We haven’t noticed much of a culture shock here; either because we knew what we were getting into, or because, as Jay thinks, we hail from Toronto, which is very multicultural.
Safety be damned! – There are no lifeguards anywhere. There’s no warning signs. One could easily have a heart attack climbing up that monkey temple and there’s no one to save you. It’s common to see a family of four and a dog on a single scooter. Speaking of which…
Everyone has a scooter/ motorbike – Today, I saw a boy who couldn’t have been old enough to have a wet dream boogying around on a scooter. Old ladies and young girls are booking around on these things. You can rent them without any kind of license or knowledge of these machines.
There are no rules – From the airport to Khaosan Road, our cab was driving on the shoulder. He wasn’t the only one, he was simply following the line of vehicles also driving on the shoulder. On our island of Ko Tao, scooters and bikes drive along the path that’s just wide enough to walk on. Any “rules” here seem to be suggestions at best, Thunderdome realistically.
It’s a very chill vibe here – It’s not uncommon to see someone taking a nap behind the register while someone else handles customers. There doesn’t really seem to be early risers here. You can walk along the street at 9 am and see people just starting to open their shops. Back home, most people are already plugging away at their jobs, or at the very least, ready to go.
The one that gets me and that I dig is the safety thing. They seem to really believe in Darwinism here. It seems like they think if you’re dumb enough to die, then you should, in fact, die. Back home, there are signs for every potential danger including wet floors and “do not iron clothes while wearing them.” Here, if you can’t see the floor is wet, you deserve to have a broken ankle.
Many people complain about the rules back home, saying it’s mostly common sense, and I guess that’s what the Thai people understand. It could also be that the society I come from is highly litigious. Either way, I like the “Children of the Flies” vibe here; I’m not constantly bombarded by rules.
What Sidewalk? – Yeah, they pretty much don’t exist here. Well, they do, but the “walk” part of sidewalk is ignored. That part is for parking motorbikes, or setting up tables to sell wares, or… well, pretty much anything other than for you to walk on. If you want to walk, you take that circus act to the road Mister! I can only imagine the chaos and outrage if this were to happen back home.
Homeless dogs – It’s very sad, but for the most part, the dogs all look fairly well groomed. There’s sores on some of them, but for being feral, they’re actually very nice. I was expecting to get bit, but I could pet them. They like to dine on the religious offerings put forth onto the curbs. If I were a vet here, I’d go broke trying to care for them all.
Litter – Yeah, this is pretty bad. There seems to be no respect given to the environment. Leaving the train station in Bangkok, you can see the vast amounts of debris in actual piles. And the people seem to have no problem adding to it. Many shop owners sweep outside of their shops; the sidewalks and such, but a great many people show no reservation about discarding their refuse where ever they are. Doing this in Toronto will earn you a righteous tirade of self virtue by a person with no issue of not keeping to themselves.
On another note; Jay is pretty rad.
But on another note as well, something I’ve noticed about being away from home is how sedated our culture seems to be. It’s like everyone back home, myself included, is slightly numb; given the illusion that what we have is a life.
In a common job, you spend one third of it working, another third sleeping, and the last third apparently belongs to you. But does it?
The third that’s yours is divided between before and after work. Of this time, you preen yourself for work and make the commute to and from. After work, most people need to unwind. So with this “free time,” what do people do?
In Toronto many people drink or smoke pot. I used to drink a lot myself, and I always knew it was self-medication, even if I didn’t know what the malady was.
Most people, by and large, plop themselves in front of a TV to go numb to shows they might not even like. It’s not an activity. You’re not actually doing anything. You’re subservient to the machine that wants you to be a drone.
You think “someday.” You daydream of a time when things will be different, plans for the weekend, your next vacation, etc. Until that time comes, you’re content being another cog.
When you really put thought into the hustle and bustle, what’s it for? Who is it for? It’s hardly for you.
Back home, Jay worked 9-5 (but mostly until 7 or 8) and I worked 2-11pm. For us to get any time together during the week, Jay would come home, eat, bathe, nap, and that would only buy us about two hours together. That’s a terrible way to live with a partner/ spouse. But what could we do? We were stuck in the machine. In those two hours, we’d sedate ourselves with TV, calling it “quality time.”
There was so much pressure for our weekends to go well because it’s the only time we had more than who hours together. They would never be as ideal as we’d hoped, because of the pressure we each put on ourselves to “make it count.”
I know I sound like a hippie or anarchist talking this way about society and the faults of the system comparing it to a machine, and for that, I don’t know what to tell you. When I would tell people about these thoughts back home, more often than not, I’d be hit with “that’s just the way it is.” Thanks Bruce Hornsby, but my reply was “But why does it have to be like that?”
Just because something is the way it is doesn’t mean it should be like that. At one point slavery was the “way it is.”
The sedation works I suppose.
It’s my blog and I can rant if I want to.