Thailand and e-cigs — 5 Comments

  1. Some years ago a Thai friend of mine joked that one of the reasons why Thailand had never been invaded by anyone else was because as soon as an invading army pitched up the Thais greeted them with a big smile and an invitation to come in for a huge party. Which they did – and then left, happy but tired (as one is after a really good party) no longer interested in invading. How could they then suddenly want to invade a country where all their new friends lived? And that was the reputation of Thailand across the globe, hence its popularity during the 1990’s as a destination for students taking a Gap Year to “go travelling.” Its laid-back, anything-goes attitude was legendary. No longer, it seems, from what you say, Nisa. Naturally, starting with a “clamp down” on tobacco (always the first step, it seems for those who dislike excessive enjoyment!), then, from the looks of it, moving on to alcohol and, no doubt – although you may correct me here – also on the well-known “other” substances previously (I’m told – I’ve never been) relatively openly sold and used in Thailand and, of course, the equally well-known “service” industry. Has this new-found Puritan streak in the Thais’ attitude been reflected in reduced tourism figures, by any chance. It’d be interesting to know.

    Love the photos! And, yes, your ex-PM is a stunning looking lass!

  2. You’re right about the ‘other’ substances, Jax. The first time I was in Thailand was in 1971, and I spent a couple of months there. It was before tourism took off, and foreigners were a rarity outside Bangkok and the cities which were host to the USAF bases (the Vietnam war saw a few places in Thailand become home to the American military). As I travelled around, I was welcomed warmly wherever I went, and more often than not I was invited to share a ‘bong’, a bamboo water pipe used for smoking the local weed, which was some of the best in the world. It was everywhere, and smoked fairly openly, even though it was technically illegal. I think it was pressure from the Americans that caused a tightening up of the law, and the Thai authorities started cracking down heavily on grass. This of course led inexorably and inevitably to the situation which pertains today, where the kids are getting high on ‘YaaBaa’ (literally translates as ‘crazy drug’), more commonly known as methamphetamine, which is cheaper and easier to produce than grass, and being less bulky, much easier to conceal and transport. It is also much, much more dangerous than grass (which to my mind isn’t dangerous at all), and induces psychoses in long term users, very often culminating in murder and mayhem. Such is the wisdom of the ‘drugs war’.

    As far as the ‘service’ industry is concerned, prostitution isn’t actually illegal in Thailand, so that continues unabated, although there have been increasing numbers of raids on unlicenced ‘massage parlours’, and a general purge on the industry as a whole, in an attempt to clean up the image of Thailand. As far as I know, tourism figures haven’t been adversely impacted as yet, but have flattened out over the last few years. What is going to cause numbers to drop is the latest stupidity from the disconnected elite, which has seen a ‘clean up’ of Bangkok’s street traders. In the same year that Bangkok was voted ‘best street food in the world’ by a CNN poll, the authorities, with a total lack of forethought, have been busy clearing them off the streets in a bid to emulate the squeaky clean (and soulless) image of Singapore. This not only destroys a large part of the charm and excitement of Bangkok, but also causes problems for the thousands of low paid inhabitants who live in apartments which have no kitchen. Kitchens have always been superfluous in Bangkok, because the street food was so cheap, varied and plentiful that it was generally cheaper and easier to pick up a meal on the way home than it was to cook. Now those street vendors have gone, and the alternatives are much more expensive, it has caused all manner of problems for the locals. Some areas (not many) have been allowed to continue with street food, but much more strictly regulated than before. The area of Bangkok where I normally stay (Saphan Kwai) used to have some fantastic food vendors, but they’ve all been swept away in the purge. It really is very sad. The chaos and smells were an essential part of the Bangkok experience, and they’re trying to destroy it all.

    The ban on alcohol advertising has reached ridiculous levels. For instance, if you post a picture of yourself on your Facebook page holding a bottle of beer, you can be prosecuted for ‘advertising beer’.
    And when they televise Premier League football matches, the TV stations have to have special software that pixellates out the rolling banner round the pitch when the ‘Heineken’ logo comes round. It is stupidity writ large. It’s also somewhat disconcerting when the play is on the wing, as the top half of all the players who are in front of the banner are pixellated out also. It’s so infantile that if I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.

    I think they call it ‘progress’, Jax.

  3. That’s the kind of stuff that puts me off visiting a country…even if someone else paid all the expenses.

  4. I understand your sentiments, but then I think all of us, wherever we live, can look around us and see similar stupidities in our country of abode. If it doesn’t impact us directly, we often won’t notice, but governments everywhere have a propensity to pass laws that are ill-conceived and counter-productive. Politicians the world over tend to be not very bright, and when some ‘expert’ or other tells them that ‘Something Must Be Done’, they don’t actually think about it or research it, they just legislate without any consideration of unforeseen consequences. And in most cases, the laws they pass don’t affect them anyway.