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Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 12:45 AM   #1
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Beggars in Bangkok...

Yesterday on my way home from the gym, I stopped to buy some oranges from a street vendor - a great value at $0.63 a kilogram. While completing my purchase, a scruffy Thai beggar is working his way up the street, stops in front of me and opens his hand, inviting me to give him something.

So I gave him two oranges...

He waves away my hand and lets me know he is hungry and wants a drink wants money.

I switch to Thai mode -meaning he is invisible to me- and walk away.

I am pretty sure this guy was working alone, and not part of a gang, but when he refused my the oranges, I knew he really wasn't hungry. Most of the beggars here work for gangs and at the end of their "shft" they hand over a substantial part of their earnings. Some free lance beggars even rent babies and/or children to make them more appealing...

Sometimes you have to be a little hard hearted...

Lance
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 05:56 AM   #2
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

Lance,
If you think you were hard hearted wait until you go to India.

I grew up in NYC so, I found out how to ignore beggers early in life.
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 07:01 AM   #3
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dex
I grew up in NYC so, I found out how to ignore beggers early in life.
Point taken - there are some advantages to being a city boy 8)

Lance
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 08:00 AM   #4
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

India was tough on me. Mexico almost as much.

Having seen truly desperately poor people in the third world, it really galls me to be panhandled and hustled and conned on the streets of Calgary and Edmonton. Canada might have the highest taxes in the western hemisphere, so social services ought to be available for everyone who needs them (don't know first hand, tho). I don't feel guilty a bit rejecting beggars here.
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 08:07 AM   #5
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

Returned recently from a quick tourist trip in Cambodia, where you see lots of beggars with missing limbs, from land mines.* I recommend that any Westerner traveling there go with a beggar policy in mind, since some of the cases are pretty overwhelming -- I first gave money to a guy with no hands and no feet.

My giving policy quickly developed: give money to beggars with 2 limbs (or more) gone, but not just one.* Your policy may vary, from gushing money to pretending they are all invisible.* But there are enough beggars with differing levels of travail that having a policy in mind before you go will help.
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 10:06 AM   #6
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

Lance,
During the 90's and early 2000's I took 10-12 trips to Bangkok for 4-5 day stays. I don't recall many beggars being aggressive. Is this something that is relatively new there?

I've always used the "I'm a totally broke ancient hippie backpacker" look to avoid beggars.

OAP
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 04:06 PM   #7
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert the Red
Returned recently from a quick tourist trip in Cambodia, where you see lots of beggars with missing limbs, from land mines.* I recommend that any Westerner traveling there go with a beggar policy in mind, since some of the cases are pretty overwhelming -- I first gave money to a guy with no hands and no feet.

My giving policy quickly developed: give money to beggars with 2 limbs (or more) gone, but not just one.* Your policy may vary, from gushing money to pretending they are all invisible.* But there are enough beggars with differing levels of travail that having a policy in mind before you go will help.
Been to lots of places and Cambodia was the only place we've ever given money to beggars. Only a couple of times, but surprised me how overwhelmed I felt there.
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 04:29 PM   #8
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

We've rarely given money to beggars in Cambodia, but have given away plenty of leftover food and bought the little books the street urchins sell along the riverfront. End up giving books/newspapers back after finished with them.

One thing you learn is never say "maybe later" to them. Come back into town a week later and somehow that little boy will spot you as you sit enjoying your happy pizza and start in with the "hey you say later now you buy from me" over and over.

Ever see the kids clutching the little bags in Cambodia? They sniff glue, and if you give them money that's where it's going.
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 04:31 PM   #9
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

It was truly amazing seeing how many people with missing limbs there are in Cambodia. *Vietnam was second, but not quite the same level. *I agree with Flowgirl that it is one of the few places I actually felt like giving money to beggars. * They hang out in the areas with toursists and you don't see as many in the outskirts. *

I try and reward the ones who are subtle in their begging, and try not to reward the more in your face ones.

In San Francisco my policy is that I always buy a Street Sheet for a buck from whoever is selling, *and if someone wants money for food and there is a food vendor nearby I buy them food. * I remember once feeling disappointed when I offered to buy a beggar a sandwich, and they refused. *Later I saw them buying donuts with money they had gotten from someone else. * Sometimes things just don't make sense, but then again there are times that I choose donuts over sandwiches so who am I to judge.

I actually don't have any memory at all of beggars in Bangkok over the 2 weeks I was there. *
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 10:43 PM   #10
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

Worst beggars in the world are in Kula Lumpur. They injury themselves so they can more effectively panhandle. I will not go into details but it is some pretty gross stuff.
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-15-2006, 10:44 PM   #11
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

Funny I am in BK right now for two weeks. I love this country.
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...
Old 03-16-2006, 12:29 AM   #12
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Re: Beggars in Bangkok...

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldAgePensioner
During the 90's and early 2000's I took 10-12 trips to Bangkok for 4-5 day stays.* I don't recall many beggars being aggressive.* Is this something that is relatively new there?
No, 99% of the beggars are humble, wai respectfully, then ask for a handout. In my neighborhood, they will enter restaurants and go from table to table asking for money. Usually no one objects and the beggars are not agressive. Then there are the elephant guys, leading a hungry elephant and selling sugar cane treats for 50 cents a bag

Sukumvit Road seems to have the most elephants because there are more tourists there...

Personally, the worst beggars I've experienced were in Bangladesh. There, if you give money, they will swarm around you and being robbed/pickpocketed is a very real possibility.

Lance
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