China Crapping

In 1993, Longman’s Dictionary of English Language and Culture was banned. Its entry for “Bangkok” described Thailand’s capital as a city known for its Buddhist temples and “a place where there are a lot of prostitutes”. Thai authorities said that the publication had eroded the good moral standards of the Thais. The Thai Foreign Ministry had demanded that Longman delete the offending reference but only received some clarification not amounting to an apology.

I’m not sure how many people have been sabotaged by such a description from an authority on definitions, but certainly, an entry like that would not only have ruffled more than a few Thai feathers. Imagine how our Farang guys visiting Thailand regularly are going to explain to their wives. Imagine what the guys and girls at the office would think when their boss goes to Thailand on holiday yet again. Sadly, Thailand already had a reputation and Longman’s Dictionary baldly reinforced it.

But let us not forget that it’s perfectly possible to avoid the places that you see above. Bangkok is a favourite shopping destination for many Asian women. The city is also the true hub for medical tourism. Thailand earned a whopping US$4.31 billion in revenue from medical tourism in 2013. High profile private hospitals in major cities pamper tourists with VIP treatment at affordable rates. In comparison, Singapore’s highly regulated medical tourism sector brought in only a tiny US$216 million. It is unfortunate that prostitution attracts far more attention than ornate temples, shopping centres and high tech hospitals.

But make no mistake, it is an issue and a very big one too. Over the last 30 years, I’ve not had a single Thai friend who would qualify as a full-fledged prostitute, but there are more than a few “borderline” cases from social classes ranging from farmers to accountants. I have literally written books on the culture and mentality that spawns and propagates this industry. There are apologists and other folks in denial who claim that prostitution represents only a tiny, insignificant part of their glorious culture. Sure, these folks may be antique collectors, muay Thai enthusiasts or meditation junkies, but I still beg to differ. Looking objectively at the social phenomena which contribute to the oldest profession in this country, it is difficult to conclude whether Thailand deserves its reputation.

Now let’s shift our focus to ugly Chinamen (women) crapping in public. Be warned that what you’re going to read next may affect your appetite or your ability to hold down a heavy meal.

I first visited China in 1995 and as my father had already been there to visit our relatives long before that, I was mentally prepared for the adventure. One of the most shocking things for the average Singaporean would be the public toilets. One would simply crap into holes in the cement floor. Sometimes, the holes are housed in cubicles but there are never any doors. There is usually a big drain under the hole. Once in a while, the drain would be flushed. In winter when water supply is low and when the shit gets viscous, it could pile up like ice cream and extrude from the hole. People would gladly crap in the open when they see that.

Then, in 1997, I travelled on the Silk Road from Beijing to Kashgar. I took public transport all the way on my month-long sojourn. It was summer and flies were all over the place. The smell of the toilets was stronger and travelled further. I tried as far as possible to “keep” it for the hotel, but when it was not possible, I was somewhat relieved that there was no toilet in sight. Whenever we were given a toilet break on a long bus journey, people just peed and crapped by the side of the road. It was such a pleasant experience compared to crapping in a house of shit and flies.

On the 18-hour journey between Lanzhou and Jiayuguan, the bus stopped several times in the middle of the Gobi Desert and we disembarked, men on one side of the bus, women on the other side and left our excrement on the road. At some small outposts in the desert, the owners of teashops would lock up their toilets to prevent travellers from using them. Need to relieve yourself? Do it on the sand. In China, crap like the Chinese do. Everybody was baring his butt and the whole thrill of voyeurism was completely lost.

Now let’s get back to Singapore where the culture of crapping in the open is completely lost after mobile toilets became available to our army boys. I suspect that little has changed in most parts of China outside the coastal cities. Having read all this, would you be surprised that some of the millions of folks who travel this way on long-distance buses in China might find it perfectly natural to crap in the open?

calvincheng

Mr Calvin Cheng has NEVER seen this – just as a meditation junkie might declare that there is no prostitution in Thailand. Somehow I’m not surprised. It makes the ivory tower analogy so appropriate. Or is it simply another case of 睁着眼睛说瞎话? Seriously, do only mentally ill people in China pee and crap in the open? I’m sure we know better, especially people like me who had to crap like a mainlander for a month. Mr Cheng owns us an apology. He is insulting all the perfectly sane people who leave their trails outside the filthy toilets all over China.

© Chan Joon Yee


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Blasts In Bangkok

Genius has its limits. Stupidity knows no bounds.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who is overseeing the response to the protests, questioned why organizers changed the rally’s route to pass by the abandoned buildings where the bombing occurred. It’s amazing how many stupid supporters this guy (Suthep) has.

