By now, if you have been watching and listening to me talk for any length of time you will probably have assimilated ‘The Rules’. Some form of these “Rules” can be found on various websites and videos across the web.
- Don’t be “Captain Save a Whore”-whores don’t want to be saved, they want your money.
- Don’t let girls/ladyboys move into your apartment until you are ready
- If you feel yourself falling in love, take some time out
- Don’t marry a whore
- Don’t use your savings to buy land or property in a Thai person’s legal name
- Be prepared to walk away from any relationship even if it hurts.
Rules are made to be broken but make sure you don’t break them on your first visit to Thailand. Give yourself a fighting chance before applying a broader, more sensitive approach to living.
The most basic rules, like those above, are those you will have heard and read the most often and we need rules or maxims to live by particularly when we are vulnerable, as when we are in situations/environments that are new to us. Thai people often imagine foreigners as naive or even stupid folk who come from a land of milk and honey where even idiots can succeed with ease. Arriving in Thailand is jumping off a cultural cliff’s edge and we spend a lot of time walking around, enthralled, with our mouths open in surprise and amazement as we soak in this thoroughly alien but wonderful new world.
But these rules are just maxims, stereotypical responses if you will and as such are there to be broken, in time.
All people of broad, strong sense have an instinctive repugnance to the men of maxims; because such people early discern that the mysterious complexity of our life is not to be embraced by maxims, and that to lace ourselves up in formulas of that sort is to repress all the divine promptings and inspirations that spring from growing insight and sympathy. And the man of maxims is the popular representative of the minds that are guided in their moral judgment solely by general rules, thinking that these will lead them to justice by a ready-made patent method, without the trouble of exerting patience, discrimination, impartiality, without any care to assure themselves whether they have the insight that comes from a hardly-earned estimate of temptation, or from a life vivid and intense enough to have created a wide fellow-feeling with all that is human.
If you have been to Thailand and smelled (quite literally) the jasmine and the sewers, then it may be time to tear up the rules and write some new ones! That growing insight and sympathy mentioned by Eliot will prompt us to reflect and re-imagine our rules for living. General rules such as ‘don’t trust a whore’ can be abandoned when we are able to exert patience and discrimination grown from a well-earned estimate of the temptations, pitfalls and intensity of a life lived vividly.
It’s time to trust your intuition again.
In Thailand people’s intentions are often masked from us by a cultural fog. In an effort to ‘think the best of people’ we can find it difficult to interpret these actions as anything negative (which they may be) and this can lead us to trust and even become attached to people who may not have our best interests uppermost in their plans. Clearly this is not a sustainable approach to life and so in order to protect ourselves we may follow “The Rules’ unerringly and the danger in not trusting anyone is that we can become cynical and grow to hate Thailand and its people. That would be a mistake.
We need balance