One of my better and more advanced Thai students once cruelly jibed that if it weren’t for the Chinese coming to Thailand many generations ago, the Thai's would all still be standing around pointing at the moon. And when Chinese New Year is upon us, sometime in January or February, look around you at the ghost town which Bangkok has suddenly become. You begin to realise just how many businesses are controlled by the Chinese section of the community or at least the Thai-Chinese section of the community as they like to be known.
I have heard some fascinating stories in my time here of single Chinese men who have left poverty-stricken China with just a bundle of personal possessions over their shoulder. Then later made their considerable wealth in Thailand through a combination of sheer hard work and making the right decisions at the right times.
On the other hand, I dislike the way that the Chinese go about their business in Bangkok (or at least the older generation). The older Chinese are a 'money under the mattress' generation. Or as my father would say ‘saving up for a gold headstone’. I find them a very miserable bunch of people, who have never had a single clue how to get enjoyment out of life (except for maybe throwing a few fireworks at each other). You walk into these old Chinese grocery stores in the city, and there’s old Pop with his dirty vest and his only pair of grubby shorts. The crud-covered ceiling fan rotates gently on speed number 1 (so not to use up too much electricity) and sitting in the background is usually some old grandmother perched on the same stool she’s sat on for the past 60 years. With her little remaining eyesight she's there to make sure that no-one slips a one-baht piece of candy into their packet. An extremely sad existence.
Q: Chinese? What's your view of the Thai?
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