Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…

Feb 13, 2012 4 Comments by

Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…

by The Guru

Before we discuss Thailand, bear with me…..

The ‘Seven Deadly Sins’, also known as the ‘Cardinal Sins’ or ‘Capital Vices’, is an attempt to list the most objectionable vices.  It has been used since early Christian times to educate the people about (immoral) fallen man’s tendency to sin. The final version of the list has wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony up there as the ones to avoid.

Whilst somewhat arbitrary in choice, (one could imagine murder, rape, kidnapping, selling drugs, slavery and more as being worthy of consideration), it did the job of telling the people how they were expected to behave and we can see the clear focus on intention rather than action.  The idea was that if you felt no lust, you would not be tempted to commit adultery and so on.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Seven Deadly Sins - The Truth Before You Travel!...

The Truth Before You Travel!…

This concept of focusing on the thoughts of a person rather than waiting until their actions are played out is fascinating and has many parallels in modern life.  Censorship is the first that springs to mind – advocates extol the virtues of classifying movies, blocking websites and even banning advertising of items such as cigarettes whereas detractors cite the need to educate people to make their own mind up and not to rely on a blanket rule.

I can see merit in both arguments and in fact at a practical level, I think we need both.  Proscriptive approaches to guiding our lives such as censorship or even speed limits and rules about drug taking are crucial, as we all need frameworks within which to live and feel comfortable.  However, there cannot be rules for everything – as an example, consider your diet.  We all know we should have a balanced intake of foods but few of us would welcome a checkout assistant removing a packet of crisps ‘because you look like you could do without that today, sir’!

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Seven Deadly Sins - The Truth Before You Travel!...

Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end result is that we need guidance but we also need to be able to think for ourselves.  This balance is tenuous and finely balanced in most things in our lives from how late we allow our children to stay out at night to whether our government uses our taxes to pay for healthcare for the more needy.  We all have opinions and we all should be allowed to voice them and be heard.  For the matters that we cannot decide on alone, because they are matters that affect more than just us, we at least need a voice and a vote…

Now consider Thailand!  How much of the above rings true?

I know that the West is hardly a role model for equality, morality and selflessness, but it does have a good stab at democracy and freedom (most of the time!)…  The East is a whole different story and Thailand, in particular, is a very rare beast.

It all starts off well, though.  There are plenty of temples swelled by devout worshippers and in fact there is freedom of belief so no one is persecuted for praying to the wrong god.  Rules for vices are well documented – prostitution is illegal, as is drug use and trading and even cigarette smoking is banned in most public places.  There are many police in evidence on the roads to ensure road safety and even special tourist police to look after the holidaymakers.

The image is one of a well-organised and polite society respectful of people and advocating respect for the law.  This is true but it is not the whole story – there is another side to Thailand that the tourist does not see and only time here will show.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Seven Deadly Sins - The Truth Before You Travel!...

Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is actually a deep contradiction in life and society here – a difference between how things are portrayed and how they are actually done.  What you see written on the wall is often far from how it will end up being.  A good friend of mine used to say, “there is always a surprise around each corner’ and he is right.  We all like surprises but it often pays to be informed to avoid the nasty ones…

You see, Thailand has it’s very own ‘seven deadly sins’ which have shaped the way the people think and behave here and at the same time pose a big threat to the future of this wonderful country:

1. Poor education – this is the time bomb of poorly educated people that will explode very soon.  Thailand has very low average IQ scores that are actually dropping each year rather than rising as a result of and perpetuated by poor schooling for children that does little to teach children to think rather focusing on learning facts by rote.  As a result, a degree from a university in Thailand is rarely recognised abroad and even at this level the focus remains on reducing free will and individual behaviour to the extent that students are still required to wear a uniform to university.  I wonder where the labour force will come from soon as the local education system cannot equip for the modern world.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Seven Deadly Sins - The Truth Before You Travel!...

Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Apparent racism – the Thai attitude to other nations is very xenophobic and neighbouring countries often resent Thailand for the way it looks down on their people.  This feeling of superiority is certainly borne of ignorance and not malice but it does extend into most parts of everyday life here.  Any conversation with a local will sooner rather than later involve the ‘farang’ word (foreigner, literally) being used so that you are reminded that you are not one of them and all those who live here will know the feeling of having to deal with officials to get simple documents to stay.  Nationalism is used as a unifying tool here by governments but the risk is a society of intolerance.

3. Rampant corruption – Thailand is, without doubt, one of the most corrupt nations but the truly sad thing is that it is getting worse and is almost accepted by the people.  Despite regular ‘crackdowns’ and other shows of force, nothing is really done to solve the problem that is endemic from top to bottom.  The resultant role model for the everyday person is that it is acceptable to cheat as this is what the most powerful people do and they get away with it.  However, only the powerful and those protected by their position get away with it so the everyday person suffers either way – he loses out if he doesn’t cheat and gets caught in the end when he does.

4. Lack of democracy – despite the continual assurances to the contrary and even the choice names of the parties, there is little true democracy in Thailand.  We are seeing the culmination of years of feudal systems.  The rich with all the money and power do not want to give anything to the poor but there are many, many more poor and so the solution has been to not give them a vote or when they do vote, oust their choice of government in a military coup shortly afterwards.  Look at every other country in the world and you will see failings as politics is far from an exact science but the fundamental has to be the right to vote and have that vote recognised yet the ruling elite in Bangkok continue to fail to realise this.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Seven Deadly Sins - The Truth Before You Travel!...

Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Social apathy – there is a famous Thai expression -  ‘mai pen rai’ which translates as ‘never mind’ or something similar.  It is used a great deal and serves a good purpose in calming situations and creating a lovely sense of calm in the country.  However, the same attitude pervades the psyche of the people and hinders them from advancing or championing their own cause.  A telling statistic is that the average Thai reads only one book a year compared to around ninety a year in Vietnam for example.  The average Thai really is not worried or interested in too much but perhaps he/she should be.

6. Love of money – Thais are a greedy bunch despite their laid back appearance and have long since sold their morals and values for greed, it would seem.  There is a joke that Thais go to temple each weekend to pray for forgiveness for their cheating last week and to pray for more money next week but this is probably not too far form the truth for most Thais these days as moral values come a distant second to the chance to make money.  It is simplistic not to see the root cause, of course – constant visions of poverty and the knowledge that money can buy you anything are very strong motivators and that is what everyone else is doing.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Seven Deadly Sins - The Truth Before You Travel!...

Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Years of under-investment – linked very closely to corruption and love of money is the lack of investment in the social infrastructure.  Disinterest in anything beyond immediate personal gain has led to years of neglect for most of the important resources in the country.  The roads, buses, railways and ferries are not up to scratch, airplanes are not adequately maintained, schools are under-funded as are hospitals and most other social services, if they exist at all.  No thought has been given to the future and how the population will survive in increasingly difficult times.

Well, none of the above is unique to Thailand and the whole world is in difficult times so what is so special about Thailand and its deadly sins?  The answer lies in the ability to realise change and to improve which are sadly lacking in Thailand.  Thais feel powerless… They feel that they have no control over their future and they resign themselves to a bad lot hoping that in their next life they will return richer and therefore happier.  If you compare other nearby nations, there is a far greater sense of hope, aspiration and planning.  All the neighbouring countries are improving by leaps and bounds because there is energy and passion and a belief in the future.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Seven Deadly Sins - The Truth Before You Travel!...

Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the sad reality that has come about as a result of the way Thailand has failed to evolve too far from its old roots as a feudal state with slavery and a great social divide.  Thais know their place and most are afraid to speak out.  This gentle manner and self-deprecation is enchanting for visitors but it is increasingly only skin deep.  As times get harder, people get more desperate and I see a growing anger and discontent amongst Thais.  This manifests itself in drunkenness, domestic abuse, cheating, aggression and even overt racist behaviour towards foreigners all of which are dramatically on the increase.

In a self-leveling society, we need the prescriptive measures and the self-awareness to survive as I discussed at the beginning.  Authorities need to be aware of the problems and take steps to intervene and individuals need to practice self-help by being aware that they are doing wrong without needing to be told.  The problem is that this is not what Thailand is all about…

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Seven Deadly Sins - The Truth Before You Travel!...

Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has always been in the interest of the powerful few to maintain the status quo however bizarre that may appear to be.  That is why we see a Buddhist country with crowded temples yet one of the highest levels of prostitution in the world, highly visible and un-regulated.  We see thousands of websites blocked yet little interest in making new technology such as 3G available – while the rest of the world enjoys 4G.  There are many other examples such as these but it is always the same story of the message not being the reality.

How long can this neglect last, one asks, and how can one possibly hope the everyday person on the street can make the right choices faced with such contradictions?  People in Thailand have kind hearts and they have huge inner strength.  Let us hope this wins the day in the absence of any other game plan…

These are my opinions and I stand by them.  DON’T AGREE?  Tell me…

The Guru.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Seven Deadly Sins - The Truth Before You Travel!...

Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…

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Asia, bangkok, thailand

About the author

I have traveled and lived all over the world - 95 countries and counting! I have information you can't find elsewhere and I share it here to promote healthy discussion about the world's people and cultures.

4 Responses to “Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Seven Deadly Sins – The Truth Before You Travel!…”

  1. Libby Fullerton says:

    Edward, you are very insightful here. I am not sure I agree on the laziness thing as there are plenty of hard working Thais but generally speaking apathy rules and so true about the racism! Scary the way they look down on foreigners and right now in particular. Great site.

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    • Edward Moulton says:

      Dear LIbby

      I am glad you enjoy the site. Yes, Thailand can be taxing in every sense of the word. It is a parallel universe in so many ways.

      Warm regards

      Edward

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  2. Bruce says:

    How do you find their attitude towards other Asian (Singaporean, HK, Taiwanese, Koreans and Japanese)?

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    • The Guru says:

      Thais are quite racist towards everyone. It’s the pure blood fallacy they believe… I say fallacy since the entire upper class and government is Chinese-descended and whole swathes of Bangkok are owned by Indians but they like to believe they are pure as they were not colonized like other SE Asian countries. They actually were for a short time but never let facts get in the way of propaganda and patriotism! Their attitude towards the more wealthy Asian nationalities you mention is mixed. They love the money and pander to it but hate themselves for doing so. You will not see this unless you look very closely as Thais are the best actors in the world and will appear to love you. But beware……………

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