French Tourist Shot Dead… So Whose Fault Is It?

The Thai army are on another drive to tighten up Bangkok’s nightlife following the shooting of a French tourist by an off-duty policeman. Stickboy points out that many had to close at 2am.

I was expecting this to happen. Djamel Malik and the drunk cop were fighting at 7am, which looks like the bar had been serving all night. If the closing time had been enforced then this wouldn’t have happened.

Anyway, I had a brush with the law myself…

Me and the tee rak were at a new bar near the top on 7/1 a couple of months ago. Her friend works there and while I was nursing a ‘nam sapparot’, pondering the nuru massages on offer a few yards away, she told me in those typical hushed Thai tones that ooze with a secret pleasure in tittle tattle, that the bar was owned by three or four policeman.

Big mistake. Laughing and full of curiosity, I blurted out far too loudly ‘who the fuck do they pay the tea money to then?’

I found this such a funny philosophical conundrum that I repeated it again.

And again…

‘I mean, if they’re the police, who are they paying bribes to? Do they pay the bribes to themselves? They can just do what they want! Farangs have to pay a fortune!’

By now the bar girls – a ghastly mob even by the standard of the rotten that fills streets – had turned their backs on me and my girlfriend was pretending to laugh a little nervously, to lighten the mood.

‘Not talk about this, baby’ through slightly gritted teeth.

By this point it seemed to be too late. I was in full swing. Unfortunately one rough looking Thai brute, about 5’6’’ and obviously part of the consortium of have-a-go businessmen, was looking sternly over at me. I’d slipped into that frame of mind where it’s assumed that, like in most situations, the surrounding Thais won’t understand colloquiums and more complex humour.

Most of the time they don’t. They just read emotions and mannerisms. But perhaps one of the more experienced bar girls had picked up a few more words from many a pillow talk down the years and had told him of my verbal indiscretions. It was quite awkward, and with different characters could have escalated.

Never the less, as he walked over I had to calm the situation with my trusted and much used ‘ting tong farang’ act.

‘Ah sawat krab mister, sa wat krab. What a night! Chop foot-bon mai? Ohhhhh Chelsea, yes! Me too. kin kao kin kao kin kao.’

Throw in a few Basil Fawlty-esque arms and this is a sure fire way out of almost every tricky situation, if you still have enough sense about you to read the mood and change your actions. It’s a far better defense mechanism than fighting, which can be a messy business. Thais seem to believe that anyone born east of Kanchanaburi is half-mad, so when they see red, reinforcing that perception puts them back into their natural state of mind of understanding the world, and all is solved. ‘Ahhh farang bah, ting tong farang’ they mutter away.

Well, clearly poor old Djamel Malick didn’t have the good sense to apologise and play the crazy Frog. It must have been the Arab genes in him; a stubborn bunch they are.

Anyway, all of this shows why I don’t drink. I’m self aware enough to know that I just about scrape by waking a fine line between success and insanity. The devil’s juice would blur those lines enough to make living in Bangkok even more deadly.

It seems like most problems with tourists in Thailand stem from the foreigner misbehaving. The finer details almost always seem to involve money, drink or women.

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