My last blog I left off at me being dropped off by the cab driver at my hotel, which sadly I don’t have any pictures of. I will go into detail about the hotel, and the pricing, and how it looks on another post. For now, let’s get into my experience walking through the streets. So I check in, throw my bags in my room, make a few phone calls, take my key card, and then hit the streets. The hotel that I was staying at was off on a side road on the north east side of town. Not on the major strip or off any highways. It was somewhat sort of in the mist of a neighborhood down a back road. I’ve never seen a hotel located in an area like that before but it did not look out of place.
So as I’m walking down this road, you see people from the community selling food on the right sight of the road. Most of what they were selling was fruits and vegetables, but there were a few people selling pork. Now the parts of the pig that they were selling wasn’t just the ribs or the legs like you see in the grocery stores, no, they had the head and the liver and the butt laid out on the table too. ALL PARTS OF THE PIG WERE BEING SOLD, and flies were on the meat. For the most part, I admired their work ethic. They got up and made it happen for themselves, and the people purchasing their goods were giving back to the community, because the grocery stores were selling the same produce that they were selling but triple the price.
I am finally at the end of the road at this point, and then I turn left on to the main strip to head to the mall. As you can see in the picture up top, that was my view every single day when I would walk to and from my hotel room. Might be a poor country but the scenery is absolutely beautiful. After about the third or fourth day I started to notice something. I noticed that none of the local Thai people in Chiang Mai were walking. I mean yea back home in America you use your vehicle or public transportation whenever you have to, but this is a 3rd world country we are talking about. Many people did have vehicles, but the rest would ride on scooters. Not only that, they would cover up in coats and winter clothing, IN 100 DEGREE FAHRENHEIT WEATHER!!!!
Now even though I am in complete utter shock to see people dressing like this in such blazing weather conditions, I started to put two and two together once I entered the mall. There were skin whitening clinics all throughout that mall, multiple clinics on every floor. Now I’ve studied about race relations and how different groups of people around the world are influenced by those in the dominant society, but I wanted to hear someone explain about this to me that was from Thailand. It wasn’t until about a day or two later that I met a woman who was from Chiang Mai and her English was perfect. She told me how she spent some time in America going to school and picked up on the English language pretty fast out there.
Shortly into the conversation, I had to bring up my concern about people wearing coats, scarves, gloves, and sweatpants while riding their scooters in hellacious weather. Surprisingly, she gave me her answer straight with no chase and kept it real. She said that people in most parts of Asia, including Thailand, want to be white. They go to the skin whitening clinics, they bleach their skin, and they also cover up when they are riding on their scooters so they don’t get a tan. She also told me that’s mainly why you don’t see people walking. Even if they have to go someplace right up the road, they would rather hop on their scooter and ride for a minute or two to their destination then to walk and possibly get a tan. She said you will hardly see any Thais walking unless it’s late at night. Even though the information she said gave me clarity, it saddened me as well. I noticed on their billboards, TV shows, commercials, movies, and office jobs they would put the whitest Thais in those positions and have the darkest people doing field work. But that’s the whole point of traveling, to learn about other cultures. I learned about something else that day too….. – Splash Wave