Thoughts at a Crossroad, the Beginning

Financial straits, impoverished and down-and-out. Bangkok offers much to the enterprising, commodity-hungry urban community; where living conditions are geared for the unbelievably rich and the middle class, with their constant gnawing and twitching to be a step above. As it is, the working class, particularly the poor continue to live in pockets of ghetto, or in Khlong Toei, a vast slum empire with a million souls living and working in the segregated quarter of this metropolis.

For Coins: Thai children with a traditional Lao instrument.

Rural Thailand seems unaffected by the initial curfews imposed by the junta, and yet months later their lives seem unchanged, somewhat. Poverty brings about hardship, and rural communities tend to adapt to any imposing regime; they work, they raise their families, they study, and they embrace the karmatic cycle. Small communities that I have met, from the northeastern province of Maha Sarkham, to the furthest southern provinces seem quiet, as if wanting to wake up from a bad dream but not really knowing when or how.

Small enterprise: often families of farmers sell foodstuffs at the roadside, in makeshift markets. 

Tourism, when society is dependant on the floods of both local and foreign tourists, though in many parts of Thailand the population rely, or has conditioned itself, on the currency of the holiday-marker, the excursionist, the budget traveller. I've yet to see the clustering of crowds in most parts of Pattaya, a large town almost exclusively devoted to foreign tourism; appearing like a scenery of a ghost town at Jomtien beach. Foreigners have abandoned the popularity of such places for simpler terrains, away from the glares of what most outsiders feel as a volatile climate of uncertainty. Some have opted for the eastern countries of the Mekong region, or the unexplored landscapes of Malaysia and Indonesia. I wonder, to what extent the impact of fewer tourists on the struggling local communities in Pattaya, with the presence of soldiers and police in public ready to enforce the will of the junta, and the repetitive violence in the south of Thailand. Most likely, Malaysians will resume, though in fewer numbers, their 'cultural' visits to the south, though I don't think it will have similar effect on the other parts of the country.

Unaccompanied: vendor temporarily absent from his vehicle and fruits. 

Such times I am reminded of the poor in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines; the institutional unspoken dogma of ensuring the poor remain poor, where its obvious, their inability of getting opportunities and choices. Seems in this country, the poor will continue to live out of society's grace, and often to be footstools for the wealthy or the ultra nationalists. The national economy, nay one must seek the thoughts of an expert, definitely not me, though its safe to say that the impact of a forcibly change of regime has increased the vulnerability of the poor in coming months. For as long as I remember, the lives of the poor in the region raises no eye brows of the middle class, and nor will the poor affect the bourgeois sensibility. In the end, the backbone of the Thailand lies with the rural population, to nurture the soil, to care for the herds, and leave their marks on others.


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