To splash or not to splash, that is the question. Whether ’tis knobblier in the mind to nip to Tops, And suffer the ice and powder of baiting adults, Masquerading as children, or to raise arms against A sea of high power hoses intent on bringing me, Off my Honda. And by opposing them, Be deemed culturally insensitive. Or stay home and Sleep, or even die ‘ere watching endless reruns of Fawlty Thus avoiding Thailand’s Midsummer Mayhem. And by a sleep to say we end (at least for now) The thousand natural shocks that those who enjoyed the Fleshpots of Thailand are heir to. ‘Tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish’d……perchance to dream of those Years gone by when we feigned a love of Songkran, To please the girlfriend. But now as we hurtle towards Shuffling off that mortal coil we don’t give a Yorick’s. But pause, and stay behind the safety of our Keyboards – giving self-respect to that calamity That is so Long a Life in Thailand.
So speaketh the self-styled Bard of Ratchayothin, though to be fair some would rather seem him “barred”.
Whether or not to venture out into the streets this year was rather taken out of Rooster’s hands. Mrs Rooster and the chicks had flown the coop and were out of town. And the grown up children visiting from Yonder Albion are past that flush of youth when throwing water was once deemed ‘sanuk’. They expressed the need for some simple home time with mum and dad in Thailand….. to get away from the trials and tribulations of Brexit if nothing else.
Many years over several decades in Thailand, after the thrill of wetting farang bar owners in Soi Cowboy wore off, I would consciously hide come mid-April no matter where and with whom I was living. Now I hardly go out anyway. I spend so much of my life hiding in a sweltering box behind a keyboard peering at a screen that I’m beginning to feel like one of those forum curmudgeons and Thai bashers I so despise!
Som nam na (serves you right) I can hear you – and them – say!
As Songkran loomed on the horizon like my old neighbor’s smalls on the balcony washing line, I contacted my editor to volunteer for extra work. If I am to stay in why not continue to monitor the madness that is the Thai news, I reasoned. Despite the offer of a New Year break, why not soldier on and offer my services in translating news of the inevitable road carnage on an hourly basis, rather than just in round-up when the final death toll is revealed. Call it dedication….or an excuse to have a few days off AFTER Songkran when it will be much nicer to be out and I might actually remain alive after a short ride with the family.
I’ll be going to Cha-Am not Pattaya. I made that mistake one year. Patting myself on the back for having avoided Bangkok splashings for yet another year I had headed the sports car south east, blissfully forgetful that they soak each other there until about May. The once beautiful car, now covered in sludge, oily perfumes and staining St Luke powder, limped into Pattaya apologetically eight hours after leaving Bangkok following the Khun Mae of all Sukhumvit traffic jams. One less than happy camper was growling behind the wheel.
Welcome once more to QUOTES – the Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard.
Consequently I have been glued to the Thai news these last few days and, if I’m honest, the last few weeks. This week we were treated on the forum to the biggest Thai soap opera of this or any other recent year – the transfer of Big Joke and his mysterious appointment as a special adviser to uncle Big Pom’s chief Big Too. Bigs were everywhere.
To say that speculation was rife would have been the understatement of the decade. Big Joke’s rise has been meteoric and all his poster boy antics and press conferences have been followed by both Thai and very much now the foreign, English speaking social media. Thaivisa has been a big factor in that with yours truly guilty as charged..
By continually referring to the moniker of Big Joke the life of Maj-Gen then Lt-Gen Surachate Hakparn began to be a feature of Thais’ AND foreigners’ lives alike. The nickname helped of course, but so did the stories that propelled BJ to the forefront; all those naughty Romance Scammers, mostly black with their Thai female accomplices, Chinese miscreants running call centers, over stayers etc. etc…..
The self-righteous foreigners who proudly proclaimed that they “played by the rules” enjoyed the torment of the Nigerians and their equally vilified white overstaying crims. All hail Big Joke!Big Joke for PM! was all you could hear for a moment or two in time. All hail the end of police corruption was also heard though scarcely given credence!
Until BJ made the seminal mistake, as least as far as the expat community was concerned, and took up the reins of immigration. And – if his detractors are to be believed – somehow connived with the embassies to make the lives of retirees hell. Suddenly Big Joke was just that. Almost overnight he became a trumped up, attention seeking ne’er do well who despised all foreigners and deserved to be hated and hounded to oblivion.
