As a lad growing up I recall that my parents used to resort to trotting out adages to me, usually when I wanted something I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) have. Although my mind can get foggy about things that happened before my teens, I clearly remember that these old sayings hardly ever provided consolation or reassurance.
Take, for instance, the time I wanted a bike. The reality was that my parents could not afford it. Since when was that an excuse? It would be the modern day equivalent of an eight-year-old demanding the latest iPhone because all their friends had one.
When I applied this ‘my friends all have one’ logic to my bike request my father replied: “If all your friends were to jump off a bridge, would you do the same?”
They were riding bikes, dad, not bungee jumping, I thought. Actually that’s stretching (bad pun) things a bit. I’m not sure bungee jumping even existed all those years back.
To put an end to the discussion – I wouldn’t call it an argument – my dad uttered the immortal words: “And remember there is always someone worse off than yourself.”
While this statement is undeniably true somehow it did not fill me with the feel-good factor.
Why am I trying to take readers back into the murky depths of my childhood?
Well the other day I found myself mentally applying the ”someone worse off than yourself logic” to a different dilemma – namely, the bad trot that many businesses have been going through in Pattaya over the past couple of years.
There’s no denying that certain types of business – not all, things don’t work that way – have been finding it hard to keep going. This applies to magazine ownership too, I should point out.
But say, for example, you are a bar owner trying to earn a baht or three here in fun city. How has business been? Not good? Would my telling you that ‘there is someone always worse off than yourself’ really help?
Because there is, you know. Someone worse off. For example, instead of running or taking over a bar in Pattaya you could have decided to open one in the holiday resort town of El Kantaoui near Sousse in Tunisia. Yes that’s the place where a gunman downed 38 innocent holiday makers a few years back. Imagine if you had opened a Dun Romin’ bar there.
How would you feel if you had invested a large chunk of your pension money in Tunisia? People simply stopped going there. Even allowing for the fact that memories fade over time, business in Sousse went down the toilet.
I started going over this in my head following a conversation with my great nephew (my niece’s son) and his girlfriend recently. The girlfriend works for the long-established holiday firm, Thomas Cook. They were about to head off to Turkey for a holiday.
Turkey? I said in a questioning tone. Are Brits still taking holidays there, I asked. “Sure,” she replied, “the resorts are not affected by all the coup or immigrant nonsense”.
As a Thomas Cook employee did she get a discount on the trip? “Yes,” she replied, “but only for me because James (my great nephew) and I aren’t married.”
I sensed that this lack of matrimonial commitment might have been something of a sore point so I decided to curtail my line of questioning. But I did think that, even were you to pay me, I’m not sure I’d be stocking up on the sun oil for a trip to Turkey.
As an extension to this line of thinking I wondered what the UK government’s thoughts would be on Turkey as a holiday destination. For the lack of something more productive to do, I looked it up.
If you visit the website www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice you can glean their thoughts on 255 countries. I fished around a few of them and it became obvious that if you decide to check out a country then it’s a good sign if you don’t see a map for it.
If you do see a map, you don’t want to see any areas coloured red – “red light spells danger” and all that. Sounds like a title for pop song!
Let me guide you through the colour scheme.
* Green equals “seek our advice before travelling”. In other words there may or may not be trouble, but we are just covering our derrieres in case there is.
* Orange says that the UK government advises against all but essential travel. If something goes wrong, don’t call us.
* Red is we (the UK government) advise against all travel. Well, we did warn you.
A quick glance at this web site’s map of Thailand at the time I wrote this showed virtually all of it in “seek our advice” green though right down in the very south, close to the Malaysian border, the colour changes to orange – in other words essential travel only.
Thailand veterans will feel that there are no surprises there but I guess we could do without the vast majority of the country being coloured “seek advice” green.
So how does this compare to some of Thailand’s neighbours?
Take the Philippines, all of that country is also coloured green but the further south you go (nearer to Malaysia, does anyone see a pattern emerging?) the map turns orange then red.
Vietnam, in contrast, did not even merit a map, which I took to be a good sign.
However, if you are tempted to feel a little down about the UK’s evaluation of Thailand take solace from the fact that other leading tourist hot spots do not fare so well.
For example, all of Libya was coloured “don’t go there” red and all of Tunisia either orange or red. This should mean that many Russians who used to favour North Africa’s sun for their holidays will be looking elsewhere. This also applies to Brits, Germans and Belgians who bore the brunt of the Tunisian beach attack.
Happy that other holiday hot spots are faring worse than Pattaya? Nah? Well, I don’t know what to say to cheer you up.
Turkey has a few red areas by the way especially on its border with Syria.
… And I never did get that bike!
By Dave Buckley