Lies and deception, a changing of perception, the fact of the matter though is, if you trust Thais – as Jordan did, and fully – it seems you are literally taking your life in your hands. Any trust which may have remained for Thais died with Jordan Coe. Until Jordan’s death, in my mind, the constant deceit, the malice, was a reaction to my own character. My fault, no doubt. Culture gap, lack of understanding. However, no matter the lengths we go to to integrate into this pretty sordid society, we are met with disappointment and failure.
Here material wealth is all, but most often it is used to insulate from realities. Only when you learn the language do you realise the extent of the racism which permeates this country – they’re not saying much, invariably, just the usual racial slurs and bitchy remarks. What it exemplifies however, roughly equates to a nationwide contempt for foreigners… falang, falang. You hear it everywhere, every day, with virtually every interaction – like some bigoted echo.
There is much to love about this place of course, the food, the landscape, the weather, the way of life attracts people from across the globe. I really want to love it, but it’s all becoming rather superficial. It’s all fun and games until somebody dies. Thais are a peaceful people, comparatively, however my experiences with them have shown them as almost inherently deceptive. They want your money, they can’t help it. Got to watch your back 24/7 or you might find a knife in it – and they’ll be smiling the whole way to the ditch. Later comes the “fuck you.” I wish these views weren’t based on evidence, I wish I didn’t know them the way I do.
Part of it is incompetence, of course. When someone dies here, everyone just denies responsibility. Police? What police? The same is true if you can pay your way out of trouble – kill someone in a high-speed motorbike collision? Got money? Mai bpen rai. Even for a falang. So it works both ways. But my sorrow over Jordan’s death has led to a darkening in every aspect of my view of this society because he embodied positivity, because he trusted them. Of this in many ways the so-called “dream” died with him, because we envisioned it. Jordan loved this place, in spite of what we knew about it… and they still managed to let him die. Of course they had to get him, and it happened because they just don’t care.
This is a dangerous country, I’m taking a risk even writing this. Six teenagers have died in the last three weeks in motorbike accidents in Phuket alone. Last night I saw cctv footage of a passer-by robbing the corpse of a teen girl who had been crushed by a garbage truck before proceeding to direct traffic around her body.
But Jordan’s death was no freak rush-hour garbage-lorry rampage. Jordan was found 50 yards from the road he had been running on, under a bush with blood streaming from his nose. The next day. Why was there no conclusive autopsy or police report on the cause of his death? Why were we never approached by a police officer during the debacle? Couldn’t they even look after his body after he died? Why were we watched over constantly by mafia-men who went through my things when I was gone? Why was Jordan’s mother left to deal with his repatriation virtually alone?
Life here is basic and often brutal, and life here is cheap, and trust is the greatest weapon in a war you don’t even realise is being fought. The pity of it is that of anyone, Jordan deserved this injustice least of all.
Edit: I do not by any means believe any of these traits are exclusive to Thai people, or that any race is superior to any other. On the contrary, dignity and respect should be universally applied to all peoples regardless of race or social standing.