Love ‘em or hate ‘em?
By Tom Long
Many-a CM Mail reader will have seen something similar to this. The
other day, I was having a leisurely coffee in the stylish lobby area of a
little boutique hotel in downtown Chiang Mai, when the serene peace was
disrupted by the arrival of a small group of tourists arriving from Mainland
China. There was an immediate streetside altercation between them and their
taxi driver, with all five of them shouting and gesticulating at the poor
fellow. Mind you, the taxi fare might fairly have been the cause of some
dispute, since such a regrettably small proportion of the city’s few taxi
drivers are honest enough to use the taxi meter.
After this alarming fracas ended, the five entered the (until-then) serene
hotel lobby to check in. All three men in the party immediately lit up
cigarettes, and were none too pleased when the gracious Thai receptionist
politely asked them to smoke in the garden. This they declined to do -
instead, loitering around the doorway, thus exposing all inside to their
The two ‘’ladies’’ in their group had meanwhile instigated a loud row with
the receptionist, presumably about their room allocations. One of their
menfolk entered the lobby again, still smoking, to add his own bellicose
words to the dispute. Eventually, room keys were proffered and the group
departed to their rooms.
With over 100 million and more outbound tourists exiting from Mainland China
each year, it can come as no surprise that nearby countries, including
Thailand, are going to see vastly increased numbers of tourist visitors from
there, and that number is rapidly increasing. Is that a good or a bad thing,
for Chiang Mai?
Of course, there are well-behaved, and the opposite, people in every
country. But in the case of too many of those travelling away from Mainland
China, their own government is well aware of the strongly negative
impression given of their and is even contemplating guiding their outbound
tourists towards better standards of international etiquette. How can you
convert boorish people, by the tens of millions towards more gracious
behaviour? Even the power of the Beijing government hasn’t yet found a way
to achieve that objective.
Mainland Chinese tourists are famous for spending much holiday time on their
key objective: that is of buying brand-name luxury fashion items overseas at
much cheaper prices then they would have to pay at home. However, there’s a
scarcity of Prada, Burberry and Gucci shops in Chiang Mai, so what else are
they going to do here?
A visit to the Tiger Farm would likely interest them - particularly if tiger
bones could be sold to them, and tiger meat made available on the menu! It
is likely that few of them would be much interested in visiting local
temples or museums. They might appreciate buying the many traditional herbal
remedies, available cheaply at apothecary shops around Chiang Mai. And then,
there’s no shortage of tea shops, overpriced though many of them are.
Those inclined to spend more might indulge in massages and other treatments
at some of Chiang Mai’s many high-end spas. But the likelihood is that
Chiang Mai, delightful place though we residents know it to be, holds few
key attractions for tourist visitors from Mainland China.
It will be for the reader to decide if such visitors are, on the whole,
welcome or otherwise in Chiang Mai. And so, dear reader, you can guess which
side of the fence I come on: I fully agree with their own government’s view,
that much of their countrymen’s behavior while overseas gives great cause
for concern, since it gives a poor impression of their country as a whole.
On the positive side, there is much room for improvement.....