5 weird things I learnt in Thailand recently

Never a dull day in the Land of Smiles.

1. People aren't drunk, they have ear infections

Accusations flew in when Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung looked a bit wobbly in parliament – “He's drunk!” they clamoured – but the wild accusations were nothing compared to the freakshow that ensued. As well as being unable to remove his own shoes, Chalerm also suffers from an “inner-ear disorder”, which, he claims, is the source of his inability to stand up straight. Chalerm hit back at his critics by filing police complaints against opposition MPs and a whole bunch of newspapers that ran with the story.

"I stagger sometimes, but not everyone who walks unsteadily is drunk. Also, not all red-faced people are drunk," he was quoted in the Bangkok Post as saying. Wise words.

I for one will be sure to have a doctor's note to hand the next time I feel a little tipsy.

2. People don't go to jail, they get bail

It was the story of the week: Sondhi sentenced to 20 years in prison. That's right, Sondhi Limthongkul, yellow Shirt mischief maker and media mogul extraordinaire, was sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole for dodgy business deals. But no sooner had the verdict been given, “[sneaky] Sondhi went to the court basement, waiting to apply for bail.” (Bangkok Post) And, of course, he was immediately bailed on appeal, despite pleading guilty to the charges he was snetnced for.

It was the fourth time that Sondhi, 64, the charismatic leader of the yellow-shirted People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) had been jailed by a top court but released on bail pending appeals. (Reuters)

There is simply nothing this chap can do to get sent to jail. I'm wondering where my Get Out of Jail Free card is. I assume Praewa and her parents have one.

3. If I have a sexual urge, I should play football

Makes sense really.

What should you do when you have a sexual urge?

A. Play football with friends.
B. Talk to your family.
C. Try to go to sleep.
D. Go out with a friend of the opposite sex.
E. Go to a movie with your buddy.

No, this isn't a quiz question from an old edition of Loaded magazine, it's an Ordinary National Educational Test (Onet) exam question set for Grade 12 students in Thailand. The answer is, of course, A, said National Institute of Educational Testing Services (NIETS) director Dr Samphan Phanphrut.

He explained this question was intended to check whether the students understood the nature of sexual desire and how to control or respond to it.

I now understand that my priorities have been wrong all these years and that I should have been playing more football in my later years. We live and learn. Kaewmala has a rather scathing analysis of how this curious question about sexual desire fits in with Thailand's education system as a whole.

Are Thai youth being well served by the Thai education system? The answer at least from the perspective of sex education is a resounding “No.”

4. Facebook causes teen pregnancies

Seems logical when you think about it.

Thailand has one of the highest teen pregnancies in the world.

With this in mind, Thailand's National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) reached the conlcusion as young people aged 18-24 are the most prolific demographic on Facebook, this must have something to do with the 120,000 unplanned teen pregnancies there are each year.

The Board said that the social media growth is partly to blame for the teen pregnancy problems as some youngsters post seducing messages or video clips online.

It's nothing to do with Thailand's sex-ed programme, as Saksith suggests. Facebook made me pregnant!

5. If you speak out, someone will confiscate all your stuff

The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) saga has been bizarre from the outset. I haven't really known what to make of the whole shebang because people's emotions have been running wild, which is rarely a good thing when it comes to social media campaigning. The theory is that WFFT's premises were raided and animals confiscated because they spoke out against the illegal poaching and killing of elephants, apparently angering members of Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Amid all the hyperbole and the wild claims, this is one of those times that highlights many of the issues foreign-run organisations and businesses face in Thailand. If you speak out and annoy the wrong people, you will suffer the consequences. What will likely come out of this is that WFFT's operations will never be the same again.

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2 thoughts on “5 weird things I learnt in Thailand recently

  1. Gotta admit, I find half the girls I meet through facebook so maybe they have a point. But I don't get them pregnant! Well not that I know of anyway ;)

  2. Had to laugh at this as I've been fascinated with the same stories all week.

    Sondhi's drama is astounding. He keeps getting prison terms but he's still out walking around. And yeah, how can you appeal and be on bail when you pleaded guilty and were found guilty?

    Amazing Thailand, eh?

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