Happy Sunday, Bangkok!
What a week it’s been. We’ve had blood moons, heavy rains, and an expat pretending to be Johnny Depp with a surprising amount of success.
Let’s see what else has been entertaining and enraging Bangkok this week…
- 1 News
- 2 Blogs
- 3 Forum Threads
- 4 YouTube
- 5 Twitter
- 6 Instagram
Representing the largest land deal in Thai history, the British Foreign Office this week sold the beautiful colonial embassy building in Bangkok to a joint venture consortium of Hongkong Land for an eye watering sum.
It was built in 1922 over 9 acres in the much sought after Wireless Road neighbourhood. Employees will be relocated to the much less grand AIA Sathorn Tower a few kilometres away. The money raised by the sale is expected to be reinvested by modernising other embassy assets around the world. Many people suspect this is just the latest step in Britain’s withdrawal from the global stage.
Danny Glass, a vlogger from the UK, was this week given a two year suspended sentence and 15,000 baht fine for causing death by reckless driving, after the death of his girlfriend in Phuket last year.
Sophie Anderson, who was six months pregnant at the time, was killed instantly after the motorbike that Glass was driving lost control. Riding pillion, Anderson tragically fell into the path of an oncoming 18-wheeler truck, the driver of which was charged with the same offence and is awaiting trial.
Much confusion and hilarity ensued this week after an expat was mistaken for filmstar Johnny Depp as he strolled around EmQuartier mall on Friday evening. With a somewhat natty dress sense and heavily kohled eyelids, the man bore a perhaps passing resemblance to Depp’s Captain Sparrow character, if we’re being generous.
Apparently EmQuartier’s security team had been informed that a ‘superstar’ was in situ and for some reason assumed it was this non-assuming expat. Surrounding him with guards, the man was swarmed for autographs which he gamely signed as Depp. Netizens supposedly felt ‘deceived’ after learning the truth but, frankly, you’ve got to make the most of it when you’re mistakenly assumed to be a multimillionaire Hollywood actor.
This controversial blog was originally posted all the way back in 2014 but has recently picked up steam after the author updated it to say that his strong comments were directed at the tourism industry, rather than Thai people as a whole.
Essentially, the author details a number of upsetting and annoying situations that he and his girlfriend encountered on their trip to Thailand, including but not limited to witnessing public sex acts on Koh Phi Phi, tourism officials unable to provide useful tourist information and the low standard of English in the country.
Unsurprisingly, it’s attracted plenty of negative reactions from Thai people and expats — and it does appear to be hyperbolic and misery-seeking in places. If you go looking for trouble in any country — by conducting social experiments on massage girls and trawling Phi Phi’s beaches after late night parties — you’re going to find it. But he’s certainly got a point.
The standard of English in this country is very low — even when compared to its poorer neighbours in the region. That’s not an entitled attitude as some commenters have said — if Thai people are happy speaking only Thai and perhaps some broken English, that’s fine. But when people employed in the tourism industry — an industry which is at least partly designed to attract and maintain a huge number of tourists from English speaking countries — it seems more than a little short sighted.
Another point that people are offended by is the author’s recollection of asking two tourist officers in Khao San Road how to get to Lebua for some sky bar action, only to be told that they couldn’t help as they had only just moved to Bangkok.
Coconuts defends the officers, saying that many Thais grew up in the provinces and so don’t know the city well. Again, that’s fine: but why were they employed as tourist information officers if they couldn’t provide useful information to tourists?
Coconuts then goes on to blame the author for assuming that two tourist officers only making minimum wage would want to direct him to an expensive sky bar where cocktails are sold for $25. Again, why are they employed as tourist information officers if they take issue with directing people wealthier than themselves to tourist attractions? Plus, the level of inequality on display here is really not the author’s fault: it’s Thailand’s.
If a country complains like Thailand does of only attracting so-called ‘low quality tourists’, it might be worth looking in on itself to see why it can’t attract higher calibre people.
Sure, the author needs to loosen up a bit — but Thailand would do well to heed some of the concerns here. Being known as overrated and ‘not what you see in the travel brochures’ is not a reputation to be proud of.
From Thai bashing to foreigner bashing, we’ve got the whole spectrum on display this week.
Under the microscope here are the expats who appear to completely divest themselves of their western mannerisms and customs only to take on their Thai equivalents — from wais and alms-giving to meditation and sitting lower than a superior.
The author is keen to stop Thais from indulging these behaviours lest it encourage foreigners to go full native. What that would actually entail isn’t revealed. Even more stickers in the Line group?
While it can be a little cringey to see this in western friends newly arrived in Thailand, the intention is almost always positive: to make a good impression on our Thai hosts. And even if it is part of a reinvention of the self — something the author apparently finds undignified, why does that matter? Many people who have moved across continents are hoping for at least some measure of reinvention.
If you’re a little delicate or cautious around Thai food, check out this Reddit thread full of tips and tricks to ensure that you’re never at risk of contracting anything that might give you Bangkok Belly. Things like eating at places with a high turnover if you’re opting for street food, sticking with bottled water only and, of course, this cracking piece of advice:
If you’ve been persuaded by your Thai inlaws to do what comes naturally and build a house in Isaan, you better know what you’re in for before the digging starts. This Thaivisa thread is full of interesting facts, dos and don’ts that you should heed before you start consulting your lawyer (and always remember to consult your lawyer). From title deeds and land measurement units to advice like, “never build a home near your partner’s family,” this is useful stuff.
Supermoon rising over Bangna this evening pic.twitter.com/90iD4BWnUg
— The Shellman (@NeilShelley) October 16, 2016
And to think I almost drove straight past this place! pic.twitter.com/4Dtj3tD7On
— BKKEnemy (@BKKEnemy) February 1, 2018
Expats who want elections in Thailand are not too bright, let alone they can’t vote don’t they remember how many dry weekends elections cause?
— Phil (@luckyphilbkk) January 30, 2018
I lost 6 of my toes to frostbite but eventually we stuck our flag in the ground. We had reached the North Pole.
Hardest thing I’ve ever done? Nah. That would be trying to find a member of staff to weigh my salad in TOPS. pic.twitter.com/vpHW64hvDr
— Phil / Ajarn.com (@Ajarncom) January 31, 2018
300 comments Bruhhhhhhh!!! 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/dAlIa3mfvm
— Little Evildoer (@LittleBlackEvil) January 31, 2018
#Bangkok… where everybody is in a rush until you actually need them to rush…
— Emma In Bangkok (@EmmaInBangkok) February 1, 2018
Woah…. 15k pic.twitter.com/8kGdiQ5w1e
— Stickboy Bangkok (@StickboyBangkok) January 31, 2018
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And that’s been The Week On Sukhumvit — see you next time!