Now that the poor man with the elephant or the man with the poor elephant is more or less being banned from Thai streetviews, another profitable franchise concept has emerged.
The poor woman with the blind singing husband.
For those unaware: A woman with a collection cup is being followed by her blind husband holding her shoulder while he's singing through a little portable karaoke portable set.
They will stop at every bar or restaurant to cash in on their effort.
Actually I first thought it was the same couple stalking us on our journeys through Thailand, since the act looks so alike, but they are simply all over the place. So, similarily to the many South American Pan flutist groups in Europe playing the same tunes, I had to drop that idea.
Actually the husband is not only blind, he must be deaf too, since without exception he will utter false and unmelodious sounds, invariably with the volume wide open.
This sound which cannot be called music by any standard causes a feeling of misplaced embarrassment to the unfortunate onlookers. In fact the couple hijacks your heart, since non-cooperation, let alone protest would look pitiless. The woman will continue to look pathetic while her husband taunts the ears untill a compromise is reached. If not enough people are willing to pay the ransom, the owner of the establishment will finally handover the remainder of the f*ck off money out of own pocket. Apart that it looks good to Buddha, the're used to overcome these moments of despair by boldy paying as if it was paying protection fee to the police. So next time if you recognise the sound, which is a no-brainer, just duck and cover.
Similarly to begging women on the streets of Bangkok who rent baby's to get larger turnovers, I wonder if there's a place for women to rent blind men who cannot sing. Or are the men just acting?
If not, wouldn't they not be better off with a guide-dog, since at the same time the wife could collect extra money in other ways, but the drill to stop at every crowded place and to continue after extorting enough cash would require months of expensive training for the dog, so it's probably not worthwhile.
From the looks, I'm pretty sure the couples must at least have had a basic training course and a starters-kit from somewhere.
Anyway, it's probably just another effective money making scheme from a Thai exploitation through despair syndicate.
On to the poor man and his blind singing wife.
Compared to Phuket city and Patong, Ao Nang in Krabi is quite provincial. According to GeoNames it has a population of 8000, but wether this figure is correct or not it still managed to maintain a bit of a village atmosphere.
Ao Nang sometimes reminds me of a miniature Patong; there's a multitude of tourists of different nationalities.
With the Swedish coming en mass to Krabi in the 80's, Scandinavian probably represent the largest group of expats here. The town has more than enough accomodations of all levels, international restaurants and even one McDonald, a Burger King, a Subway, no not undergound, a Starbucks, Swensen and Häagen Dazs ice cream parlour and nightlife activities at various locations.
Besides a bus load of people touring through Thailand who stopped for a treat of bitter balls, in the two weeks we have been staying here, I haven't been able to spot a single Dutch tourist. Fine with me, I'm not dying to meet one. Suprisingly, Dutch or Thai-Dutch businesses seems to be disproportionally represented here.
As many of us will know, Dutch food is like English food, nothing to write to home about. Am I making enemies now?
Still, Ao Nang boasts two Thai-Dutch restaurants, one Dutch snackbar, one hotel, two (partly) Dutch owned foreign restaurants with some Dutch food on the menu as well and one Dutch owned bar. Together this is actually more than can be found on the whole of Phuket island.
In comparison there seem to be just one Thai-German restaurant, but in contrast we met a fair share of Germans.
A Dutch snack bar in Ao Nang
The menu with exotic things like a bami-ball or a mexicano, a mixture of horse, pig, beef and chicken.
To me Dutch restaurants are like Nepalese tailors here; plenty of shops, hardly any demand.
I wonder how many P's of marketing were considered before getting into business? How on earth do they survive or is it just a hobby to keep busy?
Well, I guess at least the guy below would rather sleep at home.
The less one knows of a culture the harder it is not to stereo-type or be prejudice about relations between women of economically less developed countries and foreign men who are better off.
The cliche image of Thailand is that single ladies are easy to get by practically any foreign man of a richer country, regardless of age, personality, brains and physical apperance. Money talks.
Dealing with Thai - foreign relations, it's often hard for foreigners to really understand what such a '(younger) exotic beautiful' woman is doing with such an '(older) ugly' man, 'normally' the man would be able to find a nice local wife, so obviously she must be merely out for his little capital.
