Back in May, I travelled to Chiang Mai with my girlfriend at the time. One of the best photos I think I’ve ever taken with my phone was of her in the Old City. The sun was low and behind me, hitting the 800 year old brick wall behind her was glowing orange. In a rare break in traffic (there’s a ton of people in Chiang Mai), I snapped this photo.
I only bring this up because I’m out and about again at the moment. Nowhere near as exotic (Ireland) but still a lot of fun - and getting away from home is important every so often. I opened Twitter this week to see that one of my countrymen, a 22 year old girl from Grande Prairie, Alberta, was arrested in Thailand along with an English man. The two had been drinking in the Old City in Chiang Mai when they thought it would be a good idea to buy a can of black spraypaint and tag this same wall. Furlong “Scouser Lee”, as he goes by (twat) and Brittney Schneider were arrested for vandalism. While Brittney had only sprayed a B before she realised “what I was doing was wrong”; regardless, the damage was done. The penalty for defacing historical monuments in Thailand is up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 1 million Baht (about $30,000 USD).
The reason I felt compelled to write this was not to name and shame these two - but seriously, fuck them both - was for two reasons. Firstly, read this. It’s been a while since I really wrote anything - call it complacency in my surroundings, but I had the urge to get ink to paper because this topic stoked the fire in my belly.
Secondly, I was just saying to my platonic travel buddy Ethan as we crossed into Northern Ireland the day before I read about this: there’s almost a self-imposed duty on Canadians to be kind, polite, convivial and even funny while abroad. It’s second nature to me now to represent my country positively. And honestly why wouldn’t you want to distance yourself from our sinilarly accented neighbours to the south with all of the bullshit that hits the main stage every goddamn day.
I’m proud of who I am and where I come from but I also know that I am a guest in these countries. Proverbially taking one’s shoes off when entering their home should be top priority.
- Brittney Schneider has since made bail and “terrified about what comes next”