I’m leaving and I don’t believe I’m ever coming back. It’s not you… it’s me.
Ok, to hell with it… actually, it’s you. It’s you all the way.
There. I said it and I feel a wee bit better.
I do think you have some good things going… I love the surreal, eye-popping Wat architecture, the fabulous food and food markets (DESPITE being a vegetarian and not a barbequed bug eating Foodventurer), the stunning art and craft (the fabrics!), and the rare glimpses of a rich and textured culture.
But it ends there.
I hate everything else. Everything else. Without exception. I realise it’s perhaps immature to be whiny and thin skinned during travel, and usually, I’m neither of those things. I’m not naive and I’m very, very used to gritty, ambiguous cities that have several shades of grey. I come from one of those, for god’s sake.
But you - you are not for me. The constant aggressive hustling, the relentless gemstone and bespoke tailor scamming, the 300-baht-for-a-2km-ride cabbies and tuktuk drivers, the bored shopkeepers, the surly waiters, the indifferent service folks, the way people bitch and snigger the minute your turn you back… I was even willing to overlook those as signs of human greed and ignorance rather than a Thai trait. But the all-pervading meanness and pettiness finally got to me. I’m only human…
That’s rich coming from an Indian? Well, in my defense, it’s not nice at all, but back home, I know how to deal with that stuff. I speak the language. I’m spending in my own currency. I am capable of being rational and stoic and I know what and who to avoid. I don’t stick out as an outsider. Here, I’m just another nameless, faceless tourist completely exposed to your unkind ways; and I’m not even spending in dollars.
I’m not crying “racist” yet; I know that would be way too big and serious an accusation. But I’d have to be blind to not come across hundreds of blog and travel forum posts about why Thai people purportedly hate Indians. I believe, “Indians stink” “Indians are black” and “Indians are stingy” are the most common refrains. And the whole “when you meet an Indian and a snake, kill the Indian first” rubbish. Till I came here, I really disregarded all of those as childish over-reactions and shrill rants. But now, I’m just exhausted.
I’m think I’m a pretty a good tourist. I like your art and culture. I respect local customs and people. I don’t yell and scream and push and shove. I don’t walk around on Khaosan road with my underclothes showing and a beer bottle in hand. I am not here to shop for girls on Soi Cowboy and Soi Nana. I’m not here to see freak shows where women pull razorblades and stuff out of their genitals. I am not here to shop for a wife - for a week or for life. I don’t support flesh trade in any form - under any guise. And seriously, I don’t have BO. I am not stingy. I don’t scrimp on a few baht. I am nice, I am polite, and I’m generous.
So, help me understand, why do I routinely get the feeling that folks from richer countries are being treated better - when I’m practically within earshot - at the next table, at the next counter, whatever.
Not saying it’s everywhere - but it happens a LOT - enough for me to get upset several times a day. And you ought to know that it’s not possible to have cushioned, santised experiences all day long; for that, I’d have to stay in a mall for the duration of my trip and never get out. Clearly, that’s not what I’m here for.
There ARE a few exceptions where people have been nothing but warm, engaging and gracious, but I can genuinely count those on my fingers. (And I’m incredibly grateful to those folks - for giving me something to carry back home).
But for me, the last straw was a walk down Sukhamwit last evening… I’m not getting into specifics, so forgive me. But, in those 30 odd minutes, I felt like I was seeing the very core of ugliness. And that includes people of every race, every gender, every nationality - including my own.
That’s when I gave up.
A recent report tells me that this year, you will receive more tourists than any other city on Earth. You are, after all, the capital of the fabled ‘Land of Smiles.’
But as far I’m concerned - I am not coming back in a hurry. I’m sorry it had to be this way. I tried. I really did.
Stay well. I guess you weren’t always like this; but you are a fine reminder of how excessive tourism can destroy the soul of a place.
Ps. I hate how morose and humourless you’ve made me.
Picture courtesy: Reddit.com