Vice versa Thai who feel they belong to the middle class or higher class often stereotype relations between foreign men and Thai women as well. Often the Thai lady has a darker skin and is therefore seen as low class, say a poor countrygirl with little education.
For these people it's hard to understand what the 'well-off' foreigners find so attractive in such 'ugly' women of a lower class background.
Apart from people to whom the S in L.O.S. (Land of Smiles) has a complete different meaning and frequently boost their macho ego in pussy paradise, the majority of Thai women wouldn't even give it a single thought to have a one-night stand or bring a foreign man over to her parents house.
So, can we call the other foreigners visiting the country and falling in a long lasting love relation with the beauty of the Thai culture and people, with a single person in particular, sex tourists?
I would argue that in many relations all over the world so-called 'succesful' people have partners who seem to complement their shortcomings. How many 'less handsome' but famous and wealthy man have 'beautiful' wifes? Do we call them whores? No, usually we don't, so to label foreing men with a Thai partners as sex tourists is demeaning as well, regardless how they met.
Average people usually have average partners. So far no difference with foreign - Thai relations. The only difference is the perspective of your looking glasses: Less 'successful' foreigners in foreign eyes usually have 'low class' wifes in Thai eyes. So in either country, prejudice towards one of the partners remains.
Similar to common love relations between two people, in the longer lasting ones, sex is usually a pleasant by-product not the single reason to settle down, so the title of the 2007 BBC documentary "My boyfriend the sex tourist" sounds like a contradictio in terminis, since the main characters and husbands to be are all looking for long lasting relations. In my opinion the contradicting title is exactly the stigma many Thai ladies and foreign partners are facing. As far as the topic bar ladies is concerned, without trying to moralise too much, but wether one is back home or in Thailand and meet up in a bar or disco, get drunk, having a one night stand are usually not the bonding factors of long lasting affairs.
Still, director Monica Garnsey gives a wonderful insight into the lives of two Thai women called Fon and Lek.
Fon is working in a beer bar in Bangkok, she has a British boyfriend, with whom she maintains daily phone and Skype contact. Will this relationship succeed?
Lek wants that too, but initially she relies on an online dating agency from her home in the Isan. Eventually, she sees herself forced to go try her luck in the pleasure industry in the Thai capital, with all the problems this entails.
The ladies are followed both in Bangkok and Isan and the documentary provides a rarely seen realistic glimpse into the life of many Thai single mothers who became disappointed by Thai men and are trying to solve their daily problems by finding a foreign alternative.
Personally, I got to know the professional and home situation of a handfull of sweet and cute bar ladies who have foreign boyfriends, but in all honesty I still have to meet one as faithful as Lek. Then again many bar ladies are not fully being put on 'freehold' by a single boyfriend such as in Lek's case.
Some Thai bar ladies deserve well paid jobs in logistics, since I actually met some who managed to maintain relations with up to six boyfriends simultaneously, all visiting Thailand on a regular basis. The general attitude is something like; enhance your opportunities and may the best man win. Foreign candidates don't be deceived; some shrewd ladies even maintain different facebook profiles.
My advise: don't fall in the venus flytrap, if you want to obtain a 'permanent souvenir' from your Thai holiday, tourist places are the worst spots to find one. Go out and discover.
Anyway, apart from my sceptical side notes, the documentary is a must for foreign men who are into Thai ladies. Even if you don't identify with the provoking title (which of course you don't :), The 47 minutes might help you to enhance your insight by seeing both sides of the coin of a considerable group of Thai ladies seeking relationship with a foreigner.
N.B.: After staying here for two years, and altough it's sometimes sad to see, the behaviour of ignorant farang in girly bars is often a larger source of entertainment for Polly and I than the actual girls.
Seen on Thai MVtv channel:
Not only do they show a 'for screening purposes only movie', which is illegal, but despite the fact that the movie is broadcasted in the original English version, MVtv or the company they bought/copied it from took the effort to subtitle it in English as well.
Perhaps for the deaf and hearing impaired? A small problem is that for the latter group the movie will hardly makes any sense, since someone got the bright idea to translate the Chinese version back to English instead of using the original English one.
