Posts Tagged ‘culture’

It was the 1980’s and it never occurred to us that we were on the vanguard of a new movement. The idea that we could suddenly do a very rudimentary form of communication and commerce over the latest invention, the ‘internet’ was an idea we picked up on instinctively. Trisha became active in a ‘cyber world’ called ‘Bulletin Boards’, originally reserved for scientists and military…a messaging system that predated email and the World Wide Web, communicating with like minded persons over painfully slow dial up modems that squawked and screeched for several minutes while chewing through the ancient bandwidth of crude telecommunications technology of the time before connecting. The term ‘digital nomad’ wouldn’t be invented for another twenty five years. People thought we were mad for even attempting what we’d embarked on.

‘Graphics’ at the time meant ‘graph’….not pictures. But, we instantly knew how the new medium would free us from our standing constraints….I could still conduct my business in the financial world and we could home school our child through British Columbia Canada’s excellent and still nascent ‘Distance Education System’. The minute we realized how quickly we could cut ties to work, mortgages and schooling….we were gone. Trish would continue to build her own ‘Franken-machines’ from remote locations.

Initially the hardware and wiring we had to carry was enough to fill several large bags and when we went through an airport it looked as if we were moving enough electronics to set up a satellite relay. Thank God for miniaturization. The industrial step down transformer we carried weighed at least forty pounds. For a time my son actually thought we were spies and we still joke about that.

That was the 80’s and the ‘internet’ as a interpersonal communications medium was only a few months old, personal computing was something only a small collection of ‘nerds’ had access to…and like my super nerdy wife, built their own machines from parts gleaned at Radio Shack and a secret coven of back alley electronics stores and mail order. The latest conversations over BBB system were about writing the latest DOS code, floppy disk space, Kilobytes and a mysterious new invention called ‘a motherboard’. The personal desk top computer was years away from being commercially available.

the original digital nomad

the original digital nomad

End of Part One

Why has Thailand become a dumping ground for the worlds perverts and socially challenged? We’ve discussed at length on he subject of the ‘who what and why’ of the tourist trade sex pat swarms of retiring viagra-sexulaized immoral losers, but there’s another element also in abundance….the great number of dispossessed psychologically compromised who have also come to Bangkok after falling out with their own societies.

There has been a huge uptick in the number of seriously maladjusted personalities who have come to Thailand for some kind of bolt-hole from the reality of ‘home’. Looking for solace in a hellhole like Bangkok is like a drunk looking for sobriety in a liquor store. How so many tragically insane and maladjusted persons could have found Bangkok on their own is a mystery.

There are many here who are obviously medically insane and you have to wonder when they went insane…before or after they arrived? Otherwise…it begs the question…how did these people get here? Is it ‘Tropo’ as Jung described…the debilitating effects of Eastern culture on the western mind…..like Conrad described through his character ‘Kertz’ in ‘The Heart of Darkness’?

Because getting here must have taken a semblance of coordination…ie: a modicum of clarity…to get the cash together to purchase an air ticket, to secure a passport, travel and then to arrive with a probable story on why you were arriving in the country while stable enough to be passed judgement upon by the immigration officer. We have legions of absolutely and incoherently insane people from all corners of the western empire.

There are vegetative beggars lining the gutters of Khao San Road speaking either Russian, Swedish , German or Slavic and Hungarian in an incoherent word salad. There have been many cases where Euro-origin women have been picked off various tourist boulevards completely naked and screaming like ravens. There internet examples aplenty of European ladies in zoophilia movies that are obviously shot in a tropical setting resembling a weeping anal fistula also known as Pattaya.

Where are these people coming from, how do they get here, why have they chosen Thailand as a fixation for their fantasy…and worse…..who the hell sent them here? The former are the worst examples..there are plenty of garden variety dissociated kooks of all stripes wandering around…some look fairly normal until you notice the thousand yard stare in their eyes as you pass them in the hall or elevator.

As I said there are thousands upon thousands of really sick and weird people who have suddenly popped into our Land of Smiles. We know that the Russian mob has been importing east European prostitutes by the thousands, but even they couldn’t handle this volume. This invasion is like the event horizon of a black hole dumping it’s cosmic refuse outside a time space singularity.

