Thailand has been my home now for almost twelve years, and I’ve been around. I lived for three years in a small countryside city where you could say goodnight to Mr. Bull and Mrs. Chicken. I’ve lived in Bangkok for nine years now, mostly because my job is here. I’ve visited most of the provinces too, at all points of the compass. I’ve taught classes literally from first grade through grad school. I’ve kept my eyes and ears open, and I even remember some of it.
I love Thailand. I’ve seen things that would make you say, “mmmmmm . . .” I’ve seen things that would make you say, “wow!” And I’ve seen things that would make you say, “wait . . . what?” Some things I even write about in those little notebooks of mine, but I generally chose not to blog about it.
The reasons are two: 1) I don’t want to offend anyone; and 2) I don’t want to get in trouble.
I’m a guest here. That makes all Thai people my hosts. That means everybody from my Thai benefactors and friends to all of the drivers and shopkeepers and maintenance staff and restaurant workers who help me all the time. Even including the people whose job it is to watch three or four cows eat grass all day for half of the minimum wage. Everybody. Khun Fred is their guest. I have always tried to be a good guest, wherever I have gone. Here it is the same.
People are different wherever you go, and a prudent man is careful. Something that seems quite innocent to me might make someone else uncomfortable, or ashamed, or even angry. Something that would roll right off of my back might get under someone else’s skin. I don’t want to take a chance of that happening. I wouldn’t even take that chance writing under an alias. The effect would be the same, and it’s the effect that I’m trying to avoid.
I don’t want to get into any trouble either. I like living here. I never talk about Thai politics or any other sensitive matters. That stuff is for Thai people, it’s their country. I never talk, much less write about those things. If Thais ask me about them, and they do, I beg off. Taxi drivers are very political, and they’re always asking me about Thai politics. I tell them, Thailand is for Thai people, or I love all Thai people, or that’s for Thai people to decide. I just stay out of it, even if my hunch is that I agree with the driver.