Monday, April 03, 2006

Dispatch 12: Three Out of Four

So I have been traveling for 8 weeks now to the day. I have only had three days that didnt' work out. Three days. These three days have been in the past four, which have all been in Chaing Mai! Really disasterous. the thing is this is the city where "you just have to go to" (don't believe the hype!) everything is pre organised for you. Life becomes a package. The reason people come to Chaing Mai is to get out. Really, its for organising treks, taking classes etc, it is impossible to just enjoy something on your own, there are set prices/times etc for your enjoyment. You want to see a park but the only way to get there and back is a group taxi and they say you can only stay an hour. When you refuse and stay as long as you want there is no way to get back.

But here comes my love hate relationship with the Thai tourist industry. I hate how they organise my time and tell me when to smile, laugh, take photos and when to leave. But since they have a reputation to uphold you can work outside the system. Like yesterday we were 30 km away from Chaing Mai on top of this mountain the only westerners in this beautiful park (the rest of the westerners were told that they had to leave by three but the place is open for ages after that). So we walk out and there is no tuk tuks to be found. We were planning on starting to walk and hitch a ride. We decided to ask the security guards if there were anymore buses or taxis. Suddenly they went into panic mode, two falangs got stuck here, oh no. This guy started to stop cars and he hooked us up with a ride back.

The same thing happened to me today, I rented a bike and biked 12 km out to this water reservoir ( I will have water surrounding me even if I am in a land locked city!) of course the bike breaks down a few km from the place. It was only the chain falling off, but for some reason the chain is covered in metal casing and with no screw driver or anything that could act as one, the chain debilated the bike. But the park guy concerned that yet again a white tourist would be put out found someone to give me a ride in the back of their truck to a place I could fix the bike.

The contradiction of the Thai tourist industry is that if something does go wrong in your world and it is there fault or at least not your own, there is no apologies. This country is said to be the land of a thousand smiles, but really people here don't seem happy, they only smile when they are ripping you off. But lets say there is a huge cockroach in your food - no apology and definitly no discount. Lets say they forget your food all together or give you completely the wrong thing- you are treated like you put them out for reminding them you did order something. And lets say your bike breaks down in the middle of no where, you have to walk a few kms in the heat to a place you can rent another bike for a few hours and then pay to get it fixed. Well don't expect anything in return instead expect to feel contempt as if your sheer existance has put them out.

It interesting to note that the Laos people seems to smile for real and laugh all the time. They live in a poor communist country. Thailand is flithy rich in comparison and I have never seen a people so miserable.

Did i meniton I hate it here! Overhearing brain dead American conversations is mind numbing enough when they are in their 20's but then you see them a bit older and you realise that the idiots and the assholes somehow get positions of power. The same guys you hear screaming white power (with out realising the connection to any nazi idiology) at a boxing match between a Thai guy and a Canadian grows up and sits in a restaurant with you and talks about how people at work have a duty to serve you and if you just change the language around and make them sound more important then they are they they will be happy to serve you. AHHHHH!

I hate tourists, the tourist industry and not the biggest fan of Thailand (at least where they have high quanities of both of these) But take me to the non tourist rest of South East Asia and my heart beat drops a few beats and I feal that I am in paradise and might never leave.

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