Sunday, January 16, 2011

After Travel Ranting Debrief

1. There are way too many of us. Especially tourists.
The amount of people arriving and departing Bangkok airport (best airport ever) is as alarming as the amount of Thai prostitutes and of the beer bellied international sleazebags who use them. 
By corollary:
a) everyone is a tourist, except me.
b) People who wear flipflops should be barred from entering aircraft. This may not be immediately germane, but it needs to be said.
2. We are not destroying the planet. The planet is already destroyed.
I was worried about stinging jellyfish (and hungry sharks and sudden tsunamis, etc.) but all I found at the beach were legions of jellyfish-looking plastic bags and the disgusting man-made debris of civilization.
To this day, the poor insist on ignoring the advent of the trash can. They cherish everything that pollutes because it makes their lives easier (plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic wrappers, styrofoam, noisy tuk tuk engines, etc).
My advice: get rid of the poor.
I'm sure I am not the only person who endured the relentless noise and smoke of the tuk tuks in Siem Reap and dreams of a solar powered engine, silent and clean, that can recharge in ten minutes while the drivers wait in that abominable heat. I'm not an engineer but I'm sure it's possible.
(There is no evidence whatsoever of garbage, nor of much else, in Seattle. Its pristine sidewalks beg the eternal question: why is NYC so goddamned filthy?)
3. Post-colonialism sucks. 
I miss colonialism. At least they had style. Men wore linen suits and Panama hats; women looked like Mata Hari.  Malaria was in the air. Pop music was Cole Porter, not indiscriminate boy or girl groups who all want to be Britney Spears, if we are lucky, Gaga if we are not. Now everything is cheap, stupid, vulgar and generic. There is no elegance or glamor anymore. I really resent this. 
4. Guidebooks monger fear.
To judge by my Lonely Planet guide to Thailand, I should have contracted dengue fever, malaria, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, disgusting skin diseases from stray beach dogs, poisonous snake bites, travelers' diarrhea (this did happen, because I ate at a cheap restaurant they recommended)
The only useful info they give are the strategies of the natives to divest you of your money via scams. The rest is infuriatingly misreported, for the most part, and written with a snottily superior tone, like they know the natives like the palm of their hand and you are an ignorant idiot. It so happens that Thailand is surprisingly developed, hygienic and civilized, but you read their guide and you think you are going to the jungle like Klaus Kinski in Aguirre, The Wrath of God. Only in Angkor Wat did I feel a little like Indiana Jones, if I pointed the camera at the tops of trees, where there were no tourists or hosts of annoying poor people trying to sell you shit. 
Someone has got to write better written guidebooks.
5. Cabdrivers in Cambodia get more phone calls in 15 minutes than I ever do in a year. 
And they get them while they are driving at neckbreaking speeds among the most reckless moto and bicycle drivers on Earth. What are they, Warren Buffett?
6. Thai people think they speak English. Mostly, they don't. 
I order apple juice, I get tomato. I order a fabulous sweet and spicy sauce, I get a dish with a different sauce (even while pointing at the picture). I order calamari and I get shrimp. I order a cab to pick us up at 4 am, it's not there. 
Part of this is lack of English and part is that if they don't have something, they rather die than tell you it's not available. Hence, they substitute. As the operating principle in Thailand is "do not raise a stink", and as people are so sweetly polite, I drank the tomato juice, ate the dish I didn't want with the wrong sauce and had the shrimp. 
It was all good.
Thai cabdrivers will call a friend on the phone, who also doesn't speak English, so that you can repeat to him where you want to go. They hand you their cellphone: "it's for you". This happened several times and it was always hilarious.  
Poor, annoying Cambodian children, however, speak English majestically and pester you in that and every other language. They are feisty and pick a fight if you don't cooperate with their begging. They are well trained to harass. 
7. As you may have noticed, I've had it with the poor.
They are the bane of a nice vacation. And if they are so smart and business savvy, how come they are so poor? Parents train their kids to whine and mope and try to make you feel guilty. Bullshit. Maybe they should use the same techniques to pressure their governments for better education and less corruption. Leave me and my money alone. 
8. I am writing this at 3:13 am, EST. 
Enough said.


  1. In the other post, you remarked about how everything was so cheap in southeast Asia. News flash: If there weren't so many poor people there, it would be as expensive as Cannes.

  2. True, and sad, but that doesn't make them any less annoying.

  3. Betty1:22 PM

    Thanks for telling it like it is.