THAI COUPLES: I can still remember the sense of shock I felt at seeing a Thai couple walking hand in hand for the first time. It was my third visit to Thailand and I had never witnessed this phenomenon before. On reflection, there is absolutely no reason why people of the same race, nationality, age, weight and level of attractiveness should not get together, but it just seemed incongruous. On the other hand, my friend Big Mike (a 59-year-old American who weighs 120 kilograms) and his girlfriend (a 20-year-old Cambodian who tips the scales at 42 kilograms) seem a perfectly matched couple.
THE GO-GO BAR CHANGE TRICK: If you are ever short of change, pop into a go-go bar and pay for a Bt100 drink with a Bt1,000 note. Your change will arrive in the form of a Bt500 note, three Bt100 notes and five Bt20 notes, thus making it easier for you to leave a tip. Liberate yourself by putting all the notes in your wallet and saying: “Thanks for the change.”
McDONALD’S: For making some Thai girls fat (though I agree that the Sausage and Egg McMuffin is the greatest culinary creation in the entire world).
BACKPACKERS: Some have started venturing outside their Khao San Road ghetto. This wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t insist on bringing their backpacks with them. The worst are the two-baggers – they can take out an entire Skytrain carriage just by turning round. Some male backpackers also have a patronising attitude towards people who use soap, as though possessing a pair of Bt100 fishermen’s trousers, a dodgy handbag and a copy of Lonely Planet makes them Paul Theroux.
TAKING THAI GIRLS FOR AN INDIAN MEAL: They will not eat one morsel because they have been conditioned since birth into believing that Indians and their cuisine are smelly and dangerous. They will probably hold their noses at some point. It’s not a problem if you just order things for her that you like yourself. You get to eat everything and still have the kudos of spending money on her. Perfect.
TAKING THAI GIRLS FOR A THAI MEAL: They will not eat one morsel because they have already dined 12 times that day.
INSANE BUS DRIVERS: I suppose that being paid Bt200 a day to negotiate Bangkok’s traffic would drive anyone over the edge. There is one driver on my route who is stark raving bonkers. He talks to himself incessantly and when he gets to a stretch of open road, he starts slaloming the bus and cackling like Hannibal Lecter. In a normal country, he would be under 24-hour care in a mental institution. In Thailand, he has responsibility for the lives of 40 people.
THAIS AT THE DRINKS CABINET IN 7-ELEVENS: I have seen milk turn faster. They can be frozen in thought for up to 10 minutes as they ponder their choice, blocking access to the cabinet and the adjacent aisles. You would think they were faced with some extreme life-changing dilemma instead of deciding between iced coffee and orange juice. Pricks.
THE PLASTIC BAG MOUNTAIN: If I buy 10 items in Tesco Lotus, they will usually be put into five or six ludicrously underfilled bags. A shop assistant once even put a shrink-wrapped mobile-phone top-up card in a plastic bag for me. While I am no sandal-wearing environmentalist, I am getting very concerned about Thailand’s carbon footprint.
‘UP TO YOU’: The favourite English phrase of all Thais, especially bargirls when financial arrangements are being made for their services. It actually means: “If you don’t give me 3,000 baht, I will chop your balls off with a machete and send them to your mother, you cheap farang bastard.”