It’s Official: Thailand, You’ve Got a Selfie Problem

Did you know that Bangkok is the most Instagrammed city in the Asia-Pacific?

Or that Siam Paragon was the most Instagrammed building in the world in 2013?

(It dropped to a lowly fourth place last year.)

…I did.

And I’ll tell you how I knew:

I walk through this city with my eyes open.

It’s impossible to avoid the fact that Asians — and particularly Thais — are hopelessly addicted to two things:

1) Their phones.
2) The cameras attached to them.

Lights, Camera, Inaction

Have you visited CentralWorld recently?

If one is prone to a light-induced epileptic fit, my advice would be this: don’t bother.

There is a new display taking the Ratchaprasong intersection by storm.

It’s called The Palace of Lights, and you may well have seen it on Instagram:

Christmas + An additional 1 million lights strapped to Ploenchit Road = You guessed it…

Absolute catnip for the natives.

You cannot get in to CentralWorld without battling a crowd of camera-wielding Thais, most of whom seem collectively staggered by this colourful display.

I get it.

It’s Bangkok.

Lights aren’t supposed to change quickly.

Do we really need a dozen identical photos of your ensemble posing next to them?

I can accept the odd selfie. If you want to huddle away from the crowd and snap yourself looking smugly forgettable, by all means go ahead.

What I can’t — and will never — understand is the lack of good form in taking photos from a 5 meter run-up, thereby aggressively blocking the entire flow of foot traffic.

Come on, this is unacceptable.

She’s posing against the railing, lit up by a monsoon of fountains and fairy lights.

He’s kneeling down, in the middle of the walkway, p***ing around with his Canon settings whilst a herd of BTS passengers with places-to-be politely wait for the set-piece to reach its inevitable conclusion.

Well, not me.

I’m going to photobomb your Z-list Valencia-tinted circle jerk whether you like it or not.

No, I don’t care if your lighting was perfect. I don’t care if you waited twenty minutes for the sun to flatter the right side of your face.

One of the reasons Asians are notorious for taking So Many Pictures (of the same thing) is because most of them get ruined.

Sorry Bangkok, your photos WILL be subject to strange scowling faces if you stop to Vogue where an entire city is walking.

No Corner of Thailand is Safe

Bangkok may be the most Instagrammed city in the Land of Smiles, but the obnoxious snapping extends to all towns and cities.

I recently spent three days at a popular holiday resort in Hua Hin.

It was a strange crowd.

You had your usual suspects of:

  • ‘Lightly Toasted’ Brits
  • ‘Essentially Naked’ Germans
  • ‘Australian’ Australians

These groups were, as usual, the primary pool lizards — those who gave zero shites about turning an unhealthy shade of purple in the blistering heat.

Pro Tip: If you want to spot a British tourist in Thailand, simply ding a bell for Happy Hour and watch as his scorched carcass turns starboard towards the pool bar.

Then you had a few Thai families; those who abjectly refuse to get in the pool with any flesh exposed to the sun.

So dogged is their pursuit of white skin, they’ll happily cannon down a water slide in long-sleeve tops and cricket hats.

But there’s another group, too.

Blink and you’ll miss them.

Each day, at around 11am, a huge bus would park up and a group of 40-50 Asian tourists would spill out on to the premises.

Nobody could tell me why they were there but it soon became self-explanatory.

They were Photourists.

The group would swarm around the pool, cameras at the ready, taking photo… after photo… after photo…

Not just selfies.

These were some truly deep moments captured in time:

  • Photos of trees.
  • Photos of staff.
  • Photos of signage: “Restrooms, turn left”
  • Photos of my fat arse bobbing in the shallow end.

Aside from the fact that, well — “Guys, what the hell are you doing?” — what I found most disturbing was the gormless blank stares on their faces as they went about their business.

If you’re mildly indifferent to that can of coke sitting discarded on a brick wall, why even take the photo?

Why not just download any folder tagged ‘User Submitted Crap’ on TripAdvisor and exonerate yourself from the drudgery?

Madder still, as soon as these photos were captured and stored in the memory bank?

They f***ed off!

They got back on the bus, and left.

Imagine that.

“Driver! Our work here is done. To the Premier Inn!”

Who goes on holiday to take pictures of ‘what it must be like to be on holiday’ without actually putting their phone down to experience it?

Answer: Asian tour parties, clearly.

I will never understand the essence of Photourism, but there’s one more art to Asian living that goes straight over my head…

Thais, On Phones, On Dates

Want to see the full extent of what amateur photography woven with social media has done to our ability to interact?

Just head to one of Sukhumvit’s rooftop bars and watch the many Thai couples on candlelit First Dates.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Arrive with your date
  2. Take some photos of the view
  3. Upload to Instagram
  4. Bow head in silence to watch reaction
  5. Repeat steps above
  6. Dinner arrives
  7. Take photos of dinner
  8. Upload to Instagram
  9. Bow head in silence to watch reaction
  10. Repeat steps above
  11. Say goodbye
  12. Go to work next day
  13. Wonder why you’re still single
  14. Procreate?

There are many theories as to why Asians are so addicted to their camera phones.

I prefer the explanation that — like many curiosities in this part of the world — it boils down to status.

Status which can be enhanced by four sweet words:

“Been there, done that.”

*Doesn’t matter that I’ve completely forgotten about it because I was living vicariously through my 8 megapixels, or flicking through Instagram, or distracted by my busted zoom.

How else can you explain rocking up to a Novotel with zero nights booked?

You joking, Thailand?

Young Urban D'Bag exposed

Young Urban D’Bag exposed