Tag Archives: illegal

The ‘Squirrely’ Side of Thailand

I thought it only fair since I posted ‘Things to Love about Thailand’ that I should also have a little ranting page about things I find squirrely about the country as well.  Again, they are in no particular order 🙂

#1: Whitening
Ok, now I understand that this is 100% a culture thing.  Unlike many people in the Western world and many Europeans, Asians want white skin.  White skin is a sign of wealth.  For if you are wealthy, you spend most of your time indoors and don’t have to work or labor outdoors, hence you stay out of the sun, hence you have white skin.  On the flip side, having dark skin is a sign of poverty.  So ok, I get people here want white skin, but what I’m not a fan of is the whitening products and not having a real choice outside of it.  Deodorants, body washes, lotions, basically any product for your skin has chemical whitening agents in them.  As a falang who prefers a little color to my skin, and as a person who doesn’t want unnecessary chemicals put on my skin, it’s really, REALLY hard to find any skin products without whitening chemicals in them.  They are all “whitening”, “extra whitening”, “white and firm”, etc….  What’s worse to me is so-called skin care product experts like Nivea, Oil of Olay, Dove, and so on are on the whitening bandwagon.  They are just out to give what the culture wants despite what damage it may do.  All about the $$$$… Again, I get it’s a culture thing to want white skin, I just wish there were options that didn’t have the whitening chemicals in them, that’s all 🙂
#2: Electric Lines
I don’t know why it is exactly that electrical poles have what sometimes looks like hundreds of lines coming off of them stretching along every road and side road.  It’s as if they had poles with a few lines at first, then as demand for electricity increased they just added more and more and more.  It’s sometimes scary as when you walk by many of the poles you can hear them literally buzzing with electricity!  And between some of the poles the electrical lines stretch from the top of the pole to at least half-way down allowing the lines to sag almost to the ground.  Now, I’m not an expert in electricity by any means, so I may be way out of my depth here, but I would think there would be a “neater” or more organized way to get electricity where needed without just adding more and more to already congested poles… Hmmm…

#3: Sugar
I learned very quickly that sugar is super popular here in Thailand.  They put it in EVERYTHING!!  It’s even a condiment on the table for your meal!  They have the chili pepper powder, fish sauce, a vinegar sauce with sliced chili in it and sugar.  Nope, that’s NOT salt!  I’ve heard that Thailand is way up there for diabetes and obesity, though to be honest I haven’t noticed that many obese Thai’s, so while that part came as a surprise to me, after realizing and tasting that yes, everything does have a ton of sugar in it, it’s not so shocking after all.  Bread, coffee, “all natural juices”, potato chips, the list goes on!  If shopping on the street at the various vendors, if it looks like it may be tart or not have sugar in it, you really won’t know for sure until you take that first bite.  As someone who is trying to watch sugar intake for personal health benefits, I literally have to read every ingredient on what I pick up in the store to check for sugar.  I’ve done this action so often now, I even recognize the word in Thai (since the majority of ingredient lists are 100% in Thai).  Such a bummer!

#4: Visas
If you enter Thailand via air, you automatically will receive a tourist Visa for 30 days.  If you want to have a Visa for a longer period of time, you can apply before going to Thailand to the nearest Thai embassy for a 60 or even 90 day Visa.  It is possible to get a year Visa if you are doing some sort of education while in the country such as learning to speak Thai or Muay Thai training.  If you arrive in Thailand via land (bus or train) you get a 15 day Visa!!  Seriously???  What in the world would anyone actually be able to see of Thailand in 15 days!?!?!  I understand that there are many expats and travelers that get jobs while originally just visiting Thailand and aren’t being legal about it (paying the appropriate taxes and such) so the government is trying to limit the amount of time people stay in the country to make it harder for those who get jobs and aren’t legal about it.  I get that.  It’s just unfortunate from the perspective of regular travelers who just want to explore the country without having to leave every 30, 60 or 90 days (yes, even 90 days is a pain to have to do!!) especially with some borders being closed (well, you can leave, but you can’t come back).  I’m spending my saved earned money in this country… Wouldn’t they want me to be here for a longer period of time without having to leave?  Then again, maybe that’s part of it too… Paying for transport in and out of the country to be right by the Visa is also stimulating the economy… Hmmmm….  The rules do change quite often apparently and many expats who have been here legally for many years simply say that “that’s what happens when the government is ruled by the military”.  (Sigh)

