Sunday, 27 April 2008

"Must get money" in Bangkok

Imagine you're walking along the side of small lane.  Mopeds and cars are flying past you, there are more street stalls than you can imagine, and your senses are working overtime.  You're looking around, at everything and nothing - the cacophony from the road, the glare of headlights, the Deep smells from street food vendors and the myriad of faces are a delight to the senses.

And the next thing you know you nearly walk into an elephant. Yes, an elephant.  A real live, swaying, grey chunky elephant. RIght there, in the middle of the sidewalk.  No, it's not minding it's on business, but working. And it will walk the streets, night after night after night.

Bangkok is a city of contrasts.  Throw into the mix young Thai urbanites, the 5 star hotels and condos, the vendors, the hoards of tourists, the working girls, the lady boys, and one smallish elephant.  But then add an ample measure of poverty. There are beggars on the street who have maimed themselves (i.e. limb amputation being extreme but nonetheless a fair example)  to appear as being in greater need of your coinage, and the mothers who bring their children to the street to beg, some still infants.

That elephant represents the hoards of rural Thais who leave the country side and come to the city in the hopes they can break out of the poverty that has followed them since birth.  The elephant is a revered creature in this country. But to the mahout (handler) who brings his animal into the city to walk the streets of Sukhumvit each night, that elephant is a source of income.  He sells smalls bags of food to the tourists so they can feed the animal.

Animals being used in this way is truly shameful.  But the greater sin is poverty, were it not for it, the elephant would be in the country where it belongs. 

Come here and spend your money, and spend a lot of it.  But spend it with a conscience.

1 comment:

Fiona said...

how did cumbernauld get a mention???

go on yer sen big man !