has horror stories about how a local taxi driver ripped them off somehow. They were taken on long winding freeway drives, past seafood restaurants, tailor shops, jewellery stores…or just sat in angst and horror as the meter ran up while the cabbies drove around in circles for a hour or more. This was a particular problem for us and our friends in Bangkok, where the cab drivers are notorious for gouging everyone, but especially the tourist.

Grab Car, the latest entrant into the transportation space is eating the cabbies lunch, and deservedly so. With a free download of their app, you can call a car to your location, usually have it arrive within minutes, pay a pre-set price for a predetermined distance, and be driven by a driver who has no financial motivation to drive you around in circles as there is no meter. The cars are driven by local persons who use the service to earn extra money.

In Bangkok it has become fashionable for young people to drive the family cars and collect passengers. The cars are new, they use GPS to determine the shortest distance, and practice their English with a smile. I haven’t had a bad experience to date. Nor has anyone we know who are piling into this service to avoid the dreaded Bangkok Cabbie. And just so you know, only fools and drunks use the Tuk Tuk. You’re just asking for trouble if you do.

Grab Car is different from Grab Taxi in that they are private cars as opposed to Grab Taxi who are still Taxi Drivers linked into a reservation system. Grab Taxi is still a taxi service and there is a financial incentive not to avoid the worst traffic areas, so be forewarned. Uber works in a similar fashion except there is no cash exchanged and everything is paid by Visa in advance. But…there is still a KM charge. So far Grab Car has worked the best for me.

Renting a condo in Bangkok used to be a horror show. It’s got easier than the bottleneck that existed between property managers and real estate agents who controlled the exchange between owners and renters. At first renters were obliged to use a word of mouth system of small ads in travel offices and on the outer doors of favorite cafe’s. When the internet arrived and large numbers of travelers arrived wanting to stay for the entire duration of the validity of their visa, property managers and other professional sharks and hucksters saw an opportunity and seized it. Agents and property managers used internet sites and began to control large numbers of rental offerings and used this power to increase rents in popular areas and introduce hefty ‘security deposits’.

How the ‘security deposit scam’ begins is when the agent/property manager demands a ‘first month, last month..and security deposit’ to move into a rental property. The longer the lease period the agent can entice you to sign up for determines the amount of commission they take home. So be wary of agents who’ll tell you that there is a ‘set period of time’…ie: six months, one year ( now common) or two years. It’s the latter demand they use when they think you’re a complete idiot ready to be carved up.

My personal experience and the anecdotal evidence I hear from friends and fellow travelers is that the agents and property managers have been making it impossible to return your ‘security deposit’, instead they have been pocketing the amount, after telling you to wait for the last day before your departure, that something has gone wrong with your transaction and the deposit is being held back. The excuses I’ve heard and that other have told me about are legion. Here’s a few…”The owner went to China and took the money”….”The owner had a family emergency and has gone back to their village”….”We found ants behind your cabinets and you must have brought them in with your books”. Or…as my friend Hiroku has told me after going back to the property manager every month, “It’s coming”….. but it never does.

This is why I now only use Air B&B to rent my condo in Bangkok today. I am able to meet the owner. The condo is ideally located in a new building purpose built for this type of investment. I am able to inspect the condo if I like before occupying. The transaction is paid through Air B&B , there is no money in someone elses hands for me to have to chase down if something goes wrong. And as it is a VISA payment they will act as the final insurer of services rendered and return my money in the event of any scam. I am finding the Air B&B offering is proving to be a fantastic ‘disruptor agent’ to the traditional condo rental market. I do not have to pay three months rent up front…..nothing up front in most cases…unless specified.

I can rent the Air B& accommodation for days or months, whatever I choose to work out with the owner, but pay the same, without the ‘last month and security deposit BS. My Air B&B host will have provided me with a full suite of conveniences, much like a hotel service. I enter a condo full of all the towels, sheets, pillows, dishes, glasses, TV cable, wireless internet connection, …unlike in the old condo rental days, where landlords provided nothing but bare walls.

A great thing about #Air B&B for me is that I’m free to come and go as I please. I can leave for a trip to the southern islands or northern mountains and leave my contract by paying for the time used, and then come back and rent all over again without having to pay for time I’m not in the condo as you would have had to do under the old scheme. I’m finding that #Air B&B offerings are straight up competitive with traditional rentals, dollar for dollar, on a monthly/daily basis. And this is why I think that #Air B&B will eat the traditional rental agents lunch and throw them on the trash heap of history before long.

I believe that just as guide books and the internet replaced the travel agent and tour guide, and smart phones replaced the long distance call box and telex machine that these new entrants into the travel market, like Air B&B and Grab Car will replace the outmoded rental agents and taxi system, and none too soon in my humble opinion. The old guard deserve to have their lunch eaten by companies and technologies offering better, more efficient and honest service to the traveling public.

the people have spoken

the people have spoken