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In the L*nd of Sm*l*s, violence and death are never far from the surface

For years Th*il*nd has successfully sold itself to foreign tourists as “The L*nd of Sm*l*s”. And if you come here for a few weeks holiday, you’ll probably have a wonderful time. The food is incredible and cheap, the booze is cheap, the hotels are luxurious and the beaches can be fantastic provided you don’t go on them after dark when they tend to get invaded by packs of quite unfriendly wild dogs and swarms of rats who (perhaps surprisingly) live up in the palm trees. And if you are after the pleasures of Sodom and/or Gomorrah – they’re plentiful and relatively inexpensive. But not all tourists emerge from their vacation unscathed.

Last week a British tourist Satpal Singh Binag, 35, joined the P*tt*ya Flying Club – the group of F*r*ng (foreigners) who go to meet their Maker after falling, jumping, being pushed or being thrown from their hotel or condo balcony. Apparently the 6th floor and above are recommended for best results. The curious thing about this case was that the victim fell from a third floor balcony. As what we call the “ground floor” is called the “first floor” here, this meant the guy probably only fell about 6 to 8 metres. I don’t know much about flying and gravity and so on, but I imagine Mr Binag had a few helpful thumps with a heavy object by his local girlfriend and a few mates in order to ensure his demise before being launched into space. The police will no doubt class this incident as a “suicide”, though here, if you died after “jumping” from a ground floor window, the police would always say it was suicide too.

Another problem is F*r*ng getting killed over arguments about petty sums of money. A month ago, an American started arguing with a B*ngk*k taxi driver who tried to overcharge him by about $2. The taxi driver stabbed him to death. I wouldn’t be surprised if the B*ngk*k police also decided that was a “suicide”

Scams against tourists are on the rise with the motor bike and jet ski scams being the most common. With these, when you rent a motor bike or jet ski and return it, the renter decides that you are responsible for damaging his property and with a few accomplices marches you of to the ATM so that you can make a sizeable contribution to the owner’s pension fund. Here’s a Youtube video of the jet ski scam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsPuoaktoAw Just 3 hours ago I saw a young Arab tourist being chased along the main beach road by 3 jet ski operators. I imagine that they’d tried to scam him and he’d made a run for it. Anyway, they caught him and I imagine he’s now either lying bleeding in a gutter or a lot poorer or both.

You probably know that the drink R*d B*ll originated in Th*l*nd. Here it’s very popular with people like coach and lorry drivers to keep them awake during 20-hour shifts. The trouble is that when the effect wears off, they quickly fall asleep. A few Russian tourists got killed a couple of weeks ago when their sleeping coach driver rammed into a lorry.

There’s not a great emphasis of Health and Safety here. There’s a ridiculous old wooden boat that takes people out to some islands where the beaches are less polluted than on the mainland. This joke of a boat can supposedly carry over 100 people. Three weeks ago, it started the trip back from the islands with over 200 passengers on board. Perhaps it was lucky that the captain was both high on Yabba tablets (a local delicacy you should not try) while also drunk on cheap whisky. This meant that he rammed his overloaded boat into a reef just off the island where fortunately a nearby diving boat was able to start rescuing passengers (most of whom had no life jackets). Had the captain not been both high and drunk, he might have made it further from the island before his boat sank and the losses would probably have been higher than the 7 who were killed, including a 12-year-old Russian boy. But don’t worry – the families of those killed will each receive the equivalent of about $2,000 in compensation. That’s the price of a life here. (click to see pictures more clearly)

And I mustn’t forget the young Indian lady who came here on her honeymoon and got decapitated when she went parasailing, fell into the water and got dragged into the speedboat’s propeller

Then last week, there was the experienced Russian diver who went missing. I’ve been diving here and before they take you out, you have to sign a document absolving the diving firm of all responsibility if anything happens to you even if it was due to their faulty equipment and/or negligence.

And there seems to be a small problem with exploding tourist minibuses. Most are powered by LPG. I may be wrong, but if they were powered by diesel and involved in a crash, then passengers get a few cuts and bruises. The problem with LPG is that it often explodes in an accident and that means barbecue time for the passengers.

Oh, and if you travel to the troubled south of the country, you might get killed by someone from the Religion of Peace.

And finally, never ever buy a suit or shirts from an Indian tailor here. They might be cheap and look good when you try them on. But after they’re been to the dry cleaner (suits) or been washed (shirts) a couple of times, you might as well throw them away.

But if you avoid joining a flying club, being stabbed in an argument about money, being killed in a coach or minibus crash, being scammed or being drowned – you’ll have a great and memorable holiday.

2 comments to In the L*nd of Sm*l*s, violence and death are never far from the surface

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