My Pride, My Thai part 24: Hello sir…. 


Everywhere you go in Bangkok, as well as many other tourist places in Thailand, there is one short sentence which I have, as a foreigner, heard more than any other words. This short sentence is so common that I don’t even notice it too much after a while back in Thailand. But, during the first hours and perhaps even the first day, I really noticed this phrase.


Hello sir, welcome….” 


To read: My Pride, My Thai part 1: The Preparation (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 2: The flight (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 3: The arrival (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 4: The first morning (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 5: Big C (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 6: Bangkok (opens in a new tab).  

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 7: 200 THB to heaven (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 8: Bangkok - Ubon Ratchathani (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 9: Being a celebrity in Thailand (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 10: From Sisakhet to Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 11: Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new  tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 11-B: Coffee Love at Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 12: The long drive to see the King (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 13: Hua Hin Inbox (opens in a new window).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 14: Returning to Kanchanaburi (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 15: The luxurious resort (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 16: LiT Bangkok Hotel (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 17: Nearing the end (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 18: Departure for Norway (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 19: The two forgotten hotels (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 20: Back to work again… (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 21: The new dawn starts right here (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 22: The homecoming (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 23: A world away (opens in a new tab). 


Though the intention is most likely friendly, it strikes me as truly annoying sometimes. If you in addition are outside after sunset, it might get accompanied with “Come inside, handsome man….”. No wonder aliens (in Thailand, foreigners are referred to as “aliens”), Scandinavians and other tourists, feel so welcome in Thailand. 


Having lived in Thailand for so many decades in the past, I do know very well that there is also a tiny backside to that simple sentence. As always, there the issue of money, and that we perhaps are considered relatively easy prey. If we were animals in the forest, and this was a faked mating-call during hunting season, I think it would be likely that we might have been extinct by now. 


As long as you have money, you will feel extraordinarily welcome in the land of smiles, but if something extra-ordinary were to happen to you, and you find yourself in financial troubles, these smiles very quickly disappear. 


One story that I encountered in Bangkok this time, and which made me think a lot, is in fact the reason behind this post. It was just afetr midnight, and I was at the airport in Bangkok to send someone on their way home, when I met a South African woman in tears  on the way back to the parking garage. Sh was an older lady and had been on her first ever vacation to Thailand for the past two weeks, and she should have been going home that evening. But, on her last night in Phuket, she had been robbed by two young men on a motorcycle, and with that, they got away with her purse containing passport, some cash, and perhaps even worst of all, her credit cards. With the help of some other tourists, she had made it back to Bangkok airport by bus from Phuket. I sat down to talk with her, and really got the full story, while she at the same time was sobbing like a youg girl. She showed me the police report, all in Thai language only, and was now really fearing how to deal with the whole situation. I could tell that she didn’t have a lot of experience traveling abroad.  At the airport in Bangkok, she naturally didn’t get to check in for her flight - without her passport. She had contacted Tourist Police, but the only thing they kept repeating to her, was to contact her own embassy, the next day, in downtown Bangkok. That is all easy for someone who are familiar to such a large city, but for her, without any money at all, this would prove an immense task. She had no way of identifying herself as well, and she was clearly distraught. I couldnt do much either, but I took her to a food vendor and got her some food. I just couldnt leave her there… it was painful to hear about her whole ordeal. So much trouble… from checking out from the hotel, to getting to Bangkok, as well as having to find her way around Bangkok to the South African embassy. 

I assisted her with some cash, and gave her my Thai mobile number, and e-mail, in case she needed more assistance the next day. I kept on thinking a lot about this woman on my way back to town, and following day. But, as time continoued passing by, the encounter slipped into the back of my memory.  

Four days later, I was once again reminded about the episode when an e-mail from the woman arrived at my inbox. She told me all about her experiences in Bangkok, and that she eventually got help from her own embassy to get home. She had by now arrived safely back to South Africa and was hoem with family. She expressed her most sincere gratitude and thanks, that at least someone understood her troubles, and plight, and most importnantly, took time to render assistance. It was really nice to get this message, it really felt good. 


This tiny encounter also made me realize that we all sometimes need to show a little bit of care, and compassion, and be aware of our surroundings, especially because not everybody might be as fortunate as ourselves. Imagining if I myself had ended up in such a situation, how increadibly upsetting, and perhaps even terrifying, it would have been if I was not even familiar with the country and the procedures. 


This brings me back to the campaign of Tourism Authority of Thailand, and their “Thainess”-campaign. “Thainess” is a very difficult word to describe, maybe impossible, but my honest feeling is that when something like this happens to a tourist in Thailand, true Thainess would have been extraordinary assistance, care, a smile, a meal and compassion. According to the victim this time, she had really felt none of that helpfulness. 


Additionally, I do think there is a major difference between the Bangkok Thainess and the country-side Thainess, much like the difference between profit and compassion. Despite the fact that Bangkok is made up of many people from all provinces of Thailand, the friendliness that you encounter for the most part in the country side, are often not so easy to find in the big capital. Perhaps it’s a different kind of Thainess in the city, and a different one in the provinces? 

Aliens, “farang’s”, “paksida”, or whatever you wish to call them/us, will, eventually get to experiences the other side of the country, which by the way I still love very much, experience unfair and very nationalistic attitudes, bordering racist behaviours.  There will always be as many opinions as there are people coming to Thailand: for example, the opinion about the very different pricing system of national parks and other venues. I guess I can’t pull the racist card on that one any longer, as the skin-whitening craze reaches epic proportions in most layers of society.  


Since I moved back to Norway after decades living in Thailand, I see it much more frequently than I remember it. There is a definite change in the people compared to a couple of decades ago. Perhaps it’s just that I see it with different eyes now, or perhaps it’s all our own fault, for sometimes behaving disrespectful and badly in the past. Perhaps there are some other reasons as well: financial brudens and pressures, or maybe even the people getting sick and tired of being surrounded by the hords of tourists all the time.  

I leave it up to you to make up your own mind. 


IMG 6089

Money gone: attempting to recharge a wallet.





© CaptainsVoyage.com : 2005 - 2021