Monday, June 13, 2016


Place: Bangkok, Chiang Mai 
Time: August/September 1993


Thailand had been for me full of contradictions before my first visit in 1993. One part of me had not desired to go to Thailand This was based on the opinion of some people. They had talked about drug abuse, militant police, prostitution, crime, corruption, lady boys and disappointment. On the other side, I had some positive information. Other people had reported from pretty girls, excellent food, nice people, good climate and Buddhism. In the end, I had made my mind up to try it at least one time.

The main reason to get here in the end was the religion of Buddhism. I had researched a lot about religions. This included Islam, different denominations of Christianity, Hinduism and  Buddhism. The philosophy that was found by Siddharta Gautama was for me the most exciting one. Actually, I wanted to find out more about this religion in India. This was based on a misconception. It was true, India had a history in Buddhism but I wanted to see how people lived in a Buddhist country. I wanted to see how the religion affected their lifestyle. A friend corrected me and told me not to go to India. Thailand was following my expectations the right country. It was a country where people lived Buddhism and it was additionally the best entrance into Asia.

My plan was to avoid Bangkok and going straight to Chiang Mai, it should be a lovely city. I arrived on Don Muang International airport in the evening of August the 26th 1993. Oh yes, I still remember this date. The plan was to leave Bangkok as fast as possible. The thought of a big city with over 10 million residents scared the crap out of me. I hoped to get a plane to Chiang Mai the same evening. However, no plane was going in the evening or night. I had to stay until the following morning. I should not be disappointed from the capital of the North. Chiang Mai at that time was a very kind and pleasant town. It has kept its charm until current days. However, now it is a modern city. I was lucky to experience this town on my first journey. In 1993, it had still the touch of a larger Wild West town, I loved it on first sight.


I do understand people that get a first experience with Thai food and try then to stay away from it. My first experience with Thai food was rather moderate. On the second day, I developed a real disgust for the Thai rice soup, Khao Tom. I had it as breakfast and it was tasteless. It was way too milky. The steamed meat in it was horrible fat. I did not like it. I want to be fair, Khao Tom should be completely different. I made the mistake to it eat at a touristic place. The traditional version is one of the local people's favourite food. It usually comes as a clear rice soup and is served with various side dishes. These consist of dried small fish, vegetables and dried pork or eventually beef. The customer has the choice which of the side dishes to order separately. If all ingredients are mixed already in the same bowl something is incredibly wrong. Unfortunately, I cannot overcome the memories of my first Khao Tom. My tip is to avoid any restaurants for Westerners. This first time I made a common mistake. Really good Thai food needs to be enjoyed at traditional restaurants, including places of street vendors.


Another issue to take care about, besides the food, is the Thai alcohol. Parts of my bohemian lifestyle in Chaing Mai included getting drunk and hanging out with Thai artists. They had quickly become my friends as I liked to hang around in their galleries. We spent entire night drinking Thai rum and playing snooker. I got hit by the Thai alcohol quite a couple of times pretty hard. This brought me to look a little bit more closely into the booze as I wanted to really know my poison. SangSom or Horng Thorng are not whiskeys. Thais only call them so. They are brownish spirits which have not a distant relation to whiskey. They are made from sugarcane and not rice. SangSom was even in the 1980s a gold medal winning rum but disappeared then for a while from the international market. There are also the local rice vodka moonshine or 40 Degrees. The later one comes in a brown bottle. I would like to know how many people have mistaken it for beer. I do not suggest to try it. If you ever try the 40 Degrees, then I hope you have a strong stomach, a mouth that is used to torture and not the temptation to drink too much of it. This stuff can cause blindness! So, if you do not exactly know what you put into your body, you should not be surprised if you wake up one day in the hospital.