Many of these socially dysfunctional persons wander around in various states, unable to speak, or make eye contact. I think many of these persons may have fantasized about ‘getting away from it all’ when they chose Thailand, as if it were still a hidden place where the influences that were too great for them to handle at home would be managed by anonymity in a foreign land…only to find that there are thousands of freaks just like them and plenty more westerners to heap scorn upon them for their weaknesses.

This topic has come up in two different forums recently…so it is not one noted only by myself, but by the many other experienced foreigners living here. The first question was raised in a popular Bangkok Ex Pat Blog and trade forum. An ex pat asked an open question about what he had noticed how many farang had lost the etiquette of common decency among travelers…the ability to recognize one another with a simple ‘Hello’…as travelers in foreign lands have always done. The second was when an ex military expat now traveling in a Christian ministry asked me why the foreigners in Bangkok were so especially distant, rude and surly.

Now…this guy had been around during a career in the Army…he knew how things worked. He stated that he had never seen another country with such a huge concentration of foreigners. Naturally I told him my theories of the sex pat retiree demographic and the crazy persons easy access to cheap and easy visa’s that allowed so many nut-bars into the country to reside for long periods of time.

So, dear reader , weigh in if you can. Why has Thailand in particular become a dumping ground for the western worlds worst garbage?

a simple country boy at heart

a simple country boy at heart

Among the poor there is no standard of degradation or crime they will not breach to feed themselves and their family. Women being offered money to live with and have sex with foreigners in Thailand has become a normal avenue of escape from starvation. In many cases the women are being fed and housed without compensation for their sexual barter, they’re being kept like animals in rented condo’s and fed scraps by the monied slave master who’s come from the west with a retirement pension and an ATM card.

The women are back on the street as soon as the degenerates visa runs out. She has six months, or less, before she’s cast off and left to fend for herself. In the west we have the SPCA for wayward animals, in countries like Thailand there is no such safety net. The suicide of many women, many times from jumping to their deaths from the balconies of rented condo’s after their ‘boyfriend’ has used them up and is leaving, is horrific.

It makes the news in the western media when a westerner is dead after jumping from a balcony, but the local women here are the anonymous dead, no one cares. People say “Oh she was just a whore”. There are a great many suicides, too many to count, and the numbers are increasing. I can understand what goes through the mind of a woman who is about to thrown into the street to starve.

There’s an ongoing myth that ‘the worlds oldest profession’ is glamorous and acceptable. Only one side of the arrangement benefits at all from sexual slavery, that is the slave master. Does anyone really think that given a choice between a decent life and an education with a future verses the slithering moves of some drunk German, Canadian or British jackal, that a ‘whore’ would stay in her ‘profession’? Only an idiot would think the latter. The fact is that most whores are alcoholics and drug addicted. Many have succumbed to the numbing reality that the STD’s they carry have set them apart from a normal life forever. There’s no coming back from incurable diseases.

The vast majority of impoverished women are left behind by the sex trade when they become old and useless as cash machines for the bars and pimps who control them. Often they can’t get work even in the seediest places, where the lights have to be kept very low because the women are wrinkled and old. Instead of a dignified retirement they are forced to do the worst and most imaginable acts repeatedly, for the drunk foreigners who stumble through the door, and the women have no choice to say no. They have a choice, yes…they could leave and starve.

Right now, today, there is a tsunami of perverted western men who are retiring simultaneously into the third world seeking sex with women too poor to say no. The pervs are finding that the young sex trade workers won’t give them what they want without paying a premium price.

The desperate older women who can no longer ply the sex trade are by default forcing themselves to meet with the aging perverts and become ‘domestic sex objects’, in exchange for food and shelter. This arrangement I see as the result of the perverts failed existence to achieve any semblance of domestic life in his own country and culture.

