thoughtful / thoughtless
“To be or not to be…………………
…to take arms against a sea of troubles…”
When Prince Hamlet booked that flight from Copenhagen to Bangkok he was like all the rest of us – in search of a bit of sunshine in the Land of Smiles, a bit of fun, a long leisurely holiday of four weeks or so. He decided to visit Soi Cowboy in Bangkok, then Nana Plaza in Bangkok, then Phuket, some of the near- and far-flung islands, Chiang Mai for the sabai-sabai weather and the quiet bars, then a whisperer whispered : Pattaya! Pattaya! Pattaya! He jumped on a coach, and one afternoon saw the prince descending at Pattaya North Coach Station where he hailed a baht-bas which took him to his hotel conveniently situated near Pattaya’s hotspots. The observant prince had already noted that wherever the girls grouped, the fun was sure to happen, and so he was red-fire adamant that Fun City would be just that. It was.
Two weeks later, the prince had decided it wasn’t. His early suspicions had been confirmed. This turn-about of perception usually takes the average punter a few years to achieve but the prince was well versed in intrigue. (He it was who had sent Polonius off pretty early on in the play!) It only took the prince a few conversations, a few drinks and a few rough-and-ready hanky pankies to understand that far from being a land of smiles and fun, Thailand was a land of troubles, surrounded by a sea of troubles, and these troubles materialised in thousands upon thousands of bahtless, husbandless mothers with children. The mums were nice-looking but hooking. There were other good-lookers without children but these beauteous entertainers were all in love with money. He noted some crest-fallen punters who were drinking heavily. He noted the financially ruined. The suicidal, of course, made a particular impression on the susceptible prince but first and foremost, he noted the extreme numbers of disillusioned long-stay tourists. He concluded that tourists in general were seen as social-benefits machines and that a lot of the fun depended on the resources of ATMs, bank balances, business acumen. It was obvious that the shrieking, the dancing, the merry nudity, the tequila-banquets, were the surface under which oozed so many social ills that any merry-making was nothing other than a lie. But, of course, it wasn’t. And so at this point the prince decided to go back early, preferring to sort out Denmark which seemed an easier problem to solve than Pattaya. Guided by the genius of England’s greatest playwright, Hamlet headed back in Copenhagen in time to jump into a grave, whack his mum on the head, murder a few men and then just to avoid coming back to Pattaya, he took poison from his deceased girlfriend’s brother, advising his best friend Horatio to get on the first plane to Thailand where the play needed a bit of a tragic ending, too.
Pattaya newspapers are full of these sad stories. The Thais themselves drive their cars off cliffs on a daily basis. (Only a few days ago, some vehicles carrying twenty-five Thais and some cylinders of inflammable gas, crashed, exploded and killed everyone on board.) The economically reduced tourists are everywhere. The social problems are not going away. But in reckless moments you can hear the drunken punters toasting to these very problems which guarantee so many easy lays and the magnificent delusion that they are all sexy men living life to the full while their Viagra blood-levels zing with glee, their prostate glands bulge unhappily, and their brains gunge flowingly inwards.
“And flights of aeroplanes sing thee to thy rest!”