Nobody is perfect. Pick the lesser of two evils.

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Miss Bangkok: Memoirs of a Thai Prostitute by Bua Boonmee

Born to an army sergeant major in Isan (Northeastern Thailand), the author Bua had a happy childhood growing up among military tanks and trucks. She had no money for toys or even colour pencils while her mother gambled away her allowance and her father squandered money at watering holes on payday.

Before long, her parents were fighting and she would hide in her neighbour’s house. Her mother’s gambling habit grew worse. When she was 17, her father found a lover and her mother decided to leave him and take her and her sister to Bangkok. After having settled down in the Thai capital, her mother sold som tam (papaya salad) on the streets. A bartender by the name of Chai tried to hit on Bua. Her mother opened doors for him and urged Bua to marry him even though Bua had no feelings for him.

Bua and Chai got married and she only found out that he was a nut case who was very loving one moment and downright abusive the very next minute when she was pregnant with his child. Bua was beaten up whenever he suspected that she was having an affair. Bua decided to leave him and she left her son with her father in Khorat.

Bua went to work as a bartender, then a hostess at an upmarket nightclub. A wealthy Japanese businessman by the name of Hiroshi became enamoured with her. He showered her with money and gifts, hoping that she would agree to be his mistress. She rejected him, but he patiently courted her, thinking that she was a shy virgin playing hard to get. After three years, the amazingly generous and patient Japanese man gave up and stopped supporting her. Bua had to abandon her classy apartment and move into a shanty hut in a slum.

Then, she met a motorcycle courier by the name of Yuth who was “more attractive than Chai”. She found him “sweet” and “affectionate”. In spite of the tremendous restraint she showed in rejecting the wealthy and mature Hiroshi’s advances, she wasted no time in jumping into bed with the vocal and showy Yuth. Shockingly yet predictably, he turned out to be another wife-beater. She wanted to leave him but discovered that she was pregnant (again). She gave birth to two of his children and while he doted on them, he refused to work and the family eventually drifted into financial dire straits.

Bua tried to work as a hostess again, but at 29, she was deemed too old for the upmarket establishments catering to wealthy Asians. Realising that her “market value” had plummeted, she was recruited into a Patpong gogo bar by another Isan girl by the name of Nok. Yuth was agreeable to her prostituting herself as long as she only slept with Farangs and not Thais. Bua received her thong bikini and started dancing on stage, trying to get horny Farang men to bring her back to their hotel rooms.

Nhim, the mamasan at the gogo bar, ran a tight ship with strict house rules. Bua was regularly subjected to the indignity of having regular blood tests and her vagina douched at a VD clinic.

Before long, the inevitable happened. Bua met a then 35-year-old engineer from California by the name of Jack. He not only gave her orgasms, he even took her shopping. Bua was in the habit of telling her clients about an abusive ex-spouse to gain sympathy. She lied to Jack that she was a single parent. After Jack left Thailand, he sent her a long love email. She looked forward to the day Jack would book her on the next flight to California.

Jack visited Thailand frequently, but he seemed contented to remain a regular customer in spite of their apparently romantic relationship. As expected, Bua’s mother welcomed Jack with open arms but discreetly warned her not to get emotionally involved. Bua did not tell him that she was still living with an abusive husband and two children. She became confused and ambivalent. One moment, she was doubting his sincerity when he didn’t seem to mind her sleeping with other men in his absence and yet another moment, she was hating him for being possessive when he wanted her for himself only.

One day, Bua received an email from a certain Sarah – Jack’s fiancee! Emails from Jack stopped after that. She realised that she was not the only liar in the relationship.

Bua’s sister Nang found herself a Norwegian boyfriend and married him. She was instantly inundated with requests for money from family members to distant relatives. Nang offered Bua a means of escape from her unhappy marriage, but she couldn’t bear to leave her children. Seeing that the two of them were so attached to their father, they would hate her if she took them away. Bua ends the book with hope that she would one day meet a Farang who could rescue her from prostitution. Ironically, prostitution is her only way of finding him.

I finished reading this book in a couple of hours. It’s really very “light” compared to the classics that I often have to pore over word for word. I’m not sure if Bua had used a ghostwriter, but the language is simple, fluent and unpretentious. I can’t say that I’ve learned anything new from this book, but it does offer a complete story with an insider’s view of how a typical Thai bargirl came to be.

However, I take issue with Bua’s understanding of the Buddhist concept of karma. She wrote: “I have come to the conclusion that I must have done some terrible deeds in a past life to warrant such a terrible present”. It seems pretty obvious to me that the mess she found herself in was largely the result of her imprudence in this life. Suffice to say that she has not won my sympathy.

© Chan Joon Yee

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