Dirty Chinese at Thailand Five Star Hotel Spa

From my 1979 scrapbook Peoples Republc China...All Chinese dressed like this then.  A lot’s changed since I took this picture in 1979 the first year the Peoples Republic of China opened its doors to Americans. Everyone wore peasants garb in blue or green then and there was hardly a car to be found, and one could have any color of bicycle one wanted so long as it was black after a half a year wait. When our bus would roll into town, people would flock over as if we were aliens from outer space.

But Thirty-four years later (last night) I wrote

The spa is magnificent, so much so that I feel very lucky to be here. And so are the pretty massage girls, but I’ve got just 10 free massages and they are expensive or at least compared to what I can get practically everywhere else. There’s a large Jacuzzi and a cold pool next to it, a sauna and steam room. The place would do a Roman Senator proud, except as terrific as those old Roman bath houses were, there’s no way they could ever top this. Unfortunately, marring the beauty of this place are the despoilers, the defilers, who make about everything they touch worse for everyone else. These are the polluters who throw their towels, and used massage garments all about the place giving it a ghettoish trashy look that is absolutely undeserved. A friend of mine thought it was the Russians trashing the place up, but I told him, “no way”. First, there’s not a lot of Russians who use the spa and when they do I don’t see all the liter left behind after they’ve left. Asians now, that’s another story. But unless I ask, I oftentimes don’t know where they are from. At first I thought it was rich Thais, but the girls at the desk keep telling me they are Chinese. Turns out they are right.

The Spa dressing room

In the men’s side of the spa there are fourteen lockers in a room that’s around 20 feet wide and at either end of these lockers there’s a bin where hotel guests using the spa are instructed to throw their used towels, massage robes and other paraphernalia which the hotel leaves in each locker for their guests. The instructions are on a little plaque just above the opening of each bin. For me, it was pretty obvious what these bins are used for, but I must admit that the text on each plaque is in one shade of brown and the actual plaque itself is in another shade which gives these instructions a subdued appearance that’s in good taste, but which is not as noticeable as it should be. Each time a man puts in for a massage he is escorted into the spa by one of the spa’s female employees who then instructs him to wait until his masseuse arrives to take him over to the area he’s to receive his massage. The female employee shows him the massage clothing he is expected to wear as she explains the whole procedure to him. She also gives him other instructions such as where he’s supposed to put used towels and the massage clothing once his massage is over.

I had just arrived in the locker room when one of the girls from the desk arrived with a new hotel guest, who was obviously Asian. The man never greeted me which was typical of most Asian guests, but I often talked with the desk girl who like most of the hotel’s employees goes out of her way to be friendly to the customers. I listened to her give the guest the usual instructions, but the man could obviously speak virtually no English at all, nor could he speak a lick of Thai. So the woman delivered most of her instruction by gestures and pantomime. When it came to where he should put his used towels and massage gear she reached into the man’s locker, pulled out a massage robe and then she carried it over to the bin. I thought she had done a terrific job and told her afterwards. In the meantime she asked me, “Help me with him. He speaks no English.” So after she left I grabbed a towel and shoved it towards the bin to make it 100 clear where he needed to put his towels and used massage gear.

I then went over to the fitness center where I exercised for one hour and relaxed with my girlfriend on a couch from which we both we conversed with a couple of other members we both knew and a couple of the hotel employees. When I reentered the spa I found that the beautiful small dressing room had just been turned into a pig pen. My thoughts immediately turned to the Chinese man who by this time had just finished getting his massage. But surely he couldn’t have done this much havoc all by himself? I asked myself. Certainly he had to have gotten some assistance from several of his Chinese friends at despoiling the place?

Well, we will see about that. If you and your fellow countrymen should persist in trashing up everything around here that’s beautiful, then the least I can do is to give all of you a bad name for your rudeness, inconsiderate behavior, and your polluting the planet the rest of us live on. But I had to be fair. I had to be 100 percent certain the man was guilty. There were at least four used towels and massage robes that had been strewn all over the place, several on the bench the rest of us had to sit on while changing clothes, the rest on the floor. In the next room another towel had been carelessly cast off next to one of the ornate wash basins. To ascertain whether this particular Asian was guilty or not I went over to the towel bin next to the man’s locker, looked inside the little closet and saw that there were a number of used towels inside but not one single massage robe so obviously he had thrown everything around and might have even gotten a few extra towels and massage robes for good measure just to establish who was the boss. I then looked into the towel bin next to my locker where I found that no one had disposed of his massage gear there as well. Which meant that I was 95 percent certain that this Ex Red Chinese was one human pig indeed.

The pollution in our beloved dressing room had almost devastated me. So much so that I had to show what this derelict had done to the friendly desk girl. I didn’t walk to the spa’s desk. I ran. Only to find the ex Red Chinese man fully dressed sitting in a chair near the desk girl no doubt waiting for his wife to come out of the woman’s section of the spa. The first thing I asked the desk girl was whether or not the ex Red Chinese man had gotten a massage or not. So when she assured me that he certainly had, I immediately told her in Thai that the man was a pig, that he had desecrated the spa and that she should see for herself what havoc he had wrought. When she asked me if I knew for sure who had done it, I immediately looked over at the man, pointed at him and told her once again in Thai that he was one big pig.