#5: Thai’s Don’t Sweat!
Ok, this one is obviously just meant to be humorous… It simply astounds me how the Thai people never seem to actually sweat!!!  Seriously, if I’m sitting indoors without a fan directly on me I start to sweat profusely!  And even then, while the skin being hit by the fan is dry and cool, my backside is not!  Walking anywhere and well forget it, I’m drenched in sweat so often just walking about that my clothes change color from being sweat soaked.  I’m constantly peeling clothes off soaking wet clothes and setting them outside to dry after my walks and when they do dry they are streaked with white marks across them (from the salt in my sweat) so into the wash they have to go.  Yet watching Thai laborers in the sun constructing a new building, carrying materials and such, not a single drop of sweat anywhere!  Their skin isn’t glistening with any sign of stress!!  Ok, now of course this is a teeny bit of an exaggeration because of course they sweat, otherwise I’d think that was a major health issue, but seriously compared to how I and other falangs sweat, it’s night and day!  What is their secret???  I’m off for my third shower of the day now to rinse off the sweat from simply writing this post. 😉

Back to Thailand

Sex & Drugs in Amsterdam

Red Light District & the church: The women are viewed as entrepreneurs and not as common prostitutes.  They are self-employed, practice safe sex and are tested regularly just in case of mishaps.  They are even protected by the government.  Pimps are illegal and apparently part of the job of cops in Amsterdam is to question women of the district to try to snuff out any potentials for them being forced to be there.  The women are even paid for their time of questioning (50 Euro for 15 minutes- That’s the going rate).  Every woman is there on her own free will.  Sex is not something to be ashamed of or to be banished behind closed doors and never talked about.  Everything is out in the open.  I adore that kind of freedom and commend the government for being so accepting and ensuring the women are safe instead of turning a blind eye and creating dangerous situations.   The picture below is of a statue of sorts planted in the street in the Red Light District that pays homage to the women of the District.

Embracing Love
Embracing Love

 

The church just outside of the district just made me chuckle:)  Amsterdam was a port town and many of the men who worked abroad the ships had been away from land for a year or more.   So once they landed in Amsterdam and stumbled into the Red Light District, they of course had a lot of pent-up energy to get rid of.  So they would spend their weekend blowing all their money with the women, then stumble out of the district and directly into the church, very conveniently located, to repent all the naughty things they just engaged in… LOL!!!  Love it!

Church outside Red Light District
Church outside Red Light District

 

Coffeeshops & drugs: if you are looking for a cup of coffee while visiting Amsterdam, you won’t find any in any of the coffeshops around town.  For real coffee, go to the Kaffe shops:)  If you would like to partake in smoking a bit of an illegal substance, well then the coffeeshop is for you!  Here again is an example of how the people coexist peacefully.  It is actually ILLEGAL to smoke marijuana in Amsterdam.  Yes, it is.

However the government turns its eye from those smoking in coffee shops.  Because they are just sitting in coffee shops.  They aren’t bothering anyone or doing anything wrong.  They are just hanging out.  In fact, the guide even said that you could walk up to a cop, tell them that there are people smoking marijuana in that shop over there and they would simply say “what are you talking about? They are just having coffee” and walk away.  Again, I love the acceptance and tolerance.  Even though the law is technically being broken they recognize that the people in the shops aren’t bothering anyone.  They are simply enjoying something they enjoy!  Sure does make our view on marijuana in the States seem so petty, especially knowing that people are sitting in jail for smoking/growing/selling/possessing marijuana while murderers are out on parole!!

I wish more countries would take a lesson from the way that the government in Amsterdam views drugs and addicts.  At one point in their history, not that long ago, Amsterdam was plagued by heroin addicts.  They were violent, damaged themselves and others, and even cops were not really willing to deal with them because they were so dangerous.  So the government took on a different view on drugs.  They divided drugs into hard and soft drugs.

People who were addicted to hard drugs (heroin) were viewed as sick people who needed help.  Not as criminals.  They provided places where heroin addicts could go to get their fix and they would allow the addicts to use heroine in these places where they provided clean needles and were under the watchful eye of a medical professional to make sure they didn’t O.D.  The addicts were then allowed to come and go as they pleased.  The addicts always had a safe place where they could go to take their drugs.  If they got in trouble with the law however, after the third strike they would be sent (mandatory) to a rehab center to get them clean.  If they wanted to voluntarily go at any point, they were allowed at no cost to them.  Now that’s the kind of mentality that makes me believe that the government ACTUALLY CARES about their people… Does Amsterdam have a drug problem today with crimes and cartels running rampant?  No they don’t!

Soft drugs (marijuana) on the other hand are allowed a “free” pass.  Or in other words are simply overlooked as long as they are occurring in coffee shops:) Mind you that even though there are probably more drugs and varieties of drugs per square inch in Amsterdam than in any other place, I was never once stopped on the street or harassed in any way about buying drugs as I was when in Costa Rica and Berlin.  I wonder why…???

On to Drug Bust en route to Paris

Back to Europe