Thailand is hardly painted on the world’s great canvas in a complimentary way, not a dull black and white but more a mish mash of vivid colours. Some would say that the original has been stolen and a copy of Mother Thailand is now in place. Afterall isn’t Thailand the top dog when it counterfeit goods.
A visit to the BBC News website brought to my attention a story about new tough laws in some European countries to crackdown on counterfeit goods. In France and Italy the authorities are now targeting those who buy the counterfeit goods with France imposing a maximum fine of 300,000 euro or three years imprisonment. You’d need one big fake handbag to hold that kind of money.
Thailand doesn’t get a mention in the report with China cited as the main offender for the 178 million fake items seized by custom officials in 2008. The United Kingdom is not taking the same tough stance against the buyers of such goods and instead have launched a campaign to educate the people about the root source and safety hazards attached to these copied goods, eBay and the car boot may have to be slammed shut forever.
Fake watches, football shirts of which many are better quality than their expensive peers and designer handbags are carried through European customs on an hourly basis each day. For the most part the cheap copy is for personal use or a present for family and friends but many have their suitcases crammed full of saleable goods to help fund their next trip. Why not buy a fake Polo suitcase to put it all in. Believe me I’ve been there, done it and had my T shirt ripped after the confiscation of 8,000 cigarettes at Heathrow. The kind hearted custom official let me walk away with my counterfeit football shirts. Nowadays I wear a clean white shirt with no logo, I gave up the ‘ cigarette run ‘ years ago.
So the fake run is a one way journey from Asia to the western world, those who believe that probably pass Santa Claus on their way. Isaac Newton’s theory of what goes up must come down is nearer the truth. The fake run is a journey on a two way stretch with goods on one side and human traffic laden with a distinct lack of morals polluting the other. Maybe its about time the Tourism Authority of Thailand educated the bar girls of Pattaya and Bangkok about the fake tourists heading their way. Day after day after day.
The common theory goes that all the bad people in places like Pattaya and the drinking dens of Bangkok are the bar girls. Those happy, respectful, vibrant young schoolgirls from the likes of rural Isaan somehow turn eighteen and regenerate into lying, cheating hookers whose morals are left to suffocate in the stifling hot air of their parents homes.
Mr Newton’s apple hit me bang on the head years ago and I don’t subscribe to that theory at all.
Most of the bar girls in Thailand are mothers of young children, single parents who have left their partners because of his infidelity or general noncompliance to a reasonable loving relationship. Young mouths need to be fed, take a look at any chirping birds nest. A lack of good education and the latter needs make their choice of a life pleasing drunk tourists a difficult but necessary one. Maybe necessary is too strong a word. Practicality and word of mouth may be better ones.
Believe me if you took away the single parent child benefit payments in the UK then before long there would be a hooker in every bar and on every street corner. The United Kingdom’s pyramid education system peaks to life’s most important lesson. Money means survival. Educating Rita involves bike shed lessons as well as the classroom, she knows how to make all those Emimen wannabes sexually ‘stand up’. Chirp, chirp.
Most of the male tourists that hit the streets of Pattaya and Bangkok are packing a wedge of hard earned cash and carrying a damn good heart. It’s the others that to me are the imposter’s posing as rich men on white horses riding to the rescue of the rural wench.
In 2002 I went to Thailand for an extended stay, in those days Pattaya was my killing fields but hand on my heart I massacred with the upmost respect.
There was never any blood on my white horse. I was there to relax and view England’s latest attempt to wrestle the football World Cup from more deserving hands. The 17th FIFA World Cup was staged in South Korea and Japan but Pattaya was flush with European football fans feasting on their beloved sport and the extra time offered by the girls in the countless bars.
One afternoon I was sat in the Bodega Bar on Second Road and two middle aged Englishman came in sporting England shirts and both had a bar girl on their arms. You can always tell a bar girl. It wasn’t long before the two men were on their mobiles and it was clear they were talking to their wives back home in the UK. The patter was obviously preplanned as they went about telling their better halves of the wonderful weather they were enjoying in Japan and the great time they were having but the country was so expensive.
I found the whole farce rather amusing. The type of amusement that you might gain from watching the school playground bully pick on the quiet bespectacled skinny bookworm and then take one hell of a beating. I hoped their wives heat was more intense than the afternoon Pattaya sun and they were sharing their fruit with someone cute. That sort of amusing.
Well ladies the choice is yours, what would you rather have on your arm. Would it be a fake Cartier De Pasha watch that needs a bang every so often to get it going or one of those guys who’s gonna bang the minute your backs turned. Just one story of many.
Who’s to say that a better education in the rural schools would stop the bitterness and I dislike the word but hatred that embeds itself into many of the bar girls hearts and minds towards the tourist of whom many are good hearted souls. Bitterness brought on by broken promises, open lies and the humiliation of your hope of a better future walking past your bar with his arm around a different girl. Two wrongs will never make a right but in Pattaya revenge is bitter sweet conversation over a shared 30 baht meal. Chirp, chirp.
France, Italy, England and whoever. Your policies may help stem the flow of cash into the hands of the criminals who plough their profits into drugs and prostitution but the road you’re treading is a two way stretch. You may be correct in addressing the ‘fake’ economy but how about educating some of the bum you allow on your aircraft seats. Your road is wrong with many a lisp and burn… Whoa…..I’m so glad to get that one out of my head.
Photograph Thai girl by ekollin22
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