How fickle are people when they feel that their own circumstances are threatened.
Nobody in their right mind would think that his transfer has anything to do with the views of the expat community or its large band of retirees. They may have been poorly treated but in the bigger picture they are but a grain of sand in that vast cosmos that is the Thais, their complex relationships and their all pervasive corruption, patronage and influence peddling.
Where the truth lies in the Big Joke saga, frankly, I don’t care to speculate here. If Christopher Hitchens were still with us I’m sure he’d know but unfortunately he’s not.
But I found it amusing that everyone and his pit bull had a cast iron view on the forum. With wink-wink posts some referred to a well known Edinburgh uni lecturer and his online views. These posters quickly suspend disbelief as they rush headlong to believe what they want to believe and thus appear knowledgeable in the eyes of those they deem ill-informed. He may have written a book, he may have knowledge, he may love Thailand – but he has an almighty axe to grind.
As perhaps we all do.
Others went many steps further into madness with their “insider” knowledge. They asked us to believe their opinions because their wife said so. Or because they have mates in Songkhla (BJ’s hometown). Or because the Thai girl on the next bar stool translated the caption on the TV into bitty English. Or because they had a VPN. Or because they have insight like the forum guys who mysteriously know the exact penis size of every Thai male. Or because…..
Everyone had an opinion and only a few – mostly those who have been in Thailand the longest incidentally – said they didn’t know and probably never would even if an explanation was forthcoming!
For there, to go back to the bard, is the rub. Whatever we are told – especially in a country like Thailand where the truth is a commodity strictly guarded by those in power – we should smile like the Thais, nod and say yes of course, that must be it…….and reject it out of hand! For this and a thousand far more important mysteries dating back to the earliest palace intrigues of the era of the constitutional monarchy and beyond will forever remain just that….mysterious and unsolved lost in the passage of time and its concomitant deceit.
Aware that I have rambled more than enough and that you may wish to go out and get revenge on the noisy neighbors and their yapping dog by giving them a good Songkran dousing here are a few Rooster awards.
The “Please Don’t Come To Tea Even If We Invite You By Mistake” award goes to “Ai Korn” in Koh Si Chang who raped and murdered a 26 year old German lady out peacefully riding a bike on a sunny day in the Land of Smiles. I’m not in favor of the death penalty but I do hope this miscreant never again sees the light of day that he so cruelly denied to his young and entirely innocent victim.
The “Understandable Canine Modesty” award I give to the editorial team over at Sanook for their work on an online story about a man falling on hard times having to find homes for his pit bulls. The daddy of the pups was pictured with his dog-hood thankfully obscured. The childish British translator in me is still chuckling days after I penned the phrase “pixelated penis”. I make no excuse for ALWAYS finding a fart funny especially when it is done by a prim and proper woman during tea and buttered scones with a man of the cloth.
The “Go Back to Kindergarten Drawing Award” goes to the taxi driver in Bangkok who crudely changed the number on his cab with what looked like a dab or two of yellow paint and some magic marker. Apparently jail awaits such wrongdoers which made Rooster – normally an upright if not actually Thai citizen – believe I dodged a bullet in the past.
I bought a new and very swanky 900cc Kawasaki chopper and tried to get a personalized number plate – 1882, the founding year of my beloved Spurs. The best I could do for free was 882 so I cut out a strip of black plastic to complete the cherished job. On my first car when I was a relatively new father in Thailand it had the Thai letters that spell out the word “phor” meaning enough. A little plastic tape mark above the letters transformed the word into “phor” with a falling tone.
Now it meant father and this was DADDY’S CAR!
Fortunately I never got arrested for either offence. I sold the Kawa and Mrs Rooster 1 now drives the car….with the “may ek” tone mark still in place!
Finally the “Don’t Be So Boring” award I give to my editors who rejected my suggested headline for a story about the dire state of Songkram tourism in Pattaya. They opted for “Hotel bookings down as tourists stay away” pouring cold water, appropriately enough for this of all weeks, on my infinitely superior suggestion:
“Pattaya in doo-doo, it’s as dead as a dodo”.
Yes, I’ll never grow up and I might even change tack and go out and do some splashing!
Merry Songkran everybody and a Happy New Year.