Sunday, October 29, 2006

Crime and safety

No I have not left the country, or lost interest. I've had a rare thing known as a holiday, and well deserved it was too.

I start work next week in my new job. I've discovered I'll be teaching kindergarten kids, which is not my idea of full time work. Still, with everything I've been through work -wise in the last few weeks, I just want to get my head down and stay out of hassle for a while.

My old blog was actually getting popular. My new one is still a secret. If you know anyone or any site that might like some inside information on living in Thailand, please let them know about me!

Crime in Thailand

People planning to visit Thailand for the first time often ask me "Is it safe?" "What about malaria?" "Is there a lot of crime?". It's not an easy set of questions to answer. My usual response to the malaria thing is to point out there is far more chance of being hit by a car in Thailand than catching malaria. It's the fear of disease that gets the amount of risk distorted to people.

As for crime, well like any capital city , Bangkok has its share. The good news is that most crime is non confrontational due to the Thai psyche. You are a lot more at risk of having your wallet swiped that being assaulted. The yobs , or hoodlums or mall rats as they are known in the west are different in Thailand. They dress in a way that they see as rebellious but would have them laughed out of any western gang. I'll try and get some pictures for this. In general, they cause a lot less unrest. One of the best day to day pluses of living here is that I can usually walk down a street without having a gang of teenagers putting on a macho show.

It's not utopia though. When violent crime does happen here - it happens big time. I've mentioned before about the vocational colleges and their fighting. It gets bad. The only danger to foreigners though is being caught in the crossfire. Other violent crime can be bought about by a Thai losing face. This often happens in a debate or a bargain at the market that goes wrong, often with the foreigner not realising that shouting or insulting a Thai in public is a big loss of face for them. Employ some common sense, don't let anything get more heated than it needs to.

There have been several extremely violent and tragic crimes here in the last year or so that have tarnished the image. My heart goes out to anyone who suffers. In analysing the events, I noticed that western media, local language media, and local English language media all reported different details. Suffice to say that it does appear that things got personal in every case, none of the cases seemed to be a random attack or short argument. I don't mean to sound cryptic there, but i don't want to speculate or discuss details in any of these events that were so tragic.

In summary, I'd say that as long as you keep your wits about you, and stay sober at least some of the time, don't get too personally involved with anyone too quickly and don't let any disagreements become too public or verbal, then Thailand is a place you can enjoy without any more risk of crime than back home.

The roads though? Aha! That's a different story!

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