I recognize this act as a desperate attempt to ‘play act’ a notion of normalcy, in what is the mind of a very sick individual. The sex business in Thailand has reached a new low….or has it? There is no apparent bottom to the bottomless pit of peoples depravity and western perverts immoral capacity to exploit the poor.

face it

face it

I know why I left home early to travel the world, it was to escape my pain and find freedom among strangers. What I realized was that no one I’d left behind was interested in my pain, they envied me for my escape. They thought I was ‘getting one over on them’ and enjoying life more than I deserved. My closest relations envied me for where I’d been and hated me for the stories and scars I’d bring back. The squalid objects in my rucksack were items that disappeared if I let my guard down. I found it hard to believe at first that anyone would covet the talismans of my poverty.

In the earliest days of my traveling ways the people I knew all thought I was taking more than my share from life, because we’d come from the gutter, and as a child I was the lowest of all things, among a hierarchy of creatures, myself being less deserving than all, when in fact most days I was laying my head down tattered, torn and hungry. To many I’d become a  revenant, showing up unannounced and unwelcome at a crowded table… and then a despicable stranger when years of absence had gone by without contact, proof of life, or regard. The truth about travel is that it’s a life…lived day to day, on a budget, on a shoestring, often precarious and dangerously, not a lifestyle…something you share with no one as you’re always alone.

A young person I know on Face Book recently posted ” If travel was free you’d never see me again”. I laughed, knowing that travel has always been free if you let it control your life, give yourself freely, unabashedly, and leave everything and everyone you know behind to pursue the path. It’s the possessions and people you leave behind and conversely come home to that control the amount of time you spend ‘on the road’….not money or desire. You’re either a traveler or a tourist…you can’t be both. Being a ‘traveler’ isn’t a euphemism for ‘travel’…or for having fun while others work…being a true traveler is a calling, a thing, it’s who you are because you’re not ‘one of them’…a different person than the rest, a light in your heart that no one will ever see. Travel is a lonesome profession  you’ll rarely be paid for.

If you’re one of the lucky few who organizes their personal lives to become a traveler, and equips themselves with the will, the wherewithal and skills to ‘never come back’, and the instinctive knowledge of how to deal with abject loneliness by making friends with bar fly’s and street walkers, then you’re a rare bird indeed, and the people who knew you will hate you for it. They will respond to you with veiled contempt and palatable envy.

The distance grows day by day, the vibrations in the air between you and where you came from will have changed, the correspondence between you ‘and them’ is less frequent and shorter until it’s cut off into bit’s of necessity. The money you make while working away will find itself fueling another leg of your journey, never a return ticket. There’s never enough time to go home. I’ll tell you what it’s like to forget the street names of your home town and why it’s suddenly so strange to call a distant capital ‘home’. There’s someone living in your room.

Because of the social status and symbolism we decadent westerners put on the ability to travel to rare destinations , to work in foreign countries, change the world you once knew when others can’t….you will become the focus of peoples envy and contempt. You will become the despicable stranger. Ex-friends who’ve had a downturn of fortune and can no longer ‘keep up’ will avoid returning your emails.

What was once home will become alien ground, salted and lifeless. The tribe will have circled inward and abandoned the notion of kinship with an outsider. “If travel was free I’d never go back”, that’s both funny and sad. Always be careful what you wish for. Because once you’ve gone down that rabbit hole my friends there’s no going back. By the time you decide it might be possible to return you might find the world you left behind has changed so irrevocably that there’s nothing to go back to. To travel is to be taken by the wind.

Because traveling is not somewhere you’ve planned to go or somewhere you’ve been. It’s a state of mind, an act of being true to your inner voice. It’s a statement that describes a poem written in the flesh of your soul. It’s the essence of who you are. The traveler is by nature and practice a loner….like driftwood. Travelers are willing to addict themselves to the journey without looking back at the havoc and consequence. It’s not about how much it costs or much you have left in the bank. The clock is never ticking down for the traveler because time is irrelevant.

You seek to refine yourself. Your peers are people who own nothing and carry nothing other than the bare essentials. Travel is not about coming or going. It’s about where you’d like to be next. The journey begins to explain why you don’t fit in anywhere anymore…because you’re fragments of all the places you’ve been and not the mirror image of a place where people seek to emulate each other for security. Travel is that fragile state between life and longing to be somewhere else.

Petroglyphs of modern saloon culture

Petroglyphs of modern saloon culture

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

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