Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Flying Sporran’s Diary

Have been very busy preparing to relocate recently, hence some inactivity here, but in between packing I have been settling down to rest by watching British television. There were four Channels when I left the UK now there are something like 200 available – most of them dire.

But then I came across this programme, being repeated for the umpteenth time – ‘Better Later Than Never’.  

This NBC programme followed some ageing American former superstars travelling round Asia together, laughing, joking, bickering, and the formula was copied from a South Korean programme.

So, we see Henry Winkler (‘The Fonz from Happy Days’) William Shatner (Captain Kirk ‘Star Trek’) George Foreman (boxing champ) and Terry Bradshaw, football superstar quarter back whooping it up through Japan, South Korea and finally ending up in Thailand.

Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Europe, Africa, Middle East and Americas) announced at the time, “We are very excited to serve as the final destination for this new show. The audience will see a very special side of Thailand with a behind the scenes view of one of our biggest cultural events Songkran, and many more surprises in both Chiang Mai and Phuket.”  Wow.

A behind the scenes view of Songkran?  That seems an upfront cultural activity. What happens behind the scenes? I think what she meant was that the scenes of Songkran were faked, but was too shy to say.

The scenes showed our ageing superstars being blasted with water and powder in their tuk tuks as they arrive on Terry Bradshaw’s birthday.  (For his birthday, he was given a dinner and a full-on smooch from a chubby singing ladyboy)

There was something odd about the Songkran scenes. They were all close-up, not scenes of any distance showing how big the crowd was. It looked like they could have almost been on a film stage set.
It turns out they were.

Terry Bradshaw’s birthday is September 2nd. He was born in 1948.  Songkran is between April 12 and 15th – even in Phuket.

Anyway, they then all flew to Chiang Mai which was described in a caption as Thailand’s ‘biggest AND most cultural city and went on to see Thailand’s most well-known hill tribe the ‘Karen’ who, lo and behold, had long necks and brass rings around them.

Some mistake surely? 

The long-necked women are from the Padaung hill tribe, not the Karen. But they are a sept of the Karenni. No long-necked woman is Thai unless she has suddenly won nationality rights (Something the Thais would do if they made money for them).

The Padaung living in Thailand have either fled their villages to a refugee camp due to actions by the Burmese military or been lured across the border by Thai businessmen. These communities are have been better known internationally as ‘human zoos.’

Prior to the turn of the millennium a Director of the Tourist Authority of Thailand wrote to me decrying the camps and the unscrupulous businessmen involved in one of them.  

I had just completed an investigation series for 'The Times' on a group which had been lured across the Thai border and forced to work in a 'human zoo' in Thaton, near Mai Ai.

After the Director left his position the number of long-necked ‘human zoos’ quadrupled.  

Terry Bradshaw was in awe of the ‘Karen’ who he described as a satisfied and happy people. I don’t think anybody appears to have told him they were filming in the refugee camp in Na Soi, near Mae Hong Son and that these people wanted their own land, human rights and not just the pocket money they are handed for selling imported Chinese made dolls to tourists, or weaving scarves. 

What never ceases to amaze me is how little Americans seem to know about the outside world - even when they are rich megastars. Unbelievable!  

Still, its entertainment, and 'pon proyote' as one camp commandant told me 'For the benefit of all'.

Beam me up Scottie.


D. Farang said...

Troy Lee Pilkington, 51, was hacked to death in Bangkok. It was his own fault by all accounts, sort of..

An irate Thai taxi driver killed him with a machete kept behind the seat.
The American expatriate was murdered over a paltry $1.60 taxi fare - when the angry, frustrated American so foolishly threw his coffee on the wrong taxi driver.

Whoops is the understatement of the century here..

This one stands out as alleged "Prime Example #1" - in terms of an American tourist showing ignorance in the extreme in regards to Thai culture. Troy's ignorance cost him his life in the LOS - and he won't be the last by a country mile.

The very farang that need the advice most don't bother reading the subject matter available and learning how to avoid personal they learn the hardest way by default - often by falling or being subjected to deadly objects - whether concrete, the ocean, faulty wiring, a bullet, a speeding vehicle, slippery tile or a sharp object..


Ignorance is not bliss in the LOS

Trollmeister General said...

An interesting piece, AD. One point though; should that read "sect" rather than "sept?"
You are so right about "how little Americans seem to know about the outside world." I am a licensed tour guide in a S.E. Asian country and I recently took a group of Texans around my city where, incidentally, firearms legislation is VERY strict.
At one point one of the Texan ladies, (who had been observing the local populace), turned to me and asked in that distinctive nasal drawl: "do you not have open carry in.....??"
Only Americans.

D. Farang said...

What never amazes me is how little Americans seem to know about the outside world - even when they are rich megastars. Believable!


Edited for subjective clarity

Kurt said...

There are too many examples of Brits not only being ignorant but behaving very badly overseas. This retarded show could easily have been produced in Britain. Aside from that a good article.

the guest said...

USA could be forgiven for for being ignorant, given their country is huge, and they (in most cases) have no reason to be informed about the outside world. Their concern largely is about US issues and no other.

With regards to the British on-the-other-hand, they are apparently very ignorant, given their recent vote on EU (Brexit) It seems the public didn't bother to read up on the EU directive and discover the many benefits of being a member state. Instead, they were led like lambs to the slaughter by the political madness that is still occurring. Quite sad !