It’s relatively easy for me to spot someone who either hasn’t spent a great deal of time in The Land of Smiles or who has, but can’t speak the language. I see the rainbows and stars float out of their eyes. It’s not difficult for me to identify, I was one of them. Often when in conversation with someone in this state, I’m left in a sort of ethical bind. I want to educate them, give them some advice and warning signs of the possible dangers here, but I don’t want to dim that light I see. Sometimes I think perhaps their path is different, their experiences will not resemble mine. Or perhaps, quite simply, they will go home soon.
Thailand can be a wonderful place. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t stay here, but like anywhere else, it has its predators. People who exploit the different, the vulnerable, whomever they please. It can be about money, about sex, about ego, but at the root of it all, it’s about power.
As a foreigner, if you are illiterate figuratively and literally, your power will be compromised and your vulnerability glaringly obvious.
Please realize, the exploitation isn’t always overt and it isn’t always extreme, but if you stay here long enough and don’t question it, chances are, you will eventually feel its effects, even if you can’t rationally identify the source.
One of my mandates regarding MBSB is to provide people with information I wish had been available to me.
A great deal of what I’m going to get into, you won’t find in any travel guide I’m aware of.
Perhaps you’ll see it littered among forums, I don’t know. What I do know is, if I had been in possession of the knowledge I currently hold, my time here would have been much easier. This includes the present. I’m still stumbling, I’m still learning, and although I’ve met many people who have offered their help, be it Thais who try to culturally make sense of what I’m asking or Foreigners who try to make sense of their world here, there is no definitive bridge between what I know as Western culture and what I’ve experienced as Thai.
On the surface, Thailand is easy to navigate, but once you reach its depths, the real learning begins.
TIPS FROM ALONG THE WAY is a new category devoted specifically to anything I feel may be of service to you along your travels, along your path. It will not always deal with Thailand, but currently, I have a lot of information to share and I’m still here. In addition, I hope it will be a venue for you, the reader, to add your experiences, thoughts and wisdom to the discussion. This doesn’t have to be one sided.