I will only write the truth; the one I have felt. Nothing but the truth; the one I saw. The country is gorgeous and full of wonders. I find it useless to give you an overview on what you already know and is spread over thousands of photographs and honeymoon stories on the web. Instead I’ll tell you about Casanova; the 2 years old baby Elephant we met in Patong beach, He’s about a regular person’s height and an over dose of cuteness; he’d shower you in hugs and kisses with his trunk. The owner charges 100 Bhat per person to freely capture some photos however you can play as much as you want for free, he’d charge you another 100 for a feed as if you were in a zoo. A turkish guy was standing close by, he’d spot any intruder’s trial to steal a snap without paying. Before long Casanova had retreated for a nap under his parasol. They had prepared a comfy bed for him next to heaps of bananas and grass that would keep his energy levels up all day.
We went for a dip and the turkish man caught up with us, his name would be OZ for now. Oz was a regular since 1982 (before I was even born). He had bought a house for himself and family, he’s been interested in Elephant business and his relationship with the thai keepers developed to the extent that he was invited to witness the birth of baby Casanova. He asked us to forgive him for his initial rude behaviour, he was trying to secure Casanova’s future to avoid selling him to one of those street clowns; who’d abuse him and make money out of his cruelty. Other than ivory, they usually separate the baby elephants from their moms, put them on meds and under alcohol influence to perform for the tourists in the street one of many horrid stories. I asked him simply: “You are keeping the baby away from his mom the whole day, his keeper begs for few hundred Bhats in exchange to tourists interactions with him, don’t you think you are doing the same?? ” I ducked into the water to avoid a steep wave. When we were above the water again he replied back: “The baby sleeps with his Mommy at night, the keepers are good people, they have a small shack for elephant rides and treat them mercifully. ” He paused and then looked me in the eye: “Elephants are not weak you know, they have a strong memory and will get their revenge cold even after 30 years. The Keepers know that.” I smiled and remained silent. I didn’t want to argue that logic, the Elephants are better off in the wild and I had no wise proposals that would help this cause. Oz kept chatting, he was wealthy from a diverse background. He loved Phuket but he was getting fed up with the fast commercial expansion and the lack of infrastructure. He spoke of what used to be heaven, I saw glimpses of that in very few places that were not familiar to most tourists. He claimed that this commercial and moral descent started in late 90s.
It was unfortunate that the snorkelling sites were filled with garbage, that the thai in Phuket are wallowing in poverty to the extent that they all leave their homes in their teenage years to work in Bangkok despite the huge yearly touristic income. They’d rent their daughters for middle aged men who treat the girls like objects they can control and manipulate. It even gets worse if you can see what’s on the menu in most of the clubs and bars near Patong or Bangkok night markets not to mention Pattaya. You can find there all sorts of marvels that thai vaginas are capable of doing, such as: champagne bottle opening, ping pong games, smoking and much more.
The daughters are forced at a very young age to loose their self-respect and all sense of dignity for a tiny amount of money. One of those days, we were on a boat that were starting its engines for an Island tour, the engine was behind me and a 50 years old man was sitting beside me, next to him sat a thai girl, perhaps she is his girl friend. Once the engines started, it emitted a strong smell of gasoline, the man’s immediate reaction was to shove the girl in his place right next to the engine so that she’d inhale the toxic smoke instead of him. The girl and I have locked eyes together for a minute, and there was so much pain that it stung me.
I thought she was with him because she was hoping he’d be her escape, but one of the veteran phuket lovers, an aussie, explained it all. She also thinks it’s getting better as the education rate is increasing. I didn’t share her opinion; the bright bill boards, luxurious hotels and restaurants and beautiful nature wouldn’t hide layers of filth, cruelty and greed that his country and its visitors are exposed to.
The thai people work for an infinite amount of hours, they’d offer anything to make a living. Investors come and exploit them, they peel off everything they have, even those things that money shan’t buy. That dirt is forced on you, why should I wake up to the awful scene of a white male with a loose belly who’s stripping off his bottoms across a pole in day light and sleep after running away from a crowd of hookers of an unknown gender soliciting sick action to my face.
I was exposed to mental and visual pollution without boundaries despite having enjoyed the kindness of many people, an exquisite variety of street food and fruits, the ocean and baby Casanova. I’ve had peace in the temples, lost my worries in the river and washed away all my problems in a coconut with giiiiiiin. But there remained a bitter taste and I felt guilty for financing a major crime.
This is the truth, a cry for help maybe. This country exposes us to an ugly side of what we are capable of doing. It’s also true that in poor countries, this is happening as well but such openness is scary. In every blessing you find a thorn, beauty is mixed with a stench and goodness has a touch of pedestrian cruelty.
P.S: All photographs are manipulated to darker tones on purpose.