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Arrogance or Respect?

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I gladly publish an article received from my friend Diana, who has had the good luck to travel a lot, to know many interesting places and persons, and, above all, to have lived many years in Thailand!

Arrogance or Respect?
(arrogant tourist or curious traveller?
)

Let’s talk of it then, but let’s talk of it carefully, trying to understand well on which side we want to stay. On the side of the respectful traveller, or on the side of the arrogant tourist?

Landing shortly before from a Jumbo Jet at Dong Muang airport, I find myself sitting beside a guy who is only twenty; the driver of my limousine. He is driving me to Pattaya. There I will look for my memories, to sew them together again and to try to accept myself as I am now. A person internally different and grown up too quickly.


I ask him to stop along the street where a pineapple’s plantation has appeared, and in spite of my tiredness from the long flight, I get out of the car just to waste some time, to breathe in a climate so pleasant to me. I walk through the workers smiling, joining my hands as it is often seen to do here. "Sawasdee," (Good morning) and they are happy to offer me one fresh fruit after the other, laughing of my heavy clothes, touching my blond hair… Yes! Yes, I have met them again. These are my people... I am coming back home!

The “god money” competes today with all that still tries to stop it along its journey: conscience, culture, research, poetry, dreams, respect, curiousity, values, sensitivity, feelings... Love... yes, the last of its obstacles is still Love... Love resists, dares it, opposes itself from its journey...
So what can “god money” offer to all of them who enrich its banks, keep it alive, let it grow and explode at last, in only one part of the world? It offers the other side of the world, the weak one, that will never find the strength to react to its power and make succumb its citizens the one after the other, with no piety, no respite, playing the most subtle game.

...There were the gigantic Americans at the time, keeping the Thai girls on their knees. They were small women, almost babies with their long smooth black hair. They were happy young girls that sold sex with their minds turned to Buddha. They accepted dollars with their thoughts turned to their families left home, in the poor rural countries of the North. What a contrast! Girls having a flat chest and peach skin with these huge hairy men, short cut hair, beings with no brain nor thoughts, with only two active elements in their bodies:  their mouth to get drunk, and the rest to dispel their fear. A fear that would later bend them with no piety under the strength of other small yellow men, all having the same name “Charlie”...

“God money” confuses the weapons owned by “god Love,” changing the weapons to overwhelm the Thai girls and soil the capital "L" of "Love" by throwing it in the mud, causing a mental misery... because this will pay for things... this will bring money to the bank again and again while "god Love" remains almost defenceless, as the Thai girls' feelings cost nothing...

...It was just a road at the end of the town, to form an only brothel, a short way that connected the bay to the jungle. I used to call it “the lost way” because there everybody was losing something important, wrapped in the euphoria offered by a country at the borders with the war. The girls were giving their goodbye to their traditions, to the beloved people, to the hut covered by bananas leaves, to the buffalos, the rice fields, and the happy runs along the “klong”. The Americans had said farewell to their far country, a far college, the Sunday singings in a small Anglican church. “Goodbye” to baseball left down there. “Goodbye” to the promised groom come down here...

What am I getting at?  I want to go on a trip, repeated to the infinite, towards a country where there are no laws and where one can buy everything... I want to get to talk of the tourist that will leave, from the Western countries, with his pockets full of money, knowing that down there... in Brazil or Thailand, he will be able to buy anyone... a child, an adolescent, a soul or ten bodies in the same time...

…“Why do you do it Chanit?" I used to ask to the girl lying on the beach. “In this way I can help my family, send the money at home, let my little brother study, buy one more buffalo...” and she smiled always looking at her man who was swimming like a big child. And here is what was surprising of those young women, their way to be completely available in their feelings. They got attached even to their "John's" and suffered when at last they left. Sometimes they were waiting for babies, mixed with their "John's" genes, that would become beautiful. Have you ever seen a blond child, having green eyes cut in the Eastern way and skin like amber? Abortion was never considered, adding more children to a family always more numerous. And they always got attached, nothing could ever destroy their candour!...

Above all, I want to get to talk of the traveller that will sit beside me on the first plane and then in another thousand places later, who once arrived to destination (with the passion inside but the eagerness outside) will have the strength and the wisdom to try to fight at least the smallest part of all this willingly!

…I wear sandals and shorts, and after a long resting shower I go to the beach. I feel tranquil in Thailand.  Anything bad that you don't want to happen ever happens here. There is the respect here, for everybody, even if too many Western people ignore it. There is no surprise if a woman walks alone, or if two men hug each other. It is a part of their Buddhist way of thinking, a philosophy difficult to understand and even more to accept. Thai people never forget the cycle of the re-births, so a monk could have been a brother in a past life, a student, a mother, and other family bonds could tie anybody to a fisherman, a farmer, a dancer, or to a gay. So they all live together peacefully respecting each other with a never ending smile. This is how I remembered the way of life of a Thai person...

And now I point my finger at you, a person obviously already arrogant in your own country that transforms into a tourist even more arrogant, having pockets full of money... I know very well that you might offer it happily to the wicked god and in exchange he will allow you to pass over the body of a girl or a little child...

…In the temple, I only meet a few monks here and there who stop to ask me where I come from. For everyone I have a different answer, now I say I come from France, now from Scotland, or from Italy.  Anyway I know very well that for them they are only names. Of us, they only know our different looks, an arrogance unknown to them, and often a lack of respect. Moreover, they fear the power of our money through which we claim the right to buy everything....

… to tell you that you are the infamy of the whole world! You are our shame!

...In Thailand and in Pattaya above all, it is in the evening that everything becomes full of life.  The streets become full of little carts, markets come out from nothing, lightened to show wonderful exotic fruits that is a pity to eat, carts covered of tropical flowers, and it often happens that you see people walking with playful monkeys on their shoulders, or young little elephants walking like dogs with their masters. Then all turns to joy. You stop at one of these little carts to taste a little treat, to another one you stop to buy a t-shirt after bargaining the price for a long time – or if not where is the fun! I always bargain for hours, and at last I pay the first price required, after all I have had fun anyway...
The restaurants in the outside are filled of happy people who eat a lot, while the tourists of the “all included” shut themselves in the air conditioning restaurants...

Diana P.

This is a shortened version translated from Italian.  If you want to read the article in it's entirety (in Italian), go to this website:  http://www.markos.it/quaderni/thai.htm

 

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