Limits. We all have them. Even an arch-bishop will eventually SNAP and kick in a stained-glass window.
Here in Thailand, the people are non-confrontational and gentle – and it takes a LOT to make THEM unravel.
Case in point… It was a hot afternoon in Bangkok (hardly a novelty) and this historian was sat in a minibus, in a right-turn lane that was serviced by a green arrow phase (I used to be a traffic-light engineer). The controller slipped a cog and the lights staged EIGHT TIMES, missing OUT our phase each time.
Now Bangkok’s traffic lights are notorious for having LONG stages – sometimes as much as FIVE MINUTES – but our light stayed red for over TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES (I timed it). Of course, in Europe, realising the lights were f***ed, the drivers would have started slowly moving across the junction after just FIVE.
But not in Thailand. In fact, when the light DID finally change, the now ENDLESS column of traffic only kept going for a FEW SECONDS after the light had changed back to red, before some prat – luckily, six cars BEHIND us – STOPPED for it. He’s probably still THERE.
But another case in point… And this time, thankfully, I was NOT there – however, the story was reported in a reliable newspaper (they EXIST, here) so I have no reason to doubt it.
The Thais cannot afford the likes of cocaine, etc. So they use a locally-produced “certain substance” called Yabba (as in Dabba Doo). I wouldn’t touch it myself, however I understand it produces a massive high – but in overdose, causes chronic paranoia. Such was the case in a small, rural town where a user took a school-girl hostage in the cab of a lorry.
The townsfolk surrounded the vehicle – and eventually, the cops showed up. Of course, had this happened in America, everyone would have ended up DEAD. But this being Thailand, the cops (who ARE armed) hung back as usual, hoping for a bloodless resolution.
This policy normally works, but in this case it didn’t. Yabba-guy slit the girl’s throat, killing her instantly. And the crowd went BERSERK. They dragged the man from the lorry and literally ripped him apart.
The cops sensibly hung back, saying, “Tch-tch, that’s NAUGHTY – please stop it at once.” Then, when the mob were finished, scooped up the remains, put them into a plastic bag, dropped the bag into their car-boot and drove back to the station to spend several days making out their reports.
All of which shows that while the Thais LOVE peace and tranquillity – even THEY have their Limits.