No, you didn’t read that sub-title wrong. A Buddhist monk delivered a series of slaps to a farang. It’s not clear whether the slaps were issued because the victim was a grown man wearing capri pants. But seriously though, it’s pretty well established that the slappings were delivered as the result of a communication mishap in which the monk heard one offensive word, but the victim says he said another (non-offensive) word–apparently corroborated by nearby witnesses. The story is here.
This is a minor incident, except that… well, it was Buddhist monk. When men of peace get all slappy people start to wonder if there isn’t some greater underlying anti-farang sentiment. I mean, a monk is the last person you expect to slap the snot out of a person who’s just sitting there, and–if they are the last–that means that all the other Thais have been slapping around foreigners already. For the record I only got pummeled about the head and neck in the Muaythai gym, so it was in context.
There’s good reason why Thailand is one of the most beloved tourist destinations in the world. The people are awesome. The food is delectable. It’s easy to get around to see the country’s many impressive sights and serene beaches. It’s laid-back, and, unlike some tourist destinations, it’s a country that’s eager to have you whether you’re a poor backpacker or a wealthy industrialist.
However, lately Thailand cannot catch a break on the tourism front. First, the country is under martial law. I can say from experience that there isn’t much evidence of change if you’re a traveler. However, it probably still keeps some people out. Some governments even issued warnings to citizens out of fear that violence might erupt if citizens tire of the situation. “Martial law” doesn’t exactly scream safe travel destination.
Then in September (around the time I was last in Thailand) a couple was brutally murdered with a hoe on Koh Tao. This might have been even worse for the tourist trade than the martial law. For one thing, it got a lot of press because the couple was really, really nice looking, making it easy to plaster their faces across every media outlet in the world. For another thing, they were killed with a hoe. Who kills someone with a hoe, really? The only way it could have been worse was if it was murder by Garden Weasel (as seen on TV.) (I’m not saying that if it had been an ugly couple that got shot or stabbed with a knife, that the effect on tourism would have been minimal, but…)
As it was, it resulted in the need to put out a new tourism video entitle “I hate Thailand”, that oddly makes Western tourists seems like even bigger pricks than they (we) really are in an effort to attract tourism.
All that said, you should go to Thailand.