Posts Tagged ‘society’

In the opinion of this commentator, Thailand is sick and badly broken. I have never seen a place where fuck ups, idiots and loser scum have converged to the extent that is happening to Thailand. The sheer number of lunatics that are escaping Europe and North America….with Spain and Italy seemingly puking out the largest contingent of crazies…with Germany and Britain pissing out the greatest number of perverts, they number collectively in the hundreds of thousands. I’m reminded of a bad zombie movie where the denizens of the asylum have been infected by a pandemic and are running crazy.

The myth of Thailand being a secret destination and rumors of abundant sex sex sex is what really brings these assholes out of the closet. Naturally the cheap living is another factor here. This is why I’m glad to see inflation take hold and drive prices up quickly. Maybe the added expense will drive the losers to another destination….I can only wish. In addition I’m advocating a shame campaign be brought to bear on all social media. If your interested in saving the planet, please do everything you can think of to keep sex pats and crazies out of Thailand. These poor people are at a breaking point.

be nice or leave

be nice or leave

OK, so we were ‘digital nomads’ long before, decades before, anyone had coined a hipster term for it….when it was a lifestyle few people had dared to try…especially with a family in tow. Don’t forget that these were the days before email, Facebook, social media, guidebooks or tourist infrastructure of any kind.

I have been traveling for business for decades. I was not the ‘original hippie traveler’ but….my career did start in the late 1960’s when I discovered that I could manufacture and transport items for trade in the popular culture from one exotic place to the next and finally sell to the ‘wanna be hipsters’ who couldn’t imagine leaving home for a rugged life ‘on the road’.

My inspiration was Adam Smith’s quote in the 1722 ‘The Wealth of Nations’ …” to transport goods from where they are abundant and cheap to where they are rare and dear’. You had to be very tough, open minded and extremely organized to travel in the days when cities like Bangkok only had one long distance phone line.

Hi-Tech communications back then consisted of the Telex system and telegrams. There was a bulletin board at most American Express offices…but those were few and far between. Letters were sent like ricochets from a distant GPO to another Post Restante where a traveler either had to soldier on…or backtrack for a week or more to pick up a single piece of mail that might have been sent months before.

I started in the jungles of South America manufacturing leather products from cattle butchered, tanned and cured in the swampy no mans land between Columbia and Ecuador. I’ve sold and bartered trade goods from one third world country to the next and traded up until finally I had what I wanted to sell into the west for an enormous profit.

I have traded some odd goods…with some odd people…from fresh mint and blue jeans from India for Lapis Lazuli in Afghanistan to rough cut diamonds in Bangkok to exchange for goldsmiths labour to finish my original design garnet and moonstone jewellery…..a process that sometimes started down a muddy mine shaft in Sri Lanka. This is my 43rd anniversary of first arriving in Thailand…and strange to me…I’m still here and sometimes loving it….other times…not so much.

My genius wife Trish changed things up when she came into my life. I was living in a world that was  borderline a thousand or more years years ago. Trisha is a star child…she’s from the future. She was an educator with a beautiful mind at a major university and a computer scientist engineer. Trisha was one of the very first to design functional database technology, and had been recruited away from the university to manage a reorganizing of the worlds largest telecommunications devices manufacturers. At the time they had been communicating between isolated silo’s with post it notes and needed to be brought into the 21st century.

I introduced Trisha to my travel passion within weeks of meeting her. Her first trip was a short hop to get married on the island of Maui where I’d ‘grown up’ stringing naturally produced Puka Shell necklaces from the surfing beaches for tourists in Oahu for ongoing travel money to surf camps along the west coast. She was immediately hooked on the excitement and we began designing a system of personal management and finance for ourselves that would allow us to function as full time travelers.

At the time I thought trading would suffice and keep us ‘on the road’….but I was wrong…there was a new technology and a new way of doing things I hadn’t realized. Apparently I was ‘old school’…and it would be Trisha’s genius that would show us the way to perpetual travel.

Even though we were hi tech digital nomads with electrical equipment that wouldn’t be seen again in some countries for a decade or more…people would refer to us as ‘Gypsies’…because we weren’t ‘dirty hippies’….and we weren’t ‘tourists’….there was no other way to describe us….backpacker tourism hadn’t been seen in many parts of the world…we were something of a hybrid that no one had seen…especially immigration officers.

Trisha would begin to explain the technical specifications of the equipment we carried and that caused the eyes of border officers to roll back as if lapsing into a coma. I had an additional expertise in Emergency Medicine  and carried a portable trauma kit and strange medical devices, pharma and antidotes some of the officers hadn’t seen since their days in the military. I was ready to treat anything from snake bite to gun shot. I was described by friends as ‘The Jungle Doctor’. The moniker culture ‘digital nomad’ didn’t exist yet. Our piles of electronic and household equipage including dozens of  school books, cables, monitors, transformers and including ‘the kitchen sink’ resembled a humpy back camel caravan moving slowly through the airport.

This transition didn’t happen overnight. We had to save, plan and further educate ourselves for several years before taking the plunge. The budding technology of the internet wasn’t quite ready. Personal and financial organization are as important as the latest gadgets when it comes to really making a go of it as a ‘digital nomad’…..more on that in future installments. Big banks hadn’t yet designed the platforms for us to access our accounts by remote allowing us to maintain our trading business wherever we wanted to be. That would come in time.

We ‘practiced’ the art of perpetual travel for a few years, with long months of ‘elsewhere’ during summer vacations, building our skills, fortifying our financial base, before we took the final leap. First it was Trish and I traveling as a couple beginning twenty eight years ago…and then our son came along and his first trip was to Bali twenty five years ago.

We felt it wise to acclimate ourselves and especially our son, as we would literally ‘leaving it all behind’, including all family and friends and the close social infrastructure of school teachers and personal patterning. There is a certain aspect of culture shock creep in when you’ve been away from home for an extended period of time. Trust me, you’ll start craving, favorite foods and comfortable sights.

I remember the day it turned into reality. We’d sold our house, put everything we owned into a long term storage locker and paid two years in advance….including storage for our car…’The Shadow’….and of we three travelers went to the airport ( by then our son West had come along….I know….naming our son West almost 30 years before Kanye and Kim…we really were ahead of the innovation curve) ) to fly away unencumbered for an undefined travel experience without boundaries. Our first stop was the Coral Coast of Fiji. More about how technological change over next almost 30 years would effect our lives coming soon.

End of Part Two…..next …”Being a Digital Nomad with a child in tow”

 

 

the original digital nomads

the original digital nomads

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

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