The Thai Experience
Thailand is a beautiful country, with incredibly friendly people, spectacular landscapes and scenery and delicious food. However, there are many things that need to be improved upon.
Western Tourists and Behaviour:
Thailand has been a popular destination for decades amongst the western world and I imagine at the start of this influx of tourism people respected the Thai culture, the people and adhered to social customs. However, this is no longer the case. During my time in Thailand I witnessed so many western tourists being disrespectful to the locals because they couldn’t have their own way, things weren’t up to their standards, and they weren’t satisfied with their 60p equivalent stall purchase. I witnessed groups of people swearing at locals for throwing water/ spraying water guns at them during Songkran (The famous new year water festival… why are you even visiting?!). Or just getting annoyed because some locals couldn’t speak english...
Thai people aren’t necessarily conservative with their dress sense in the main tourist cities but they definitely don’t walk around town in bikinis and swimming shorts (which is perfectly acceptable on a beach, nobody will dispute that, it’s also semi-acceptable to dress this way in a beach town) But it starts to become ridiculous when you’re in a city or small town, wandering about the shops, stalls and 7/11’s in nothing but swimwear and there is no beach in sight. It’s hot, we understand, but look at the locals and how they’re dressed. Shorts and a singlet are a completely acceptable alternative.
N.B: A lot of people will argue that we should be able to wear whatever we want. But this is about cultural appropriation.
Ping Pong Shows:
*Groans* I would love to know the Thai to Tourist ratio on this matter. But it seems to be a bit of a joke to attract tourists.
Dodgy massage parlours and Brothels:
Unfortunately this practise has gone on for centuries in every country. But if I didn’t mention it, people would have criticised me for talking about dress codes and western behaviour but not 'sex tourism’.
Foreigner Prices and Scams:
Walking around Thailand (or anywhere outside of the £/$/ Euro) will make you feel like you have your home currency stamped on your forehead. It’s a sad truth that you are just seen as a walking currency and will quite often be ripped off and scammed. But it’s also a sad truth that not everybody in this world can afford to travel and spend money like you can. Our only option in these instances is to keep our wits about us and do our research ahead of time.
Paradise Islands to a drunken waste ground:
Thailand has some stunningly beautiful islands and beaches that look like heaven… but unfortunately these islands have been turned into party islands, full of trash and waste that end up onto the beaches and into the sea. The partying isn’t an issue, it’s the debris that is left behind and nobody wants to see a used condom washed upon the sand. (But thanks for looking out for your sexual health)
The alternative argument:
Many people after reading this will have a lot to argue in response and i can completely understand why. Thailand has used the drinking, sex, and tourist culture to boost their economy. You will see 60 year old western men with 19 year old Thai women for many reasons; companionship, business (Thai people must own 51% of a business in ratio to a foreigner), and love (It may not always be as seedy as we assume). You will find souvenirs with crass slogans and phrases that have been created for tourists to buy… and guess what? They do. They buy it, so they make it and it is a ridiculous cycle. You will see bars trying to sell you buckets of unregulated alcohol for a cheaper price and again, people buy it, occasionally end up in hospital but hey, it won’t happen to you right?
Business works on a supply and demand basis… and tourism is a business.
So, it is up to us to be conscientious, respectful and empathetic tourists, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun whilst doing it.