 Chiang Mai was full of dubious characters, however, I do not want to criticize the lifestyle of others, it were just my personal observations. The other tourists made the town additionally interesting for me. Some go-go clubs were already established and going there was one of my favourite evening activities. I was not interested in the dancing girls. It was much more fun to  watch the frigid customers. They were here far away from home. They knew that they could get chicks when they paid enough money. Their behaviour however was hilarious. They stared with open mouths at the dancers as if they had never seen pussy. Some of them made irritated wild gestures. I did not get the meaning of this crazy arm waving. Neither did the girls. It was better than early evening comedy shows. Not all of these guys were the same. There were clearly some differences. The second biggest group were the delusional guys. They thought it was morally not ethical to buy a girl. Therefor, they were caught in a strange belief that I call the freebee principle. These guys were firmly convinced that a girl would go for free with them if they bought her enough drinks. An interesting thought, but guys get it right, these girls sell their bodies and not beers! Interesting thought tho, five beers for a fuck! Who did come up with this equation? Einstein? A third group are thos guys who always need company. No, I do not mean female company! I am writing about these guys that are too scared to go even alone into a go-go club. They come with their friends. Did you ever need somebody else's opinion who you should fuck? Those guys seem to need their friends' support in coming to that conclusion. They sit down at tables, look at the girls and discuss seriously which girl they should pick up. They even try to be super masculine and talk with such loud voice sthat you can hardly hear the music anymore. Let me put it briefly, Thailand needs this kind of people, it is just that I would ask everybody not to make the donkey out of themselves.
We can even not justify our own perceptions about Thailand, they are suitable for us bot not automatically for the locals. So, don't get me wrong! I do not have anything against sex tourists! Really! I am just not one of them! The most money that foreign visitors bring to the country comes from these people. Thailand needs that money. This money does not only support the girls or the nightclub owners. These tourists need to sleep, travel, eat and visits not only nightclubs. So, an entire economy is built around this system. There is actually nothing to criticise about. It is not everybody's lifestyle but developing countries can hardly choose how to make most money. Thailand's biggest GDP sector has been tourism. It is the largest industry. If we are aware of that, we should not be looking down how Thai women make their money, they still support their country.

There is as well a cultural component which probably most people are not aware of. There are far more Thai men than tourists that frequent prostitutes. The Thai social system keeps many men away from marriage. If a man wants to marry a woman in Thailand then it was traditionally based on a so called sin somros.  This describes a system where the man gives to the family of his bride a large amount of money. The man will have first to save an per-marital sex was not common in Thailand. Therefor, many young Thai men go to prostitutes. I will come in later posts one more time to this topic. In the early 1990s a Thai social worker was asked what happened if there would come no more sex tourists. He replied that this would only reduce prostitution by mere 5%. The sex services for foreign males is only the top of the iceberg!  Unfortunately, western media usually sees it as too catchy to report about sex tourists. That has lead to a very bad reputation of western men who visit Thailand. I have come to the conclusion that we should not put western measurements about any situation in Asia.

There were a lot of other strange characters in Chiang Mai, one group was the most farcical motley crew with the worst reason to be here. Thailand at that time was still freaks' paradise. I got aware particularly on one other group. I had wondered for a while why there were some German skinheads in the town. They were in my consideration way too far away from their fatherland. They could impossibly be there because of the girls. It would not fit into the Aryan structure of mingling with 'inferior' races. I got too curious to know the reason. Usually, I would have never talked to a Nazi. However, I was up for some amusement. The answer that I got was logical. I had not expected to get an answer with any sense. They were here for jungle fighter training. Yes, that fit my prejudices about skinheads. These people are not used to common sense. They live in illusions. One day of course, Germany would be densely covered with tropical rain forest again. That would be the reaction to Europe to the greenhouse effect. Yeah, sure, if you have no clue of anything then you come up with your own logic. Somebody should have suggested them to make an underwater combat training. But no, greenhouse effect in their vision was that everything would become green. There would soon be dangerous plants covering the surface of Europe. Then it was of course better being prepared for this. I was not ready to teach them about the true meaning of global warming. You can never know, maybe they were even right but on the other side even Noah was no skinhead.

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