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Published: November 6th 2009
Thailand is a little different than what we've come to know in the last two months of our travels. There's a beautifully paved four lane highway called the "Super Highway" which links up Bangkok with the rest of the country. Cars actually out number motos and bikes here. It seems like the Thai people are much better off than most of their neighbors and most likely it has to do with booming tourism. You'd be hardpressed to find anything that is off the tourist beat or anything that, according the countless expats, wasn't "like sooooo much better like twenty years ago, man!" We met one guy, who actually lived in Fairfax and started the Dragon acupuncture clinic on Bolinas road (I can't remember if it was acupuncture or something similar, but Mom or Dad, or any San Anselmo people, you might know this place), who fit the bill as a batshit crazy expat. First he taught us that the water in the US was poisonous, whereas alcohol, of which he drank his fair share, had no ill side affects. To get his points across he told us repeatedly that he was a doctor, of what I'm not so
sure. Then he casually let fly that Bush used the patriot act to seize 2.5 million dollars worth of gold he'd been storing in Panama but Obama was even a far greater threat to the continued existence of human beings. He found a cure for cancer, he didn't want to specify what kind, but the leaders of the project were assassinated by a conglomeration of pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and US government that rules the world. He then tried to sell us some packaged dirt designed for human consumption.
I can't say that most expats are that far gone, some are very pleasant indeed, but for the most part, the ones you notice are the ones that are in your face and proudly parade around with their "girlfriends" who are 20 to 40 years younger. It's a scene that is as big here as probably anywhere in the world.
The massive tourism presence in Thailand and the fortunes it brings has resulted in the growth of some decidedly odd attractions. My favorite was spending a day messing around with tigers. Someone has started a tiger breeding program which brings in money by letting tourists play with both little
and very large tigers.
We had the good fortune to be in Chiang Mai during their largest festival of the year. The festivities and fireworks put even the best 4th of July party to shame. There's not any amazing coordinated fireworks display but rather thousands off prepubescent boys liking off sticks of dynamite and massive bottle rockets. They've also got these funny little hot air balloons made out of tissue paper and bamboo that get sent into the air by the thousands. You can't see any stars but the balloons make it look like you are in the backwoods staring at the milky way.
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