The movie is called Revolutionary Road with Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank and Kate Winslet as April, but in this version she is dubbed Yi Pulli.
At a certain moment 'Yi Pulli' tells Frank that she's ten weeks pregnant, which is translated as ten months. Wow!
For more failures see below:
Ao Nang, Krabi
When returning to my hotel last night I heard a strange sound coming from the kitchen.
I first thought they had turned the TV on very loud with a show about Tibetan long horns or so, but that seemed a bit weird, so I went in to see what was going on.
What I witnessed was 100% nature:
When in Ao Nang, annother place of interest are the girly bars.
They are all concentrated in one street which is a miniature sanitized version of Bangla Rd. in Patong or Walking street in Pattaya. Similar to bamboo bars and restaurants (street) it has no official name, because the land is privately owned. Instead it goes by many nicknames:
The Soi, Soi Sunrise, Soi Bar, RCA entertainment, Soi Loki (sex maniac street) and Disappointment street.
The dead end street can be found on Airport Road opposite of White Sand Resort. The soi is one of the three nightlife spots in Ao Nang, featuring 18 bars (3 of which are closed at the moment), hundreds of girls and a handful of ladyboys. It's a noisy place; if you listen well, one can hear at least four different beats jamming from surrounding bars, but hey this is Thailand. Fun closes down at 01:00am to be partly continued in the local discotheques in Center Point. A money saving tip would be to wait untill one elsewhere and head straight for the disco's.
Seen in Airport Road, Ao Nang, Krabi:
Fancy a low quality elephant ride?
On the sign it says for high quality you get "Minimum of People less than limited of Boat".
Does that mean that if you choose the low quality boat trip options, they are about to capsize or you will not be paddling in your kayak alone?
Seen in Ao Nang, Krabi; Mr. Long bar and restaurant.
The spot is a bit hard to find, since it's situated on a dirt road, which has no official name and as far as I know is just being referred to as Soi Bamboo or just bamboo bars.
The road which is a side street of Airport Road, opposite of Vogue resort and spa, accommodates about 10 bars and is one of the three main area's where Ao Nang's miniature night live is going on.
The owner mr. Long, sometimes nicknamed Jack Sparrow, used to own a restaurant in Bangkok, but moved to the more relaxing atmosphere of Ao Nang.
Like most locale in the street it is fully made of wood and bamboo, everything constructed by own design. Reggae is the prevalent choise of music here.
A specialty of mr. Long is the production of tequilla, a skill which runs in the family for three generations.
Mr. Long's grandfarther, who started destilling the beverage more than a century ago, became 99 years. Time enough to perfect the recipe, I guess.
Usually tequilla is made from agave, a plant which only grows in Mexico.
According to mr. Long, his drink is made from palm sugar, so I could hardly believe it would share any resemblance with the original drink. Surprisingly it did, the taste being somewhat smoother than your average tequilla.
The price is 80 Baht (€1.91 / $2.64) per shot, not that cheap for 'bootleg', but usually mr. Long will give out a couple of free shots once you're there.
Street food can be dangerous in unexpected ways.
The owner of a mobile grill and fry shop drives around Patong with boiling oil uncovered and still on. When he passed around the corner, hot oil splashed around the sides of the bin.
When in town, take care, crashing with this vehicle might permanently transform you into Freddy Krueger.
In 2009 I decided to radically change my life in the Netherlands and become what I call an I-nomad or information technology driven nomad.
I gave up all belongings besides easy to carry luggage with bare essentials.
I-nomads usually live in guesthouses or hotels, being able to move anywhere at any time they choose. What's the point you may wonder; the answer for me is simple: feel free, feel happy. This is a personal perception, since most people will experience happiness in a more conventional setting.
My life style is often being referred to as Perpetual / Permanent Traveler / Tourist, which is.....is, OK is fine with me. I-nomads are mostly in possession of a laptop, netbook or alike to manage the necessary income derived from royalties, web-publishing, financial investments or similar means which can be controlled remotely to maintain their self-imposed lifestyle budget.
Currently I am traveling through South-East Asia and since more than two years together with my companion and fiancee Polly.
You may contact us here.