By DAVE OAKES
I’ve visited Thailand from Alice Springs on many occasions over the last half century.
I have come to enjoy this land of elephants, tigers, muay-thai and excellent food.
In 2015 I stayed for several months to have my teeth improved, it was coined dental tourism in the media. Dental tourism, sex tourism, inexpensive accomodation, sand and surf where the main ingredients of the Thai tourist trade, then last year the Thai government decriminalised cannabis.
A plethora of cannabis boutiques began shooting up like mushrooms after a heavy downpour. In shopping malls, popular tourist localities and mobile vendors working the well worn promenades day and night.
The Thai police and government are much happier with the situation, making much more money from licences (for vendors) and tax, much more than they ever received from busting harmless people.
Now the money they spent on cannabis seizure goes towards the illegal methamphetamine trade that is the biggest drug problem in the Kingdom.
My friend Nidder who is a tattoo artist by trade has opened a cannabis and tattoo bar in Hua Hin.
I say bar even though his top shelf has no single malts, just top grade weed.
He does sell beer and other alcohol but he doesn’t encourage it, as he says people get nasty when they get drunk but no-one is aggressive when they are stoned. He quotes Bob Marley: “Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction.”
Nidder’s partner Dada makes many varied drinks containing cannabis and other healthy herbs, one doesn’t have to smoke to get stoned.
This is the way of a Buddhist country, there is very little theft and no vandalism as I found out when I saw a wall with a row of empty beer bottles stuck to the top.
Not one bottle had been broken in the five years they had been there. I asked the locals how was this possible they told me: “We have very little theft and no vandalism because we have nasty gaols with bad food and regular beatings everybody scared.” What a powerful deterrent, I thought.
Thailand is a modern country with all the trappings of well developed countries.
The Thais are a very happy and generous people. You are welcomed with open arms and it’s not just because you are spending money. Seeing that you enjoy being in their country gives them great pride and happiness.
It is a country of great diversity and honourable people, in Asia, on our doorstep.
PHOTO at top: Beer bottles not smashed.