Bag it up, Phuket

PHUKET: This island seems willing to bag, and double bag, almost anything – except what’s most important.

The speed with which a single bottle of cola is dropped into a completely unnecessary plastic bag is astonishing.

Simply asking a customer if they need a bag would show a much needed, and improved, awareness of the amount of packaging products we already have.

The Thai phrase Mai sai thung krap, which means “don’t put it in a bag”, however, is a double-edged sword. It’s perfect at the nearest 7-Eleven or 24-hour SuperCheap, though it will occasionally get you a small smile – yes, it’s also a double entendre.

The one thing people in Thailand seem hesitant to bag up is found between their legs. Perhaps nowhere is this more of a concern than in communities that don’t have to worry about accidental impregnation.

Thailand is now faced with infection rates in its gay population comparable to those in Africa’s AIDS hot spots, according to a recent Reuters’ report.

Though the report focused on the gay men in the party scene and male sex-workers in Bangkok, it should have implications for those in Phuket, which is home to a large, proud gay population.

“For the government to take a stand in this epidemic and stand up for the rights of a minority population, I thought this was a big move,” Frits van Griensven, an HIV researcher and adviser to the Thai Red Cross told Reuters.

However, much to Thailand’s credit, the HIV epidemic that took hold in the late ’80s was successfully tackled in the ’90s.

“In Thailand, explicit messages to men about the risks of STIs [sexually transmitted infections] from unprotected commercial sex resulted in higher reported condom use, lower reported numbers of sex-worker visits and lower infection rates,” reported the World Health Organization, based off the research of R Hanberg and W Rojanapithayakorn.

The ability for long-term educational campaigns to make a difference should come as a relief to both environmentalists and the sexually active. The attitude that nothing will ever change, especially when it comes to deeply rooted habits, is prevalent in Phuket.

However, as the National Council for Peace and Order has shown, change can come swiftly. Let us hope for both the island’s environment and our prevalent gay population that the efforts to
educate the public about when to bag it and when to skip the bag comes just as quickly.

— Alex Stone


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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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