Travel Stories »

Revolution in Thailand? Business as Usual

So there’s a few tanks in the street…

When I used to hang out penniless in Bangkok, I used to sometimes scrape a little baht together by writing articles for a magazine targetted at backpackers, Farang . otherwise now known as Untamed Travel – the name had been changed to please advertisers who found the original tongue-in-cheek title too provocative.

“Not that it made any difference,” the editor, Cameron, sighed over a beer,“Then they said ‘but who will know the magazine with a new name?’”

Cameron was one of the more inspiring expats I’d met in Thailand – he had been around long enough to be schooled in the ways of Asia without letting it drag him down into bitterness and apathy like so many others. He enjoyed playing the older hand and he enjoyed telling me ‘i told you so’ after he predicted I’d have a miserable time trying to teaching English in Korea or selling trinkets in Japan.

When I swung back through Bangkok some years later though, Farang was on its last legs and Cameron was a little older and wiser. Not only had some key advertisers not paid up but the whole Thai political and ecological situation was just too random to run a business.

“Just when you build some momentum there’s SARS or there’s a tsunami or a freaking military coup and the backpackers go running.” he fumed.

He was getting out of the magazine business and going back to freelancing. So now when I see the queues of stranded tourists at Bangkok airport I have to laugh. Instability, intermittent chaos and confusion are staples of the South Asian diet.

And luckily I no longer have to write articles for 1000 baht a pop.