The problem was, and it is especially true about Five Star hotels, is that the customer is always right. This man in front of me was the most miserable excuse for a human being that I had ever laid eyes on. But he undoubtedly had a lot of money; otherwise he wouldn’t be staying at so expensive of a hotel in the first place. And the desk girl couldn’t say anything to him because if she did she would probably find herself very severely disciplined by her superiors. Later a couple of other employees could go into the dressing room and clean up after the ex Red Chinese. Well, she couldn’t do anything, but I sure as hell could. So I walked over to him and pantomimed someone throwing things into a trash bin. So even though the man’s command of English amounted to just about zero he’d clearly understand that I knew what he had done and that I didn’t think much of him. Well, I don’t know exactly what the man said, but it was very clear to me from the way he said it along with his facial expression that he meant, “So what! I refuse to clean up after myself. That is up to lesser mortals than myself because I can do whatever I want to anybody that I choose.” If he had tried to pull this in the United States, especially when I was forty-five or younger I would have knocked him out of his chair on the spot, even if it meant risking his getting his Chinese mafia after me.

But never mind. I’d get my revenge. It’d simply redouble my efforts to avoid buying Chinese whenever it was possible. Unfortunately too often there’s no choice in the matter at all, even here in Thailand where people make only a couple of hundred dollars a month or so at construction and factory jobs. The problem is that the Chinese are only paying a hundred dollars or even less, and oftentimes when they do work in factories they are required to live on the very premises upon which the factory is located where they must pay the landlord-factory owners rent which effectively cuts way back on their take home pay. Chairman Mao would be convulsing in his grave if he could only see what’s come of his beloved Communist society. And that’s why I kept referring to this polluter as an ex Red Chinese. He is the living embodiment of what all true Communists despised and what they tried to rid their country of and for whom millions died.

I had just gotten back from Macao and Hong Kong where I had recently seen rich Chinese by the thousands gambling and shopping away their ill begotten wealth. That was just two weeks ago and even then I thought about Chairman Mao and Zhou Enlai and all those devout Communists who had gone on the Long March and fought so hard to get the Japanese out of China and then rid their country of Chiang Kai Shek and all his gangsters. The whole social experiment had turned into a complete travesty.

Actually Chairman Mao wasn’t exactly a saint. Not hardly. But he did have his little red book in which he exhorted all good Chinese to do things for the good of others along with other instructions pertaining to a whole host of subjects. He also had all his reeducation camps where he’d send Chinese he found to be especially offensive such as the turd I had just encountered in the five star spa.

I must admit I’ve gotten to be quite disappointed over all that’s happened in China since my first, and last visit back in 1979, the first year that it was opened to Americans. Some of the first Chinese students sent over to the United States actually came over to visit my farm. My mother was then heading a special voluntary English section for foreign students at Washington University in St. Louis. They came from everywhere, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, Romania, and Mainland China–students who could polish their English language skills free of charge outside their normal college curriculum where they could learn from my mother and the teachers working under her donating their time for free. One of my best friends would come out of Japan, an engineering student getting his masters who would remain in the U.S. for three or four years. Meanwhile I was living on a farm in central Illinois, alone and both my parents would keep bringing my mother’s students down to the farm, sometimes for an entire weekend. There was one Taiwanese group in particular who came to visit me several times, so if anyone thinks I have it in for the Chinese, don’t even go there. There was one man in particular who was then in his thirties, a college professor who I put to work helping me to put a new cedar shake single roof on an outhouse I had in my backyard and then I had him help me build shelves in my machine shed. The man was from the People’s Republic then known as Red China and in his earlier days he had been sent to Chairman Mao’s reeducation camps during the Cultural Revolution where he was put to work cleaning out toilets and doing other repugnant tasks to teach him his place.

Back then I had much higher hopes for China, then called the Sleeping Giant which was given fifty years to catch up with the rest of the world. Immediately upon returning from China in 1979 I subscribed to a Red Chinese newspaper which I received monthly by snail mail all the way from China to my farm. But now so much has changed and my whole perspective has become so much more negative. I think of a restaurant owner friend of mine telling me that his worse customers by far all come from the Chinese mainland. To my complete disbelief he once told me how a group of them can come into his restaurant and that even a pack of dogs could not come in, eat off his tables and leave his place in such a disgusting mess as the Chinese can. “Not the Hong Kong Chinese or the Taiwanese,” he kept telling me, “but the Mainland Chinese”. I am unfortunately starting to agree with him. In the exercise room, they will often shout across the room at each other, they speak in loud voices in the spa where a Japanese would recoil at such an abomination in a place that had been created for tranquility and calm meditation. And then there’s all that pushing an shoving in the lines I’ve encountered in my recent travels.

Thankfully, I did encounter some very nice helpful Chinese in our recent trip to Macau and Hong Kong. But in general I see a lot of problems developing here in Thailand, particularly in Pattaya due to the huge explosion of Chinese tourism from the mainland. I have some very concrete solutions for how many of these problems can be minimized, but hey, I’m just a visitor here so what does my opinion count? But that’s another subject that if my advice were to be taken would bring in a better class of Chinese tourist while actually providing a more pleasant overall Thailand experience for the Mainland Chinese visitor. But I’ll just have to bring that up here at a future date, but when I bring it up I hope that a lot of prospective Chinese travelers read it. As to the ex Red Chinese who got his massage last night, hey buddy, I do owe you one.

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